weekend free-for-all – October 24-25, 2015


Look at my long, luxurious whiskers.

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

Book Recommendation of the Week: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich. This came up in the comments this week and reminded me how good it is. The author spent a year working a series of low-wage jobs (waitress, hotel maid, and household cleaning woman, among others) and wrote an insider’s account of each. It’s fascinating.

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

{ 690 comments… read them below }

  1. Dear Liza dear liza*

    I love that book! I would pair it with RANDOM FAMILY as required reading for anyone who says the poor should just work harder.

    1. cowgirlbythebeach*

      I agree. High school juniors and seniors should read this to get some reality about what it’s really like to work the low-end jobs. Shocking and humbling.

      1. Al*

        …or they could.. work…

        I am perhaps a reverse snob but I have much more respect for people who have actually worked for minimum wage.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          +1 It certainly teaches you about the ‘real’ world. If only more public figures had been there before making their pronouncements.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I understand the impulse, but if you are a teenager working for minimum wage and your parents are supporting you, or even would give you a place to live if you lost your job, it’s not the same as what Ehrenreich tried to portray. She had her life to go back to, but she tried her best to pretend as if she didn’t, and she did a good job of both imagining what it would be like, and conveying that desperation and those difficult choices to the reader.

          Even if I was inclined to insist that my teenage daughter work for less than she could potentially get, she still wouldn’t understand what it might be like to not be able to save up a security deposit, nor do I think she needs to experience that in order to appreciate it. We show her the value of sympathizing and empathizing with others not like herself all the time, and I don’t think she needs to experience something in order to understand it.

          1. dawbs*

            It’s kinda like the distinction between ‘poor’ and ‘broke’.

            I was broke in college. Like -really-REALLY broke–a step beyond ‘broke college kid’ stereotypical broke, more like ‘huh, I am out of even ramen noodles. I guess I won’t eat until tomorrow’ or ‘I don’t have enough cash to buy a spare exam blue book, so the next person who tells me ‘it’s just$5′ for something is going to get a quick kick in the teeth’.

            But I had the ability (even if I was to proud to do it, and even if I couldn’t have because of the family ‘strings’ that sometimes come with cash) to call family/friends/etc and have enough cash to get me home and fed and taken care of. And there was an end in sight. I didn’t have a promise of a superior job when I graduated, but even w/ student loans and assuming a rather cruddy paying starter job, I would be going from really really really REALLY broke to only moderately broke. But through that all, I was broke…not poor.

            That’s different than looking at those things without a plan to get better. Without the safety net of friends and family. Without the safety net of credit cards. without the safety net of just being able to drop out. without any way to see a way out of the hole, where every paycheck just leaves you scraping yourself out of the same hole. Where it’s not pride keeping you from getting a square meal, it’s the whole shebang
            Because that’s poor. I’ve known poor, I’ve seen poor, I’ve been close to poor, but I’ve only ever been broke and never truly been poor.

            1. Green*

              You mention credit cards, and I think it’s worth taking a minute to look up some of the stories from people who have been hit by the RushCard “glitch” that has prevented the unbanked from accessing their prepaid debit cards (and the money on them) for the last few weeks. The whole country would stop if that happened with Bank of America, but most of America has no idea that some of the most vulnerable people in the country are getting evicted and are going hungry because they can’t even access what little cash they have due to a computer “glitch.” For people on the edge, this is an absolute disaster.

              1. Natalie*

                Yes, excellent point. And apparently even before the “glitch” that card (and others like it) had tons of small fees for basically everything possible.

            2. Anx*

              I think it can be tough to distinguish between the two as a period of brokeness extends for years and years.

              I felt broke at 23. I feel… differently broke at 29. I’m doing okay, I guess, but I’m always one payday away from disaster. But that disaster mainly means dissolving my relationship and restructuring my family so that I leave my current location (with my volunteer and work experience) and move in with my mom. So I’m not poor because I do have a fallback. But once you’re nearly 30 and start to feel like you can’t pursue your relationships as readily or start a family soon, it gets blurrier. And my income is way, way below the FPL, but without dependents it still allows me to buy a few treats for myself once in a while.

              I think another compounding factor is that things like reading this blog, seeing so many people talk about PTO and 401ks and having no idea what it’s like to be in that world, but being able to access some restaurants and entertainment and small luxuries. And a huge source of confounding the line between poor and broke to me is being downwardly mobile. I grew up with a lot of priveliges and comfort, and just because they didn’t really do much to keep me steadily employed (and in fact may have hurt in some ways), I can’t ignore the benefits of having grown up well fed and well sheltered and having so many amazing cultural or recreational experiences.

              1. dawbs*

                You’re right, long term broke and that poor can be blurry.
                (and while I say I was never poor, as a kid, eh, that line was blurry too.)

                “Able to feed myself and afford cable if I scrimp” isn’t the same as “going hungry”, but it’s also not the same as “I can afford to plan to add pets/kids/whatever without feeling like I”m being irresponsible” or “I can afford to quit my side hustle and work just 50 hours per week”. I’m sorry that things are so out of reach, because that’s it’s own kind of ‘poor’ and it sucks too.

                1. simonthegrey*

                  My friend and I refer to it as “first world poor.” We are both adjuncts, with no other jobs (though my husband works full time so I have a second income). My husband and I rent a two bedroom apartment with a roommate and we are in our 30s; my friend rents a room from a family in a boarding-house kind of situation. Objectively we are poor. However, my car is paid off, I have money for groceries every week, and my husband and I go on occasional dates and eat out. My friend and I do coffee every weekend. Our poverty, real as it is (stretching to cover bills, finally putting a little money into savings because my husband was unemployed for three years and we lived on my paycheck) is not the same as true abject poverty.

            3. matcha123*

              Thank you.
              I grew up with no real safety net. Some of my friends did not understand how I could have a part-time job and not have money. They assumed that my parent was paying for my meals, etc. when I was actually buying everything with my money.
              Even after graduating university, the assumption from people around me was that I was just refusing to ask my parents for money. There’s an assumption that being poor means that your clothing should be in tatters, your parents are abusive or irresponsible, your family is uneducated…but there are many of us who do not fit that mold!

        3. F.*

          I think it should be required for a few hours a day for a semester, just like a class. There is so much to be learned about life from having a job.

          1. Jazzy Red*

            I think **EVERYONE** should work at least 6 months at a minimum wage job. It makes (or should make) people more compassionate about how damn hard some folks have to work for less-than-living-wages.

            I used to take my goddaughter shopping for her birthday, and as her “cool” auntie, I would buy her something that she really wanted (and that her parents wouldn’t usually spring for). After she started working part time in high school, it was amazing how her attitude changed once she had to spend her hard earned money on designer clothes. Suddenly, she had an appreciation for non-designer stuff, and became very good at money management. She has grown into a good person who cares about the less fortunate and is raising her children that way.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          Reverse snobs of the world unite! I do favor people who make an effort to apply themselves and who figure out how to work at the situations that come up in their jobs and in their life. At the same time, I have deep respect for people who can frame a candid question(s) in effort to better their situation. I admire that.

        5. Parlam*

          I can agree that it would be nice for people to have more empathy if everyone’s done this sort of work. I know one friend who works incredibly hard, but has never worked a low-wage or blue-collar type job in college. Instead, she worked really hard in college and has been in academia ever since. She’s far more disciplined than I am, and more than most people I know, but she’s also completely naive about the labor experience.

          That said, if a student has a family that is doing reasonably well, I don’t see the need to encourage or push students to apply for jobs that others are competing for to live on. As someone whose scrambled for a part-time minimum wage years after I could walk into those jobs as a pluckier, less broke high school student, it hurts to see people look at my potential jobs as a learning opportunity and not a means of survival or a way to keep employed.

          Similarly, I do feel bad that it’s harder for high school students to find jobs than when I was in high school, but it does rub me the wrong way when people emphasize the plight of the high school student when debating minimum wage increases (of course, some high school students have to support their families)

          1. SevenSixOne*

            “it hurts to see people look at my potential jobs as a learning opportunity and not a means of survival or a way to keep employed.”

            I learned a LOT from the part time McJobs I had as a (lower middle-class) teenager… but I learned a completely different set of lessons a few years later when I had to survive on that kind of job.

      2. Overeducated and underemployed*

        I would rather have our elected representatives read it. I think it is less of a cautionary tale for workers and more of a case that working poor people need a living wage and an effective safety net.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Reality is that we all cannot be CEOs. There is not enough room at the top to accommodate all of us. ANNND, unfortunately, corporate America is totally and absolutely dependent on their minimum wage workers to keep the company viable.

          A fast food company can buy all the hamburger it wants. But if there is no one there to give it to the customer they will never make one thin dime.

    2. K.*

      I’m a fan of Ehrenreich’s work in general and that book in particular. It’s brilliant. Depressing, but brilliant – and so important.

    3. Stephanie*

      Her book on the white collar side of things was also good. She went to job coaches, employment centers, etc. (The title escapes me at the moment.)

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I tend toward pessimism (someone told me I moan so much I should actually be British, LOL) but mostly I try to be realistic about stuff. But in the “OMG everything should be positive!” world, being realistic is seen as being negative.

              I sometimes want to say Dude, I am not negative when I correct your mistaken assumptions about how easy it is to get a book published. Especially since you know nothing about the industry at all and I have actually been taking the time to learn what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m being realistic. Negative would be “I will never get published.” Realism is “It may take me a long time to get published.”

              Be right back; I need to tweet this.

              1. Nashira*

                Yes! I get accused of being cynical for just… Being a realist. Like, I have chronic pain that is crippling when it’s untreated. ~Being positive~ would mean praying for a cure that cannot come and having a surgery that is far more likely to make the pain worse, in my specific case. (For some people, it’s curative surgery, which makes me so happy for them!) Having my doctors help me accept that this is as good as it gets made a profound difference in my ability to cope. I don’t feel like it’s my fault that I am in pain or that I deserve it for not trying everything possible. I don’t feel fundamentally bad and rotten any more.

                But I’ve been nagged for not ~being positive~ because, I think, realistic thinking about health is scary to a lot of people. It’s so dumb! Realism can be a profoundly mentally healthy choice to make.

                Now brb seeing if the library has that book.

              2. Merry and Bright*

                I think of myself as a realist with a healthy bit of cynicism thrown in! Interesting that the British whingeing tag isn’t just confined to the Australian image of us! Seriously though, I prefer that to the historical “stiff upper lip” stuff.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  LOL, I hear it a lot from other British people.

                  My favorite British thing is the hilarious sarcasm–I can take a (not vicious) joke, so if someone zings me and isn’t being mean, I’m likely to laugh. I love the comments on British websites I read because I end up wiping away tears of mirth.

    4. Marzipan*

      Polly Toynbee did a UK equivalent book called ‘Hard Work: Life in Low-Pay Britain’ which is also very good.

      1. Merry and Bright*

        I remember reading Polly Toynbee’s book a while ago as some background material for a course I took.

        Separately from this, a book I have recently finished on my Kindle is Round About A Pound Week by Maud Pember Reeves which was written more than a century ago as part of a project which studied the lives of working-class women in the Lambeth area of London. It was a real eye-opener.

    5. pony tailed wonder*

      One of my book clubs read that together and I was surprised by my reaction to it. I normally think of myself as pretty liberal so I was really put off by how much I was agreeing with most of the book except for her drug use. I thought I was more of a live and let live sort of person but I have too many addicts in my family and I was very disturbed with the casual “of course ness” of her use of marijuana. I was close to not finishing it but it was for book club so I made myself read it all the way through. There were a few other people in the book club who were also turned off by that so I wasn’t alone. But each time she brought up her smoking weed, I would think about the drama and deaths that my family has been through with addicts and it was hard.

      1. matcha123*

        I read Nickled & Dimed when I was in high school. I was trying to remember what it was about that book that didn’t sit right with me, and I think this is it.
        Smoking, drug use, etc. are not givens for being poor.

        1. Natalie*

          I don’t recall her ever saying they were a given, and I think the grand total of alcohol/drug use is a six pack of beer and one joint.

          Cigarette smoking is in fact vastly more common among the poor.

      2. NYC Weez*

        I wanted to love Nickel and Dimed, but I felt like she did a lot of things that purposely sabotaged her ability to live on the low wages she was earning. Its been a number of years since I read it, so I don’t recall specific examples, but I remember feeling like her housing choices and the constant indulgences were taking a lot more of her salary than necessary.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          No one who hasn’t ever been really poor or who didn’t grow up that way is going to be able to replicate it exactly. She doesn’t have the mindset. But she tried, and I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt for it. She DID realize a few pertinent things.

          1. Book Lover*

            It seems in college I remember reading that people who struggle to meet basic needs, i.e. food, housing, child care – are not functionally able to problem solve at the same level that others do. Not because of lack of intelligence, but because most of their brain power is used meeting their most basic needs.
            Lifehacker recently did a good article on how expensive it is to be poor as well. The numerous fees they are charged, the difficulty of getting a bank account, etc.


            1. Anna*

              This is so true. I see this with the young people I work with and people I know in my life. They’re unable to look at the long-term picture because their needs are more immediate. I’ve seen students leave this program to start work because they needed to help their family, when in reality if they stay they would be better able to help and making more money to boot. But their immediate need is to make sure mom and siblings aren’t homeless. The 2nd part is what I call Sam Vimes Economics. The rich person can buy a really good pair of boots that lasts them ten years. The poor person can only afford the cheap boots and has to replace them every year. It’s bleeding to death by a thousand tiny cuts.

        2. TootsNYC*

          But I think those were actually pretty indicative of what people in the situation might actually do. People don’t live without any indulgences, not even poor people. And her indulgences weren’t that horrible.

    6. StillHealing*

      That was a very good book. I read it several years ago. There was another one I read around the same time….also very good and real life experience but I can’t remember the title.

      Random Family sounds like an interesting read.

  2. Myrin*

    I wrote two weeks ago how I had a mole on my arm removed because my dermatologist thought it might be cancerous cells/stage 0 of a black skin cancer. I received the results a few days later and the whole thing wasn’t cancerous after all! Even if it had been, they removed a good chunk of the surrounding area as well so I’d still be cancer-free regardless, but it’s still a scary thought and I’m incredibly relieved. Thanks for the good wishes people were writing here, it was much appreciated!

  3. Trixie*

    I’m a renter and looking to better insulate the house this winter. I usually put up plastic over windows and seal doors to block drafts. This year I’m looking into gas water heater blanket and pipe insulation. Close off the rooms we don’t need heated and this year I may get the vent covers to better block/redirect the heat. I love living in a house but it’s the completely nonexistent insulation most frustrating thing as a renter.

    I’m also giving in this year and purchasing: snow shovel, salt, gloves, under layers, and a coat.

    1. danr*

      Be careful with closing off unused rooms to heat. If there are pipes in the exterior walls, they could freeze if enough warm air doesn’t leak into the walls. After you’ve sealed the house against drafts, leave one window unsealed and leaky on the south side to let some fresh air into the house. Make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors in the house. At least one on the floor with the bedrooms and one on the living floor. You can get portable units that sit on a table if you don’t want to put extra holes in a wall. And +1 on getting the cold weather gear. It’s not “giving in” to have the proper equipment and clothing to deal with the cold and snow.

      1. Artemesia*

        If there are any pipe issues, particularly if closing areas of the house for heating, have a pro look at the pipe situation. We had heat tapes on the pipes in our last house that were relatively exposed and turned them on every late fall — this prevented freezing and breaking (happened the first year after the house was built). It is cheap and easy to do.

        1. Trixie*

          Good points. The house is one level with an unfinished basement. The copper pipes in the basement were the ones I was considering insulating with pipe wrap or foam sections. Carbon monoxide detector is also on the list. The landlord is having a someone come out to switch out old retro thermostat to programmable digital, and I’ll ask the person while he’s here about water heater wrap, pipes, etc. We barely used the heat last year, instead just layering up and hunkering down with space heater. I also got my hands on electric blanket to have on hand.

          Since I can’t properly insulate the house/walls, I’m also thinking rugs on the hardwood floors to help with drafts.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Check for drafts at the doors – you may be able to seal there if there are issues – and consider heating the house as a whole to 45-50 degrees and using space heaters in areas where you need more heat, if the pipes may be an issue if you block off rooms.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              Yes, an old towel rolled into a cylinder and placed along the bottom of a door can make a difference.

              I would also suggest that if you have a dryer, look into getting an air diverter for it. I’m not sure what it’s called. I bought one years ago and just put a new one in this year. It’s essentially a box with a plastic door in it. When it’s hot, let the heat out. When it’s cold, flip it up and make the heat stay in. The first one I had came with a nylon footlet like at a shoe store, that went over the opening to trap the lint. This new one has a (not as effective IMO) screen that goes over. If you’re already paying to dry your clothes, why just vent that heat outside? If I could get something to capture the heat from my furnace, I would. I’m sure way too much is going up the chimney.

        2. Natalie*

          You can also let water run at a drip rate through any pipes that might freeze. Moving water doesn’t freeze as well. This obviously isn’t a long term solution, but if you’re somewhere with an unseasonable cold spell it may be more economical (and more immediate) than insulating pipes.

    2. Natalie*

      Draperies or curtains can help a surprising amount, if you don’t already have them. Unlike blinds, they tend to cover the entire window including drafts.

    3. Anx*

      I wish I’d known I would be in this rental as long as I’ve been. I probably would have invested more in heavy curtains. Maybe I’ll look into the plastic option. I also have a very poorly insulated rental. The front door isn’t very solid, so it lets a lot of heat out. And there’s no basement so whenever it rains the house just feels…damp and chilly to the bone.

      I don’t think I could justify the luxury of snow shovels, but I live in a place where work and school is canceled super easily.

      1. Trixie*

        In addition to plastic over windows, we all hang heavy blankets/batting/sheets to help block off certain areas that don’t have doors. Dining room, mud room, etc. Also hang over windows that don’t get direct daylight. While rolled up towels at the bottom of doors works, they also make door sweepers which help block the draft. Either plastic that adheres, or fabric/ foam that pads both sides at the bottom.

        I hate to buy a shovel but I don’t know the neighbors well enough to borrow and last year was a lesson. We didn’t get that much snow but it was enough that it packed down after melting during the day and freezing at night. A simple shoveling the first day after when it was light would done the trick. Driveway has an incline so if not shoveling it just becomes icy mess.

      2. mander*

        I made some “under-curtains” out of £3 fleece blankets from Ikea last year, and they helped quite a bit. They are very lightweight so I was able to hang them directly across the window recess using the curtain wire intended for net curtains/sheers. Depending on your setup you might also be able to just use staples or thumbtacks, spring-loaded adjustable curtain poles, etc. You might also be able to buy relatively inexpensive thermal curtain liners that you just attach to the existing curtains.

        You can also stick bubble wrap to the windows using nothing but water sprayed on, which can make a big difference.

      3. Hlyssande*

        The plastic works wonders, honestly.

        I spent two winters in my last apartment in a bedroom that didn’t have a radiator – the building was old enough that it used the old giant steam ones.

        The first winter, I didn’t plastic and had frost on my blankets by the window some mornings. The second winter I did and I could sleep without having to wear thick socks, fleece jammies, and a winter hat. It was a huge, huge difference.

        The only frustration I had was how to get the double-sided tape off afterward.

  4. Amanda*

    I’m seeking some investment advice (sort of).

    I am 32 and my husband and I are thinking we probably will not have any kids, just more horses and dogs.

    We have nieces and nephews that we adore, and I’d like to consider setting up some kind of savings/investment account for them. We’re not really wealthy but I can set aside $25-$50 a month somewhere it will grow.

    Is there a college savings plan that would make sense for this? I’d like something flexible, that I could divide amongst them as they head to college, but also flexible such that if we do end up having kids we could direct it toward our own needs instead. I’m ok with restricting the funds for higher education, but don’t want to tie them down by location/university system. Or does it make more sense simply to target a savings account, maybe lock in some CDs when we hit $1,000 increments, and do it that way so it’s more flexible?

    1. fposte*

      Cool thought! Fidelity has a fantastic chart for this that I’ll link to in a followup. But basically, the tax advantaged plans will have some restrictions that you may or may not consider worth living with; it depends on the advantages and your own financial situation.

      Your choices (I *believe* these are all open to non-parents but didn’t confirm) are basically:
      taxable account in your name that you will gift as you choose
      529 tax-advantaged educational savings plan
      tax advantaged Coverdell Educational Savings Account
      UGMA/UTMA (Uniform Gift/Transfer to Minors Account), which is an account in the beneficiary minor’s name

      Look into each of them and decide which one would suit.

        1. Amanda*

          Yay, thank you, this is perfect! I will start setting aside in a savings account for now and research the tax-advantage plans at my leisure.

      1. NewCommenterfromDaBronx*

        Keep in mind 529 plan is owned/controlled by you & you can change beneficiary at any time. Only for educational expense. UGMA/UTMA accounts become the child’s money & can be used for any purpose the child wants. Beneficiary cannot be changed.

        1. Natalie*

          And you can cash out a 529 if you absolutely had to in a crisis. You’ll just lost the tax and possible some fees.

    2. danr*

      You can make them secondary beneficiaries on any IRAs or 401Ks. If you do have kids, just change the secondary beneficiaries.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, excellent point–I was thinking about the live transfer, but it’s good to remember these even if you’re planning to be around for a while :-). It’s easy to name beneficiaries and to change them in most plans, too.

    3. Artemesia*

      I’d invest in a stock index fund — start with a thousand collars or so and then add in quarterly or semi annual increments.

      1. fposte*

        Absolutely an index fund; stocks or a balanced index fund, depending on the likely use date. But you can do that in any of the options I listed, same as you can have the same assets in a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, 401k/403b, taxable account, etc.

    4. Three Thousand*

      In addition to the investment accounts you set up for them, an app like Acorns or Wealthfront might be a good way to get them to start thinking about investing themselves.

    5. NDQ*

      Personally, I’d first devote every spare cent toward early retirement for both you and your spouse. Maybe you don’t plan to retire for 30 years, but accidents and illness happen.

      After you have invested in income-producing assets and have built enough wealth to retire, then focus on extended family.


      1. Lily in NYC*

        This is an important point, but she did mention $25-50 a month, which is likely an amount that will still allow them to put money aside for retirement. Everyone’s financial situation is different…

        1. fposte*

          And you don’t get tax-advantaged space back, so if you’re going that route, you’ll be better off doing it over a period of time if you can.

    6. TootsNYC*

      One thing to remember: any money you save for the child will count against her at FAFSA time; it could limit how much assistance she could qualify for from the government or the school. So consult with the parents, to be sure that it’s a smart move to put the money in the kid’s name.

      It might be smarter to put the money in a separate account in your own name, and then gift it wholesale at any later date that makes sense.

  5. Lewis Structures*

    I’ve struggled with lower back pain since slipping in the shower and landing on one spot on my back over three years ago.

    If I’m good about stretching and using a foam roller regularly, the pain goes away. If I miss these, and especially if I work out or lift weights without stretching, the pain becomes worse. Lately my back is KILLING ME (8 on the pain scale, constant pain, when it’s normally about a 3-4), and all of my old fixes aren’t working anymore. The pain has begun to shoot down my leg, which it never did before.

    Over the years, I’ve seen a doctor, a chiropractor, and a physical therapist about this issue, and they can only help temporarily. Nobody can agree on what’s wrong with me. An X-ray showed fairly normal results, except that I lean a little to the left (makes sense, the pain is to the right side of my lower back).

    Who do I have to consult next? I miss being able to run and not dread going up stairs or picking things up off the floor.

    1. fposte*

      Spine specialist. You’ve got nerve pain that suggests impingement of the sciatic nerve and that’s definitely a sign that spine folks should be consulted. Odds are an MRI will be in the mix at this point.

      That doesn’t mean for sure it’s spine, but it’s time to have that looked at. If it is, say, a slipped disk, it sounds like you’ve done the non-interventionist stuff that fixes most people, and it ain’t getting you there. It’s possible spine folks will have a different non-surgical approach they recommend (though there’s some controversy as to the effectiveness of steroid injections). But there are several veterans of spine surgery around here, including me, and I highly recommend it if other options have been exhausted–my main regret is not having done it sooner. I did outpatient minimally invasive surgery and it was the best way to do it–home that night.

      Feel free to ask other questions, now or as the process unfolds. It’s really daunting to have that big physical limitation, and I’m happy to do what I can to help you through that.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, and FWIW, the fact that your previous PT, stretching, etc. helped doesn’t mean it wasn’t spine–for most people, the problems with a slipped disk do resolve without surgery, and being strong yet balanced/flexible can be *hugely* protective of a spine (I almost avoided surgery just by getting my glutes absolutely rock hard). And one reason why I wish I’d had surgery earlier is because the debilitation of the year leading up to surgery is taking longer to come back from than the surgery, and being in good condition helps considerably with the small residual problem that surgery couldn’t completely resolve. So my personal view is that people absolutely should give the non-surgical approach a try first, but if that doesn’t work, don’t futz around and get even worse before you finally resort to surgery.

      2. Lewis Structures*

        This advice makes me feel a lot better, thank you. I will make an appointment with a spine specialist ASAP.

        1. fposte*

          In case it comes up for you: I have technically “good” insurance (paid out for the whole surgery without a peep), but boy, are they balky about MRIs. In case you run into that, don’t be discouraged and do appeal; also be clear, with dates, etc., of how long you treated this issue via PT.

    2. danr*

      Have you seen an orthopedist who is a spine specialist? Get a recommendation from your doctor and find out what the problem really is. I had severe pain (11 on the pain scale) and ended up having surgery to correct pinched nerves and a herniated disc. It’s been just over a year and the pain is 98% gone. There is still some pain, but I know not to try to push through it.

      1. danr*

        To expand on what fposte wrote, I was in the hospital overnight. Minimally invasive surgery in the morning and home the next afternoon.

      2. fposte*

        And you were definitely who I was thinking of–and look how we’re on the same page.

        I was thinking of you last week, in fact, when I was doing yoga, because I’m still figuring out some of my residual irritation spots. I wouldn’t say I push through the pain, exactly, but there are levels of low irritation that can be worth a tradeoff to get stronger; what I’m assessing is what action gives me how much pain and for how long and for what gain. So workouts are more widely spaced, but I’m still definitely finding benefits from work that bugs the nerve a little. I had some followups with a McKenzie therapist, and we talked about learning the difference between doing and overdoing. I’m still learning that one.

      3. Lewis Structures*

        Are you cleared to lift weights, do yoga, etc? How long after surgery were you allowed to start exercising again?

        1. fposte*

          I had a laminectomy and microdiskectomy. I was supposed to go walking the day I got home, preferably 20 minutes or so a day. My doctor said after six weeks, as far as he was concerned I could “go crazy” and do whatever I wanted. However, there was still definitely nerve healing for several months after that, so while I wouldn’t have broken the surgery or anything I would have been more susceptible to kicking things up. My only driving restriction was the painkillers–inadvisable to drive on Norco :-). I think I was told I could shower right away.

          If you Google “Johns Hopkins spine surgery road to recovery” you should find a really good aftercare booklet for the regular-type surgery. (They’ve also got a nice patient guide to spine surgery.) I didn’t get mine done there, but I found the info more thorough than what I got; it’s kind of a worst-case/most-conservative overview, which is a useful data point and made me feel like a rock star for faring so much better than the line-drawn people in the booklet.

        2. fposte*

          To be clearer: the surgery itself left me with no physical restrictions at all. It’s the little bit of nerve irritation left over (and the deconditioning) that presents me with some limits.

          I did have a two-stage cervical fusion ten years ago and was told I should not play football unless I got paid pro-level for it. So I guess that’s my main long-term restriction :-).

    3. Observer*

      I can’t believe your doctor has not sent you to an orthopedist. That’s the first place to start – and one who is a spine specialist would not be a bad idea. A neurologist might not be a bad idea, as there could be nerve damage, as well.

      Lastly, make sure you have a really GOOD chair, and a really good mattress. For me, if I don’t have those, nothing else helps. And, I also found that too firm was really bad for me, as well.

      1. Saucy Minx*

        A rocking chair really helped get my muscles out of spasm when I had sciatica. I was at a friend’s for the evening, & I spent three or four hours in her rocking chair. To my surprise, the pain went away, & the next day after work I went & bought myself a rocking chair.

        You won’t have to spend three hours a night in the rocking chair. I found about half an hour, whenever I was in pain, relieved the muscle spasms.

    4. CoffeeLover*

      You should try yoga if you haven’t yet. It’s great for realigning, stretching, and building muscle while protecting your joints. You mentioned it gets worse after working out, but if you’re having back issues, yoga is the exercise you should be doing. Not to mention that every time I’ve gone to a chiropractor for back issues, they always recommend yoga. Now of course, if it’s something serious that would require surgery that’s probably not something yoga can fix (though I’m sure it would help you with the recovery).

      1. Nashira*

        However, if exercise using their core is making it worse, yoga could be very painful. It’s much harder on the body than a lot of people recognise. There does come a point where injections or surgical intervention are the way to go.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, yoga made a lot of it worse for me before surgery and I had to quit for a while. A lot of poses involve moving the spine out of vertical stacking and asking other stuff to hold it up, and stuff gets moved around within the spinal column in a way that can be hell on an irritated nerve. Cobra is still something for me to do carefully and rarely, and Warrior I is a roll-the-dice kind of thing.

          I’d also say that if you’re in serious pain it’s not a good time to start any exercise you haven’t already been doing without a doctor’s buy-in.

          1. fposte*

            BTW, William Broad’s book “The Science of Yoga” is an interesting look at some of the ways yoga can be really damaging. It’s not a great book, but it’s talking about something that tends not to get a lot of attention.

    5. Owl*

      Orthopedist (to echo everyone here), but one that specializes in spines. Mine worked at Johns Hopkins and was amazing for getting a proper diagnosis for me, including looking at the whole picture (I have a rare genetic disorder (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) that makes my joints very loose, in addition to other things like impacting my skin, GI, etc). While she wasn’t great at the treatment part (that was the physical therapist), she was at least willing and able to do the research into why my lower back hurt so bad. An x-ray didn’t cut it for diagnosis — an MRI showed exactly where the problem was. The x-ray did show that one side of my pelvis is larger than the other, though.

    6. Belle diVedremo*

      Depends where you are. I’d recommend finding a physical therapist who does manual therapies – and gets rave reviews. In some jurisdictions, you can see a PT without a prescription from an MD, in some you can see a PT for X many treatments before you need a script, and in some you can’t see a PT at all without a script.

      Sometimes surgery is the best possible solution and offers the best results. Sometimes there are alternatives with as good or better results. I had a frozen shoulder after a car accident. (Range of motion from my side was about 4 inches.) Surgery was recommended, but often those recommending it said I’d only be able to raise my hand to the top of my head afterwards, and explained that that would be enough for me. I wasn’t happy with that as my outcome. It look longer, but I have full rotation on that shoulder now, via manual therapies and a terrific PT. A friend was looking at spinal surgery for sciatica, but his MD sent him to a PT for manual therapy which solved the problem.

      The fact that exercise makes so much difference suggests to me that manual therapy plus targeted exercises can help. By manual therapies I mean cranio-sacral therapy, myo-fascial release, etc. The therapy can release the pinched places, the exercises can help stabilize you in that better organization. It’s amazing what a seemingly small misalignment can do to one’s comfort and capacity. If the Xrays show “fairly normal results” then manual therapies may well take care of it for you. If not, you can still try surgery afterwards without having lost much.

      Hope you find your way back to comfort soon.

    7. UsedToDoSupport*

      Late to the party, but I’d also recommend finding and getting on a regular schedule with a sports massage person. Not the sort of relaxing massage you get at the McChain massage place (forget the name) but the real deep tissue stuff. My lower back pain results from my strong legs and especially hamstrings/gastroc. I walked in Saturday night with another flair-up, it hurt to breathe, never mind walking. Walked out pain free. He does leave bruises… ;)

  6. Anonymously Yours*

    I’ve decided that my marriage is over. I am trying to figure out how to tell my husband and deal with the immediate aftermath. Does anyone have any stories they’re willing to share, good or bad? Or advice? I don’t have anyone I can really talk to about this stage. Everyone in my support network would advocate to fix the marriage and right now I just can’t handle the conversations it would take to help them see that’s not possible.

    I honestly don’t know WHY I want to go. I’ve wanted to leave for a long time and I haven’t because I felt like I needed a better reason, and like there was a checklist of things I needed to try first, and like there was maybe a magic time I could pick and magic words to use that would make it less painful. I’ve read some great Captain Awkward and Dear Sugar articles (found here, you guys are awesome), and they helped me realize that was all nonsense, and if I’m not happy and want to go that’s good enough. I think some of the whys will be a lot clearer when I’ve got some distance, and I’m finally okay with not knowing them at the outset (he will not be, but I can’t help him with that.)

    We’ve talked about splitting up twice, both times I wasn’t sure, and walked into the conversations relatively unprepared, and they were disasters. He’s emotionally sensitive, and I felt like I needed to stay until he was okay, which makes the leaving part pretty difficult. Both times were traumatic for both of us and I definitely don’t want to do that again. I feel like I need to plan it out this time.

    1. Amanda*

      I’m very sorry that you are dealing with this.

      To put it in Captain Awkward terms: you need someone on Team You that can help you navigate this. It might make sense to find a therapist just to work through this time in your life, even if you do not feel that you need one on a regular basis. A good, impartial confidant who can also offer you tools for both working through your own feelings and help you communicate them to your partner, and then help you find the support for a post-separation life.

      I did a similar thing in a slightly different situation – overwhelming anxiety in my life from a combination of work and partner issues – and it helped tremendously in both working through that situation and in giving me the tools to address similar problems in the future. In my case, it was able to affirm that my basic love for my partner and desire to get married was a true thing, instead of the panic cloud that had been dogging me for months, and I feel infinitely more solid now having worked through it piece by piece. The important part is less the outcome than the process, though!

      1. Anonymously Yours*

        Yep! I’ve been in therapy in the past, not currently, but I need to get back to it to work through this. I’ve been trying hard to work on my support network, too, but there are issues in the marriage that are making building stronger friendships difficult, so that’s going to have to be a next phase thing, I think.

    2. neverjaunty*

      As you probably expected, my advice would be that you need to talk to a lawyer first. NOT because you want to have a vicious divorce (and steer away from lawyers who present themselves as ‘bulldogs’ or encourage you to ‘hit first’ or anything like that – that’s an excuse to run up the bills). But in the US a divorce is a lawsuit, and you don’t want to do things that will screw you up legally later. For example, if you pick up and move out, is that just a separation or is that considered abandoning the family home? Can you withdraw half the money from your joint account? Should you expect to provide spousal support for a time, and if so, what is that? What are precautions you should take in case your spouse becomes vengeful?

      Most states have referral services where you can be sent to a family law specialist for a low-cost or free consultation, so you don’t have to break the bank just to talk to somebody.

      1. Dan*

        Some of your questions, such as spousal support, need to be qualified by, “what should I expect the court to do if this is a contested divorce?” If it’s an uncontested divorce, the answer is going to be, “whatever you two agree on.”

        There *are* ways to get divorced without huge legal bills. My total legal costs in my divorce? $300 for an hour of consultation, and then another hour + court costs as a flat fee for processing the uncontested divorce paperwork. Spouse and I “agreed” on how to divvy up everything, and never made a court appearance.

        1. neverjaunty*

          There *are* ways to get divorced without huge legal bills.

          Yes. The easiest way, as your comment shows, was to talk to a lawyer sooner rather than later. That one-hour consultation probably saved you an enormous headache and a lot of money later.

          1. Dan*

            Headache? Oh yeah. Money would have been a crap shoot, it’s impossible to know how the judge would have ruled, my state is like that. I may have gotten away with paying my spouse nothing, but in order to do that, my legal bills would have been at least as much as I outright paid her. And if I didn’t get away with paying her anything? I would have been screwed.

            What really saved my behind was “agreeing” with my spouse to settle out of court. In a bizarre coincidence, the day we split happened to be the day I did a consult with a lawyer. Two hours after I got back from the lawyer visit, something happened, and I looked at her and said, “Take this and leave.” To which she responded, “Ok” and that was that. What did my lawyer advise me to do? Pay her to go away.

        2. Anon1234*

          Yes! I know people who took years to get divorced and spent tens of thousands of dollars that they didn’t need to spend because they made choices that led to an acrimonious divorce. Get a good lawyer fast. They can work with you on what you and your spouse need to do to make the process less painful. There’s not really a good way to get a divorce, but there are a lot of really horrible ways.

          1. F.*

            And sometimes it is because their spouse made the decision to punish the other person. By the time I received my share of our joint assets, they only covered the attorney bills and it took 4-1/2 years. He vowed to my face that he would see me homeless, penniless and living on a steam grate. Although at one point I had no job, two children (one autistic) and 10 dollars after he cleaned out the bank accounts, he underestimated my resilience. 11 years after the divorce, I have been happily married for 6 years, and he is still alone and bitter.

      2. Anonymously Yours*

        Thanks for this! I was going to wait to see a lawyer until after the talk, but I also need to make some decisions about things you mentioned and didn’t think about the legal consequences, so I’ll do that first.

        On lawyers to steer away from – there’s one local to me who is particularly bad. I don’t want to work with him, but I definitely don’t want my husband working with him either. Is there a good way to make sure that doesn’t happen? (I’ve seen a couple of coworkers’ divorces play out where he escalated ugliness around child custody issues to a degree that was completely unnecessary.)

        1. UsedToDoSupport*

          My husband just let me handle the paperwork, he had no lawyer of his own, and we shared the expense. My lawyer did start charging me for 15 minutes every time I called to find out why the simple paperwork was taking so long…8 months! I used the phone a friend option, friend’s husband was the local judge. Judge told lawyer in no uncertain terms to finish it up or never appear in his courtroom again. Pays to know people…

    3. Cristina in England*

      Total sympathy here. The only thing I remember from the “I am leaving this marriage” conversation was me saying how unhappy I was and to “please let me go” (writing it here sounds like I was asking for permission, but it was really asking him not to try to change my mind). It was the world’s most amicable divorce, and I felt SO BAD to be leaving and hurting a very kind and gentle person, but in the end we wanted completely different things and with him, I felt like I was shrinking, not growing as a person. I realized I was inventing reasons to wait longer and longer to have kids, when really I just didn’t want to have kids with HIM.

      1. Anonymously Yours*

        I felt like I was shrinking, not growing as a person.

        Thank you, I really like how you worded this, it’s perfect.

    4. Artemesia*

      I have been happily married to my second husband for well over 40 years but was in your shoes in my first marriage. I didn’t have a huge reason — but I had put him through professional school and now it was time to have kids and I realized I just didn’t want to go forward with this guy. I thought he would be devastated — but remember that old Paul Simon song ‘when something goes wrong, I’m the first to admit it, the first to admit it, but the last one to know.’ I think that was me. When I sat him down and said something ponderous like ‘We need to talk about whether this marriage is going anywhere’ he had also felt we had run aground. He wanted to ‘safe the marriage’ and I didn’t — but he was not surprised. I went through some motions — attended a therapeutic couples retreat etc, but my heart wasn’t in it, I was done.

      I still consider it one of the things in my life I am most proud of having done. My parents were horrified — it was a sign they were failures, why was I doing this to them etc etc. and of course ‘you’ll never find anyone better.’ All my upbringing taught me this was an unheard of thing to do if there wasn’t serious cause. And yet my life has been entirely better since then, I am married to a wonderful man I still enjoy being with (we are sitting in an apartment in Paris right now), I have two wonderful adult kids (and am forever grateful I didn’t have kids with #1 — we’d probably still be married and unhappy) and life is good. My first husband remarried and as far as I know he has had a happy life with his second wife. We just weren’t a good match. He wasn’t terrible but we were not good together. I am pleased for us both.

      1. Anonymously Yours*

        Hearing that you both moved on and are doing well and have no regrets now, years on, is very encouraging, thank you! :)

    5. Dan*

      Nobody can make you stay in a marriage that you don’t want to be in. That includes your support network, your spouse, or the state. You aren’t obligated to try counseling, and I wouldn’t waste the time if that’s not something you seriously want to do. (I’m not calling counseling a waste of time, I’m just saying it’s wasting your time if going won’t change your mind.)

      The real question is, how hard, and how expensive is your divorce going to be? That answer depends on how willing your spouse is to play ball. If they aren’t going to go quietly, it’s going to get expensive and fast. If you’re in the financially stronger position, it’s going to be easier to walk up and say, “I’ll pay you $X if you’re willing to move out and end this marriage.”

      If you’re in the financially weaker position, it’s going to be harder, because you’re going to need him to play ball. If he won’t play ball, then you’re certainly going to need a lawyer, and that won’t be cheap.

      1. neverjaunty*

        If you’re in the financially stronger position, it’s going to be easier to walk up and say, “I’ll pay you $X if you’re willing to move out and end this marriage.”

        That is not an offer you want to make without running it by a lawyer first. And it’s absolutely not an offer anyone should accept without running it by a lawyer first. Setting aside the ethical implications of essentially telling your spouse ‘I have all the money, so take my offer or else.’

        The only time anyone should do a divorce without talking to a lawyer at all is if they’re young, each able to support themselves independently, have no children, have no real possessions and don’t own anything together beyond a trivial amount of personal property.

        1. Dan*

          Who said anything about not talking to a lawyer?

          And what are the ethical implications of *actually* (not just essentially) telling your spouse, “I have the money, so take my offer of up front cash/guaranteed payment/asset transfer at some point that we agree on, or you can go get a lawyer that you may or may not be able to afford, and you may or may not get more in court, and if you do, you’re going to have to wait potentially years from today to actually start receiving any payment?”

          People settle out of court all of the time, with legal counsel. Pretty much every out of court settlement is for less than the plaintiff could potentially get at trial, but in exchange for settling out of court, they get guaranteed payment in a timely manner, without potentially years of appeals. The defense gets to limit their liability, including legal costs, particularly if they think they’ll lose at trial

          1. neverjaunty*

            Dan, I’m a lawyer. I’m well aware of how settlements work .

            If you don’t see any ethical implications in telling a spouse you’re leaving that you’re going to leverage having grabbed money that may or may not be ‘yours’ in the first place (community property is a thing), I’m not sure what to tell you. If it were a spouse threatening to keep your kids away from you unless you agreed to their custody plan I think it might be clearer.

            1. Dan*

              Well, then you know that all negotiations start somewhere, and if two parties can agree on how to settle something outside of court, then so be it. If they can’t, then it goes to court. I really don’t see a problem with that.

              Maybe I’m missing your point, but if I didn’t like my spouse’s custody plan, and she threatened to keep the kids from me, then I wouldn’t agree to it, and let the judge rule on it. That’s kinda how the system works.

              Yes, it might be expensive to take it to court, but that’s neither her fault nor mine.

              1. neverjaunty*

                Dan, yeah, you are missing my point, or maybe just not agreeing with it? You asked what the ethical implications were. I said, in essence, that hamstringing your spouse’s ability to enforce their rights if they don’t like your proposal is unethical – particularly if you do so by violating their legal rights in the first place, such as by cleaning out bank accounts that by law belong to both of you. I’m not saying that’s what YOU did, but you asked what the ethical implications were of “my way or else”.

      2. Anonymously Yours*

        Yeah, we haven’t done counseling and it’s not something I’m interested in. I don’t think it’s a waste of time, I think we’re just far past the point where it would be a productive effort.

        I have a minor edge financially, but he’s very emotionally motivated, so the approach would have to be a lot softer than you’ve described. “Take this or I’ll see you in court” will end with court, for sure. I think your point is that working out a collaborative agreement outside the court system will be a lot less expensive and painful, though, and that makes sense.

    6. dawbs*

      It’s hard to think of in the moment, but you don’t need a ‘good enough’ reason to leave–any more than you need a ‘good enough’ reason to stay.
      “I will be happier without him” is a good enough reason–and choosing for your own happiness is a good enough reason.

      If you have an EAP through work, now might be a good time to call them and talk to someone. Discussing your choices and reasons w/ someone neutral, who is there for you, can be a helpful first step. (and it’s free and confidential and all that jazz)

      1. Natalie*

        There’s a Dear Sugar column with the refrain “wanting to leave is enough” that I found so helpful in a similar circumstance. (If you haven’t read that one, OP, go find it)

        1. Artemesia*

          Absolutely. I have counseled a number of young women over the years having trouble leaving boyfriends because of pressure from friends and family as well as the boyfriend. I always ask them ‘do you now what a good reason to leave is?’ and they always look expectantly hoping for magic and I give it to them — ‘leaving because you want to leave.’ No one can keep you chained; you are a free person and you don’t need to justify leaving beyond ‘I think this is best for me.’

          Now in a marriage, the responsibility to consider the move is greater. And I would argue with kids it is very great. But ultimately it is about the rest of your life and the best choice for that life.

          It is probably wise to seek out personal therapy in this situation, particularly if you are married or have kids — but marriage counseling when you are done is not honest. I know I was literally ‘going through the motions’ because he wanted this chance — but it was a waste of all our time and gave him false hopes.

        2. Lindsay J*

          Yes, I love that column.

          And her column “Tiny Beautiful Things” (which is also the name of one of her books) which touches on
          “wanting to leave is enough” and also the phrase “be brave enough to break your own heart” because that’s what I felt like I was doing when I left my ex-fiance, but I knew that if I was brave enough I would come out better for it on the other side.

        3. OriginalEmma*

          Ugh, where was that in HS when I needed “good reasons” to leave boyfriends. Ah, teenage dedication.

    7. Usually_Lurking*

      Have you thought if you would be happier together, or apart? I mean really think about it. The time it takes to uncouple can be difficult, but for me, I am so much happier overall than I was when I was married. Listen to your inner voice.

      1. Dan*

        It’s usually, “we’d be happier together if he’d just do or XXX or I’d do YYY” but what it comes down to is neither is willing to change.

        I mean, my ex had some mental health issues, and saw both a psychologist and psychiatrist. I would have been willing to try and “work it out” if she would have signed consent forms that would have allowed me to speak to her therapists and be a part of her treatment plan. But that didn’t happen. Without that, I had to go.

    8. OhNo*

      I’m going to agree to both the advice to get a therapist and the advice to see a lawyer before going very far. Something else you may want to do before having the conversation is to write up (mentally, if you must) a list of your best and worst case scenario. I like to think of this as the “hope for the best, plan for the worst” process. What do you absolutely HAVE to get when you two separate? What do you really want, but can do without? Would you prefer that you two remain friends, or go completely separate paths? How hard are you willing to fight for any of your preferences if there is a dispute? What are you going to do if (god forbid) he gets angry and decides to make the process hell for you?

      As for the fact that he’s emotionally sensitive, I absolutely get the urge to make sure that he’s in a good place before you proceed. But the reality is that he’s not likely to be in a good place until after the proceedings, some time, and probably some therapy. Divorce is never an easy thing to process, even if you want it and are the one initiating it. So remember that when you feel the urge to stay, or do other things for him emotionally when you’d rather not: all you’re doing is prolonging the pain. Coming to him with a plan for the first few steps may help with the initial shock, since he won’t have to think about the details of who’s sleeping on the sofa and how to separate the bank accounts, which may give him some room to process.

      I’m sorry you’re going through this! But I think you’re incredibly strong for coming to this conclusion and being willing to act on it, even though it will be difficult. I hope everything goes as well as it can.

      1. Anonymously Yours*

        Thank you! Yes, having a plan for the first few days is where I’m trying to get. I appreciate the kind words.

    9. Revanche*

      I’ve been on the sidelines of a few close friends going through this for various reasons and I’m an advocate for: if one person in the relationship wants out or feels it cannot / is not working, then the default is that it isn’t. It takes two to be in a marriage or relationship and I truly don’t think that you can salvage it if one person’s mind and heart are not prepared to be in it anymore.

      Long way of saying, like other readers, you don’t need any more reason than that you want to leave. Since you are sure, I’m seconding-times ten everyone’s suggestions that you consult a lawyer and consider your ideal breakup scenario in terms of what you want to achieve and how you’d like to be able to walk away. Even if he still loves you, heck, even if you still loved him, staying wouldn’t be doing him any favors when you’re at this point of wanting to be gone. In the same way, staying until he’s “ok” doesn’t really work out when you’re wanting to break up the marriage, I think, as your job isn’t to stay til he’s ok anymore, it’s to move the relationship to the next stage. And thinking long term, leaving when you’re sure is better for both of you since otherwise you’re losing time in a relationship you’re no longer invested in.

      From what I’ve observed, once you’ve had the conversation, it would be kinder and probably healthier for both of you if you had or made a temporary plan for who lives where until the final details are resolved. I’ve watched friends remain in the same house as their to-be-ex and even with the best of intentions, both the relationship and their attitudes towards each other devolved really quickly into a seriously negative place. Again, I think a lawyer could advise you on what those logistics can look like without creating more problems.

    10. Turanga Leela*

      1) I second (third? fourth?) the advice to talk to a therapist and a lawyer. I’ve also heard of couples going to joint counseling during divorce proceedings in order to wind up the marriage in a healthy way, and I think that’s admirable, but I don’t actually know anyone who’s done it.
      2) Don’t be gratuitously cruel to your husband, but don’t try to be his friend during the divorce. You can’t be the person he talks to about this, and you can’t help hurting him. He needs his own therapist and his own friends/family to lean on, and if he’s talking to you instead, that’s actually making matters worse for him in the long run.
      3) Be certain that you want a divorce before bringing it up. As you said, uncertainty is excruciating in these situations. Be clear in your mind, and be clear with him. Tell him that you want a divorce. If you’re moving out, have a date in mind and make it SOON; hanging around is not fun. If it’s feasible, you might want to be ready to go that night to a hotel or a friend’s house, and you can move your stuff out later. Think in advance about how long the two of you will need to keep paying joint bills before you can disentangle things.
      4) Do you have kids? If you do, it’s going to be a different conversation than if it’s just the two of you. Honestly, if you have kids, and your marriage isn’t abusive or openly hostile, it’s worth considering whether there are alternatives to divorce that would give you the room to be happy. (You may have already considered and rejected these, and obviously you’re the best judge of your own situation.)

    11. Myrin*

      Coincidentally, Captain Awkward’s really-new-like-from-yesterday-evening post deals with exactly this! Maybe you can find something helpful in it!

      1. Anonymously Yours*

        Thank you!!! I hadn’t seen that before you mentioned it, and probably wouldn’t have for a few days. I only get over there once a week or so.

    12. Anon Accountant*

      I think a visit to a good lawyer and a session with a therapist would help. A therapist just to help you through the rough times you may feel ask you begin this process.

      Plus a good lawyer can help you so much with covering bases. Don’t be afraid to talk to several lawyers until you find 1 you are comfortable with. Good luck

  7. Cass*

    Anyone have thoughts about having a wedding on October 31st, but making very clear there is no Halloween theme or costumes allowed? (I’m heading to one next weekend. I’m mildly annoyed since I love celebrating Halloween and it’s a whole weekend event thing so I’m wondering whether it’s justified.)

    1. Artemesia*

      My husband and I considered Friday the 13 or 31 for our elopement and settled on Oct 13 — we have celebrated now about 75 ‘annivesaries’ i.e. Friday the 13ths since we married. We love it. I totally agree with you that a couple that chooses Oct 31 for the wedding should probably go with the day — but they are your friends and it isn’t your call. But yeah — it begs for orange and black.

    2. Elkay*

      I can understand it if they’ve been forced to pick that date for reasons outside of their control (school holidays, military deployment, family availability) but in general it seems a little strange to pick a date that’s got such strong connections to a theme if you’re not into that theme.

      1. Mean Something*

        December 24 and 25 are great times to get married if you’re Jewish and most of your guests will be Jewish, too. Some of my friends went this route. (Fun fact: There’s a three-week chunk of the summer you can’t get married if you’re Jewish–the weeks leading up to Tisha b’Av. We avoided these with a June wedding.) Anyway, this makes me think that for a religious Christian or Jewish couple who very specifically don’t “do” Halloween and whose relatives don’t either, it’s a reasonable choice, especially since it’s probably a good day to book some venues.

    3. Sarah*

      Maybe they don’t celebrate Halloween? It’s against a lot of people’s beliefs where I live, as is alcohol so plan accordingly :)

      1. Cass*

        No, they do celebrate Halloween. I’m just assuming it was an open date at their venue because most people didn’t want to get married then.

    4. Heather*

      If I got married on Halloween I would so have a Halloween themed wedding. What a great idea! (not that it helps you much but just remember there will be another Oct 31 next year)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh I would too. And I would WORK THAT PUPPY. Masquerade, the whole bit. :) I have quite a few friends who like to cosplay, so it would be very picturesque, LOL.

    5. Christy*

      It can be really hard to find a wedding date that works logistically–you have the two spouses-elect, their immediate families, their most important friends, the photographer, the venue, the officiant, and also the general season that you all need matching availability. If this was the only Fall 2015 weekend that worked for them, then it was the only Fall 2015 weekend that worked for them. I totally understand not wanting your wedding to become a Halloween wedding just because 10/31 was one of the fall Saturdays this year.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          Finding a wedding date that worked for everyone was a nightmare for us. We were shooting for April (venues and other vendors tend to cost more in May through September, which is the hot season) but working around my husband’s military schedule, my brother-in-law’s university exams, my dad’s retirement, Easter, and my parents’ anniversary. Such a headache.

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          So awful. Like all couples planning weddings, we were juggling tons of stuff. For us, it included: my mother’s teaching calendar (which left only a few weekends during the school year available, given that she would be traveling ~2,000 miles to the wedding); his father’s conference schedule (he’s the ED of a professional association that runs over a dozen conferences each year, so lots of weekends had been blacked out years in advance); my work schedule (I organized a 100,000-person event in mid-January, which meant that any time between, say, November and February was off the table); our budget (we couldn’t afford anything in the “high” wedding season, so late spring, summer, and early fall were out); and weather (we were married in Maine, had lots of travelers coming in from out of town, and wanted to try to avoid the snowy season). And we were lucky that we didn’t have any friend or family weddings or pregnancies to work around (although we did miss one good friend’s wife who was 8 months pregnant – he came alone – and family on my husband’s side whose son ended up getting confirmed the same weekend).

          It’s hell. Give these people a break.

      1. Anx*

        Yeah. October is a very popular month where I’m from because –Hurricane Sandy aside– it lies between hurricane season and winter storm/holiday season, and summer is just so expensive and hard to find a venue.

      2. TootsNYC*

        Yeah–remember, there are only 52 weekends in the year (times 2 days), maximum. And some of them are off the “menu” because they’re long weekends, or what have you.

        So that drives prices way up for venues; I could imagine that you could end up having to get married on the last Saturday in October–and oops, it’s Halloween.

        I wouldn’t want a Halloween wedding!

    6. Looby*

      Every seven years Halloween falls on a Saturday. Maybe this is the only Saturday in October all the important parties (ie bride, groom, immediate family etc) are available. It happens to fall on Halloween this year. Just because it’s happening at the same time doesn’t mean they must include it. If someone was getting married on 4th July, does that mean they need to have a red,white and blue theme?

      So you don’t get to dress up this year. If celebrating Halloween means that much to you, skip the wedding.

      1. Cass*

        Actually I got married on July 5th. I knew it was a big holiday for people to celebrate, so we opened up our rehearsal dinner to anyone who wanted to come and had a giant BBQ with fireworks. I think you should respect that your guests usually have plans to celebrate those days and honor that as best you can.

        1. MK2000*

          I’m sure there were some people who thought that was really great. There were probably other people who were annoyed that they had to use their holiday weekend to go to a wedding instead of spending a three day weekend however they chose. You can never make everyone happy with your choice of wedding date/time/venue.

    7. Not So Sunny*

      There are tons of people who don’t care whatsoever for or about Halloween. And if the friends are good ones, I would happily accede to their wishes. It’s their wedding after all. You get more Halloweens. They only get one wedding.

      1. TootsNYC*

        A lot of people think of Halloween as a kids’ holiday. In my ILs’ circle, not a single adult that I can think of would expect to dress up on Halloween.

    8. Overeducated and underemployed*

      I think that is fine for the wedding itself – but maybe you guests who are not directly involved can have a casual, non-disruptive Halloween pre- or after-party in between scheduled events? (If you are in the wedding party or immediate family, you probably will not have time, sorry. But if you are a regular guest, you may have plenty of spare time when the couple is busy, that is often a good time to meet up for fun.)

    9. Blue_eyes*

      I was a bridesmaid in a Hallowedding (as we called it) in 2009. Nothing in the wedding was particularly Halloween themed because they had picked the date based on the groom’s military leave dates. That said, they weren’t specifically against having Halloween stuff, so at the reception the wedding party added Halloween touches to our outfits (I had ligh up pumpkin earrings, others had cat ears and a cat tail, one groomsman changed in to a full costume from a fandom he and the groom like).

      In your case, I’d say assume this was the best (or only) date they could choose and just resign yourself to missing out on Halloween this year. Can you do any Halloween stuff tonight or tomorrow to get your Halloween “fix”? I saw a ton of kids in costumes today on the street, so it seems like at least in my city there are some Halloween events happening today.

    10. Turanga Leela*

      I have friends who did exactly this, and I was disappointed. It seemed like a missed opportunity. However, I agree with everyone else; it was probably the only date that worked for your friends. I don’t think anyone would blame you for adding a small Halloween touch to your outfit—maybe spider earrings or a Halloween-themed manicure?

      1. Christy*

        For the record, if she asked that there be no Halloween theming, I would wager this would upset her because it runs directly counter to what she asked. It would certainly upset me.

          1. Christy*

            If I were having a wedding on Halloween and I wasn’t trying to have it be on theme, and I had specifically asked people to not have a Halloween theme, I would notice, and I’d probably say to myself something like “Jesus, I make one freaking request and she can’t even follow it. If Halloween was so important to her why didn’t she stay the hell home?”

            Ridiculous? A little. But I would personally already be on edge about my wedding being on Halloween and like on the lookout for people to upset me. (I realize this is a little intense. But I would feel it.)

            I think if someone asked if it was ok, I might say yes, depending on the person. But to show up unannounced doing the one thing I’d asked you not to do? I’d be upset.

          2. Christy*

            Or I wouldn’t notice at all and I’d laugh at the idea that I would have noticed. But I don’t think it’s a big thing to ask, for people to not have Halloween-themed anything.

    11. Lily in NYC*

      It’s just one Halloween out of many. My sister got married the day after Thanksgiving and a few people moaned about it but they got over it and the biggest complainer ended up saying it was the best wedding he ever attended (probably because she had a giant ice-cream cake instead of a wedding cake).

      But it’s a bummer the couple doesn’t want costumes; I think that would be a blast.

    12. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Eh, I don’t Halloween “counts” as a holiday that should be avoided (for people without children). I’m on record as a Halloween hater, so my bias is clear. But there are SO MANY factors that go into figuring out a wedding date, and worrying about your friends’ missing one Halloween party just doesn’t figure.

      That being said, I imagine people with kids may have difficulty attending, if the wedding is in the afternoon or early evening. For most families with kids, Halloween is a big deal and skipping it would be pretty heartbreaking for the kidlets. (Maybe less so if they spent it with a friend? Or with Grandma? I’m not sure how much parents figure into the mix.)

      And regarding the (lack of) theme, that seems… totally reasonable. While a costume wedding sounds kindof fun (even though I hate dressing up), if it’s not their thing it’s not their thing. It’s no hardship to skip dressing up one year.

      1. Colette*

        I think it’s more appropriate to not requests guests dress up for a Halloween wedding, and I enjoy Halloween enough that I’ve spent the last few weeks planning haunted house. Some guests would like to dress up, but others would find it a burden. I’m trying to picture my grandparents dressing up in Halloween costumes for a wedding, and … no.

        I also think that asking people to dress in costumes will rob you of being able to look at wedding pictures and recognize your guests in ten years. Often, weddings are one of the few occasions when family gets together, and pictures can become precious if someone passes away.

        And that’s without the possibility of inappropriate costumes.

  8. RG*

    I’m slightly attached to say that this book is about fifth or so in my TBR pile. Like an actual, physical pile. Anybody else with a somewhat shameful amount of books they haven’t read?

    1. Cruciatus*

      Oh yes. I have literal piles. Every time my sister visits she brings more books she thinks I might like. I have stacks on the floor, I have stacks on a side table, I have stacks on top of my bookcase which is full of books (though I’ve mostly read those ones placed IN the bookcase). Although I wouldn’t say it’s “shameful”. It’s more…too many things to read, too little time to read them!

    2. Elkay*

      Yes, they’re stacked all over the house, I don’t like to put books in the bookcase until I’ve read them.

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      A few years ago I had a pile that was 40 books high.

      It was liberating giving them (and most of my other books) to charity. I only kept the ones that I’d re-read/meant something to me.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I just checked, I have 119 books on my GoodReads to-read bookshelf. And quite a few actual books in the house that I keep meaning to get to…it doesn’t help that I’ve got two ebooks checked out from the library that I have to finish before the loan period expires. There’s no renewals allowed for ebooks! :(

      1. Trixie*

        This sounds like “Future Reading” pinterest board. Pretty decided to stop pinning until I read more of them. That board has the most pins, followed closely by desserts.

      2. RG*

        119? That is child’s play compared to me. Trust me, it’s bad. I would have more on my actual read list, if I could remember all those grocery store mystery novels I devoured as a kid.

      3. PhyllisB*

        Ahh!!! Another Goodreads fan; I was going to mention them. I have won about 30 books from them, and so far I have read…..two. :-) Why? because I keep finding books at the library/they call me saying books I requested have come in. You know how it is; you rationalize that you can always read the books that you own anytime, but if the library has one for you well, you have to get that one read and back. Also have plenty of others I haven’t read. I tell my friends my bedroom is decorated in Modern Library. My husband is not thrilled, but since his choice of decoration is Modern Archery, he can’t say much.

    5. F.*

      My stack of books is not large, but I get a little antsy if I don’t have a book to start on as soon as I finish the current one. I just finished a couple of years worth of lunch breaks reading Peter Tremayne’s “Sister Fidelma” mysteries in order. I am currently reading “Basic Economics” by Thomas Sowell. He makes a difficult topic very understandable. In my next Amazon order will be some Ellis Peters books set in medieval Wales and one by Sharon Kay Penman. I have not read any of her books, but read all of Ellis Peters’ “Brother Cadfael” mysteries years ago. I enjoy medieval history.

    6. Heather*

      Why is it shameful? Wouldn’t it be worse to not have any books on the to be read pile? ie one of those people who don’t read for pleasure.

    7. Knitting Cat Lady*

      I have piles. More than one.

      I also have four book cases filled up. With double rows. I’ve actually read all those.

      All told, the books I own are about a quarter of the books I’ve read.

    8. nicolefromqueens*

      I have literally over 120. Most of them are going to storage because I don’t have room for them at home. It was so hard picking which two should go for every one that stays.

      Plus 130 on my wishlist.

      I go to thrift stores and book stores all the time and I can’t help myself. Now I just have to resort to taking a picture of the book and adding it to my wishlist. Thankfully none of these books were purchased new, otherwise I’d be homeless!

    9. Claire (Scotland)*

      My TBR pile is a bookcase in the spare room. Currently contains 37 books waiting for their shot. My Kindle has another 12 bought, downloaded but not yet read.

      I don’t see anything shameful in that, though. :) It makes me happy to have them there, waiting for me.

    10. Blue_eyes*

      Yep! I have about 10 right now. I’ve made pretty good progress this year, except I keep adding books faster than I read them!

    11. Blurgle*

      I live (by gleeful choice) in a tiny apartment without much if any room for stacks of books. I have 132 books on my Kindle that I haven’t read yet, plus nine on Kindle Unlimited.

    12. Natalie*

      Yep, we have a shelf that’s just “to-read”. It’s the only part of my book collection that isn’t organized by main entry.

      I use it as a guide to whether I should pick up a new book. Will it fit on the designated shelf? If not, I’ll pass.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I have a pile at least eight or ten books tall that all have to do with Secret Book. Have I read them? No. Will I? Yes, but right now I’m more concerned with finishing it.

      I have other books in my bookcase staring at me balefully. I’m SORRY, Agent Pendergast!!!

    14. Mimmy*

      Ahh now I don’t feel so bad. I have a few samples on my Kindle that I’ve been contemplating. My husband would kill me if I bought them because I’d never get to them!

    15. Lily in NYC*

      Ugh, I can relate! I’m not allowed to buy actual books any more – I made that rule after my last move (25 boxes of books!). It doesn’t seem as daunting when they just sit in my kindle queue. I still can’t read more than one book at a time. I have to finish one before I start the next one..

    16. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I’m in a book club based on this problem. We each nominate a book that we’ve been meaning to read, and that gets us through a year of books!

    1. Trixie*

      Best: Successfully used a friend’s smart phone for mobile deposit into my account. And now that it’s activated, I can take pictures and upload from my desktop! As someone with an out-of-state financial, this was huge help instead of mailing checks.

      Worst: Feeling winded a little easily these days. I’ve decided I need to add more cardio, and weights to my routine.

    2. Elkay*

      Best: Lots of nice indulgences this week: Binging through Archer season 6 on Netflix, listening to Bill Bryson talk about his latest book to Richard E Grant, watching Back to the Future II in the cinema.
      Worst: The cold I was fighting last weekend came back with a vengeance in the middle of the week.

    3. Kyrielle*

      Best: had a blast with the kids at the town harvest festival today.

      Worst: three-year-old is going through a shrieking phase. He doesn’t do it a lot in public, but the frustrated shriek of doom when at home is getting really old.

      (Saving grace: the weather today is fine. “That’s your outside voice.” Set him out on the back patio. “Let me know when you find your inside voice again!”)

    4. nep*

      Best, so far: Olympic lifting seminar this weekend. Just finished Day 1 — looking forward to Day 2. Once again, it only reinforces my boundless respect for the discipline and hard work of those who master these lifts with considerable weight.

      1. nep*

        Day 2 — Better still. All in all, fantastic weekend working on these lifts with some great people.

      2. OriginalEmma*

        That is fantastic! Was this through your gym or a special group? I did O-lifting for a time and while I never progressed far, I just felt so bad*ss doing it. C&Js are fun.

    5. Natalie*

      Best: I’m feeling like freakin’ Ma Ingalls with my winter garden preserving. Froze a bunch of blanched chard and shredded zucchini and cured squash to store, although I ended up giving so much squash away we’ll probably have eaten it before the snow even falls. I even managed to remember to plant bulbs. (Thanks Costco! That end-cap display totally worked on me.)

      Worst: FMIL’s passive aggressive tendencies are intersecting with wedding planning in a very annoying way.

      1. Trixie*

        Smithsonian Magazine ran interesting article recently, The Science of “Little House on the Prairie.” A mutual passion for Laura Ingalls Wilder inspired scientists in unrelated disciplines to investigate events from the famous author’s world.

          1. Carnival*

            Thank you for that link, I am a fan of everything Little House and Laura, and really enjoyed reading that article.

          2. Mimmy*

            Thanks for the link – I was absolutely obsessed with Little House when I was about 9 years old (when it was on in syndicated reruns). I think I’ve seen each episode at least a few dozen times, lol. Will definitely read this when I get time.

    6. Mimmy*

      BEST: Will be tomorrow – we’re going to Philly tomorrow for brunch with my husband’s nephew and his wife. Really lovely people.

      WORST: Been having pain in my neck / collarbone area. Not sure if it’s from the computer or what. Feels like muscle spasms.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: The week is over. Gah, it seemed interminable! Next Sunday is the start of NaNoWriMo and I am going to be busy busy busy. Watch stuff happen while I’m busy (I can only hope LOL).

      WORST: I have not started to make my dress for the ice show next Friday. I’ve been so tired, not sure why–maybe the change in weather. If I don’t finish it in time, I have something I can wear, so no big. I can just finish it and wear it at the holiday show.

    8. SL #2*

      Best: Long weekend, my birthday, and new laptop!
      Worst: I’m feeling like I’m starting to come down with another cold… I just got over one last month!

    9. pony tailed wonder*

      Best – I went on a business trip with my co-workers and we all went sight seeing together one day. Spending time with wonderful friends was the best part of the trip. I am very lucky to work with good people.

      Worst – I have been on medicine that makes me vomit a lot and it makes sleeping through the night tricky.

      1. Nashira*

        Can you ask your doctor for an antiemetic like phenergan or Zofran? Zofran is absolutely amazing for anti-puking. It’s usually given as melt-in-your-mouth tabs so it gets in your system even if you can’t keep anything down.

        Regardless, I hope you feel better soon.

        1. pony tailed wonder*

          Oh – I didn’t know about that! I am going to ask now. My prescription was completed last night but if I have to do another round, I will ask for that. Thanks!

    10. Revanche*

      Best: Made a huge (to us) mortgage prepayment. Investing in our future finances woo!
      Worst: I have entered the wonderful world of migraines. ow.

    11. Mkb*

      Best: on Friday I found out that I’m pregnant with my first! I’m really excited but also pretty nervous.

      Worst: my grandpa went into hospice this week and doesn’t have much time left. Ive come to terms with it but I feel bad for my grandma. I booked tickets to go visit her in January so I’m looking forward to that.

    12. Lily in NYC*

      WORST: Planes are flying over my head every 30 seconds and I am about to lose it. It is so loud.

      Best: NOTHING. It was a crappy week. OH wait, my vertigo is a little bit better. I guess that’s my BEST.

    13. AvonLady Barksdale*

      BEST: I bit the bullet and booked a trip to NYC to spend a weekend with friends. One girlfriend agreed enthusiastically to let me crash on her couch. I will get to see some of my favorite people, and there will be dim sum!

      ALSO BEST: My boyfriend passed one of his major exams for his doctorate– it’s been a very long 6 months. He took two exams in July, failed one (not at all uncommon), had to re-take this one, then they made him wait two weeks for results. Results are favorable. We can all chill out now.

      WORST: I have a concert today and I am NOT feeling it. We’re not ready. I have to stand the whole time, which I hate. And my boyfriend woke up this morning feeling really sick.

      Basically, it’s been a pretty decent week.

    14. Nashira*

      Best: My in-laws’ antisocial cat actually slept with me this morning. She’s still sleeping a foot away and hasn’t hissed or hit me.

      Worst: I have an urgent colonscopy this week. It is the literal worst. (Mostly because fffffff my ulcerative colitis hurts/sucks and my doc can’t treat it without the test.)

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Oh Nashira, you poor thing. I know this sounds gross, but if you haven’t already, do some research on fecal transplants. My boss had horrendous ulcerative colitis and a fecal transplant completely cured him in a short time period and he’s been fine ever since. So many people refuse to look into it because of the “yuck” factor, but it can have an incredible outcome.

        1. Nashira*

          I actually almost ended up with one of those for recurrent C. difficile infections! Thankfully, a stupidly expensive antibiotic ended up curing me. When you are sick enough, a fecal transplant absolutely does not seem yucky. Or at least, not yuckier than what you’re living with… There’s a lot of other treatments we can try still for my UC. I’m just whiny because this’ll be my third scope and they just aren’t any fun. :)

          1. Lily in NYC*

            I hope you get better really soon. I can’t imagine how awful c. diff and ulcerative colitis must be.

    15. CrazyCatLady*

      Best: I finally found a hairdresser I love for both cuts and color!

      Worst: my husband is visiting family this weekend. Normally I cherish alone time but I had surgery a few weeks ago and I’m feeling lonely and emotional.

    16. Masters Degree JD lady*

      Best: surviving the new gig so far….and the support of friends/the boy/getting grudging respect from the mom :P
      Worst: feeling drained from so much new knowledge. That, and being woken up by obnoxious loudspeaker outside. I love running and fun runs, but not when the announcements trigger headaches/wake me up X/

    17. Lora*

      BEST: our public library had a book sale this past weekend, daughter and I got a big bag of books (22) for $5. they always do a $5 a bag on the last afternoon of the sale. AND I found a copy of Bel Canto! I’m looking forward to reading that soon!
      WORST: I am transferring to another department in my organization, and my deskmate has been Very snarky. And if she’s not making snarky, put-down comments to me, she ignores me, to the point of if someone asks me a question she answers it. And they wonder why I wanted to transfer!!

    18. kelseywanderer*

      Best: Had a much-needed retail therapy shopping trip with friends this weekend and came away with a few items I absolutely love.
      Worst: Had my first panic attack since I’ve been here.

    19. Hlyssande*

      Best: Had an awesome experience at the new eye doctor last Wednesday. He was absolutely hilarious. Ex: My last name is Savage. There’s a town named Savage in MN. The first thing he did was demand to know if I lived in Savage and if so, why not – because I’d be able to walk into just about any shop with Savage in the name and make like I should get a family discount. This was super funny because I had just been telling my cousin the day before that we should get the rest of the cousins to move up here and trade off being Mayor Savage of Savage, MN. The doc was fantastic and I learned some important things, like how I’m more likely to get glaucoma in my left eye due to trauma.


      1. Had a dentist appointment that went better than expected, but I’m going to need an implant for a broken tooth.
      2. Trying out toric contact lenses for the first time. Last Thursday was no biggie – no problems at all, but Friday was miserable enough that I ended up taking migraine meds at home that night.

  9. Elkay*

    Hi Alison, my comments have been going into moderation since last week, is there a reason for that? I don’t comment very often and I don’t think I’ve said anything controversial :-/

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hmmm, you appear to be commenting from a new IP address that at one point was the IP address of someone who did some really ugly drive-by commenting. He appears to be gone though, so I’ll remove it from the moderation list and you shouldn’t see it happen anymore.

      1. Elkay*

        Thanks, I haven’t changed my internet provider but I did recently change my package to a speedier one with them I wonder if that’s what prompted the change.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Public IP addresses change all the time, more than once a day sometimes, depending on your router’s WAN IP lease time. You probably have the same internet provider as that other commenter, though.

  10. Looby*

    Slow cooker question.

    I usually put everything together the night before, store it in the fridge and then put it on in the morning but I’ve only used fresh or tinned vegetables. If the recipe calls for frozen vegetables, would they be okay overnight in the fridge or should I add them in the morning so they are still frozen? The veggie in question is okra if it makes a difference.

    1. danr*

      Overnight in the fridge for frozen veggies is just about right. They should be thawed and still cold by then.

    2. Kyrielle*

      I would keep it frozen, because if the recipe calls for frozen, it’s counting on the cooking to thaw it out before it gets actually cooked.

    3. Wrench Turner*

      Don’t ruin a good roast by adding okra (I kid. Sorta.)!
      Overnight in the fridge should be fine – distributed frozen things thaw real quick once the heating starts, especially if you add a broth/stock. It’s the only way I ever have time/brainpower to do slow cooking during the week.

      Unless it’s a huge solid block of veggies or the recipe says WHY it wants you to start with frozen, fuggedaboutit.

      1. Looby*

        It’s a gumbo recipe so don’t worry – I’m not ruining a roast (actually I’m doing a roast pork and veggies in the oven this afternoon). I ate okra once about 7 years ago so I can’t really remember what it’s like. I figured, if this recipe doesn’t turn out, I’ll move on and find another. I have pizza in the freezer as a back up.

        1. GH in SoCAl*

          My Mom’s gumbo recipe, which is not for the slow cooker, has the okra added near the end. (We use a bag of the frozen, sliced okra, so we’re hardly purists.) The thing that makes Okra “vile” as some have called it is that it gets slimy if overcooked. I’d be wary of okra that’s been cooking for 8 hours….

  11. Josine*

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone here has travelled to/know anything about Bhutan? I’d love to go there, but am unsure if it’s a good place for a solo, female traveller.

    1. Lizzie*

      I actually checked in with a friend of mine who has done this after seeing this comment! She was in Bhutan solo last year in the fall, and she said she never felt unsafe, but she was still very vigilant because, of course, it’s still unfamiliar territory. Her advice was to look for reputable tour guides and see if you can get a female guide if that makes you feel better (she did, and she said it put her at ease).

    2. misspiggy*

      I have travelled there for work with colleagues, and loved it. No major safety issues, although I think there is a little bit of banditry in more remote areas. Taxis are a key way of getting around, and can take a fair bit of haggling. I might try to book point to point travel in advance, if that’s possible. Paro is quiet and lovely. I’d say Bhutan is certainly a lot safer than India, and I wouldn’t expect any problems in terms of street harassment. Beautiful, quiet, great Momos (lamb dumplings)!

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Don’t be jealous misspiggy, but I live in a neighborhood with lots of Tibetan/Nepalese immigrants and there is a momo cart about 20 feet from my apartment (and all over the neighborhood). They are all made of chicken or beef (or veggies) here but that’s fine with me because I hate lamb.

        1. Nashira*

          There’s a Nepalese restaurant in my small Midwestern town and nnnnhgghhhh momo! They have the best achar, too. I’d eat it on anything savory.

    3. Treena*

      I don’t know anything first-hand, but I met a woman this summer who was/is SO shy and timid. We were in a language class together and she barely spoke, in either language. I knew her for months and then she casually mentions that she’s going to move to Bhutan later this year. I asked her all about it, and she talked mostly about the beauty of the country, but didn’t mention any safety worries (although she is going to work for a friend, so maybe that’s why she seemed more sure of safety issues).

    4. matcha123*

      I’ve never been, but I did work with a great guy from the Bhutanese government a number of years ago. English is used pretty extensively in the schools and it seems like many people can speak English very well.

      The one thing he did tell me, and you may already know this, is that tourists must pay about $200? per day they are in the country and I think they have to arrange travel through certain agencies and can only say at certain hotels (which also provide meals). My friend’s explanation was that they don’t want to become like Nepal, which lets anyone in and which has become polluted with garbage and things that tourists leave behind.

      My friend lives in the capital, if that makes any difference.

    5. Lily in NYC*

      Bhutan is incredible!!! Beautiful with wonderful people. I think it’s safe for a solo traveler (lots of Australians go there during their gap year travels and I’m sure many of them are women traveling alone).

  12. Al Lo*

    I got a new Smart Car this week! Well, new to me. :) I was in a minor accident a month or so ago, and it was that perfect storm of no injury, drivable car, other driver 100% at fault, and enough repairs needed to write off my older, high-mileage car! Smarts have been around long enough that there are some second-hand ones within my price range, and so I spent last weekend looking around for it and got it Monday.

    It’s adorable! My husband told me it’s more of an accessory than a car, but it’s a very useful accessory. :)

    1. Natalie*

      I use them through car2go and they’re pretty good! The acceleration is a little odd to me, so I started calling them rocketcars.

      1. Al Lo*

        That was the first way I used them, too, and was really surprised at how spacious they feel. It does take a little bit to get used to how they accelerate, but then again, I find that driving any different car has a bit of that, in terms of how sensitive the pedals are.

  13. Breadwinner*

    I was going to be a breadwinner for Halloween. I’m a single female in my 20s (so kind of ironic that I’d be a breadwinner for a family of 1 but mentioning because it’s not a jab at a significant other in my life or anything.) At first I thought it was a cute, girl power costume. It’s sort of a pun costume as well because I was going to make a ruffle skirt made from bread bags and wear a medal.

    Now my female roommate wants go as a trophy wife. Which, left a bad taste in my mouth but I can’t pinpoint why. Target came under fire this past yr for having a trophy wife shirt in their bridal department because it made it seem like women were objects to be owned. Not sure how I feel about this or if it relates.

    But it made me realize that maybe my costume would be more offensive to a family dynamic than what I intended it to represent. I think going as a trophy wife and breadwinner pair would somehow make it worse. What do you all think? Am I putting too much thought into a silly costume? Are both costumes offensive or outdated? If so, any suggestions for a new costume?

    1. Heather*

      The trophy wife bothers me for the reasons you’d expect. The breadwinner doesn’t because it doesn’t knock either sex – it simply says that you are dressing up as the breadwinner.

    2. Cristina in England*

      I think maybe the breadwinner costume would cause a raised eyebrow or two because by being a costume (especially a “powergirl” type), it is implied that it isn’t the norm? Like, imagine a guy dressed as a “breadwinner”. If he were dressed in the pun interpretation, like literally wearing bread bags, it would probably be fine, but otherwise what would he wear? Office casual? Suit? It doesn’t make sense unless you really get into the breadiness of it.

      1. Breadwinner*

        Good point, thanks! Yes I was going to literally sew bread bags together to make a skirt and was thinking about making a headpiece with some different kinds of bread. I like keeping the focus on the pun, though vs the gender roles!

    3. pony tailed wonder*

      The bread winner doesn’t bother me but the trophy wife one does. I would give a brief ‘hey, think this one over again’ nudge to your friend but realize she is an adult and can decide to still wear it.

      Here is a toast to you and your fun idea for a Halloween costume!

      1. Parfait*

        I was going to complain about the toast pun, but I think I’ll rise to the occasion and roll with it.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      I feel like Halloween has become so PC. I remember when I was a kid that adults used to wear controversial costumes on purpose. Some of them were funny but some were over the line. And that’s the issue – what’s over the line for one person might be hilarious to another. A trophy wife costume wouldn’t bother me at all. It’s a costume, not a statement. And the breadwinner idea isn’t remotely offensive. I’m going to a party as Kim Davis.
      I hate “sexy XX” costumes so I know I’m a hypocrite (even though I think a “sexy Kim Davis” costume would crack me up).

      1. moss*

        I’m from Kentucky and I approve of your costume!

        Also the breadwinner sounds really cute and trophy wife doesn’t bother me at all.

  14. Lisa P*

    I haven’t read Nickel and Dimed, generally I’m wary of those “social experiment” type books. The goal usually seems to be more about reinforcing the writer’s preconceptions than writing an interesting, authentic story. It usually comes across like a privileged first world person griping about temporary inconveniences.

    One exception I’ve found would be George Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London”, which has a similar premise, but he writes about the characters and degradation he experienced with such a simple and unruffled style that you really believe that he became part of the world. As someone who worked for much of my teens and 20’s in low-wage food service it means a lot to see it reflected back in such an intelligent, relatively dignified way. It’s also incredibly entertaining.

    1. Hattie McDoogal*

      I’ve found “Down and Out in Paris and London” is something of a Bible among people who work in restaurants, second only to Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential” (which references “Down and Out”, IIRC).

    2. fposte*

      I think there probably is some confirming of preconceptions in the Ehrenreich, but it is also really illustrative, I thought, about the specifics of a system that isn’t really a system at all and that most of us are fortunate not to have to understand or even consider.

      Overall, I’d say I don’t know offhand of a contemporary book that explores the situation more clearly, so I think it’s doing good work even if it has some flaws.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Agreed, and having been so poor that I literally had no food, I can approve it. I was lucky to be able to come back to my folks at the time, but I can imagine if I couldn’t. In fact, it impacted me enough to where I kind of hoard food a little bit and if I get low on staples, I get anxious.

      2. neverjaunty*

        It also does a good job of Ehrenreich pointing out her own misconceptions. For example, assuming that if she was poor she’d just make a big pot of inexpensive soup and eat that all week to save money, and then finding out just how stupid a plan that is when you have one hot plate and get home late and dog-tired from physical labor.

    3. Overeducated and underemployed*

      In my recollection – i read it a few years ago – the Ehrenreich book works better than most in that she focuses a lot on the stories of people she works with, not just herself.

      1. Dan*

        I spent plenty of years working at low wage jobs while I was getting my sh!t together, and no, I wasn’t living at home at the same time.

        I will never forget working for a large defense contractor, who had a sub division manfucaturing and servicing private jets. The service portion actually had a lot of low wage (hourly non-exempt positions). The facility we were at was in Los Angeles. This company was a huge United Way supported, and pushed for “100% participating.” I will never forget my man J, who would come to work talking about how he had his kids on some state sponsored insurance plan for his kids. (I was under the impression that it was a quasi-welfare program.) It was no surprise, given that he was making like $11/hr.

        Most of the front line at that job were making under $15/hr. I found it a little tone deaf to be pushing those folks for participating in a charity drive.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yeah, my employer is also a big 100% participation United Way type. I also found it tone deaf that they pushed it when many of us are making $13-18/hr and was pretty pissed when my boss made me pledge.

          1. the gold digger*

            I hate the whole thing just on principle for any wage. Any time I have been forced, I have just given a flat ten dollars (or whatever) because I feel so sorry for the person in my group who is stuck doing it.

            (Kinda like I stupidly agreed to be on the fundraising committee for my reunion class for college. My college has a lot of money – it has one of the ten highest-paid presidents in the US and it’s not Harvard or Stanford – so in my two pitches for cash to my classmates, I asked just for a token contribution so we could get our participation numbers up for the rankings. My college does not need money.)

          2. J*

            My job pushes for “100% response rate” and responding includes going to the web page sent through the pledge drive email and clicking a button saying you are electing not to contribute. I really appreciate that the system allows us to “participate” and boost the response rate without having to pledge any money.

    4. Observer*

      I haven’t read the book, but I’ve heard her talk, and I didn’t get that impression about her. And, what she did say resonated with me very strongly, having grown up in a family that was pretty close to the poverty line, and working with people who are a paycheck away from disaster or something close.

  15. Carrie in Scotland*

    I asked for tips on how to swallow large pills last week.

    I am pleased to report back that the combination of thumb tucking into palm along with sipping juice, putting the pill in and then drinking the juice has been working.

    Thanks to everyone that had suggestions! One of the many things I love about this website :)

  16. Amber Rose*

    I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and they’re delicious. But I still have a few cups of guts left after the slaughter last week (if you click my name, there’s a picture of the aftermath, and the casualties.) I could make ALL the cookies, but i’m also open to other ideas, hint hint. :)

    We’re having a board games night tonight. I’m excited to play test my copy of Exploding Kittens with a larger group.

      1. So Very Anonymous*

        That is basically my mom’s pumpkin bread recipe (hers is from a can of Libby’s pumpkin in the 1960s). Easy and yummy.

    1. Belle diVedremo*

      Yay, more photos! Looks like you folks had a great time.

      Pumpkin, yum. It’s a great vegetable cooked a lot of different ways; Middle East to Indian subcontinent cuisines should have lots of suggestions. You can use it like mashed potatoes, too. Muffins/breads/etc are also good. On the other hand, just a few cups might go further as More Cookies.

    2. Hlyssande*

      Pumpkin cheesecake!

      I had the best results with adding a packet of cheesecake flavored instant pudding – otherwise it doesn’t really taste much like cheesecake (but is still delicious).

      You can do it as pie or bars. Om nom nom.

  17. Stephanie*

    Running a 5K on Halloween Weekend. Any running-friendly costume ideas? I was thinking Where’s Waldo (but the beanie might be a little hot).

    1. acmx*

      How about go as a bank robber: mask, money bag, all black outfit or an escaped convict: black and white stripped tank (if you have a white tank, you could use black electrical tape) or an orange outfit. Since you’re running ‘n’ all.

      Or a superhero and make a cape.

    2. Cruciatus*

      Where I live there is a Zombie 5K close to Halloween. It might be fun to go as a zombie and have it appear you’re chasing those other runners/walkers–but I don’t know how running friendly that would be. Though I feel like it could be mostly ripped clothes with blood on them and some good face makeup.

    3. Turanga Leela*

      Are you looking to buy anything? You can find a lot of “costumes” that are basically just themed shirts or hoodies. I’ve seen superheroes and Chewbacca, among others. I’ve done 5Ks wearing that kind of thing, but I’m also a slow runner and not especially worried about my time.

      A friend dressed up as Quail-Man from Doug. That looked distinctive and reasonably running-friendly.

  18. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    Our trip officially starts today! We’re off to Auckland this afternoon for an overnight layover and an ungodly start time tomorrow morning for our flight to LA (via Sydney). I’ll be blogging it via the link on my profile, if anyone’s interested in my nonsensical travel ramblings :o)

    I’m so excited! Tickets for Disneyland and Pacific Pier are booked, Hallowe’en costume is packed, DC flights are arranged, as is a couple of days at Big Bear Lake, and a night in LA Live district… so, does anyone have any recommendations of short, 1/2 day-ish things we can do in the LA/Santa Clarita kind of area on our days “off”? Preferably something that doesn’t draw a ton of crowds (it will be mid-week) as I’m a hardcore introvert and need at least some days where I’m not surrounded by people :)

    1. danr*

      Bon Voyage!!! For alone times, find a nice museum or park or library. Most folks understand the need to keep to yourself in those places.

    2. quika*

      Traffic is key to navigating the la area. What looks close on a map can be a long hour plus drive… some thoughts..If you are closer to the Westside the Getty is wonderful , on a hill and has great views of la. Should not be too crowded. If you are closer to pasedena the Huntington has beautiful gardens and a smaller museuem. If you are by Disney it’s a bit of a trek south but the laguna beach area is lovely. And should not be crowded midweek this time of year.basically everything in la requires a car…

      1. Older Not Yet Wiser*

        The Getty Museum is off the 405 right in between Santa Clarita and West LA. It is amazing and free. (Might charge for parking – can’t remember). Another outing – take Sunset Blvd west toward the ocean. Stop at the Self-Realization Fellowship Center on the left just before Pacific Coast Hwy. Beautiful peaceful gardens. Then continue West on Sunset and turn right (north) onto Pacific Coast Highway (hwy 1) and go up the coast stopping for a seafood lunch somewhere overlooking the ocean in Malibu. Continue north – eventually 1 merges with 101 -and stay on 101 North to 126 East to Santa Clarita.

        1. GH in SoCAl*

          I think you still need (free) reservations for the parking lots of both the Getty and the Getty Villa in Malibu. (I LOVE the villa, btw, way more than the new Getty.)

          Huntington Library/Botanical that someone suggested above is another great local secret.

          1. Parfait*

            You no longer need to reserve a parking space for the Getty Museum, although it does cost money to park. If you take public transport it’s completely free, but it is a pretty decent hike up a steep hill from Sepulveda Blvd.

            The Self-Realization Fellowship does have amazing gardens and it’s very tranquil. And it’s free! Highly recommend for your introvert recharging needs if you are on the west side. Huntington Library and Gardens is also awesome, if you’re on the east side of town. Although there is an admission charge it’s well worth it.

    3. Hellanon*

      For at least smaller crowds and a really enjoyable visit: the Huntington Library in Pasadena, Descanso Gardens, the LA Botanical Gardens; the beaches north of Santa Monica, like Will Rogers State Park; weirdly, downtown Los Angeles on a Sunday (plan brunch or lunch at the Central Market & a visit to the Last Bookstore, one of the best places in the city to hide out for an hour or so)- the LA Conservancy has self-guided & docent-led walking tours on their website for downtown.

      (We don’t have quiet parks here, at least not public ones; the gardens I’ve listed above are your best bet for that kind of unwiding.)

    4. Mindy*

      Griffith park. The observatory will have people (particularly over the weekend), but you’ll see the Hollywood sign and can do some hiking. The Autry Museum is there (haven’t been but supposed to be good for American west museum). I prefer LACMA (Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art) over the Getty, plus it’s next to the La Brea Tar Pits. If you do go to the Huntington (which is another of my favorites), take a break at the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain – it will be decorated for Halloween and is a nice place for some ice cream.

      Driving will take longer than you think it will. Embrace it is a time to not talk to strangers.

  19. thelazyb*

    Anyone watching season 2 of the leftovers?

    I think UK and US are both up to episode 3?

    Spoilers in reply…

    1. TheLazyB (UK)*

      *TRIGGER WARNINGS* for almost everything you can imagine. It’s a very depressing show.

      The soundtrack is awesome. Downloaded a load of Ruelle stuff after last week.

      The new credits are weird as hell, although I didn’t really like the old ones either.

      But.. what?! That opening scene to the season?! Laurie is running over GR members?! The murder-suicide! Disturbing as hell.

      Biggest of all, that scene with Tom and Meg… he was clearly in no position to give any kind of meaningful consent yet although there is a fair amount of commentary calling it rape it’s by no means universal – bloody Damon Lindelof seems to think it was fine. Link in next comment. Although it was interesting as someone mentioned elsewhere that he was silent all through than and only shouted before and after.

      SPOILERS AND TRIGGERS OVER, for this comment at least.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      I love that show! I’m glad I stuck with it last season – it was so slow to really get started that I almost gave up. Persistence really paid off though; those last few episodes were as good as anything I’ve seen on TV.

      This season started very strongly indeed, but I wasn’t so keen on that last episode. I’m sure they’ll bring it all together like they did last time, but right now it just felt like a distraction from the main story.

      1. TheLazyB (UK)*

        I feel like I am entirely unsure what the main story actually is :) Every time I seem to get a handle on it it changes.

      2. Jen RO*

        When would you say it picks up? I watched 3-4 episodes and couldn’t handle more Liz Tyler moping in the woods… but the premise sounded so interesting.

        1. TheLazyB (UK)*

          The second season is like a reboot, skip the first and start there?

          I was fascinated by the premise but decided I couldn’t cope with the lost children, but DH watched it and I kept finding myself drawn in. The end of the first season was excellent but because I wasn’t really concentrating at first I can’t tell you when it found its feet.

    1. Greggles*

      It’s amazing how they do that. We had one up here in Minneapolis this week and everyone’s phone pinged. The baby was found safe a few hours later!

      1. OriginalEmma*

        The Ramsey county, Black Honda Civic one? Yup. I was on the bus and heard *everyone’s* phone ring, jingle and buzz from them.

  20. Milton*

    I don’t want to give Christmas gifts to some of my friends anymore. [They are a couple and I think we’ve been doing this for 4 years. Five years with the guy since I was friends with him first] Not because I don’t like them, it just feels forced and not fun anymore. On the contrary, I do a gift exchange with a group of other friends, but we do secret Santa and everyone has a price limit for their one person and secret wish lists are exchanged. I look forward to it every year!

    Can I just flat out say, let’s just not do gifts this year to the couple friend?
    Also, do you think there is an age out limit on this? Now that I’m 30 eehhhh IDK, I’m starting to feel a little weird about holiday gifts to/from anyone outside my immediate family and closest friends. Even then…I’m starting to dread what to tell my awesome MIL or parents when they ask. What I really want is lululemon, but I can’t say that! Bahaha

    1. fposte*

      Sure, why not? I think you can say it nicely. Like “These days I’d really rather have a nice experience and just see you–would you guys be game to have a regular planned lunch [or special outing or whatever] near the holidays rather than a gift exchange?”

      I personally think an awesome MIL would be totally on board with lululemon. Maybe you could do a joint shopping trip.

    2. Ruth (UK)*

      I never give gifts to friends. I barely even give gifts to my immediate family. When my brother and I reached the age of about 11 or so, we created a pact with each other to never get each other ‘obligation’ like gifts (eg. birthday or xmas gifts). My brother actually said this, “can I not get you a birthday present, and then you not get me one either?” and then at xmas he was like “can we do that thing for christmas presents as well??”

      With friends, none of my close/personal friends are into gift giving either. Sometimes I send cards though, especially to a friend in another city (I also love to send postcards if I travel).

      I would say it’s fine not to give gifts to those friends, but if you normally do, and normally receive them back, then you should give a good pre-warning. Just say you’re not planning on exchanging gifts this year and add “so please don’t get me anything”. (Then at least you’ve told them so if they go ahead and ignore you it’s… their choice).

      I think you can say that to parents too. My parents asked me on my last birthday if I wanted anything and I just said there was not anything I wanted. However, we often still exchange token or practical gifts (my dad got me a new bike light last year).

      1. the gold digger*

        Yeah, that’s where I have been with my friends and family for years. A few years ago, I had a new friend who gave me a Christmas gift and I was gobsmacked, because I don’t do that any more, so the next year, well before Christmas – and she gave me a great cue when she said something about the stress of shopping – I said, “Let’s not exchange gifts. Let’s just go out for a really nice lunch. All I really want to do is to hang out with you.” And it worked.

    3. Artemesia*

      The awkward part is the transitional year — it isnt the not giving, it is the them buying stuff and then discovering the rules have changed. So right away, let them know that you are finding gift exchanges less fun than you used to and would like to plan to get together instead– or whatever. If you like them, then pair the announcement of changed gift rules with an invitation to do something fun together.

  21. Fleur*

    Dumb question time: I just got new earbuds that have *very* long cables, and I plan to take them with me while commuting. Is there something out there that helps organize the cables so they don’t get scrunched up/tangled? I have a small circular pouch I can store the earbuds in, but it’s a mess right now.

    1. Cruciatus*

      I always wrap mine around the device I’m using. If they are super long you could only unravel the cord as far as you need it and leave the rest wrapped around the device (assuming it doesn’t block the screen or whatever). There are also cord wraps you could use. If you google it you’ll find many different options.

      1. Key to the West*

        You can get these little plastic things made for exactly that! In the uk you can get them in some pound shops so maybe try some Dollar Stores (they are a thing, right?). I’ll have a look online too and post a link if I find something!

    2. Blue_eyes*

      I got some “cord tacos” from CB2 and they work great. You could clip the taco around the extra cord length while listening.

  22. Honeymoon help*

    Hey everyone! So my husband and I recently got married and we decided to go on our honeymoon sometime next year. Does anyone have any destination recommendations/ hotel recommendations? I feel a bit overwhelmed with planning such an important trip, especially since it will be our first time traveling together. Any general planning advice would also be greatly appreciated!

    1. Elkay*

      My first bit of advice would be to decide what type of trip you want? Beach holiday, city break, cruise, multi-centre, organised tour…

      Once you’ve settled on that you can start looking at destinations based on how far you want to travel (and budget).

      1. Clueless honeymooner*

        Thanks, Elkay!
        Well, as of now we are leaning towards a beach vacation but what is a city break?

        1. Elkay*

          I’d classify a city break as 3-5 days in a city solely focussed on sight seeing rather than chilling out.

      2. BRR*

        This is great advice. Once you nail down the type, it will be a lot less overwhelming. Make sure to look at alternative airport and if you can be flexible with your dates. Switching by one day was the difference between $400 and $800 tickets. In general I think some flexibility and open-mindedness will serve well. Don’t have your heart set on a specific hotel etc.

        We went to Costra Rica last year (Arenal region), and it was amazing. We went in February which was amazing to leave the bitter cold and it was snowing as our plane took off.

        1. Clueless honeymooner*

          Thanks! If you don’t mind me asking, where did you stay? Hotel? Apartment? Did you do any activities, like jetskiing or parasailing?

          1. BRR*

            We stayed in a hotel that was basically for couples with a lot that were on their honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary. No restrictions on children but I did my research and children were rarely there. It was definitely not set up for them. We did some hikes and toured an animal sanctuary (which was the most awesome thing ever!). Our criteria were that we wanted someplace warm and that had a balance of adventures and relaxation. So we did activities in the morning and chilled by the pool in the afternoon. We also decided that we’re not beach people which helped rule out a lot of place. It might help to think about things you don’t want so you can cross them off the list. And following Treena’s advice below, this was an easier destination. Most people spoke english, we paid to be shuttled around, and really stayed in touristy places. It cost more, but was far less stressful in the end.

            I’m not sure your location or budget, but for beaches there’s the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico, Aruba, Bermuda, and Vietnam has nice beaches and is also cheap once you’re there (can be expensive to get to).

    2. hermit crab*

      Congratulations! For our honeymoon, my husband and I went to Vancouver Island and had a fantastic time. Some AAM commenters had awesome tips on where to go, where to eat, etc. Here is the thread: https://www.askamanager.org/2015/08/weekend-free-for-all-august-29-30-2015.html#comment-854986.

      In general, I would say don’t be too worried about making it the “perfect” trip — hopefully, this is just the first of many great trips that you will take together! Just do something you will both enjoy.

    3. Lebanese Blonde*

      Depends entirely on where you are and how far you want to travel. My immediate recommendations based on places I have been are:
      1- Big Sur, in California–fly to San Francisco, rent a car and drive the PCH south. If you like the outdoors, backpack or camp for a night or two, then rent a cottage via VRBO or something in the mountains. Perfect for hikes, beach, generally being cozy, cooking, reading, etc.
      2- Oaxaca, Mexico–city, mountains, quick (ish) drive to beautiful beaches, great food, interesting culture, generally nice balance of a lot of things. Also there’s a locals-led program for camping/exploring/horseback-riding in the mountains above Oaxaca that sounds great to me, but I’ve never done it.
      3- Paris, France–my favorite city, for obvious reasons. Can be adventurous or romantic or cozy or culture-heavy depending on how you approach it. I also love exploring new cities with partners.

      That said, if I were to take my honeymoon right now and money were no object, I would do the Maldives, the Turkish Isles, Italy, or New Zealand.

        1. misspiggy*

          TripAdvisor is essential for hotels in Europe and many other places. Maldives is wonderful and can be cheap if you like diving hostels, or pricey but amazing. Have fun planning!

    4. Treena*

      From what you’ve said so far, it sounds like you haven’t traveled much yourself (if that’s wrong, sorry!) In general for new travelers, and especially honeymoons, I would recommend “easier” destinations. That will depend on what you find overwhelming. Not having certain amenities, no English, different food, etc. As Elkay says, you have to choose the type of trip you want, although I would put it broadly into relaxing or go-go-going. Of course you want a balance between the two, but which type interests you more? And finally budget. How much can you realistically afford?

      My honeymoon was mostly action, and it wasn’t in a super difficult place, but it’s really unique spot for honeymoons and I don’t want to out myself here. It was also *very* expensive, but wouldn’t change a single thing! In general, this is a trip where you get to do interesting things and hang out with your husband, so unless something disastrous happens (and even if it does) it’ll still be a great trip/memory. Just like wedding planning, you have to expect things to go wrong. Trying to be ok with it ahead of time helps.

      To answer your actual question, there’s a reason Hawai’i is so popular, there’s also Florida, Caribbean, Mexico nearby. Asia/Pacific of course has some great beaches as well. Try reading a few travel articles about these places and see if any descriptions draw you in. Good luck!

    5. Elle*

      I am planning my next trip to the Azores Islands. It’s only 4 hours from Boston and it looks like there is a bit of everything to do within a reasonable budget.

    6. Mephyle*

      I used to look down my nose at all-inclusives, until I tried one. I thought, why go to a foreign country and only visit an enclave without experiencing the larger culture outside the walls of the resort. Well, now I know why. If you pick the right brand, it can be a fantastic, relaxing experience.

      The longer story is that my husband attends a lot of conferences. He had a conference to attend at a Club Med in Mexico. He wasn’t looking forward to it because he’d been to other all-inclusives that had been so-s0 (the only good meals had been the ones when he went outside the resort and into the town). Well, this one was a whole different story. The food was fantastic, the staff was lovely, the activities were delightful. I would go again in a heartbeat. I can’t recommend it enough. If you haven’t traveled a lot, especially not outside of your own country, it will be a lovely experience. I don’t think it will disappoint you. It sure didn’t disappoint me.

  23. Shell*

    People who get eye exams: how long does it take? How thorough is your optometrist?

    When I first went to my optometrist’s clinic 6-7 years ago, I saw one of her associates and had the most thorough exam I could remember having: eye muscle testing, visual acuity, peripheral vision, colour-blindedness (I think), etc. Nowadays my exam is over in less than 10 minutes: slit lamp exam, the visual acuity, and a eye pressure.

    I mean, given that the first very thorough exam sets a baseline presumably I don’t have to get my peripheral vision or other details checked every time I go, but it seems off that I should spend $100 for an “in depth” ocular-visual examination that’s over in 10 minutes. (The visual acuity part this year was bizarrely short, though my prescription hasn’t changed much at all so I suppose they didn’t need to waste 20 minutes alone on that part.)

    So for those of you who get regular eye examinations: how long are the examinations, and how thorough are they?

    1. BRR*

      Mine takes at least an hour but I have a gut feeling my current optometrist takes a little longer than average. I also get my eyes dilated.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Mine take between forty-five minutes to an hour. There’s the pre-testing part where they do the glaucoma test, colourblindness, they measure the inside of your eye (I’m guessing–you know, when you look in that thingie at the farm picture or whatever), peripheral vision test, and then the actual eye doctor spends a good long while examining my eyes and reviewing my vision (“one? Or two? Or the same? One? Or two? Or the same?”). If I’ve seen the doctor several times before, it tends to be a bit shorter, but my current doctor is really, really thorough. My eyes usually get dilated, too, and actually when I went to go see this doctor for the first time she tilted my chair flat back like a dentist chair to investigate my eyes from a different angle. That part was new to me.

    3. Noah*

      The appointments normally take an hour or so, but some of that time is spent sitting in the exam room waiting for the doctor. Generally the tech does several gets first, then I sit in the exam room and wait until the doctor arrives and looks at my eyes and then we go through the “one or two” thing to find the prescription. The final step is back to the tech for contact lense fitting.

    4. Shell*

      I should mention, when I say “10 minutes total” I mean 10 minutes for the actual examination part. The optometrist does the whole process herself, so there’s no technician measuring the eye pressure or anything. I’m guessing a lot of your “45 minutes to 1 hour” time frame includes the waiting time in between technician and optometrist? And the waiting time for eye dilation to work? That may influence people’s answers somewhat.

      I’m also in my late 20s, so perhaps I don’t need as thorough a checkup as someone who is a child or a senior? No idea. (But yeah, the one-or-two–the visual acuity–test this year was freakishly short.)

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Nah, my actual exam portion (with the ophthalmologist herself) was probably close to 40 minutes. I didn’t have to wait at all, actually, the tech ushered me into the next room and the doctor was like “Let’s get started!” I think they had me wait fifteen minutes or so for the drops, but there was definitely a looooong exam.

        I’m also in my late 20s, but I have pretty poor vision, so maybe my eye doctors are pickier.

      2. Shell*

        Hmm, there seems to be a wide variance, but most people here get around half an hour at least. I polled my best friend and she said her most recent exam–her first exam at the clinic she went to–was about 15 minutes as well. That said, neither of us have concerning sight issues that warrant extra care, maybe; just nearsightedness and astigmatism.

        Regardless, I think I’ll visit a new optometrist next year; I have one picked out already. My recent super-bad glasses-shopping experience was with my current optometrist; coupled that with my doubt about how quick the exam is and how far they are from where I live are all reasons why I think I should find someone I like more.

        I do believe my prescription is accurate, but next year I’ll go somewhere else.

    5. CollegeAdmin*

      Well, I haven’t been in almost a year but I’m pretty sure I’m usually there for about 40 minutes, with 10 of those being the wait for the dilation drops to take effect. I never see a technician though as some people have mentioned – it’s all with my actual doctor. Then again, I have an unusual condition with an equally unusual prescription, so that may be part of it.

      In terms of how thorough: I actually don’t know what each test is for. But there’s the regular vision test, whatever the dilation helps them test, a test in the dark where I have to look in different directions (muscle test?), and…I’m missing a couple, I’m sure. I only had the color blind test the first time.

    6. Mimmy*

      Well, because of my crappy eyes, I get two standing exams! I have the yearly exam with the optometrist (that “better one or two” bit drives me bananas sometimes!). First the tech does the tests, which are often difficult for me because I can’t hold my eyes still to save my life. Then after a few minutes, I see the optometrist for the vision part. My husband and I usually do our exams together, so it’s hard to say how long those last – I’d say for me about 20 minutes?

      Then, about every 4 months, I see a glaucoma specialist (being doing so since 2002–it was discovered completely by accident). The times there can vary greatly because it’s at a large group practice that isn’t always good at staying on track with their schedules. First, a fellow (?) does the testing–slit lamp, pressure check, vision. Then, about every other visit, a tech check my visual fields (I. hate. that. blasted. test.). Finally, I see my assigned doctor, which usually lasts all of 30 seconds. Occasionally, if my pre-tests are okay, I don’t have to see the doctor. Lately, between the tests and waiting, I’ve been out of there within 90 minutes. I’ve had times where I’m there upwards of three hours!!

      FTR: I thankfully don’t have vision loss from the eye pressures. It was discovered completely by accident in 2002 that my pressures were high (I was looking into an unrelated procedure, which I ended up not doing). With few exceptions, my pressures have been stable–I don’t think I’ve had a spike in 10 years. In fact, my numbers are artificially high by about 4-5 points due to thick corneas. I feel like saying, “what’s the point??”

    7. Student*

      Somewhere between 10 to 20 minutes, I’d say. I go to a doctor that has one of those eye scanning machines, so I don’t need to get dilated and they can quickly compare to last year’s scan. Best device ever; I just wish insurance companies would start covering them.

    8. Girasol*

      Half hour or so, about half of that with the doctor and the rest with techs who scan the retina mechanically, check peripheral vision and color sight, and such. The important part for me is, do I come out with great glasses? I’m up to four different eye problems and I’m sensitive to lens variations that people aren’t supposed to notice, so I’m a tough customer. But my doctor is the best. With other doctors I’ve gone back two and three times trying to figure out why new lenses are driving me batty (and getting “you just need to get used to them!” Aargh!) but my current doc gets them right the first time. He’s quick but he’s effective.

    9. AcademicAnon*

      About an hour for me which breaks down into:
      5-10 minutes for the pretesting, the glaucoma and peripheral visions tests
      5-10 minutes with the tech in the room doing more visual testing and peripheral testing and putting in the drops for the eye dilation
      5-10 minutes for the eye dilation to work
      30-40 minutes with the optometrist where they also do more visual testing (I have some corneal abnormalities they want to make sure aren’t getting worse) and then the prescription check (is #1 or 2 better? how about 3 or 4? type of deal)
      5 minutes of them taking digital pictures of my retinas
      5-10 minutes of explaining findings in the pictures (I’ve severely nearsighted, and there are possible issues with my retina of my eyes due to this)

  24. Bubs*

    Is it time to say farewell to a longtime friend?
    I am in my mid 40s with two close friends since childhood. I will call them Kate and Ally. Both were instrumental in supporting me through difficult times in my teens through age 30. And I have helped and supported them in the same way. We are all pretty proud of having remained friends for decades despite going to different colleges, having different political and religious views and our husbands never bonded either so we are just our own glue that keeps us stuck together.
    Life has been calm and stable for the last many years. Time, family and a little bit of geographic separation mean that I essentially see them 3 or 4 times per year for the purpose of celebrating birthdays which we use as an excuse to get together. Over the years I have always looked forward these evenings but the last few I have been really uncomfortable around Kate. We just celebrated Ally’s birthday and Kate chose the gifts, spent twice our usual budget, wrapped gift, picked out card and signed our names, insisted on driving, picked the restaurant and tried to pay the bill without allowing me to see the total. During dinner she made repeated references to something embarrassing that I had done. All along the way she rejected my ideas and offers to help so it wasn’t like I was just a slacker. And this isn’t our usual pattern–we usually have just as much planning as we do going out. And the cost is split 50/50. At the time of the restaurant bill arriving, I did put my foot down and insisted on paying the bill mostly because it just felt weird and controlling of her. It did create a little scene as I am usually pretty passive.
    After we said goodnight and went our separate ways Kate called me and I let her know that I was upset that she excluded me from the planning, that she overspent on the gifts and that she ignored our pattern of co-hosting the evening by trying to pay the dinner tab. She was initially dismissive of my concerns, gave me alternate scripts for how I should have brought up my concerns and then raised her voice and swore at me before ultimately hanging up. She called back a few minutes later and yelled at me for “triggering” her. I do not know where the triggering reference came from, she has no history of being abused. She did not acknowledge that she had done anything hurtful but made some pseudo -apologies about being sorry that I was upset and that she had “done everything wrong.”
    After an hour we ended the conversation peacefully but I am left feeling uneasy. None of this behavior is out of character for Kate but is was way more concentrated, intense and directed at me than it has been in the past. I haven’t spoken to Ally about what happened though we have talked over the years when Kate’s behavior has been difficult.
    I am just feeling too old to continue to tolerate this kind of a friend and am considering ending the friendship with Kate. I am not hopeful that she will change in a meaningful way but perhaps if I continue to speak up we can back to a better place.

    1. Not So Sunny*

      Not every friendship survives. Sometimes that glue just isn’t enough to keep working. If you don’t truly enjoy her presence and look forward to spending time together, that’s a signal, right?

      A breakup can be painful for a little while, but it’s part of life, like any other change or ending.

    2. Clueless honeymooner*

      Maybe she is going through a tough time with something in her personal life? It sounds like it would be difficult to bring up her weird behavior/mood so maybe just give the friendship some space…did your other friend pick up on it?

    3. Steve G*

      I can’t picture Kate yelling at someone like this:-) But anyway…

      For me it depends on what she said before she hung up. If it was some vein of “you seriously want to make a thing about how I spend my money” or “well you know what, your getting huffy and puffy about splitting the bill ruined the night for ME!” I’d let this go, because from the way you described it, she did nothing wrong. Actually she was being nice (though perhaps controlling, we don’t know) by footing the bills. Now your letting what is your strength – your history and longevity – tear you apart, because you won’t let things change as the years pass.

      A side note, I am slightly more on your side because I don’t like to get to close to people who say things like “trigger.” I hate the current trend of overusing terms like “trigger” or “ptsd” or “microaggression.” It makes me think the person doesn’t understand the true weight they’re supposed to have. Like a word like trigger should be reserved for a Vietnam vet waking up in a cold sweat because the neighbors put off fireworks at night. The fireworks were a trigger. Or someone has PTSD from a war or an abusive childhood. But it doesn’t make sense to say a phone call from a trend “triggered” something, anything.

      1. Steve G*

        And I also don’t like how “trigger” puts some responsibility back on you, as if she is a victim and you are perpetrating…..something. No, Kate, its just a conversation, maybe not the world’s most pleasant one, but there was no “trigger”

    4. Revanche*

      I can’t speak to whether this is indicative of something weird going on in Kate’s life that she’s chosen not to share with you but is choosing to take out her stress on you (could be) but I suppose you could ask whether that’s the case.

      I recently had a similar situation with a friend who I’d greatly valued but hadn’t realized how much of the relationship had revolved around him until we had a disagreement and it became clear that nothing was out of the ordinary on his end and the things that I objected to were what he considered normal and acceptable. I just hadn’t noticed because of similar geographic distance and time between meet ups. After long consideration, out of respect for the length of our friendship, we parted ways because it was no more fair of me to expect him to change to meet my comfort level than it was for me to accept what I perceived as disrespectful and inconsiderate behaviors. It, along with the fact that the relationship had progressively become solely centered around him and his desires, made more sense to let it go since I was struggling to stabilize my health.

      Similarly, it might be that, like in other situations, if this is Kate’s norm, even if more intense than usual, and one that you’re not comfortable with, then it makes sense to stop spending time with someone you’re just tolerating.

    5. OP*

      Ha! Steve G got my dorky reference. And I think you all helped me clarify things a bit in my own mind- thank you. It wasn’t so much her behavior that evening as much as the language and attitude during the phone calls. I know for sure that I will not back down from asserting myself w/ Kate in the future if needed. I think I will also feel better with a little time and space but am not ready to walk away from the friendship.
      I haven’t spoken to Ally about what happened but I do think that I will try to schedule a few 1:1 lunches with her between now and our next big get-together.

      1. neverjaunty*

        “None of this behavior is out of character for Kate” – then Kate’s a glassbowl and a crappy excuse for a friend.

  25. Cath in Canada*

    Election day volunteering on Monday was super interesting! I’m so happy I decided to get involved this time around, and I’m going to stay involved from now on. The overall result wasn’t quite what I was hoping for (I would have preferred a coalition government to a majority), but my candidate won the local race and we got rid of Harper, which is the main thing. There were a lot of other very happy scientists at my work on Tuesday!

    I spent most of the day knocking on known supporters’ doors to get the vote out. I walked almost 30 km, according to the app on my phone! I usually sit at a desk all day and while I do a lot of cycling and some swimming/rowing machine/elliptical machine type stuff, I don’t ever walk for more than a couple of kilometres at a time, so it was quite a shock to the system. My legs were so sore by the end, and for a couple of days afterwards.

    I also observed the count as my candidate’s representative, which was really interesting, but it’s such a long process (everything’s still done manually / on paper). It was reassuring in a way to see how seriously they take everything, and how many checks and balances there are in the system, but we were all getting frustrated by the end as a bunch of under-trained temps attempted to work their way through a very long and complicated process for the first time. (There were 6 ballot boxes in our polling station, and for each one there were something like 20 envelopes – one for each candidate’s ballots, one for spoiled ballots, one for ballot stubs, one for all the official forms etc. The single polling station supervisor had to check and sign each envelope’s seal, and there were multiple forms to fill out that we all had to sign. It took forever. One of the other reps for my candidate was, like me, a project manager, and we had a lot of fun critiquing their processes. Shoulda had a Gantt chart!).

    We weren’t allowed to check our phones until all the votes were sealed, so we were some of the last people in the country to find out what had happened in the national race! The polls closed at 7 pm and we didn’t get out until 10:30 pm (I’d started knocking on doors at 8 am, so it was a long day). Turns out the overall result was known by about 7:05 :) The actual counting of the ballots only took about half an hour, so that tells you how complicated the overall process is.

    We had to go and hand in all our copies of the signed forms at the party’s party (heh) downtown; I wasn’t keen on going, especially as the NDP hadn’t done well overall and we thought everyone would be really sad, but I was glad I went in the end. I got to talk to our newly re-elected MP for a bit (he is such a genuinely good guy – I’d met him briefly few times before and during the campaign, but it was nice to have a longer chat), and his wife and campaign managers all gave me huge hugs (and a slice of homemade pie, for which I was very grateful because all I’d had to eat all day were a sad ham sandwich and a granola bar, and there was no food at the party). I’m going to stay in touch with the team, who were all very nice people. The election day coordinator usually works with the MP in Ottawa, and has offered to give me a tour of the House of Commons and lunch/beers with our MP if I’m ever in town at the same time as them!

    1. Jean*

      Thanks for your detailed description. I love seeing the political process in action. There’s nothing like going door-to-door on behalf of a good candidate. Good wishes to you in your future political volunteering!

  26. Ask a Manager* Post author

    1. We got black-out curtains in our bedroom yesterday and I have basically slept on and off in there all day today. This is going to be problematic.

    2. I am not normally a fantasy reader, but I just finished reading A Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic and more or less liked it (there are a bunch of things about it I quibble with, but overall I liked reading it). That has me wondering if there are other fantasy books that appeal to non-fantasy readers. I looked at all of Amazon’s “people who bought this book also bought…” recommendations and read a bunch of free first chapters (thank you, iBooks), but so far nothing is grabbing me. But I’m in the mood for more magic and/or stories about doors into other worlds. Any suggestions? Is literary fantasy a thing?

    1. fposte*

      I’m a non-fantasy person; most of my recs would be for kids, but the obvious first question is whether you’ve tried Terry Pratchett.

          1. fposte*

            I would just start with The Wee Free Men, but then I come at it from the kid side. (And I think Alison would like the Nac Mac Feegles.)

    2. Mimmy*

      Black out curtains are awesome!! I try to open mine first thing in the morning lest I give in to temptation and go back to bed, lol. I always feel spoiled when I’m somewhere that doesn’t have them.

    3. So Very Anonymous*

      I’m not a fantasy person, but years ago a friend recommended Caroline Stevermer’s A College of Magics because she knew I liked “school” stories. I didn’t like the sequel as much, but I loved the original book.

      1. Owl*

        You are the first person I’ve ever run into that has read those books. I love them dearly, each for their own reasons (Ok, mostly Jane, if I’m being honest).

        1. So Very Anonymous*

          That’s so interesting! Now you know two of us, since a friend recommended the first one way back in the 1990s. I don’t remember the second one very clearly, but I feel due to reread “College of Magics” now. I love Jane, but Faris is my favorite.

          I always associate “College of Magics” with Pamela Dean’s “Tam Lin” because of the college setting. Tam Lin is set at a fictional version of my college.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh, Night Circus was stunningly good. Thanks for reminding me, I need to go review it on Goodreads.

    4. hermit crab*

      I guess the big hip thing in literary fantasy now/recently is the Magicians series by Lev Grossman, if you haven’t read it yet. It’s basically a commentary on how our society is so obsessed with wizard boarding schools and doors into other worlds; my friend first described it to me as a combination of Harry Potter and Gossip Girl, which it sort of is, but it’s also really depressing. If you’re looking for something more fun, there’s The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley. It’s like The Bourne Identity, except everyone has superpowers. Other possibilities might be Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane, anything by Neil Gaiman, maybe something by Guy Gavriel Kay or Peter S. Beagle…?

      1. Higher Ed(na)*

        I generally don’t like fantasy (Pratchett is too silly for me, and Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS, ugh) but I really like books with strong female characters and occasionally books with fantastical elements catch me. What did you like about A THINKING WOMAN, Alison? That may make it easier to suggest similar books.

        I second the recommendation for THE ROOK. Not only is it adventure-filled, but it’s hilarious and the main character is female and awesome. I’m so sad that the release date for the sequel keeps getting pushed back.

        Not funny but really compelling was Erika Johansen’s QUEEN OF THE TEARLING. The second book was disappointing but I loved this title.

        If you’re willing to check out some YA, Diana Wynn Jones’s HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE and books by Robin McKinley may appeal.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m not sure what I liked, which I realize is pretty unhelpful. I liked the elements of magic and the whole “door to another world” thing and I thought the plot was interesting, but loads of fantasy books have those elements and don’t hold my interest, so I’m not sure why this one did. I did feel like the writing was better than some other fantasy books I’ve looked at.

          1. Lore*

            As a reference, I liked but didn’t love “Thinking Woman” but was seriously underwhelmed by Lev Grossman. My all time favorites in this area are old but I still reread periodically and find they hold up: Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar trilogy. Strong characters, strong mythology, high stakes. Also Susan Cooper, but those are more for kids. And Angela Carter if you haven’t read her.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’ve thought about this more and now I’m able to add that I think I get turned off if there are too many fantastical elements. The main focus of the book has to be plot and character with the fantastical elements interwoven with a fairly light touch. Which does make me think that maybe I should look to magical realism, in particular.

            1. Stephanie*

              Yeah, that was why I struggled with a lot of fantasy: I never enjoyed wading through lots of fantastical elements to get to the root of the story or characters.

            2. Camellia*

              The Dragon and the George. Robert Asprin’s “Myth” books. Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books. All of these have fantastic characters.

            3. TL -*

              That’s exactly why I don’t like most sci-fi – I hate having to understand a whole new world and build a new vocabulary just to get through a book.

              (I think my tolerance levels for fantasy are much higher + I read a lot of mythology, ect.. as a kid so maybe I just knew a lot of the lingo and basic principles behind world-building there?)

            4. LBK*

              Gaiman’s work seems like it would be a good fit then – I haven’t read all of his stuff but at least with American Gods and Good Omens, they’re set in the real world with fantasy characters injected, so there’s not a lot of learning about a new universe and all its rules and mythology to be done. Good Omens is also hilarious, so that helps.

              1. LBK*

                Oh, and it doesn’t quite fit your criteria but the Artemis Fowl series came to mind as well since you liked Harry Potter. The writing style is similarly simple but solid, characters are vivid and relatable, and it has the same kind of “hidden world that exists within our real world” setting. The protagonist is also the villain (at least in the first book, although arguably beyond that as well) which I always find fun to read.

        2. Mephyle*

          BTW, for anyone who wants to try Pratchett without the silliness, I recommend Nation. It has an element of the supernatural (non-Abrahamic gods, to be specific), but it’s a book that you might like to try if you find the Discworld novels too whimsical. It deals with serious themes but not in a heavy way – it’s a light, fun read that tells a deep, moving story.

      2. danr*

        I love Stardust, by Gaiman. It’s a book that I can read when I just want my mind to wander. The movie is good too, but really stands on its own.

    5. LBK*

      I am a terrible sleeper and blackout curtains were life-changing. The first night I had them I slept through sunrise for the first time in months, if not years.

      What is it about fantasy books that you don’t usually like (or that you enjoyed about this one)? I’ve generally enjoyed Neil Gaiman and Garth Nix’s books, but for very different reasons.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I feel like I should have an answer to that, but I’m having trouble figuring it out. I absolutely loved the Night Circus (which I never considered fantasy until I saw it on people’s lists in this thread, but I suppose it is) and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which I suppose qualifies as well. And Harry Potter and the Narnia books. Oh, and I tried the Magicians when I first came out and I really liked it for the first half and then became increasingly annoyed by the protagonist and ended up filled with antipathy toward it.

        Other than that, no fantasy I’ve tried has ever really done it for me — I either think the writing is overwrought or I just lose interest in the story/characters. But I want to like it, because magic, etc. is fun.

        1. TheLazyB (UK)*

          Funnily enough I thought of Narnia!

          Garth Nix’s Sabriel/Lirael/Abhorsen series is excellent. I see there is a new one now aaaargh why didn’t I know that?!

        2. katamia*

          Oh, if you liked Harry Potter, you might like Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant books. They’re very similar to Harry Potter, right down to the overall tone and the punny names. They’re a bit darker thematically but really interesting. I’ve had a hard time finding the last few books in the US, though. :(

        3. Girasol*

          Lois McMaster Bujold’s Chalion series (particularly The Curse of Chalion) is well told and amazing for its well crafted alternate religion. Totally different is Finder by Emma Bull, sort of a Sam Spade meets Lord of the Rings and wonderfully written. That one is sort of a writer’s book: I tend to reread individual sentences to admire the craftsmanship.

          1. Kerry (Like the County )*

            I’d go for Jo Watson–she wrote a Trollope pastiche set in a world of dragons that was marvelous, and an alternate history called The Small Changes Trilogy, in which England settles with Nazi Germany after the battle of Dunkirk and the effect of on a set of characters faced with growing fascism in their own country over a span of 15 years or so.

        4. Observer*

          I haven’t read all of the recommendations, but you might like Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. Definitely a new world, but I think the dynamics of the world come through pretty quickly.

    6. Delyssia*

      I haven’t read A Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic, so take my recs with a grain of salt, but… Having flipped through Amazon’s recommendations, I would second Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches.

      And my own recommendation is Debora Geary’s A Modern Witch. The bonus is that if this book hits the right notes, there are a total of 7 in the first series, then there are a couple of related series that each have a few books, plus some short stories here and there. I haven’t actually finished the last book of hers, because she’s said it’s the last one she’s going to write in that world, and it makes me really, really sad to think of not having anything new to read in that world.

      1. Owl*

        Those books are so good. I think I read the whole series in a week and a half straight through. I second the recommendation.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would love blackout curtains– your day sounds heavenly. :) I once stayed in a house with a blackout shade that was so good, I didn’t even know our window faced east until 10am. Obviously, I should look into this upgrade.

    8. Today's anon*

      Charles de Lint’s urban fantasy is fantastic. He mixes fantasy into our very current urban environment (well, Ottawa) so seamlessly and … it’s amazing.

      1. Lore*

        Oh, yeah, good call! I started to find them a little repetitive a few years ago and took a break, but I should definitely go back and catch up.

    9. skyline*

      Slightly obscure these days, but I love Sean Stewart’s fantasy–they tend to have a great sense of place, and layered, complex characters. My favorites are Mockingbird and The Night Watch; Galveston is also great, though deeply depressing.

      Kelly Link writes wonderful short stories that straddle the line between magical realism and fantasy. I would start with Stranger Things Happen or Magic for Beginners.

      Emma Donoghue writes lush fairy tale retellings in Kissing the Witch–great if you love immersing yourself in language.

      1. Lore*

        Kelly Link is great! Also, she and her husband run a small publisher called Small Beer Press that kind of specializes in this kind of thing. You might browse their catalog (or check out their ‘zine, “Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet” (it had an anthology a couple of years ago)–you might find some authors that way. Oh, and also Lauren Beukes just occurs to me–she writes semi-crime novels with fantasy/fantastic elements. Though they’re *very* dark.

    10. pony tailed wonder*

      I enjoyed Alice Hoffman for magical stories. She has a lot of strong women in her books. I think my Alice Hoffman phase was around when that movie of one of her books with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman was made. They played sisters. It’s been awhile so the details are fuzzy.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          That movie made me run to the bathroom to cut impromptu bangs upon two separate occasions. I don’t like my hair touching my forehead, but Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock made that hairstyle look irresistibly good!

    11. Turanga Leela*

      I’m generally not a fantasy person either, and I really loved Neil Gaiman’s novels Neverwhere (totally about doors into other worlds!) and American Gods. Points in their favor: they’re set in the present, they don’t require the reader to memorize much made-up vocabulary, they have elements of horror, and they are at least sometimes funny.

      These aren’t so much about magic, but you’ve also got me thinking about 11/22/63 (which involves a door to the 1950s) and the Welcome to Night Vale podcast.

    12. katamia*

      This stretches the definition of “fantasy” a bit (there’s the story, which is non-fantasy, and then a bunch of stories-within-the-story) and I don’t think it has any doors, but maybe Rabih Alameddine’s The Hakawati.

      Also The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly.

      You might like magical realism, too–Carlos Ruiz Zafon is good, as is 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

    13. Elkay*

      Rivers of London is good. It’s about a policeman in London who gets recruited into a division which deals with magical and supernatural crime. I haven’t read the rest in the series but I think there are currently 5 available and the sixth is out soon.

      It’s along the same lines as Neverwhere but less fantasy I’d say.

      Also, Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights trilogy (possibly called The Golden Compass in the USA). Film was awful, books are brilliant.

        1. Saucy Minx*

          I was going to mention Jasper Fforde — anything he writes, including the Thursday Next series, the Nursery Crimes series, & his YA books. He is so inventive & funny!

    14. kate*

      Ooh! If you liked A Thinking Woman’s Guide, I’d recommend Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell or Lev Grossman’s The Magicians.

      1. kate*

        Ha annnnnd just finished reading this thread and have seen that you’ve already tried both of my suggestions. I will say that if Quentin’s immaturity put you off finishing The Magicians, he really does grow up in the second and especially third books.

        Also throwing in a recommendation for Diana Wynne Jones – she’s marketed as YA but her prose is EXCELLENT and her novels are still some of my favourites. Fire and Hemlock is a good place to start.

    15. Jessica (tc)*

      I have been recommending Bone Gap by Laura Ruby to anyone and everyone who is interested in magical realism or elements of the fantastic in a real setting. It’s beautifully written, and there are definitely doorways to other realms in it! It’s a story that I read in the spring, and I’m still contemplating all of the nuances and the simple beauty of the story itself.

      1. Jessica (tc)*

        And if you’re interested in or would consider good YA at all, Nikki Loftin’s books are sublime. Wish Girl in particular was beautifully written, and the characters are relate-able. She can take a place and make it real in your mind, so much so that you begin to feel a little bit sad that you can’t have the magic for yourself.

        (I was lucky enough to see Ruby and Loftin speak at a conference recently, and they are passionate about the fantastic elements in their books and how they weave into reality so effortlessly.)

    16. overeducated and underemployed*

      The City and the City by China Mieville. A friend lent it to me and we disagreed on whether it was fantasy or not (it is a noir detective novel in terms of plot, and the setting is either “door between worlds” or “extreme social experiment” but the author leaves it ambiguous).

    17. Carrie in Scotland*

      I am not a fantasy person either but I was absolutely spellbound by Claire North’s ‘The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August’ (am terrible at overviews of books but amazon will have a decent one). Her new book ‘Touch’ (haven’t read it yet) is where the main character can “jump” bodies…I think.

    18. Merry and Bright*

      I’m another reader who isn’t usually into fantasy. But I also loved Night Circus. Through that (it came up on my Kindle feed) I discovered The Invisible Library by Genievieve Cogman. I took the plunge as I had some credit left on an Amazon gift card and enjoyed that too. Apparently it is the first in a series.

    19. abby*

      I love our blackout curtains. We put them on one bedroom window and they have allowed us to sleep when the next-door neighbor’s lights are on all night long. (Their bathroom, laundry room, and kitchen windows, as well as a porch light, are right outside one of our bedroom windows.) But I have them on a second rod behind our main, sheer curtains and always open the blackout curtains during the day.

    20. Book lover*

      Jasper Fforde if you haven’t tried him. The Thursday Next series is one of my favorites and his teen Last Dragonslayer series kept me entertained.

    21. VintageLydia USA*

      I feel like you’d like Gail Carriger. Start with Soulless. It’s about a Victorian/Steampunk Londoner who literally has no soul, and if she touches a supernatural (werewolves and vampires) it takes away their powers and makes them “natural”/human. They have a formula–witty and clever main female protagonist who is VERY concerned about being properly mannered, her silly, slightly stupid, but good-hearted friend who comes along for the ride (and ALWAYS has a ridiculous name) and a secretive and possibly evil organization which may not actually be the villain. They’re quick reads, a little sexy but not outright smutty, and despite being formulaic in general, pretty suspenseful. She’s got adult and YA novels set in this world and the only differences I can tell is the age of the protagonists and the romance is pretty much missing from the YA books (which is refreshing.)

  27. Ruffingit*

    The funeral of my best friend’s husband was today. I cried more than I thought I would. I’ve been with her since Thursday when I flew in. I’m so happy I can be here, but it sure is tough. It’s given me some clarity on some things. The unexpected death of anyone just makes you realize the changes you need to make.

    1. fposte*

      I’m so glad you were able to be there for her. I hope you’re giving yourself credit for that, too.

      But yeah, it makes you rethink some of the “someday” talk.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am glad you are with your friend.
      Yeah, these sudden passings remind us of what is important and what is not so important. Sometimes I make little changes in my life in honor of someone who has passed. Weird, but it seems to help a little.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I don’t think that is weird, in fact I love the idea of little changes in honor of those who have passed. Thanks for sharing that!

    3. QualityControlFreak*

      I’m glad you were there with her. I came pretty close to shuffling off this mortal coil last year. It’s both made me think about what’s important to me and inspired a lot of gratitude for the things/people/relationships I value as a part of my life.

      None of us knows how long we have or how long the people we love have. What we do know is that none of us are getting out of here alive (in the physical sense). It’s made me appreciate every moment we have together that much more.

  28. Bekx*

    My friend and I just booked a cruise to the Bahamas. It’s one of those last minute cruise websites where the cruises are like 75% off. I’ve never been on a cruise before, but she’s a veteran and I’m just SO excited. I have no idea what to expect but we’re leaving in less than 3 weeks!

    Of course, now that I’ve booked it all these random expenses have been showing up….Come on bills, don’t you realize I want to spend money and drink fruity drinks by the pool??

    1. Colleen*

      Check out cruisecritic.com.

      I have taken about 11 cruises and i would never go on one without checking this website.

      ENJOY! You will have a blast!

        1. Dan*

          I took my first cruise for my honeymoon, and didn’t have a problem with it.

          One of the upsides to cruising for a honeymoon, particularly if you’re taking it right after your wedding, is you don’t have to do much planning in advance. Pick one, pay for it, buy your plane tickets, and that’s pretty much it. Port stuff you can plan on board. Same with nightly entertainment and dining.

          I do a *lot* of air/land travel for vacations, and what I do takes a lot of planning. Doing that kind of planning on top of a wedding is just too much.

          The only time I’d discourage a cruise is if you’re a foodie and you’re cruising “foodie” destinations. Italy and Asia come to mind. The reason being, is that half of the fun of those destinations is sampling the food. The thing is, you’re back on the ship for dinner, so can only enjoy lunches in port. It would kill me to be eating dinner on cruise ship when I could be eating in Italy or Hong Kong.

        2. Happy Lurker*

          We did. It was my first cruise, spouses 2nd. I didn’t like it, he did.
          It is too scheduled for me. In addition, there are too many people. For vacation I really like space, peace, and no schedule. Some people love cruises for the dress up and fancy dinners and excursions. I now know that I am not one of them.

        3. Colleen*

          Yes. That was my husband’s and my first cruise. We had a blast. Lots to do or nothing to do, depending on your feeling at the moment.

      1. Bekx*

        I took a glance and the reviews are pretty mixed for the ship I’m going on. Although it seems like the cruise veterans are the ones who didn’t like it more than the newbies… So hopefully I’ll be impressed! Honestly, for 200 per person, I’m not too picky!

        1. Dan*

          In some ways, I’d suggest that if you don’t expect too much, then you won’t be disappointed.

          My folks and I are booked on a transatlantic cruise next year. It’s a two week thing from Spain to Miami. It’s supposed to be the largest ship in the world when it finally gets built in the spring. It’ll hold 6000 passengers and 2000 crew.

          Those kinds of ships have all kinds of things to do, and some people think they’re just too darned big. At the same time, if I’m on a small ship with limited nightlife options for an extended period of time, I tend to get bored really fast.

          Keep in mind that a lot of the seasoned cruisers bemoan that things “aren’t the way they used to be” and that shows up in the reviews. These days are different — the ships are bigger, and there’s lots of upcharges/add-ons, not unlike airline ancillary charges. Drink prices have shot up a bit, and there’s lots of specialty dining with upcharges. But these are things that new cruisers won’t be as sensitive to.

    2. SL #2*

      I’ve gone on two and I loved them both. I think I preferred the Caribbean one over the Alaska one, but both were a blast. My biggest tip is that once I got over my self-judgment (“I can’t believe you’re one of THOSE cruise tourists”) I had a really good time. Yes, you’re watching a stage musical in a moving ocean city. ENJOY IT.

      The shore excursions do get a little pricey, but I opted to book them from the ship’s partners because I’ve heard too many horror stories of the independent operators getting people back late, holding them hostage for more money, etc.

      1. Bekx*

        Yeah I saw some of those stories… Definitely scary! I really want to go snorkeling but my friend can’t swim and I don’t want to pressure her…

        1. SL #2*

          Be careful with which snorkeling tours you take as well! I’m a strong swimmer in a pool, but I ended up in one of those tours where they drive you out to the middle of the ocean and tell you to jump in the water. I kept up, but it was exhausting and waaaaay more strenuous than I thought.

    3. Bekx*

      Thanks everyone! Ended up looking at all the excursions offered, went on the carnival forums and found a great day pass for the Hilton. Private beach, pool, lounge chairs, snorkeling/kayaking equipment & $40 food and drink credit for only $60. Worth it immensely, and only a 10 minute walk.

      These next two weeks need to hurry the heck up.

  29. CollegeAdmin*

    I have never wanted kids, and I’m seriously considering a tubal ligation. I’m 24 and single. Do I actually stand a chance of getting this done, or are doctors likely to shut me down?

    For anyone who’s had this procedure, can you talk about your experience – how long the surgery took, how invasive, recovery process, etc.?

    1. Kate*

      I don’t think it’s impossible, but I do think many doctors will be hesitant to do a tubal ligation on someone so young who doesn’t have kids. I would guess that you will likely be offered long term birth control options instead. You may have to consult with many doctors to find someone willing to do it. Or, if you have a long standing relationship with an OB/gym, perhaps they will be more willing. Good luck. It can be frustrating to know that you want a procedure, only to be shut down by a doctor. I’m sure they do see women that decide later on that they want kids, and that’s part of why you will get some pushback. But it is your body, and I do believe you should be able to make this choice for yourself.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        Echoing all of this—you’re going to get a fair amount of pushback. It doesn’t matter how sure you are; doctors will be thinking of women they’ve known who didn’t want kids at 24 but changed their minds 10 years later. Slate had an article about this a few years ago; I’ll link to it in a separate comment.

        If your doctor gives you trouble, maybe consider going with an IUD instead of a ligation for now? They’re very effective and they last for years.

      2. Girasol*

        Me too. The doc wasn’t buying my statement that I’d known since 14 I didn’t want kids. “You’ll change your mind,” he said. Now I’m 60 and childless and happy that way, but husband’s vasectomy ended up being the birth control. I understand that tubal ligation is more often approved for women who have too many children and can’t afford more.

    2. K.*

      One of my best friends has never wanted kids and she started asking about tubal ligation at 22. I’m not sure at what point she gave up, but her tubes remain untied. (She’s married to a man who also doesn’t want kids.) Certainly throughout her 20s, she was met with constant refusal. It’s worth asking if you’re serious but be prepared for resistance. My plan has always been to have mine tied at age 40 no matter what my situation, and I’m hoping it’ll be met with less resistance when I get to that age.

    3. Student*

      Just keep trying different doctors if the first one gives you crap about it. Many of the doctors, you just need to convey that you’ve given it some thought and understand it’s not reversible more than anything else. If you live in a very conservative area, go somewhere else for it if possible.

      I did essure instead of the tubal litigation. No kids either, though I was about 29 when I had mine done. Absolutely thrilled with it. Essure is a in-and-out procedure, way less invasive than the tubal litigation surgery, faster recovery time, less chance of complications, and excellent success rate (comparable to, maybe better than, tubal litigation – especially if you do the follow-up medical imaging to make sure it took). I took a half-day off work for it, but mainly because it gave me some cramps on the day of the insertion. Some people literally do it on their lunch breaks and head right back to work. I’d totally recommend the essure pprocedure to any woman looking to get sterilized. Only reason to do the tubal litigation now, imo, is if you’re already being cut open for a c-section birth and you know it’s the last kid you want.

      Only downside of essure is that it isn’t instantly effective like tubal litigation. Takes a couple of months to seal off your tubes where you still need to use a different birth control. Then you get an imaging done to confirm the tubes are blocked, takes like 15 minutes, and you are done (I did do the imaging on my lunch break, was no big deal).

      1. Student*

        Oh, and here’s another tip that helped me get my sterilization sans kids – when you go in for a normal medical gyno appointment someplace, ask the (female) medical assistant(s) which doctors at the practice might sterilize you without giving you crap. I asked about this at a normal birth control / pap smear exam and got a list of the two-or-three doctors at the 10 doctor practice who don’t give a damn.

        1. Miki*

          Do not do essure!!! google essure problems (it’s a fb page) http://essureproblems.webs.com
          Anything but essure! You’ll save yourself a life in misery and hysterectomy.
          some links to read before making this huge decision:

          1. Treena*

            Hey, that’s a bit alarmist. There are far more people happy with their Essure procedure than there are dissatisfied people.
            But yes, some people do report constant pain with the device. Whether or not a nickel-allergy should be a contraindication is still fuzzy (originally, it was, and now it’s officially not), and that was ultimately why I decided against it myself (I had a sever allergic reaction to “hypoallergenic” orthodontia that ended up containing .05% nickel).
            But for a lot of people, this is the best option. Yes, if you do have any problems, there is no reversal, because the coils are basically attached to your fallopian tubs/uterus, so the only option for removal is a full hysterectomy.

          2. fposte*

            The FDA hearings you’re linking to didn’t seem to come out saying “anything but essure,” though; they just felt it was worth considering whether certain populations are likelier to have a bad experience.

          3. Student*

            There are also people dissatisfied with their tubal litigation, with their IED, with their birth control. Statistics still stand that essure is very effective and has low rates of complications. People are all upset because (1) it’s new, and anything new is less trusted than things with decades of track record, regardless of what that track record is (2) it’s going to put a lot less money in a lot less pockets than the alternatives. I am sure there are many people with real complications and real issues around essure – but I’m also sure that people are not being objective and looking at comparable procedures when they get alarmist about essure compared to anything else.

            I’m very satisfies with my essure, and absolutely recommend it to others. It was fantastic for me.

        2. Treena*

          Yes! Or even ask around your regular GP because they might have referred folks to them previously, or heard from patients which docs will do it.

    4. Treena*

      I never ended up getting it, but I was approved to do it and started the prep. I started the process in I think March or April, and it wasn’t until late July that I got an appointment, and by early July I was offered a job three hours away and had to dedicate all my energy to moving, so the timing didn’t really work out and I had also decided to pursue tubal ligation. In my new location, I was surprised to hear that *anyone* seeking sterilization had to go through HUGE hoops (all those damn Catholic hospitals), so I basically gave up. I just decided to wait until 30 to try again (I’m 27 now). It was so much damn work and I just got an IUD instead, and I don’t hate the no periods.

      Here’s what I did. I called ahead and asked if they would approve an Essure procedure on someone under 30. She seemed really surprised that I asked and said as long as I was 18, they would do it. (LIES, I was using a public insurance program to pay an you have to be 21 to use that program). So first, don’t take anything anyone says as definitive.

      I had the first appointment and she basically said that she didn’t feel comfortable without a second opinion. So I had to have a second appointment with another dr in the practice. I got really grilled, and I knew I would be, so I brought my husband. We had an answer for everything she threw at us. Here’s a rundown of our answers/speech we ended up having to give…

      We can’t get pregnant anyways, he got snipped years ago. If we want to be parents, we love the idea of fostering/adopting. And the cherry on the cake (I actually saw her face change) is that we literally do not believe in creating more children on a planet overpopulated and with so many children who need parents. Right now, we never want to parent, but if we get that urge (which we may, who knows?) we really are wanting to foster/adopt. We also sited the stats of higher dissatisfaction for those under 30, and I pointed out a few flaws with that study–there are no updated stats about satisfaction rates after we started telling women that they tend to be more dissatisfied if they get the procedure before 30. I couldn’t tell if she was impressed with my analysis, or if she just realized I had *really* done my research.

      Then I had to have a 3rd appointment to do the pre-check and the 4th was the procedure. Cancelled 3rd and 4th because I was moving, but I got the appointments on the books! They wouldn’t let me do that until the 2nd dr approved it, so that’s why it was so many months later.

      1. Treena*

        Oh, forgot to add. The “consult” is supposed to help the Dr. ascertain whether or not your a good candidate. They’re supposed to be looking for red flags like, “This procedure will save my marriage!” “He’ll marry me if I do this for him!” because holyshyteballs, those are terrible reasons to get sterilized. But with this whole under 30 study, the consult has turned into a psych eval. You have to come across as polished and sure of yourself as possible. Good luck!

        1. Observer*

          Those really ARE bad reasons to get sterilized – just as they are bad reasons to get pregnant. Yes, you want your husband, if you have one, on board with your decision. But, ultimately, you need to want to go in EITHER direction because YOU want that. Furthermore, those are red flags for pressure, and no woman should be pressured to do this. And, lastly, the odds of regretting this decision are sky high if that’s the reason someone does this.

          So, yes, that’s totally legitimate. It’s also very different than “you’ll change your mind” as a standard response, which I agree is totally stupid.

    5. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      I had a tubal ligation at age 32 after 4 pregnancies and about 3 years after my last child was born. Though I cannot speak to getting a physician to agree to perform the procedure if you are young and never pregnant, I can tell you that even in my situation, it was a challenge to get the physician to proceed. Two appointments with quite a bit of challenging questioning.
      Ultimately he did the procedure and it was a little more difficult than I imagined it would be. Mostly because of the general anesthesia, I felt crampy all over for a few days. And because it is performed laparoscopically, a ton of air was puffed into my belly and that was uncomfortable, too. Did it on a Friday and was back to work Monday. Could not do much over that weekend as I recall.
      Ironically, my reasons for having the procedure were not at all sound and for a time, I regretted having had it done. And after the grilling my doc gave me before the procedure, I never felt comfortable around him and after the post op follow up, changed doctors.

    6. Anony-turtle in a half shell!*

      It really depends on the doctor and the area you live in. Sadly, it’s way easier for men to request and receive sterilization than women (in the United States, I mean. Some countries have laws about it that require doctors to jump through a few hoops but grant your request if you want the procedure done), so we actually went that route to avoid all of the rigmarole. They never asked him anything about if I was okay with it or any questions at all about being absolutely sure he didn’t want children. They simply gave him the information about it being non-reversible and so on, asked him if he understood, and then just did it because he asked. (A lot of women I’ve known who have requested the procedure on themselves had to bring their husbands in for the doctor to “verify” that they knew about it and were okay with it. One husband also had to sign a form saying that he knew it wasn’t reversible for his wife to have the procedure.)

      I was surprised to learn that when I had younger family doctors (at a teaching clinic), they were more willing to talk to me about sterilization as an option (or IUDs, etc.) than older doctors were. (I had several doctors tell me IUDs were never allowed to be used on women who hadn’t had children. I was having too many issues with all BCPs and hormonal options, and I definitely did not want to have kids.) They couldn’t do the procedure itself, and there weren’t any gyn that I talked to who were willing to do it for anyone under 35.

      I like the advice above about asking your family doctor about doctors who would be willing to do the procedure (if your doctor is receptive). I’m a proponent of believing women when they say they don’t want children, mainly because I’m a woman who has said it since I was a child and now at my “advanced maternal age” of 35, I’m still positively certain that I never want children. I love my current family doctor, because I told her flat out that I didn’t want children, and she just said, “Okay,” and moved along with our first meeting. She’s amazing, and I spend more time talking to her about great books that we think the other should read than I do my unused reproductive system. ;-)

      1. Nashira*

        Doctors who say nulliparous people can *never* have an IUD, are wrong. It’s a matter of whether or not your uterus is big enough for the device, and whether or not the device is contraindicated for another reason. Like, I can’t have a copper IUD because I have heavy periods, but a progesterone IUD was amazing for me for five years.

    7. TheLazyB (UK)*

      This is completely irrelevant to you, but your question has made me realise it would be reasonable to ask my DH to get a vasectomy, so just wanted to say thank you for that!

      1. Saucy Minx*

        I had a tubal ligation when I was 32, married, & childless. I lived in London, went to a Marie Stopes clinic, & was required to have two appointments: one, which was most likely required by law, to check that I was unlikely to change my mind, & the second for the procedure. The person interviewing me remarked, to my amusement, that no one seemed to point out to people planning on getting pregnant that a person might actually produce children & then change her mind!

        The precedure was done w/ a local anesthetic, took only a few minutes, & was followed by maybe 30 – 40 minutes recovery before I walked out of the clinic & joined my husband in the car. I rested in bed for a day, although I don’t think I really needed to, & felt fine. The only pain I had was a couple of seconds of severe cramping when the clips were placed.

    8. matcha123*

      You may want to check out r/childfree on reddit. There are a number of women who have written about their experiences with this procedure and there’s a sidebar with a list of reliable doctors and clinics.

    9. Mimmy*

      I had a tubal ligation done when I was 31. Surprisingly, I got little pushback. My gyno chided me but it was good-natured, and she easily gave me the referral. I’d asked about the procedure a few years earlier with a different gynecologist, and she gave me the third degree, basically saying my husband should’ve been the one to get sterilized. I think I left her practice after that. I was very insulted.

      The doctor who performed my procedure was wonderful. Turns out that he trained under my grandfather, who was an OB-GYN. He did make sure that I *absolutely* did not want children, but he was very respectful. The procedure was laparoscopic, through the belly button. I think he used a special loop that gets tied around the tubes to cut off circulation. The procedure didn’t take that long, but the general anesthesia must’ve did a number on me as did the pain meds, because I was there 8 hours before they released me (it was same day, just…long). It must depend on the hospital because I’d had a breast biopsy the year before at a different hospital, and I was in and out in maybe 4 hours, tops.

      The next day, I was sore and my throat was irritated, but that was about the extent of it. I’d taken that whole week off from work, but I probably didn’t need to because I was pretty much okay by the second day.

      The only really crappy part was, for some reason, I ended up with a bit of a skin infection in my belly button a few weeks after the surgery.

    10. Book lover*

      I had it when I was 35ish. I had a bad reaction to the anesthesia but the surgery went well and I was only out of work for 3 days. The surgery took 1.5 hours (maybe?) I was out of the hospital by 1 after arriving @ 6am. The bad part came after – with no birth control to regulate periods they have progressively gotten worse.

      I don’t know if a dr would be willing – you would have to ask.:)

  30. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Thanksgiving. A month away, so I have to think about it. This week, I got the loveliest email from a cousin in Florida, inviting us to Thanksgiving and wondering what she can do to convince us to come. My parents will be celebrating with them. I really want to go. The rub? Well, we used to spend Thanksgiving with my family, but my boyfriend and I moved last year to a city an hour away from his dad, and Thanksgiving is his dad’s favorite holiday, and I haaaaaaate traveling on Thanksgiving (I used to go from NYC to Philadelphia on Thursday and return Saturday, no budging), so last year we went to his dad’s. It was a nightmare. His stepmother is difficult to get along with most of the time, but last year, she was sulking, nasty, and inhospitable. So my cousin’s invitation is doubly welcome.

    I’m thinking about putting my foot down on this one and going to Florida, with or without him. But the idea of that makes me feel squicky. It’s Thanksgiving, and I love my boyfriend, and I love being with him on holidays. And it’s his dad’s favorite holiday, and we live so close, and I think my bf kind of just expects to spend Thanksgiving there. I would just like to have a holiday I enjoy, that feels relaxing and homey and welcome. I could play the “you get Christmas by default” card, since my family will never celebrate it and his always will, but he’s also toying with not doing Christmas with them at all. And, again, makes me feel squicky. I don’t want to play cards to get my way.

    Sigh… Building a life together, with two very different families, is HARD. What do I dooooo?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I have. We discussed it today, without conclusion. I also feel like I need to let him think about it.

        1. pony tailed wonder*

          Since his dad lives so close, do you think you could swing a mini pre-Thanksgiving a weekend early with his family and then on the longer actual Thanksgiving travel to Florida? His dad could then have a second more romantic Thanksgiving with his wife on actual T-day. This way his dad could have his favorite holiday twice and you both would be able to see your families.

      2. misspiggy*

        Don’t sign up for an experience you expect to be unpleasant without a very clear rationale as to why alternatives won’t work. Why does your boyfriend want you to be there? If it’s about spending holiday time together, can you book extra time together at Xmas? Can you invite his dad to stay with you on his own at some point? If he’s worried it looks like you rejecting his family, should you arrange to go there for Thanksgiving every other year? Or had you already accepted his dad’s invitation for this year? (In which case it would be rude to duck out for a better offer, but your boyfriend should run interference so that you don’t have to put up with so much unpleasantness this time.)

    1. Steve G*

      I’d go to where your parents are, YOUR parents are more important. And if his stepmom is horrible, there is no point going there to try to build a relationship, especially using up a holiday to do it. Thanksgiving being his favorite holiday doesn’t give him carte blanche to decide where people are, though if you were totally impartial, it would be a reason to go to him. But you aren’t, the SM is a pill, so I’d go to parents in FL. But if the travelling sucks, plan on being an hour from home with the SM/boyfriend’s dad combo next year!

      I guess I’m lucky my SO is from Poland. His family does stuff at other times. They don’t do Thanksgiving. Christmas is Christmas Eve, Easter is done early Sunday so there is still time to do things with my family. The only issue is there are basically 2 Christmas dinners back to back, so you really need to fast or something beforehand or Christmas will be ruined with feelings of indigestion. I know, first World problems!

    2. Revanche*

      I vote for you going to Florida, with or without him. Of course, I hope it’s with him. SM sounds like a terrible way to sacrifice a possibly fantastic visit with cousin from Florida. I get that it’s his dad’s favorite holiday but there are two of you and two families you could potentially spend that time with, having it be his favorite doesn’t magically trump everyone else (as some of my cousins seem to think!).

      Perhaps there’s another compromise to be reached… or simply that you go your separate ways to enjoy the holiday this year. I know it feels squicky, it did some years when that was the compromise for us, but it was just better when I simply didn’t have the emotional reserves to do the big fancy holiday thing.

    3. LAMM*

      We typically spend Thanksgiving apart. I go to my Aunt’s house, and my boyfriend goes to his. My family tends to travel for Christmas (which I cannot partake in due to work), so Thanksgiving is our big holiday of the year. But it’s also a big holiday for BF’s family as well. Most of the “kids” in his family who have a partner tend to split the holiday (spending the first half of the day with one family, then driving over to the other family in the evening), but it would be too much driving for us to make it work. We spend Christmas together at home though.

      Our anniversary is in October, so we didn’t spend the holidays together that first year. This is probably what set the standard of us not spending the holiday together. By this point, my family knows that he is at his family’s place, and they don’t even mention it anymore.

      1. LAMM*

        (forgot to add…) Moral of the story is… don’t feel bad about spending the holidays apart, if that’s what you decide is right for you guys. If it’s what you choose to do, you can make it work. Maybe make a point of having dinner with his family at some point before you leave so you still get to see them. Or, agree to alternate years for Thanksgiving. Even years, you guys go to his family’s place. Odd years are your family’s.

    4. Dan*

      It’s ok to spend holidays apart. The thing to watch out for is if you have an SO who whines, “I waaaannnaaaa spend the holidays with you, and we haaaaaavvvvveeee to do what my family wants.” That’s a friggin manipulative power play that you don’t want a long term future with. No one person’s family gets to call the holiday shots.

      Do what you guys want to do, together or separately, and don’t let parents push you around.

    5. Jessica (tc)*

      I’d go to Florida to spend time with my family, with or without my boyfriend. Why? Mainly because it sounds like you’d enjoy spending time with your family and it’d be frustrating to be with his. Holidays can bring out the worst in people, so why deal with it from his stepmother when you have the perfect option and reason to forgo it this year?

      I don’t see a problem with inviting his father and stepmother to a dinner at your house either right before or right after Thanksgiving and calling it a “make-up” Thanksgiving. (Or, better yet, maybe just take them out to dinner one night, saying you just want to spend time with them since you won’t be there for Thanksgiving this year.)

      Saying you are going to spend it with your own family isn’t playing a game. It’s saying, “This is what I’m willing to do this Thanksgiving. You can choose to spend it with me and my family, or you can choose to spend it with your own family.” The key here is to let him choose what he wants without trying to tip the balance one way or the other. If he ends up saying that he wants to go with his family, you should say, “That’s a great idea! I’ll make a pie you can take with you when you go, and you can give your father my best.” And you mean it. (I mean, don’t say the part about the pie if you hate to bake, of course, but don’t say something fake or manipulative if his choice isn’t the one you prefer. You both need to be able to make decisions and accept the other person’s “no.”) On the other hand, he needs to be willing to do the same for you as well. He can express disappointment, but he can’t use it to manipulate you into doing something you really, truly do not want to do.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Heh– I do love to bake pies, and I have spent years perfecting my pie crust, but I would never bake a pie for him to take to his father. Why? Because his stepmother would probably throw it in the trash. She would never serve it and take the risk that someone might compliment someone else’s cooking. Last year we spent a good 30 minutes picking out some really wonderful, interesting wines (we’d been asked to bring wine) and she refused to serve them.

        But anyway. :) Thanks, everyone. Really. I think my boyfriend and I are at a turning point, where we realize that we don’t have to be on our best behavior anymore. I’ve done some solo trips to Florida and left him home so he didn’t have to deal with my crazy mother (she’s a giant pain in the ass, so I understand), and he’s done several outings one-on-one with his dad (I encourage this– his stepmother balks and whines, so his dad usually goes out with my bf when she’s out of town), so I really ought to just get off my ass and go to Florida and give him the option of joining me.

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          Oh good gravy, AvonLady Barksdale! That’s just sad about the cooking. As for the wine, maybe she was hoarding the good wine for herself for later. ;)

    6. Wrench Turner*

      The thing about ‘building a life together’ is that you’re still two wholly independent people with your own lives. Sometimes you’ll do stuff apart, sometimes together.

      If HE needs you to be there as a support/buffer for Stepmom, that’s a different issue than whose turkey you dismember. YOU wanting to go to Florida is perfectly okay and valid and fine by itself. Make it about you, not him and them, because you are still important.

      Say I’m going to Florida this year, you’re welcome to come. If your family protests, I can see them at Christmas if they want to do that.

    7. BRR*

      As others have suggested you might need to do separate thanksgivings. But it’s time to discuss holiday schedules, now and possibly in the future (like, we need to play it by ear every year because my family isn’t consistent with their get togethers). If your family doesn’t get together at Xmas, is this the only time they get together? I’d point that out. I think unless it’s a huge financial burden (or possibly some other reasons), it’s fair to ask him to join you in Florida.

      Thanksgiving is the only time my dad’s side gets together and neither side of my family celebrates Xmas and both of his sides do and do it in the same town. Our solution was that I always get Thanksgiving and he always gets Xmas. His two sisters switch holidays with their husbands’ families (one year Thanksgiving and one year Xmas), so he’ll miss them some years but it wasn’t really fair for him to offer me Xmas.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m going to Florida. Decided this evening, and the bf was completely understanding. He’s going to check with his dad to make sure he won’t be alone on Thanksgiving, but chances are he’ll come with me. And my mother convinced my grandparents to travel as well, which brings a new set of problems but also some nice family time. Whew.

  31. MMM*

    It’s a rainy weekend for sport. After spending a rainy afternoon at the Formula One track, where qualifying was eventually cancelled due to torrents, came home to watch the All Blacks squeak past the Springboks by tries to penalties in very wet conditions. Drying out the welly boots for another trip to the track tomorrow!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Because of Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman, I actually know what “All Blacks” and “Springboks” are. :)

    2. The IT Manager*

      That’s true for some Amerian football as well. I watched a very wet college game last night, and there may be some wet pro games today – although a lot of pro teams have covered stadiums so maybe not.

  32. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    I hope someone can help me with this!

    Many months ago I came across a link somewhere on the internet to a UK shop of really cute ceramics/tableware. For some reason I think it was a female name/designer. I’m starting to get my Christmas-shopping act together, and my mom collects teapots, and I distinctly remember seeing really cute, brightly-coloured stuff she would love at this shop. I have searched myself blue in the face but I must not be hitting the right search terms, because this was definitely a Useful Tableware-type place and not a Ceramics As Art Objects type place, which is what I keep running across. Does anyone have any idea what this site may have been?

    Alternately, recommendations for cute, bright, relatively inexpensive teapots?

        1. Elkay*

          I love Emma Bridgewater stuff. If I were rich with a huge kitchen I’d buy her entire Christmas Stars range just to use on Christmas day.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I love Cath Kidston! I discovered a store in Kingston Town Centre last visit–I wasn’t going to buy anything because I thought, Oh this stuff is too cute–it isn’t me. But the more I browsed, the more stuff I found that I loved. I ended up with a cute lanyard for my flash drive with little birds all over it, and a flowered shopping bag to keep in my purse. It has a little case!

        I want all the things in that store!

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      In addition to the above suggestions (Bridgewater/Kidston) could it be Orla Kierly?

      Think Cath Kidston is the least expensive out of those.

  33. SL #2*

    A couple weeks ago I posted about getting a new laptop and debating between the older Pro and an Air… well, I stopped by Best Buy today to spend a $5 birthday coupon on maybe a new phone case or even an extra phone charging cable… walked by the Macs with the signs that said they were on sale… walked out with a 13-inch Pro with retina display and as much flash storage as I could fit in there.

    Except now I brought the damn thing home and I’m too lazy to even open the box so here I am, typing this out on my mid-2010 Pro. Oops.

    1. Wrench Turner*

      HA! I’ll gladly take your old laptop off your hands if you want motivation to open the box. I need a couple of machines for art installations.

      1. SL #2*

        Haha, I’m holding off until the back-ups of the old machine are ready! I’m not going to do a Time Machine installation on the new one because I have so much junk I want to get rid of on the old hard drive, but once it’s wiped, I’m giving it to my mom.

  34. Forum Finder*

    Does anyone know of any other website or online forums that lets people have interesting and intelligent discussions about things that are happening these days or other dilemmas people might are experiencing in their daily lives?

    I wanted to know if there is another online forum where I can have these discussions (much like what this free-for-all thread is like).

    Sometimes I have an issue in the middle of the week and I prefer not to put it on hold for discussion until the weekend AAM open thread.

    1. Oh Susannah*

      There’s a forum like that for readers of the Captain Awkward site. Google “Friends of Captain Awkward” to find it. It has sections for lots of different topics including asking for advice, asking for support, discussion of current events, and lots more.

      Being associated with CA means there are certain rules and expectations there, so you might want to read a bit to get a sense of whether the site is right for you, especially if you do not already read Captain Awkward. It’s not necessarily right for everyone, but I find it very helpful.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I just found the Wait But Why Dinner Table discussion board today. I haven’t visited, so can’t recommend based on experience, but it sounds promising to me and I’m going to check it out.


  35. Tara R.*

    Hope everyone is doing well. I have my first midterm on Tuesday, and I’m freaking out a bit. I have lit the vanilla cupcake candle I just bought from Bath and Bodyworks and am trying to calm down so I can study. It doesn’t help that I was out earlier and the Skytrain (our city’s equivalent of a subway) broke down… it took me a while to figure out how to bus home, and it was pretty stressful. I still don’t feel *safe* being out and about after dark in such a big city, and I doubt I’ll ever get over it. Anyway, just wanted to send some good vibes to anyone else feeling kinda stressed and miserable. You can do it!

    1. nep*

      Great perspective and approach — sending out good vibes and encouragement to others as you’re experiencing some stress there.
      I think many people would be apprehensive being out and about in a big city (esp unfamiliar) after dark. Great that you kept calm and were resourceful.
      Hope you’ll get in some solid studying and good rest from now till Tuesday. (Don’t underestimate the power of sleep to help you retain what you’re studying.) Good luck on that midterm. You’ve got this.

    2. Trixie*

      Vanilla candles always make me hungry, must be my rampant sweet-tooth. I did read rosemary helps stimulant brain activity and function so I keep some nearby when working. Good vibes back!

  36. Revanche*

    I have to wear glasses for the first time and I’m having such trouble adjusting to it. Does anyone remember how they adjusted to their first pair? Specifically, I tend to read very fast but doing so with these on makes me nauseated, and my eyes are very confused by the periphery being fuzzy rather than clear.

    1. katamia*

      Ugh, I had a terrible time adjusting when I first got glasses (and never did, actually–I’m only a bit nearsighted, and I only wear them to drive now because my license says I have to even though I don’t really *need* to, if that makes sense). Mine aren’t for reading, though. But I have a hard time walking in them, especially stairs and other non-level surfaces, because the glasses distort the little bit of floor I see through the bottom of my glasses and I don’t know where to step (and, having bad knees aleady, I’m unwilling to risk falling and making them worse). I also get weird flashes out of the corners of my “glasses-eyes,” which I think is the lenses reflecting what’s on behind me.

      No real suggestions, but sympathy. People do say it gets better as you wear them more, too.

    2. Myrin*

      There’s really no other way around this other than getting used to it by wearing them constantly (or constantly when you need them, e. g. if they’re purely reading glasses, you obviously shouldn’t wear them walking around), I’m sad to say.

      That being said, there is the possibility of the strength being incorrect. I got a second pair on Friday with slighty different strengths than my other pair and I immediately realised that the left lens is too strong. I’ll wear them for another few days to see if there’s any change but I’m pretty sure I need to go back and have the strenght adjusted. I have, however, been wearing glasses since I was eight and am thus pretty good at correctly assessing things like this – I can imagine it might be tempting for someone who needs to wear glasses for the first time to think something is wrong with them when they really just have to go through the process of getting used to them.

      1. the gold digger*

        It should not be that hard to adjust. It usually only takes me a day or two with a new RX. The one time I absolutely couldn’t was when the lab had used the RX for my right eye on the left lens and vice versa. Labs do make mistakes, so if you are having problems, go back to your doctor.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I agree. Please take the glasses back to where you bought them and tell them what is happening. They will probably quickly pinpoint the problem.

      2. Revanche*

        Yes, exactly, I didn’t want to make the mistake of assuming that the problem is the glasses when it could be purely my need to adjust. I’ve only worn them two days straight now so I’d guessed it was too early to go back but didn’t know when was long enough either.

    3. Jessica (tc)*

      Yes! And this happens whenever my prescription jumps around a lot, too. It just takes time for your eyes to get used it. It’s a pain in the neck, but it’s common. Eventually you’ll forget you even have glasses on and you adjust to the peripheral issue. (I remember when I got a smaller pair of rimless glasses a few years ago, and my eyes kept catching everything in my peripheral that I used to be able to see and now couldn’t–in addition to the fact that I also didn’t have a clear line delineating the here-you-can-see space from the now-it’s-blurry spacee any longer.) If you don’t keep the glasses on, unfortunately, it’ll take longer for your brain to get used to the new visual space.

      With my first pair and any major jump in prescription since, it usually takes me a week or two to feel fully immersed in the new visual space. Smaller jumps take me just a few hours to a day or two. If it keeps going on for a long time, your prescription may not be correct. (I once received lenses that were way off from my actual prescription, and the fact that I was still feeling nauseated more than a week later made me go back in. My ophthalmologist’s office realized that they had been ground incorrectly, so I went back to the eyeglass store to get the prescription fixed. It was a very odd experience.)

    4. danr*

      Try changing the distance between you and what you’re reading. I had to make an adjustment when I first got the reading portion of my glasses changed. Until then I was so nearsighted that it didn’t matter. Center your eyes in your glasses and move your head or the book until everything is clear at once. Now, you’re ready to read. I’m also a fast reader, have worn glasses for ages, and this small change brought my reading back up to speed and it bacame a pleasure again. I do most of my book reading on a Kindle. The size of the page is just right and I can make the font size just a bit bigger. It really makes a big difference.

    5. Blue_eyes*

      It can take a while to adjust. When I first got glasses for driving and reading the board in class, I couldn’t wear them to walk around because I felt unbalanced/seasick. Your brain has to relearn how to process the visual input. Since its your first time wearing glasses I would give it at least 4 days to a week of constant wear (if they’re for all the time) to let your brain catch up.

    6. Lora*

      For what it’s worth, I once got a new pair of glasses that made me so dizzy and nauseated especially if I was driving and going over 30 mph. I took them too a different place, they checked them and found out the optical center for the lenses were extremely off. In one lens the optical center was in the top half, in the other lens, it was in the bottom 1/3. The place where I got them from repeatedly told me I had to ‘get used to them’. Once I got another pair that was optically centered, my problems with adjusting went away. Immediately. You don’t say how long you’ve had them, but other than the incident above, my adjustment has been a day, two at the most. And I’ve had a lot of glasses!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. Here’s a good example of why you maybe having difficulty, OP. Glasses have to sit on your face in an exact spot. The middle of your eye has to be lined up with the spot on your glasses. You might need an adjustment on the frame or it could be something bigger like Lora is describing. Please don’t keep forcing your eyes to work with these glasses, it’s worth going and checking.

      2. Saucy Minx*

        Someone once talked me into getting progressive lenses. Bi-i-ig mistake! I couldn’t wear them for even two hours, but I tried for a week to get accustomed. Went back to optician, got the mother this time, & she declared that her daughter should never have recommended progressives for me, & then wrote up the prescription for me to get my usual trifocal lenses at no extra charge.

    7. Shell*

      Having just finished a long drama in which my new glasses gave me hell for two full weeks…

      If the glasses are made correctly, you should adjust to them within a week. 2-5 days is average; a week should be more than enough. If you really can’t adjust to them after a week (in my case, I had splitting headaches, squinty eyes, extreme eye fatigue, etc.), go back to your optician to verify the prescription. If they insist that the prescription is correct (which happened in my case), go to a different optician and get them to verify that 1) the glasses are made to spec, and 2) the prescription is correct.

      In my case, the lab made my glasses to specification, but the optician measured my PD grossly wrong (the PD was too small by 5 mm, which means the optical centers were on my irises instead of my pupils, making me literally cross-eyed when I use them). My optician insisted that the glasses/prescription were correct and I knew it wasn’t (seeing as I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 7) so I had to verify it from a second source (she confirmed my suspicions that it was the PD that was wrong).

      Opticians are required to fix errors at no charge, and even if the glasses/specifications were correct by all parties but you’re not comfortable, every prescription I’ve ever had has a note that says “please do not fill prescription unless you agree that doctor’s changes will be made at no cost to the customer”. So even if no one makes any mistakes anywhere, you can consult your optometrist and have them adjust your prescription until you’re comfortable with your glasses.

      Also, your peripheral vision shouldn’t be fuzzy if your glasses are correct. I obviously get more clarity looking straight ahead and my peripheral vision is less clear, but unless you’re adjusting to the lens frame being in your field of vision, your peripheral vision shouldn’t be more fuzzy compared to not wearing glasses (which is how I interpreted your comment).

      In short, if you’re not comfortable, go back and get them verified–by multiple parties if necessary.

  37. Monodon monoceros*

    Just a little vent about my mom…my dog has been extremely sick the last few weeks. I live far away from my mom and although we usually talk once a week, I was travelling for work (when he got sick) and she knew we wouldn’t talk for a while. Then, when she emailed me to see if I was home, I said yes, but told her dog was very sick, feeding him every hour, etc. etc. and did she want to skype. I got no response for 24hrs, then when she did email back, she said she had been really busy running errands and working on her crafts, but I could call if I wanted to….

    So maybe I’m overreacting because I’m stressed about my dog, and tired, but seriously? Too busy crafting when I told you my dog is potentially dying?

    It is somewhat typical of her. I don’t know why I keep having to have this realization over and over but…I am realizing yet again that I can’t really count on her.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      I’m sorry about your dog – I hope they get over their illness soon.

      My dad & his wife as somewhat similar to your mum so I feel you *hugs*

    2. Happy Lurker*

      I wish you the best of luck with your dog. Mine are so special to me, I would be lost without them.
      What I want to mention is your situation with your mom. This is probably one instance in a long line instances where you feel like screaming or banging your head on the wall. When you calm down decide how much power you will give her over you.
      In other words, do you want and/or need her in your life, if so how much? I spent a good decade struggling with those questions and for me my mom and certain family members are kept at at ams length or further. It is a hard road to travel, but the relief is immense when you make a the decision. My mom was rarely, (but sometimes she was and it was a surprise) there for me either, she just isn’t able to be. That’s who she is. I take small visits in small doses now and we rarely speak on the phone. I love her because shes my mom, but I can’t be with her or depend on her much.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s odd how a situation with a dog can bring a larger situation into view with enhanced clarity. MM, love your little buddy, take care of him as you are doing. I think you have a good handle on where things are at for your mother. I hope you can find a compassionate friend close by or another relative who will share your concern along with you. Not everyone is like your mom and there are people around that are willing to be supportive.

    3. Wrench Turner*

      If you don’t say “I could really use to talk to you” she might not have known to get back so fast. She’s an adult with her own priorities; your sick dog that you’re clearly capable of taking care of on your own may not be one of them. She also may have just missed your email in the bustle of whatever she was doing, which happens to the best of us. If you needed something from her but didn’t communicate it, you’re counting on her to be a psychic, which is hard to do consistently. It seems there are greater reliability issues afoot, but take care of your sick pup first before you address them.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        I got the feeling that this was just the latest incident in a longstanding pattern. Some people just can’t be counted on to provide a shoulder.

    4. fposte*

      I’m so sorry about your dog, M. That’s a hard time. If your mom’s a dog person, then yeah, she blew it.

      If she’s not, then I think many non-dog people aren’t going to read that emotional landscape correctly, and that, as Wrench Turner suggests, you need to straight out ask for what you want. It’d be great if everybody knew that without being asked, but it’s better to get support with a direct request than get no support as you wait for somebody to figure it out.

    5. Lily in NYC*

      Oh boy do I get it. I love my mom but she is so bad at being comforting when I’m upset; she is just missing that chip in her brain. I called her sobbing when my best friend died suddenly and her complete inability to commiserate made me feel even worse. I know she just doesn’t know what to say and she gets uncomfortable. My sister is the same way so I learned that my dad is the way to go in these situations. Now that he’s no longer with us I either talk to a friend or sit and stew.

      I hope your doggie is going to be ok! I fret constantly whenever my dog has even a minor issue so I understand how you must be freaking out. I’m sending good thoughts your way.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        When my first cat died, I called a family member to talk about it. She screamed and slammed the phone down. PEACH. I had called looking for some grief relief and ended up grieving even more. Now I had two griefs. My second was I grieved that the family member was not the person I thought she was. I realized in our relationship she would lean on me but I could not lean on her.

        I always say animals are here to serve us. My kitty’s one last service was to give me clarity about a long term relationship I had with my family member. I honestly felt that it was better to find this out over a cat rather than over some huge life changing event that was even more dramatic. I thanked my cat for showing me things that I may not have noticed any other way.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Thanks, guys. Once I got over the initial shock, I knew right then never to call her and say a person I cared about died. Our relationship got weirder and eventually I decided distance is a good thing.
            It did get to me- where would I have to be in my head to think responding to someone like that was okay? So sad, in so many ways.

    6. kelseywanderer*

      I’m so sorry about your dog. I’m in the same situation, sort of: I live out of the country, so my parents have my two cats while I’m gone. And they hate it. I got an email from my mom last week saying that she had taken by cats to the vet to be euthanized, but the vet talked her out of it and instead treated them for what was wrong with them (yes, my mom thinks it’s okay to put animals down if they’re sick instead of treating them because that’s too expensive/too much of an inconvenience).

      So now I know that they’re on borrowed time and most likely will not still be alive when I return, and it’s killing me. My family and I are not close, so for a long time my cats *were* my family.

      Also I make very little money and now have several huge unanticipated expenses weighing on me as well (vet bill for two cats plus the cost of new carpet for my parents).

      All this plus other stuff equals the panic attack I referenced in the best/worst section above.

  38. Wrench Turner*

    Whole roasted fish – suggestions / recipe help?

    I’m the cook in my family and with my wife out of town was able to experiment with a whole roasted tilapia so I could make it for her later. It tasted great but was very hard to eat – lots of tiny bones made more than a morsel at a time difficult.
    Any suggestions for other single-serving whole fish to use with larger or fewer bones? Is it worth it to try and debone the fish before roasting it? Or just suck it up and eat fillets?

    1. misspiggy*

      A whole or half salmon, baked in oiled foil for 30 mins with dill, or chilli and lime, is lovely and very easy to get off the bones. Also rainbow trout, coated in flour and pan fried in butter with flaked almonds. Made myself hungry now! :-)

  39. Jill of All Trades*

    Behold the majesty of Netflix: Gilmore Girls is coming back!!! It was just a few weekend threads ago we were talking about needing more Gilmore in our lives, and how I needed to know what Lorelai would say about Game of Thrones, and it’s happening people!

    Given the above, I will now put it out here that I would like the opportunity to prove that money doesn’t buy happiness.

    1. fposte*

      My office has talked about nothing else for weeks. I desperately want the return of Paris Geller in there.

    2. Elkay*

      I’ll be interested to see if this makes it onto UK Netflix as we currently don’t have The Gilmore Girls. I’ve got mixed feelings about it because I fear it could be a bit Arrested Development if all the cast aren’t 100% available to shoot it (on the other hand it could be like Wet Hot American Summer which looks like it got most of the cast back and actually able to film together).

  40. Rin*

    I had a dream last night that I was writing AMA to ask where my new college boyfriend (a dead ringer for Chris Pratt) and I could make out. We couldn’t do so in my room because of my roommate, or in the halls at school, or in the frat house, plus a bunch of other places. I believe she suggested talking to my roommate about it; possibly setting up good times to do so? A very Alison answer.

  41. Treena*

    How do I find a list/information on *all* the countries that the US has damaged with our foreign policy/military intervention? I’m not really looking for a debate as to which countries deserve to be on the list, I just want a concise list of countries and a little bit about the situation/circumstances, enough to allow me to search for more info if I want to.

    I was on vacation recently to a former British colony and met a British guy who had absolutely no clue it was a former British colony. I found it to be really distasteful that he travelled and visited, and didn’t even bother to realize his country was largely responsible for a lot of the issues there. But it just occured to me that while the US doesn’t colonize, it does a lot of really shady things that I should probably know about, but have no clue where to start looking aside from researching all 196+ of them.

    1. Weekend Warrior*

      This is a really great question. I haven’t read it but “A Concise History of American Foreign Policy” sounds good. I’m a quasi-historian (more than a buff, less than a scholar) and truly believe learning about the decisions and mind sets of the past illuminates our present. It can be so easy to see the follies and crimes of the past but hard to interrogate our current societal and national actions with the same rigour. How will future generations judge us?

    2. fposte*

      I don’t think you can do that without making judgment calls, though. I’m not exactly jingoistic, but sometimes our foreign policy has actually helped places, especially when it’s come with money, and sometimes the result is controversial. So really you’d have to just list every place we’ve had any involvement in at all and then make your own call.

      What you might do short-term is find out which countries have or have had an American military presence, though, and which places have been “owned” by the U.S.

      1. TheLazyB (UK)*

        And sometimes it both helps and damages, no? In which case the country may be no worse off but it’s no better off, and the US could have better spent its money elsewhere.

        I’d love to know which former colony, but guessing you don’t want to share Treena?

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          Also, to be fair to the British guy I am pretty sure that while I can name some of the former colonies, I don’t think I can name them all.

          1. TheLazyB (UK)*

            I looked it up. There are like 174. I deliberately didn’t reply to the original post, as I think it’s harsh (they don’t teach this stuff in schools and even though I try to be aware of stuff this isn’t even on my radar) but can’t articulate why in any reasonable way.

            1. OriginalEmma*

              An English friend of mine told me he didn’t learn about the world wars and other >1900s events in history class because it’s still living history and not really “history.” I was amazed.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Wow, that’s a lot! British Empire indeed.

              I’m about to read the entire Hutchinson Encyclopedia of Britain (the big fat red one), so I guess I’ll learn about a lot of that.

          2. Stephanie*

            Yeah, there’s a valid rationale behind the old maxim “the empire on which the sun never sets.”

          3. Treena*

            Oh definitely! I wouldn’t expect anyone to recite them off the top of their head, but to go to any country I would expect a quick enough glance to see the country’s basic history.

            The whole subject came up because we were hiking through a national park and passed by some local workers who were maintaining the paths. These other women in our tour group were saying to them, “Oh wow, look at you, aren’t you exotic?!” and other equally offensive things. I turned to him and said, “Wow, could they be anymore obnoxious?” And he didn’t really understand why I was offended. So we started talking and the British colonization came up and I said I was surprised he didn’t know and he shrugged and basically said it didn’t matter if he knew (not in so many words). It just left a bad taste in my mouth.

            Oh, and I don’t mind sharing. It’s Belize. The only country in Central/South America that has English as an official language…it seemed pretty obvious to me.

      2. Treena*

        Oh yes, for sure. I’m looking basically for a really broad list that includes everything, and then I can decide on my own what my opinion is. I already know a lot about public health results of US involvement in other countries, but I’m looking for exactly what you suggest, military presence and straight-up and general control of the place.

    3. Sara*

      I was a political science major in college, and selected a focus on a particular region of the world that interested me (Eastern Europe/former Soviet Bloc). One thing I found throughout my coursework was that even as I focused on my regional studies and did reading and research specific to that area, there would be allusions to proxy conflicts in other parts of the world that caught my interest and got added to a list of stuff to read about when I had the free time. So learning about U.S.-U.S.S.R. relations at the height of the Cold War also spurred me to read about U.S. involvement in Central and South America, and south Asia, and central/southwest Africa…and the list goes on. I would hardly say I am well-versed on the history of U.S. involvement in all of these areas, or that I am aware of all U.S. involvement in all parts of the world, but from a single starting point I was exposed to a lot of new information. I’d suggest a similar approach if you’re interested in learning more about the history of U.S. foreign policy – find an interesting book and keep some mental/physical/digital notes on stuff you want to follow up on later.

      A Problem from Hell is a very accessible book that explores U.S. involvement (or lack thereof) in multiple genocides of the 20th century. I’ve read a couple books about the U.S. and the Middle East this year, including Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower (history of Al-Qaeda) and Thirteen Days in September (Camp David Accords). (Kirk W. Johnson’s To Be a Friend is Fatal is an interesting look at some of the collateral damage of the most recent Iraq War but I wouldn’t call it a foreign policy text.) TBH, I also read a lot of Wikipedia articles if I want a quick briefing on U.S. relations with a particular country or information about a particular event. I’ve been reading a lot of Julia Alvarez this year, and most of what I know about U.S.-Dominican relations is from Wikipedia. (I know it’s not the best source, but I only have so many hours in my week!)

    4. Merry and Bright*

      To be fair, history is so tangled that a lot of countries’ issues are caused by other countries. Also, most governments don’t put their own misdeeds on the history curriculum and it’s hardly fair to send someone on a guilt trip for things their country did way back.

    5. fposte*

      It also occurs to me that “the U.S. doesn’t colonize” is a questionable statement in its own right–the U.S. has definitely had quite a few colonial possessions.

      1. Nashira*

        The Philippines comes to mind, Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawaii, the US Virgin Islands… These are just the ones off the top of my head, in random order. The Philippines mostly because, if I recall correctly, we colonized them at a time when the US government was extremely concerned with getting themselves a piece of that colonizing pie the way the big powerful nations were. So not only have we and do we currently have colonies, but the feds have been fairly open about being a colonizing power in our history.

        Plus that bit where the US started out with thirteen states and kept sending out colonists – I mean ‘pioneers’ – to take over great swathes of what are now states.

      2. Treena*

        You’re right! I meant more that what is far more damaging is all the other crappy things we do (namely economic and military power).

        Although now that you bring it up, I don’t think I’ve focused on any of the colonies because from the ~5 people I’ve met from one of them, they are super happy to be under US control today (doesn’t make it less crappy, but it’s tough to be indignant on behalf of someone’s who is actually happy with the situation). But it would be interesting to read about opposing viewpoints.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Not the documented answer you are hoping for, but personally, I find it easiest just to say we have ticked everyone off at some point. Last I read, even Australia was not too happy with us. What say you folks who are reading in Australia?

      This is a topic with a lot of balls in the air, because our corporations and NGOs have also made some huge missteps. I read one sad story (too lazy to find it now) but the punchline was we gave yellow rice to people in hunger, not knowing that offering yellow rice was extremely insulting. I never followed up to see if the story was true or not, but there are tons of similar stories flying around like this. I do find that each story has one more layer of complexity and then one more and so on.

  42. Carrie in Scotland*

    Right, so I mentioned this in the Friday thread – I may have to move back to Home City if my flat hasn’t sold by Feb (when my lease is up).

    I don’t feel able to rent it out because:

    Maintenance – I’d need to buy a new cooker and possibly a new boiler or at least get it serviced.
    I’d still be on the hook for any building issues that arise – in a building that dates from 1900, it’s pretty likely. I also still owe my neighbour £450 for work done several months ago.

    I’d have to change my mortgage.

    I might have to pay upfront letting agency fees. As nobody in family is wanting to be responsible for renting it out (& why would they?) I’d have to have the full agency package where they do everything thus reducing my income from it.

    I can’t air ‘n’ b it, I don’t think, as I have no furniture in it – it’s totally empty. This also might affect my council tax exemption…which runs out in Feb.

    But most of all I am really struggling with my mental health. Sometimes it’s getting so bad that I think that I should turf up at the local a & e because I am scared (I’m on anti-depressants). I am having no fun where I am. I’m thoroughly miserable. I have given up so much to come here, and it doesn’t seem worth it. I just want someone else to deal with everything.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, Carrie, I’m sorry that this isn’t going well. I think it’s a perfectly reasonable decision to say “Now wasn’t the time after all” and move back; it doesn’t mean anything long-term beyond that. This was kind of like dating the new city–you’re always free to say this isn’t the relationship you’re looking for.

      Do you have any support on the mental health front? I’m thinking a support group in person or online, something that is more purpose-built than a friend and more available than the NHS. You’ve sounded like you feel kind of isolated in the new city (understandable when you haven’t developed your circle there) and that might make you feel a little more secure, whatever you decide to do.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I like the dating theme (so useful for so many things in life!)

        I’m going to see if I can access counselling – I’ve found some but they offer concessionary fees, so will have to see how concessionary they are…as I obviously don’t have much money.

        I also write alot online in a diary place, which helps.

    2. TheLazyB (UK)*

      I am so, so sorry to hear that Carrie.

      I can’t add anything to what fposte says but want to send support north&west to you. I hope things either turn around swiftly, or that your move back to OriginalCity goes smoothly.

    3. misspiggy*

      I’m sorry things are tough. It might be good to look at two issues separately – the house, and whether the new city is working out for you. If you find an estate agent or property manager for the house, you should be able to get them to supervise all the repairs needed before it goes on the rental market. When you renegotiate your mortgage, you’d add enough to it to cover renovations. Then, assuming market rent is enough to cover the new mortgage plus management and maintenance, you’re fine – somebody else is paying your mortgage and you will eventually have the full value of the house with the mortgage paid off, so extra costs now are likely to be worth it.

      But it sounds like the stress of the move and the new place may be making these things seem insurmountable. In which case, could you focus on your wellbeing for the next couple of months, and don’t take a decision on the house yet? In a couple of months’ time, you could decide whether to stay in your new location, but try to pretend the house doesn’t exist for the purposes of that decision. Hope things get easier soon.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        the thing with where my flat is, is that it currently experiencing an economic downturn so if I increase my mortgage for renovations + agency fees might help me break even at least.

        thanks for your advice :)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Carrie, I am so sorry you are going through this. I think mental health reasons stand alone to justify moving back. One place I moved to did not go well. Not as bad as what you are describing and I did not have the worry of an additional piece of real estate, either. That place went on to be the place that I compare every thing else to, as in, “Is this current issue with current place as bad as That Place?” The answer is always no. I think time will only serve to validate your decisions here. You are a strong person, you may not think so right now, but you actually are.
      Keep us posted as how it’s going with you.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      It’s okay if it doesn’t work out–at least you tried. If it helps, don’t think of it as a failure; think of it as “Well, this wasn’t the right thing, or the right time for said thing.” That doesn’t mean it won’t be (or someplace else won’t be) at some point in the future.

      I want you to be healthy, so you do whatever you have to in order to take proper care of yourself. *more hugs* And I’m here if you want to email or even call.

  43. Roommate's Cats*

    I live with two other roommates, one of whom (let’s call her Beth) has two cats. Beth is the messiest of the three of us, often leaving dishes in the sink for several days or books all over the living room. Currently, the cats’ litter box is located in the corner of the kitchen. This wasn’t a problem initially because Beth seemed to clean it pretty regularly. Over the past few months, however, Beth has gotten worse and worse about cleaning up after herself and her cats. The kitchen (and sometimes even living room) frequently smells of cat pee/poop and the litter that inevitably gets dragged out of the litter box is not being cleaned up and thus lingers all over the kitchen until the other roommate or I get annoyed enough to clean it up. To add on to this problem, Beth works nights and is rarely home on her days off so we barely see her, leaving texts as the best mode of communication. So I have two questions for you all, 1) What’s the best way to effectively communicate that she needs to clean the litter box and surrounding area more? and 2) Is it reasonable to ask Beth to move the litter box to her room (she has the largest one in the house) since she’s not cleaning it to our standards?

    TL; DR: My roommate doesn’t clean up after her cats and keeps the litter box in the kitchen, but is never home for me to talk to her about it. How can I best handle this?

    1. TheLazyB (UK)*

      House meeting. Tell her you need a time when you’re all available to talk about this stuff. If she doesn’t reply/show you have a more serious issue.

      Also who actually looks after the poor cats?!

    2. Lily in NYC*

      Oh man. I can handle clutter (sort of) but litter boxes are a different story and I would just be blunt even if you have to do it by text. As in, “Beth, this is not negotiable. The litter box stinks and you need to clean it every single day.”. Tell her you’ve been doing it for her and that it needs to stop. I would worry that she would clean it even less if it went into her room (not sure if it would still smell if her door was left shut). I am so grossed out right now on your behalf. If it doesn’t get better I would just pick it up and leave it in her room without even discussing it.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Oh wait, you can’t keep her door shut because then the cats wouldn’t be able to get in and out to use it. Seriously, she won’t clean it if she moves it in there. I think the answer is that she cleans it every day or she has to get rid of the cats. Jeez, why does she even bother having cats if she’s never home?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’d say the answer is that she cleans it every day or she moves — don’t put getting rid of the cats out there as an option because it reinforces the idea that it’s acceptable to treat animals as disposable.

          1. Roommate's Cats*

            I absolutely wouldn’t suggest she get rid of the cats. I also don’t think we really have the agency to suggest she move out, but hopefully it won’t come to that. I’ve already had to ask her to clean it multiple times and, while she does it when I ask, she doesn’t do it regularly enough and it’s really something I shouldn’t have to remind her to do.

            1. Artemesia*

              Meeting needed. And the words — ‘I am not your mother and I don’t like being forced to nag you about something as basic as cleaning up after your own cats.’ need to appear at some point.

          2. Observer*

            It’s not acceptable to treat animals as disposable. But, it’s also not acceptable to treat animal care as optional. From what’s being described, “Beth” is being hugely neglectful of the cats, and she needs to either step up to the plate or get the kitties into a place where they will be decently cared for (eg a no kill shelter.)

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              It depends on the shelter. Some no-kill shelters basically warehouse animals (which is how they’re able to be no-kill). If the worst the cats are dealing with is a messy litter box, they’re almost certainly better off where they are.

              1. Steve G*

                Hi AAM. I was wondering if any of the non-profits you worked for had anything to do with animal welfare while reading this. I worked on a farm for abandoned animals as part of a DUI back in the day (yes, I know bad, but it happened…) and stayed on for about 4X the sentence just because so many parts of it were appalling. The way people buy ducks, chickens, rabbits, and goats, and then are just like – oh, no room/time/money for this, then give them up. The farm (aka shelter) is NOT better and did not take care of the animal better! The farm was seriously understaffed and underfunded, and when I went to work it was total stress and chaos. It was great exercise, but the lack of veterinary care, the sometimes small enclosures, the dirty water troughs, the water troughs frozen solid in the winter, the same food everyday (which was given very late sometimes depending on how many people came), the antsy animals who wanted out (I literally battled a pig once, managed to get him into a horse enclosure for a few hours so he could run around and get that out of his system without telling the owner……..ugh, yeah, if one thing happens in my lifetime it is that we treat animals a lot better. My peeve when it comes to this is access to open space and a warm place for the winter. Such a basic need many animals don’t have met. And its s freakin’ easy to fix!

                1. Steve G*

                  ……….just remembered going there Easter morning very early….and people were dropping off cute little chicks. As in future chickens. That was a horrible moment. I was like “no! Take them back!” The guy who ran the place was like “of course we can help!,” even though the place was over capacity. Very disturbing/disgusting that people buy animals as babies – for no reason – then dump them – still as babies – for no reason.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yes indeed! I worked for an animal protection organization for six years early in my career. And ugh, yes, the people who buy chicks and rabbits for Easter and then dump them afterwards, like they were just some kind of decoration.

              2. Observer*

                So, she’s going to have to work a bit harder to come up with a solution. But, besides the fact that a filthy (this is not just a bit messy) liter box is not a little thing for cats, it seems to me that the litter box is probably not the only problem these cats are facing.

            2. Lily in NYC*

              Please don’t put words in my mouth. I would never put an animal in a shelter. We ended up giving a dog who bit my sister three times to a neighbor who didn’t have kids. That’s all I meant.

    3. the gold digger*

      I would just put the box in her room and close the door with the cats in it, but that is not a good long-term solution. Poor kitties. They hate having a dirty box. We scoop ours every other day and change the litter every ten days.

  44. Stephanie*

    Oof. I mentioned some of my dad’s elderly relatives were headed out here. They’re all out here now. It’s been…ok. I’m unsure how this will work out long-term, however. My dad’s thinking was to rent this house out as an investment property for them. Thing is, they’re a lot less independent than a lot of the snowbirds in the area, so it hasn’t been quite like that (which I think was my dad’s original thinking)

    Grandmother’s doing ok. Kind of. She won’t really drive anywhere, so someone has to head down there to drive her to the store, to the doctor, etc., head out there to take the trash out. Her driving itself is fine, I think it’s just lack of confidence and not knowing the roads. Her knees are in pretty bad shape (she needs both replaced, actually, but doesn’t want to get knee replacement surgery).

    My great aunts are a different story. So my mom and I spent all day picking them up from the airport and driving them out there. I am unsure about them living down there with just my grandmother. One great aunt has bladder issues and pretty severe mobility issues. She couldn’t get into my mom’s SUV (too hard to climb into the car), so I drove her in my hatchback. After I dropped her off…I discovered she had a pee accident in my car. At the very least, she needs a regular nurse/nursing assistant to stop by or maybe to move into assisted living. Other great aunt is ok, just also has mobility issues (she’s on a walker) and can’t drive.

    So I guess we’ll see what happens. I think there are some Dial-a-Ride transit services, but they’re living in the neighboring more rural, poorer county where services are more limited (covers a way wider area, the offices are all at the county seat 50-60 miles away). I think my dad just doesn’t want to admit they need more help or services (like moving into a home or getting a home health aide) than he thinks (these are his aunts and mother). For example, he didn’t like my grandmother using a motorized scooter at the grocery store.

    I just need to figure out the right balance between being helpful and not getting stuck shuttling people around to the store and such like yesterday. Spent literally all day yesterday doing that and am now behind on the work I needed to do this weekend for school.

    1. Artemesia*

      Time for a serious conversation with all these folks. They need to be in a retirement home or assisted living situation where basic needs are addressed or you will be spending the rest of your youth and middle age as a lackey. It is great to help people get settled, but taking them on as your responsibility is pretty enormous.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. I think that dad should be asked to cart them about. If I am recalling correctly dad volunteered Stephanie and others to help these folks, of course, you cannot volunteer other people.

        If you can, Stephanie, line up some resources for seniors, so that you can reference those sources very quickly. “Gee, No I cannot take you to the doctor today, I have an exam I am studying for. There is Bob’s Medi-Ride available, would you like the number?” Or, “Nope, not able to go grocery shopping with you this week. Why don’t you give dad a call and see what he thinks?”

        I do recommend figuring out what you are able/willing to do. That may look like once or twice a month you can take an afternoon with them. But get that part figured out so you have your boundaries in place.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Agreed. It sounds like dad is in denial about the situation, either because he doesn’t want to face the reality of their condition or feels guilty about handing off care to a facility. Whether it’s that or something else, your relatives getting proper care is the priority here.

  45. CrazyCatLady*

    I constantly feel restless and like I need something new and interesting in my life. In the past 3 years, I’ve moved across the country, changed jobs twice, taken up new hobbies, started to learn a new language, got married, got a breast reduction, bought a house, and had lots of other new experiences. But I still feel bored and restless. I’ve been in therapy most of my life but never really addressed this because I had bigger issues. Is this a problem? Is it something I should try to figure out? FWIW, my life is pretty stable, financially and mentally. I’m just so bored always.

    1. fposte*

      Do you think it’s a problem? I think being bored all the time sounds annoying, but then a lot of people are bored. Do you ever have moments of satisfaction in there, or is it that they’re short-lived? Does peace or stability ever bring you contentment, or is it only change and stimulation that hits the spot?

      A lot of explorer and mountain-climber types say similar things–they’re really easily bored and are only satisfied when they’re facing serious challenges; I don’t think that’s necessarily the same thing as being an adrenaline junkie, either. So you may not be the only one, but it’d be nice if you could find something less drastic than climbing K2.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        I sometimes have moments of contentment (and strangely, it’s even I’m climbing mountains! But no K2 for me). Peace and stability sometimes makes me feel okay but mostly it makes me anxious orv restless.

        In some sense, I think it’s a problem but in others, I think it’s what keeps me going, keeps me learning and keeps me from being complacent … But you’re right, it’s boring.

    2. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      I sometimes feel like that–bored. I do go to the local library and find 50 cent sales on lightly used contemporary novels so I read those, and I also take free classes on psychology/management etc online through Coursera and similar, so I’m always learning something. Free concerts too, sometimes, and hanging out with friends who try new restaurants/new museums and things.

      Being bored can be annoying, but it could also mean you simply need to refocus/redirect/re-challenge yourself and refresh your brain. You’re already stable financially which is awesome, so you just need to take it a step further :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I think it’s a cruel irony, personally. We get to a point that we are comfy in life and things keep just humming along and it seems so hard to get connected/interested in something. WHY?

      Struggles and challenges in life do keep us more engaged than easy sailing does for us. We have arrived! So now what do we do now that we have gotten here??? The challenge of boredom seems to be one of the last and biggest hurdles. It’s not so much the boredom as it is not feeling connections.

      It could be that you need to “learn to be still” as the song goes. Or it could be you need to volunteer and share some of the intangible gifts (abilities) you have. Or it could be that you may want to take a hard look at what your expectations are of life vs what life is really like.

      A wise person told me that can we go through spells in our lives where it just feels like not too much is going on. What we are supposed to do he said, is build up for the future. We have been granted a lull to prepare for the future and we should grab it. Do you have an IRA? Do you have a plan to pay down your house? What about education, do you think you or your other half want to go back to school? Think about five or ten years from now, where do you want to be? What are the steps to get there? Start today. Use the lull to build something in the future.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        We actually are trying to pay our house off in 10 years total, and are working toward retiring early. I’m currently working toward a certification that will be valuable in my career… So I do feel I’m using the lull for the future, for sure. I just sometimes want to throw it all away and move someplace else far away or cut off all my hair …or something to make me feel more alive.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It really is about the journey and not at all about the destination. Arriving at the destination can be very anti-climatic. My friend got his doctorate. It took ten years. Once he got it he felt “Yeah, so what.”
          I have felt that is was cruel/ harsh that our daily routines dictate how our golden years play out. Eat crappy foods, don’t exercise- hit 60 years old like flying into a brick wall at 90 mph. Our biggest challenges are in the little things. “No. I do not need two donuts today. One is enough.” We think the life events are what it is all about and in the end, it’s all this small, pesky annoying stuff that matters. “Gee, I blew off my two mile walk this morning. How many times have I blown it off this month. But walking is soooo fn BORING.”
          Sometimes our challenge is the challenge we DO NOT want: How to handle our boredom while doing boring things. There is a strength in following routines, a strength that cannot be found anywhere else. It takes mental/physical/ psychological strength to do the same damn thing every day AND take pride in doing it each and every day. I have had to work through resentment/anger/sadness in order to stick to the few routines I have. I am amazed at how I appear strong to other people. And I am amazed at how these few routines are a part of me now. I could probably stand to pick up a few more routines for my own good. Siiiighh.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Is there anything you can make happen? That’s my biggest struggle is that I feel like things ARE happening, they’re just too mundane, uninteresting and unstimulating to me, so I always try to shake things up. NotSoNew Reader had some good suggestions above.

  46. Pennalynn Lott*

    I went to my next-door neighbor’s famous Halloween party [seriously, they’re artists who go all out] last night and drank a few too many margaritas. I’m a happy drunk, in case any of you were wondering. ;-D

  47. Jinjin*

    Are there any Canadians out there somewhat attuned to your immigration laws? I was born in Canada but moved to the States at a young age. I can’t in any good faith call myself Canadian — except that I am still a citizen and travel on a Canadian passport. (I am a permanent resident of the US.) I just never changed my citizenship, because I always thought some day I’d want to move back.

    That day is coming close, as my partner and I have been wanting to move to Canada, for a variety of reasons. Everyone tells me it’ll be easy for me to move back, but is that really the case? At the same time, I don’t know if I want to give up my green card permanently and not being able to go back to the US. I’ve tried Googling this, but no search engine seems to understand my particular predicament. Any anecdotes from you all? Should I consult with a Canadian immigration lawyer?

    And finally — is it actually possible to have dual citizenship between the US and Canada? I thought the US frowned upon that, and you could do it but just not tell them you keep your Canadian citizenship. I suppose I could try to get a US citizenship, but if I up and moved to Canada (even if temporarily for work), that seems like Uncle Sam wouldn’t be too happy with me.

    1. fposte*

      Can’t speak much to the Canadian side, but dual citizenship in the U.S. is perfectly possible. Despite the whole renunciation part of the naturalization oath, there are plenty of people with dual citizenship, often in situations where parental citizenships and birth location give them different citizenships. The U.S. does state that if you serve in a foreign military at war with the U.S., it’s likely to be considered a relinquishment of nationality. So, you know, no invading Windsor.

      However, as you say, it’s likely to be tricky to try to get U.S. citizenship just as you’re trying to move to Canada. I would consult an immigration lawyer. There might even be somebody, especially in border regions, who’s conversant with the law on both sides.

      1. Dual citizen*

        As was put to me by an immigration lawyer, the only country that can take away your citizenship is the country of that citizenship so only Canada could take away your Canadian citizenship, no matter what the US says.

        But if you’re leaving the US, that makes it difficult to get the citizenship in the US since part of the proof is that you are living here.

    2. Artemesia*

      Dual citizenship is possible and highly desirable. The world is changing — it is very useful to have the ‘right’ to live in more than one country. Sure wish we had an EU passport or Canadian.

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I’m in the process of immigrating from the US to Canada. If you’re concerned you’ll absolutely need to talk to a Cdn immigration lawyer, but try to find one who specializes in US-Canada relations (rather than immigration from Europe/Asia/etc.), she’ll have the most up-to-date info regarding US issues. However, you may have to consult with US immigration attorney to discuss green card stuff (I know nothing about that).

      Canadians are allowed to hold dual citizenships, including with the US, but I don’t know what the US laws are. Do you want to be a US citizen? If you already hold Canadian citizenship and are looking to move back to Canada, I’m not sure what benefits US citizenship would have for you.

      More to the point, is your partner a Canadian or American citizen? If he is American and you’ll be looking to sponsor him to immigrate to Canada with you, be prepared to be very patient and shell out a lot of money. Right now wait times are 17-18 months, and you as the sponsor will be under the microscope and may be denied sponsorship rights if you haven’t been living in Canada long enough.

    4. Canadian Comment*

      Not sure, but be ready to pay income tax to both countries IIRC.
      Also, welcome! Let’s go for beer.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Not pay, necessarily, but if you are a US citizen, you are required to file taxes even if you are not a resident. The States are only one of three countries that tax by citizenship, not just residency. Another one is Eritrea. This is one of the reasons why that Facebook guy gave up his green card and left the country before Facebook went public. As a Canadian citizen living abroad, if you wish to retain (something I can’t remember, your status? something to do with the government, maybe pension eligibility?) all that is required is to file one page every year stating that you are a resident of X country and are abiding by the taxation laws of their country.

        If you are a Canadian citizen and have a passport and everything, then yes you can move back tomorrow, however in terms of residency you may not be able to gain access to healthcare right away, checking the website of the province you are thinking of moving to will probably have something about it. IANAL, but you should consult one about US Green Card/citizenship requirements, if you wish to retain access to that country. If one of your parents are a US citizen, or your spouse is, that changes things. You should be able to get fast tracked US citizenship through a parent. If your spouse is a US citizen or citizen of another country, they may not be eligible to just move to Canada without the proper paperwork, even if they are married to you. If anything, that’s what you should consult an immigration lawyer about, what you need for your spouse to come with you to Canada, be eligible to work etc.

    5. Rose of Cimarron*

      Hi – it is possible to have dual citizenship. I was born in Canada of American parents and hold both citizenships. At one time you would have had to choose, but Canada changed its policy, and now the USA tacitly recognizes dual citizenship. I lived in Canada only as an infant and then for a year in 1976, but if you were born in Canada you have birthright citizenship unless you’ve renounced it formally, from what I understand. Please note I’m not a lawyer or citizenship expert and I’m just telling you what I think is correct – please research for yourself with government websites and personnel. You can apply for a Canadian passport from the US (it’s a bit of paperwork; I’m going through it right now).

      There are numerous Canadian consulates in the US and they should be able to help you; even if they don’t have an immigration/passport department they’ll direct you to the right website or an office you can call. It’s also readily searchable. Also try Moving2Canada.com for more info.

    6. Mando Diao*

      I would suggest making sure your partner is eligible for Canadian citizenship. There are a lot of little fine print-type issues that can disqualify you. A friend of mine was rejected because of a past arrest. He wasn’t charged for the crime (and he hadn’t done it anyway), but the arrest record was all it took.

    7. Jinjin*

      Thank you all for your responses!

      My partner is a US citizen, so we anticipate it’ll be a huge pain for him. Actually, I’m worried for both of us in terms of finding work — I’m not sure how many companies will be chomping at the bit to hire non-residents. Not sure if you guys have any sense of that.

      My partner and I also aren’t married, which probably complicates things too, as I can’t get citizenship through him (yet! Maybe someday) and vice versa.

      Looks like I need to find a lawyer — but thanks again for all the feedback!

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Marriage isn’t that big of a deal for immigrating to Canada–common-law partnership is plenty. However, I would check with a lawyer to see if your being nonresident in Canada for many years will affect that. Once you are in Canada and sponsoring him, though, if he’s approved initially he’ll be able to apply for an open work permit. The other problem you may experience is that the sponsorship application will require you to prove that you can support the both of you for at least three years, which may be difficult if you’re moving and in between jobs.

        Companies won’t care if he’s an a work permit or not unless he’s going to be applying for government jobs. I know this because I’m doing it right now–I’ve been on an open work permit for years, literally, waiting for my PR to come down. The bigger problem will be both of you finding work in Canada with no history of work there, just like it would be job-searching long-distance anywhere else. Canadian citizenship for him is a LONG way down the road, but even permanent residency is a really, really long, drawn-out, invasive process.

        All bets are off if you’re moving to Quebec. Different rules apply there.

      2. Treena*

        What would your ideal be? It sounds like you want to be able to move/work in Canada with your partner, but be able to return to the US in the future if you want to.

        As difficult as it may seem to you, I think you’re actually in the perfect position. You’re eligible to get US citizenship (relatively easily, it sounds like) on your own, so you can get US citizenship before you leave to make it easier in the future (when you would have to marry/wait for a work visa). Or, alternatively, you do have 12 months before you lose your PR in the US, so if it’s more like fear of not being able to succeed in Canada, but if you do, then no return to the US is needed, that’s another option.

        For your partner to get work rights in Canada, you will eventually have to get married. But Canada differs than the US, and they have a engagement-visa. It’s still a lot of paperwork and such, but a friend of mine (American marrying Canadian) told me that they were having a long engagement because the waiting period on the work rights were equal whether or not they filed already married or engaged. She went to grad school in Canada during their engagement and was allowed to work 20 hours/week during school.

  48. FD*

    Between Alison’s book recommendation, and some things happening in my own community, I’ve been thinking a lot, and I’d like your thoughts. What are some things that you think businesses can do to help improve the situation for people in low income situations?


    1. The businesses must still be profitable, and the model must be sustainable over time.
    2. This is about what businesses can do, not about public policy (which is probably a bigger can of worms than we should open in a comment thread).

    1. danr*

      Interesting question. My thoughts.
      1. Hire enough people to do the work without forced overtime as a “normal procedure”.
      2. Pay enough so that overtime is not needed “to make a living”.
      3. Have a reasonable probation or training period with a small raise at the end when the person becomes permanent. This provides an incentive to do well during the training. Part of this is doing your own training for entry level workers.
      4. Have a sick leave and vacation policy. Have heath insurance and retirement benefits.
      5. Price the products or services to keep the business healthy and the customers happy.
      On the business side, it must keep up with changes and train the workers in new ways of doing things.

      1. MMM*

        6. Don’t pay your ceo 100 times what you pay your lowliest clerk.
        7. Don’t put your investors before your customers and employees.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          8 Ask the people doing the work how you could reduce costs and streamline the work effort. Don’t make it into a game show where they have to save the company more money than they did last year. Ask for real suggestions, expect real answers.

          9 Listen to your people when they tell you what is working and what is not. You do not have to do everything they are saying but you do have to listen. If their ideas are off the mark then teach them what you are looking for in viable suggestions.

          10 Remember you and your staff have something in common. You both want the business to be enduring/sustainable. Keep that at the forefront of your thinking.

          11 Give employees benefits that actually do something. The employees already know which benefits are smoke and mirrors. Quit wasting money on this stuff. No, I am not willing to pay $900 per month for long term care insurance for my parent that cuts off when my parent hits 92. This is useless. Get rid of it.

          12 Train your people. Have a training budget. Have training goals. If you want people to respect your business, then train them.

          13 No puppet managers. Empower your managers to actually manage. Trust their decisions are being made within your guidelines. Trust them to handle exceptions in a professional manner.

          14 Don’t put your customer ahead of your employee. Make sure your employee knows that she will have the support she needs to do her job well.

          15 Fire the people who need to be fired. Respond quickly and sure-footedly to bullies, racists and those that have other behaviors known to destroy morale.

  49. StillHealing*

    Anyone know if Property Management is required to inform tenants prior to putting the building on the real estate market? In Seattle and I read what I could find on landlord/tenants rights yesterday, AFTER returning home to see a Realtor sign out front. It appears new buyers are required to provide certain information like where to send payments, but I couldn’t find anything about informing tenants PRIOR to actually putting the property on the market.

    I seriously do not need this right now. When it rains, it pours they say. My son and I are renting a low cost 115 year old dump of an apartment which I know for fact has code violations. But we are stuck here because my soon to be ex is not paying the support he agreed on, has totally abandoned us here in Seattle to fend for ourselves, won’t communicate or cooperate with the divorce process. I’m sure we will be forced to move one way or another and soon. This sort of thing is happening all over Seattle. Rents are doubling and in my neighborhood it’s difficult to find anything less than $2k now. (That’s slightly less than my monthly take home pay)

    Rent was far cheaper when we moved here nearly four years ago when I first became disabled and unable to work. I am finally back to work, full-time and just the last two weeks felt I was finally starting to adjust to 40 hours a week. Meaning, I can get to Friday without falling asleep at my desk or losing all ability to concentrate and focus. My Hashimotos Encephalopathy is truly in remission confirmed by blood tests and PTSD managed. Pain and mobility issues from other chronic conditions remain but I’m getting by day by day.

    But now, this to deal with. Will it ever stop? It’s there an end to struggle without dying? Right now our best option is for me to get my son into a dorm at his college and live in my car while I wait to get into a Women’s Shelter.

    End rant and venting. Time to take another load of stuff to Goodwill.

    1. fposte*

      I’m sorry, Still Healing. That sounds rough.

      From what I can see, Seattle tenants are entitled to notice if they’re living in a single family unit but not otherwise. Are you month-to-month or a longer lease? Transfer of ownership doesn’t automatically break a lease–they have to ask you to sign a new rental agreement if they want that–so it’s not likely to be an immediate thing, and sales aren’t an immediate thing anyway.

      I’m glad at least your health is improving.

      1. StillHealing*

        Thank you. We are on month to month basis currently. Properties are selling fast in this neighborhood. I hope we start getting regular communication as to what is happening and when. Our upstairs neighbor is a single dad and his son has lived here all his life. This is all he knows as “Home”. Thanks, I’m so glad too,that I’ve healed so well and continue to get healthier and stronger.

    2. FD*

      In Minnesota, the landlord has no obligation to inform or to get consent from tenants prior to selling the building, unless there’s something in the lease that requires it–which is extremely rare. However, the new buyer is obligated to take over the building subject to the current tenants.

      What this means in practice is that if you’re in the middle of a 1-year lease with a rent of $1000/month, with electricity, heat, and garbage included, the new owners cannot change your rent or what they cover in utilities until the end of your lease. However, if you are on a month-to-month agreement, they can raise your rent or give you notice to vacate at any time. This is true for the current owners as well as for any future owners.

      You could bring suit against the landlord if the conditions are bad enough, but it’s hard to tell if that would work for you. A lot of times what will happen is that even if a tenant wins a case, the landlord will often opt not to offer a new lease when their lease comes up for renewal, since (again in Minnesota) a landlord has near full discretion to decide who s/he does and doesn’t rent to, as long as that decision is not based on a protected category.

      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. :(

      1. StillHealing*

        I suspect the Minnesota laws and Seattle, WA laws are similar and I did find similar information to what you posted.

        I can’t imagine being a landlord or property manager and not letting renters know in advance that the property is being put on the market. It’s beyond rude!

    3. Little Teapot*

      The same thing happened to me! I got home and found a ‘notice for building’ sign tacked to my fence. I called the agent with a huge WTF is happening and she too had no idea. Sneaky landlord!!! He did it without telling anyone. So now apparently they’re knocking down my house and building units. Thanks buddy.

      Note to any landlords out there: communication is key!!! Coming home to a billboard attached to my fence wasn’t fun, and it was even more infuriating when my agent was in the dark too :(

      1. StillHealing*

        Oh God, I’m so sorry. It really is a huge WTF moment. Very shocking an unsettling for you, I’m sure. Sounds like poor communication on part of the Landlord for sure.

        I’ve been wondering if our Landlord passed away or something. The last time I saw him was the summer on 2013. He had been struggling healthwise. I suspect there was communication between the property management and the Landlord because there was a valuation walkthrough beginning of September. I asked at that time what was going on and was told it was just a routine valuation, the building “was due for it’s valuation”

        It’s a bad business practice and lack of common courtesy to not inform tenants the property is going on the market.

  50. Mkb*

    Is anyone from Ireland (or have knowledge of Irish names) that can help me figure out how to pronounce the female name Grainne? I’ve heard it said both Grawn-ya and Gran-ya. My husband and I like it for a baby name but would want to pronounce it gran-ya (rhymes with Tanya) but I wouldn’t want to be butchering the name. I have a name that’s constantly mis-pronounced so I may be being overly cautious about this haha.

    1. Jen RO*

      I don’t want to be that person, but unless you are in Ireland… your daughter will be called “Grain”.

    2. OriginalEmma*


      Her name will be mispronounced, forever and always, especially in parts of the US where Irish names are uncommon and probably even in parts where they are common (because it’s not Siobhan, Sinead or Deirdre). Signed, a person whose name is mispronounced all.the.time.

    1. Shell*

      I’m a grinch, but I absolutely hate Halloween. I intentionally keep my home dark at Halloween every year.

      No advice for if they come knocking during days that are not Halloween, though.

    2. A Dispatcher*

      Huh… why? It’s not even like someone would have the excuse that it’s on a weekday/school night so Sunday would be better.

      Also, did they send around an advanced notice for this, because let me tell you, I would be so confused if random kids showed up at my door today, not to mention not having candy for them yet…

    3. Wrench Turner*

      Today? What? That’s… just wrong.
      I love Halloween – it’s one of the most important holidays of the year for me – and I’m happy to cause diabetes in neighborhood children. As long as it’s only on that one day, dangit.


      1. the gold digger*

        I KNOW! We didn’t know until we looked it up. We live in a place – the only place I have ever lived – where they DO pick which day. For whatever reason, trick or treating on Halloween is like – not done. So my town had T&T today but neighborhood has its exclusionary have to pay to participate and you are supposed to give candy only to kids who have the glow wand (reeks of racism to me) on the actual Halloween, which I think might be the first time T&T in my neighborhood/town has happened on Halloween since I moved here.

        1. the gold digger*

          (Looked it up online on the local paper, which has a link to T&T for the city and the suburbs, which, again, is not anything anyone has ever needed anywhere else because T&T is on Halloween. It is not that complicated.)

        2. A Dispatcher*

          Oh yuck – I grew up in a nice suburb, not like gated community but nice enough that a lot of city kids would come up to our area and trick or treat there instead of at home, so I assume that is what the pay for glow wands thing is trying to eliminate. Which makes me a bit sad. We never minded – in fact it was nice as the kids got older because everyone in the neighborhood bought/built at the same time, so the kids all kind of aged out of trick or treating at some point and it was nice to have people to come to the door, from the area or not.

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            We get a lot of kids that aren’t from our neighborhood. I love it! The more, the merrier (and the less chances that I’ll have too much leftover candy to tempt me).

            1. the gold digger*

              I think that’s exactly what the glowsticks are supposed to do. I live in a first-ring suburb of a major city and a lot of the African American kids from the inner city come to the suburbs to T&T treat. My neighborhood T&T solves that problem quite nicely by almost never having T&T on Halloween or on the day that my suburb has it and by having the glowsticks. I find it disgusting. And this in a place where so often I get a sense that they think, “Oh that RACIST south!” Well, when I lived in Memphis, T&T was on Halloween and there were no glowsticks. I had to come up north for that.

              1. VintageLydia USA*

                Don’t forget: Most Sundown Towns were in the North and the Cascades. The South had slavery but racism is everywhere.

        3. BRR*

          I was surprised when I moved to places that did it on weekends (which makes sense, just new to me). I always put a sign on my door now that says “we have a new baby who is sleeping, please don’t knock or ring the bell. Thank you for your consideration (we live in an apt complex and have no way of turning off the outside light).” Before I put up the sign one year my husband answered the door despite knowing what day it was and that we didn’t have candy. Face palm.

    4. mander*

      I’ve had this in the UK, where Halloween is a rather recent phenomenon, so I can sort-of excuse it as being ignorance. Though, in fairness, it’s almost always kids who are too old to be trick-or-treating, IMHO, who try to pull this.

      I always tell them to come back on the right night. We did get our house egged once, but I suspect they would have done that anyway even if I had given them candy.

      Also, I find the idea of trying to keep the “undesirable” kids out of the neighborhood really repugnant.

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