weekend free-for-all – November 14-15, 2015

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

Book Recommendation of the Week: The Buccaneers, by Edith Wharton. If you only know Edith Wharton from being forced to read Ethan Frome in high school, this will change your opinion. Five wealthy American heiresses in the 1870s head to England to find British aristocrats to marry, because their money is too new for New York; it’s like Downton Abbey in book form.

{ 870 comments… read them below }

    1. Noah

      I keep it pretty simple, but spinach, banana, and greek yogurt. Baby kale, strawberry, and blueberry is also good. I like to buy frozen berries and freeze bananas when they get too ripe.

    2. Trixie

      I find I prefer spinach to kale because it’s milder but I try to alternate greens when I can. Green tea or soy milk. Maybe a half a banana for sweetness, frozen if you like it cooler. I will keep frozen berries on hand which I’ll leave soften overnight in fridge or microwave for 15-20 seconds so they soften. Maybe a half an apple, sometimes a grated carrot. It’s easy to over do it so I keep the spinach/banana as base and go from there. The greens have protein but I’m looking at protein powder so it will keep me going until lunch. Maybe some cacao nibs? I have a basic Cuisenart blender which seems to do fine. I instantly feel better when I’m doing this, and eat better the rest of the day.

    3. Valar M.

      Berries (raspberries, strawberries and blueberries) plus spinach and almond milk. You can also do apple juice or something if you don’t like the creamier versions.

    4. Meg Murry

      simplegreensmoothies dot com/green-smoothie-101 – look for the picture halfway down with suggestions for 2 cups of greens plus 2 cups of liquid plus 3 cups of fruit

      Or instead of their 2:2:3 ratio, I usually use 2:2:2 plus 1 frozen banana.

      If your blender isn’t super powerful (like a Vitamix) make sure the greens + liquid are completely blended to a liquid with no bits before adding the fruit – if you still have chunks of spinach it wont blend down after the fruit is in. Chopping the frozen banana into small pieces before adding helps with blending as well.

      I normally am not a Dr. Oz/Daphne Oz fan, but I do like adding psyllium husks to my smoothies as she suggests – it makes them thicker and the fiber makes you feel full longer. Just go slowly until you are used to it – start with 1/2 to 1 tsp per cup of liquid and increase up to a tablespoon per cup of liquid (making sure to drink more water in addition to the smoothie), and keep the smoothie cold – if your blender gets warm, the psyllium turns really thick really fast. I accidentally made spinach peach goo so thick I ate it with a spoon one day when I used fresh cold peaches instead of frozen.

    5. Sarah

      I’ve never made a bad recipe from Oh She Glows (website and book) but I have never tried her smoothies, I bet they are delicious too though because her vegan (!) baking is amazing

    6. ID10T Detector

      I use 2ish cups of greens (kale, spinach, mixed greens, one of the brands has a blend that is made for smoothies) plus 1 to 1.5 cups of frozen fruit plus 1 to 1.5 cups of almond or coconut milk. I add 2 scoops of protein powder. Note: my smoothies are like 20 oz and take like an hour to drink so they are breakfast plus morning snack. I have a Nutri Ninja blender, and I just blend in batches (green stuff plus half the almond/coconut milk until it’s liquid, then add protein powder and frozen fruit plus the rest of the almond/coconut milk).

      Because I use the protein powder, I pick my fruits based on those: if I’m using chocolate, I prefer mostly oranges or cherries or raspberries or bananas; if I’m using vanilla I choose lighter citruses like mango or pineapple as my main fruit, but also cherries or oranges. Sometimes if I know I’m going to have a long busy day, I’ll do the choc/banana combo with some almond butter added and that will give me enough energy/sustenance to get through til around 3PM.

    7. Tiffany

      I don’t have recipe suggestions because I don’t really follow any…I just kind of throw whatever I have or whatever sounds good in the blender and hope for the best. I would say start small though, especially if you’re not a big veggie fan (I’m not). I started mostly just using fruit, then slowly started adding Kale and increasing the amount of it, then started adding spinach, and recently have started experimenting with mint. I use Baby Kale and Baby Spinach as well, the flavor is a bit more mild and there isn’t as much prep work (I rinse it, dry it, throw it in a ziploc, freeze it, and then just get whatever I need). No de-stemming or anything like that. Some things, like carrots, work best if you blend it into like a puree or something, put it in ice cube trays, and then freeze it like that. You can do that with leafy stuff as well, just add the greens to water and put in the trays.

    8. knitchic79

      I love spinach (2 handfuls), strawberries (1 cup or so), and 2 small steamed beets. If you’re near a Trader Joe’s they have them already steamed and peeled in the produce section.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        Hmm . . . I have a can of beets that no-one is eating; I wonder if it would be okay to use them in place of the fresh steamed beets?

        1. Mephyle

          Sure, why not. The worst thing that could happen is that you will drink one smoothie that might have slightly less nutritional value. Actually when making a smoothie with fresh beets, you can put them in raw.

    9. cuppa

      I like spinach/apple/kiwi. I try to throw in chia seeds and/or milk or yogurt if I have them around. I just do a handful of spinach, one apple, one kiwi.

    10. nep

      I was surprised to find that spring mix works nicely as a green; I like to change up the greens periodically. I always use frozen and slightly thawed bananas — makes for a great texture. Lately I’ve been adding chlorella powder — gives it a rich, velvety texture and surprisingly nice flavour.
      Green smoothies — experiment, have fun. Nearly anything goes.

  1. Windchime

    I need to go back through the weekend open threads and gather up the book recs. I’ve been slogging through the Outlander series all summer but I’ve finally met my match on book 5 (or is it 6?). It’s just a bunch of boring letters back and forth between people that I don’t care about.

    Meanwhile, fall has finally hit the PNW. It’s dark and rainy here and I can feel myself slowing down and just wanting to watch TV and sleep.

    1. Meg Murry

      Yes, the first few books were awesome, but I also strugled to get through the later ones since I just don’t care about John Grey at all and not much about William, and there seemed to be endless chapters about them.

      Gabaldob brag about how she doesn’t really use an editor, but man, I really think her later books could be much better with some more editing throughout the process. I re-read them all (actually, re-listened to most of them, the audiobook narrator is excellent) before the last one came out, but I don’t think I could do that again – I’ll need a cliff notes version of each before the next book comes out – which will probably be in 2019 or later given how long she takes.

      I’ve got a pretty long to-read list now, but I’m going to have to add the newest rec to my list – maybe I’ll save it for after I watch the final episode of Downtown Abbey.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        I got a few hundred pages into the latest one and suddenly, I was done. Recycled plot lines, yet more miraculous escapes from death, boring. I’ve been told it gets better further along but meh. According to some people I know it’s completely wrong of me, but I just want it to end.

      2. Elizabeth West

        If she’s bragging about no editor, then I just lost interest. EVERY writer needs an editor. Gah, I hate that. That makes me really angry, actually.

        You never ever reach a point where you’re that good. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

    2. BrownN

      Hope you know that Outlander is a tv series now. It’s just finished first season. Haven’t seen it (no tv) so I don’t know how good it is.

    3. Sara

      Oh man, I gave up about a third of the way through the third one. I wanted to know what would happen to Claire and Jamie, but I just couldn’t keep slogging through all the Lord John Grey stuff, and Jamie’s random meanderings. Guess it’s Wikipedia time for me!

      The podcast Worst Bestsellers did an episode about Outlander and it was SPOT ON.

      1. Honeybee

        A podcast called Worst Bestsellers may be what finally gets me to listen to podcasts. That sounds amazing.

    4. salad fingers

      I was just thinking about stalking old open threads for book suggestions earlier this week, mostly on account of the weather starting to set in. Can’t decide what to read next.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I’m re-reading Rebecca to get the flavour (I make no apologies for random British spellings, LOL) of an English novel in my head, plus I like it.

        Somebody here suggested Hard Work: Life in Low-Pay Britain by Polly Toynbee a while back. It’s sitting on my coffee table waiting for me. :)

        1. Merry and Bright

          I wish I could remember which book it was (I think it was a Harry Potter), but I saw a guy on TV with British and US editions of the same book. He showed how many extra pages the British copy had because of all the extra letters! It was hilarious.

          Rebecca is about as British (especially English) as it gets. It’s an old favourite of mine. TV and film versions don’t get the ending quite right though.

        2. "Jayne"

          (This is really late! I’m just now catching up from the weekend.)
          I tried to read Rebecca in high school and hated it. I don’t know what my expectations were, but the book did not meet them. I couldn’t finish it. And then I tried to watch the movie to make up for not finishing the book (because, boy, was it a struggle!), and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t even finish the movie. I’d like to try to reread it, now that I’m older. I might actually understand what the book is about?

    5. Mallory Janis Ian

      With all the book and podcast recommendations this past couple of weekends or so, I’ve started two lists in Wunderlist to capture them as I go along. I just highlight the book or podcast title and click ‘share to Wunderlist’ and the app returns me to right where I left off.

      1. Meg Murry

        Ooh, thanks for this! I was looking for a good way to track my to-read list, and this looks easiest with the “add to Wunderlist” option. Everything else is too complicated, and then I abandon it, but I think I can handle this basic list.

    6. cuppa

      6 and 7 were probably my least favorites. #8 was better, but it definitely feels to me like the story has run its course. Oddly enough, I kind of got tired of the Brianna/Roger storyline in the latest one along with Lord John and William.
      #2, #1, and #4 were my favorites, in that order.

    7. Tris Prior

      I admit I skipped over a lot of the historical stuff in many of the Outlander books, as well as anything involving John Grey. Man, he was full, in my opinion. I have stuck with the series though, mainly for the time travel aspects of the plot as I am a huge nerd.

    8. StillHealing

      I’m here in the PNW too. Slept nearly the entire day. Yep, Fall is here. Sounds like a doozy of a storm is heading our way also.

    9. Honeybee

      Okay, I thought it was just me. This is my first fall/winter in the PNW and I feel the oddest lack of energy! I come home from work, it’s dark, and I just want to sit on my couch and watch TV or surf the Internet until I fall asleep on the couch (usually between 9 and 10). I have to force myself to do after-work stuff.

  2. Amber Rose

    My physiotherapist says I’m ready to start building the muscles in my foot again. I bought a rocker board and am entertained trying to balance. Recovery has mostly been painful, slow and frustrating so it’s nice to do something fun for a change.

    Also I finally got my class 5 advance drivers license (we have a graduated system here) so I can start teaching husband how to drive. Any pointers on things that you liked/did not like while you were learning to drive, or on teaching in general?

    1. TL -

      I did not appreciate my dad grabbing the steering wheel from me.

      In general, I think staying calm and never getting angry is the most important thing.

    2. danr

      Make sure you teach him the correct ways to do things even if most drivers don’t drive that way. Practice on empty streets until you’re both comfortable. Don’t stamp on the floor as if you’re hitting the brakes, but do give pointers on when to start slowing down and watching traffic around the car.
      When you’re driving together and he’s the passenger, he should take an active interest in driving. He should be the lookout and refrain from stamping *his* foot onto the floor for emergency stops.
      Let us know how it goes.

      1. Amber Rose

        I’ve been doing that a bit already. And I told him to do as I say not as I do, since I have picked up some bad habits and shortcuts in the 4 years I’ve been driving. =P

      2. Editor

        Learn where the car is and get a feel for the edges and corners, so to speak. I spent hours in parking lots first with my kids.

        I made them drive into a spot, get out of the car, check its position. Back into a space, get out and look to see if the car was where they thought they had parked it. They got feedback without a lot of nagging on my part, and they had a better feel for the car when we went on the road. We spent about half an hour to an hour driving, turning into or backing into parking spots where there were no cars, then doing the same closer to cars then into actual spots. We started parking in busy lots next, and I chose grocery stores for that because around here, grocery parking spots and some big box stores have larger spots than restaurants and small businesses. For breaks, they did driving on not very busy four lane or limited access highways where the lanes were wide and visibility was good.

        City driving and crooked country roads came later, and in fact they each already had their licenses when I taught them to drive twisty rural roads in hilly country.

    3. Gene

      As a sailing instructor, my recommendation is that you don’t try to teach your husband to drive. Without intending to, you are going to push each others’ buttons. There will likely be yelling and hurt feelings.

      1. Erika

        That would DEFINITELY be the case in my marriage. We love each other but can’t stand to teach each other anything.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian

        My husband taught me to drive a stick shift and to tandem paddle a canoe with no yelling or hurt feelings. We can’t talk about money without one or the other of those things, though. It all depends on the couple, I guess.

        1. cuppa

          My husband, who bragged that he could teach anyone to drive a stick, finally said to me, “I think you just weren’t meant to drive a stick.” :)
          I can do it, but when I get into traffic I get too nervous and psych myself out.

      3. Honeybee

        My husband taught me how to drive. He was excellent. He is patient and kind and very very understanding when teaching (anything). It’s like he goes into this Zen mode or something.

    4. fposte

      Practice being specific in your short-term/emergent instructions: “Look out!” only tells somebody to panic, while “Car on your right!” gives him an idea of what you’re concerned about.

      1. katamia

        Thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis. This is why my mother got banned from the car when I was driving while I was learning to drive and for several years afterwards. She screams at nothing (is constantly convinced we’re going to go up on the curb when we’re not) and says things to other drivers (who obviously can’t hear her) that sound like instructions to me. I’m experienced now that I can ignore her when she does that, but when I was still learning/new, I really needed to not have those distractions.

        1. Artemesia

          I nearly veered head on into the oncoming lane on the Mercer Island floating bridge when my mother screeched instructions to me while I was learning to drive. Driving involves simultaneous observations and activities and is complex, so when someone is learning and struggling to put it together yelling ‘look over your shoulder’ will distract from the ‘notice where the front end of your car is heading’ part of driving. Closest I ever came to disaster and I would have been fine if she had just shut up.

          We paid for driving lessons for our kids and then helped them practice in vacant lots before supervising their on road practice.

      2. Evan Þ

        YES!

        And also do not scream “STOP” unless you literally mean “Come to a complete stop at this instant.” My mom almost made me crash once on the freeway when she was teaching me to drive… and she only meant “Slow down!”

    5. Not So NewReader

      I helped my friend get her license and here are some of the things she commented on:

      It helped for me to shift off with her husband- she wanted a woman’s perspective but since the test examiner was male she absolutely needed to be used to having a man watch her drive. If you have someone who would shift off with you, your husband might benefit from the different perspectives.

      She was disappointed that we did not practice with the windows open. She said it felt different with the windows open than it did when just the AC was running.

      Like me, she found that going 40-50 on open road was much easier than navigating in busy city traffic. We spent a lot of time in busy traffic for this reason. (She already had the basics down of how to control the vehicle, so stopping and starting up smoothly were not issues.)

      Showing her many of the basic orientation things were helpful. Pointing out things such as reverse, neutral, drive have to be in the same order on each car. If the cross-bar in the steering wheel is straight that means your wheels are straight and you will go straight. Point out those basics.

      Before we started we decided how we would handle tough things. I told her that crying people do not learn, they are too busy crying. Don’t push yourself so hard that you are crying- let me know that you are too tired or whatever. We will switch drivers and go home. Maybe for your husband you would say it as tired,frustrated people do not learn and try again on a different day. Make a plan before you start of what you will do if one or both of you gets frustrated.

      We also chatted about how to chose what roads to take, how to deal with a surprise detour and lots of other stuff. I stressed the importance of taking the route you know you can drive successfully. Do not force yourself to do a challenging route if it is shorter, pick the routes that keep your stress levels down so you can be successful. You will learn to do the harder routes in a little bit.

      Fortunately, my car had a hand brake between the seats. I told her that if she does not stop when I ask her to, I would be pulling up that hand brake. I never once even reached for the brake. But the point was that I would get in the last word on situation.

      Learning to drive is a lot of balls in the air all at once. There’s lots of things to watch out for if you are not used to it. I found shorter lessons- 15 to 20 minutes went better than marathon lessons. Never underestimate the power of incubation, you know, that time spent not driving and not thinking about driving. That down time is just as important as the practice time.

    6. Sarah

      I still practice slides on ice and snow first thing in the winter – the feeling is weird and the physical response required to deal with it (especially at freeway speed) is counterintuitive. Also, I highly recommend driving school – it’s very helpful

      1. Amber Rose

        Driving school was the worst thing that ever happened to me. $1000 later and all I learned was how to be dangerous.

    7. LizB

      Make sure you’re reminding him to check his blind spot whenever you would do so yourself. I was taught by my dad and failed my first driver’s test due to a lack of blind spot checking; the examiner told me that people who are taught by family members often have trouble with that, because checking is such an ingrained habit for the person who teaches them that they don’t even think about it, and thus don’t remind their student often enough.

      1. Honeybee

        Ditto this, but for the opposite reason. My dad started teaching me how to drive (my husband finished it) and he was constantly reminding me to check my mirrors. Check your mirrors. Check your mirrors. His guideline to me was to check my mirrors every 3 seconds. And while I definitely don’t do it that often, his teaching has really helped me to be aware of what’s around my car all the time.

        But part of that is probably that my dad drove buses in New York for 17 years.

    8. irritable vowel

      My ex taught me how to drive (I was 26 at the time). As a “mature learner,” I found it heartening to think to myself “If a teenager can do this, so can I,” when I was having a hard time (like with parallel parking). Another thing I often thought to myself was, “look with your eyes, not with the car.” :)

    9. Mephyle

      I taught my kids to drive and a thing that worked well for us was narration. Before they took the wheel, I would narrate the drive to demonstrate to them what I was looking at and watching out for. “Unmarked intersection up ahead over there; I’m checking if there’s a car about to intersect my path when I get there. Car coming up behind me on my left, about to enter my blind spot. Bicycle ahead, must give it room.” And so on.
      Then when they started driving, we would have them narrate. That way I could be sure that they were seeing and watching out for all the things they needed to. Before we started doing that, it was an endless cycle of “Watch out for that intersection up there.” “I KNOW, Mom, I already saw it.” I couldn’t stop doing it though, because I couldn’t tell what they were thinking. So I was always afraid that there was a vital thing that I saw which they didn’t.
      I lost my nerve for a while and we put the driving lessons aside. Finally we returned to them, and we made this deal. On my part, I would try not to scream or do swift intakes of breath or jam my foot on the imaginary passenger brake. On their part, they would understand that I was trying hard not to do these things, so if I did, it would not be grounds for going into a snit and abandoning the driving lesson in a huff. We both gave it a big effort, and it worked. Now they have been driving for a year and a half and they have both been “blooded” with their first accident (very minor in both cases).
      I also second fposte’s advice about being specific in your directions, and LizB’s note about blind spots.
      I think the technique for blind spots has changed over the decades. When I was learning to drive (1970s), outside mirrors were hard to adjust, and we were taught to shoulder check the blind spot. Nowadays, the driver can easily control the outside mirrors on both sides from the driver’s seat, and there are instructions (you can find them on various websites) about how to adjust them to cover your blind spots. I find, though, that I don’t trust them and shoulder checking is such an ingrained habit that I still do it every time I change lanes.

      1. Amber Rose

        Shoulder checking is a test requirement. If you do not, the examiner fails you. I took 10 points because he didn’t see me check once. :/

        1. Mephyle

          I guess it depends where you are. I’ve heard from various sources that I shouldn’t be doing it, I should be using my mirrors instead.

          1. Mephyle

            Also “test requirement” lol. I live in a jurisdiction where there is no driver’s test. Being able to drive is actually literally not a requirement for getting a driver’s license. My kids got their driver’s licenses first, and then several years later (when fought my funk and won, and we got serious about the driving lessons), learned to drive.

          2. TL -

            No, please shoulder check! I have a tiny car and get nearly sideswiped at least once a year, sometimes more, from people who use their mirrors but don’t shoulder check – use both!

            1. Mephyle

              Oh, I do. I find that I can’t see everything with my mirrors no matter how I adjust them. Besides, even if I could see everything, I don’t have a decades-long habit of executing a cycle of glancing into the mirror, analyzing what I see, and instantly returning my attention to what is in in front of me. Whereas I do have a longstanding habit of such a cycle with the shoulder check.
              I drive in an environment where people don’t have a driving culture of preparing for a turn by moving into the correct lane. So you have to be ready, for example, for people making right turns right in front of you from the left-most lane!

          3. Rowan

            I bought stick on blind spot mirrors for my wing mirrors – they’re brilliant! I’ve never find a way to adjust my mirrors that wipes out my blind spot, but the stick on mirrors do it.

          4. Kristen

            Yes, know your mirrors well and be watching them. In my car, my side mirrors only go out so far, so they leave a sliver of a blind spot, just enough space for a motorcyclist to be riding in (hopefully, motorcyclists are smart enough to not spend too much time in someone’s blind spot though. As a matter of habit and trust, I still check over my shoulder though.

            Many people do set their side mirrors wrong. I know when I first learned 17 years ago, I learned the wrong way. Look for proper instructions online.

      2. Not So NewReader

        I am chuckling. I had my license for over a decade. I finally got a decent car with power mirrors. The dots never connected. It was about two cars later that I figured out to turn my passenger side power mirror down to see how close I was to the parking lot line, the curb, or the fire hydrant. DUH! I have no idea why that took me so long to think of.

        1. Lionness

          ….I have driven with power mirrors my whole driving life and have never thought of this. REVOLUTIONARY!

      3. Was it something I said?

        This. I learned to drive at 54. In Minnesota. I was taught by a young cousin who was a graduate student in family therapy. She would pick me up from work and I would drive errands. To the grocery store. To Target. To the dry cleaner. We would plan dinners in different parts of the cities. I talked the driving out loud. “stop sign, I am slowing down. Full Stop. Look both ways. Begin to go.” “uncontrolled intersection, slowing down, looking left, looking right, looking left again, proceeding through the intersection.” when I took the road test, I asked if it was okay if I talked aloud, the examiner said sure. As we approached an uncontrolled intersection I looked left, looked right, looked left, started to go through the intersection and a pickup truck came barreling through from the left. I slammed on my brakes. we sat shaking and breathing. She said you did just right and yes you had the right-of-way.

    10. Katie the Fed

      On your foot – my physical therapist recommended I get an Airex mat for home – it’s soft foam. I stand on it on one leg for two minutes at a time – all the muscles get a great workout trying to maintain the balance. I really recommend it!

    11. Swoop

      watch a lot of Canada’s Worst Driver :) (seriously though, do :) It gives you a sense of what good drivers do, what bad drivers might be doing, and swerve & avoid literally saved my life when a semi decided to turn left onto the highway in front of me)

      not exactly what you asked, but things I’ve always remembered from my lessons:
      – always signal when changing lanes or turning – you know where you’re going but no one else does
      – when going down a twisty road brake before the turn, feet off the pedals around the turn, give a tiny bit of gas as you’re coming out of it to regain traction
      – you cannot steer while braking
      – because I learned on a car without ABS: if you need to stop quickly brake until you hear a squeal, release it, then brake again
      – backing figure-eights around a tree is kind of fun :)

      congrats and good luck!

      1. danr

        And don’t do this on a car with ABS, since the car does the press and release automatically when you hold the brake pedal down hard. You can feel the pulse. I watched this in action on an icy road when a driver was in a panic stop at a traffic light. I had slowly braked down to the light and he didn’t. I could see the minute stop and go on the wheels. He stopped straight and not quite in the intersection. If he had had the non-ABS brakes I’m sure he would have spun.

      2. Mephyle

        – always signal when changing lanes or turning – you know where you’re going but no one else does
        A corollary of this is: always signal when changing lanes or turning, whether or not there are other cars in a position to care. It’s better to develop a habit of always, always signaling than to take the time to evaluate whether there are cars who could be affected by your lane change or turn, and then decide whether or not you need to put on your signal for them.

    12. Mephyle

      I just remembered another one. Teach him to ‘cover the brake’. This is what I learned in my defensive driving class so many decades ago. I just looked it up and it is still a thing.

      Also, I was taught not to press the accelerator by lifting my foot and shifting it over to the accelerator, but by leaving my heel in place and swiveling the top half of my foot over to the accelerator. The advantage of this is that when you have to switch suddenly and quickly from accelerator to brake, you don’t have to lift your foot and return it to the brake; it is already positioned in front of the brake.

      1. danr

        But be careful not to ‘ride the brake’… that is having your foot lightly on the brake pedal. You will wear out your brakes, kill your gas mileage and confuse drivers behind you because your brake lights are always on.

    13. Mephyle

      I find I am having so many opinions on this, as I remember other things I had to dredge up from my memory. When you’ve been driving for a long time it’s easy to forget about a lot of tips and techniques that with experience you apply unconsciously because they’ve been with you so long.
      The Bubble of Awareness: Although you mostly keep your attention in front of you (in the direction you are going), maintain a constant awareness of what is at your sides and rear. Your attention should be scanning to particularly detect objects moving towards you from the sides and rear that could be about to penetrate the imaginary bubble of safety around your car.
      Look at your opening, not at your obstacles. When you have to pass through a narrow space, or avoid an obstacle (especially when you are going fast and don’t have a chance to make fine adjustments), focus on the space you are going to pass through. If you look at the thing you are trying to avoid, you will be more likely to hit it.

  3. Carrie in Scotland

    My thoughts are with anyone and everyone in France and Paris in particular – Sandrine, I hope and your family are ok (am not sure if you’re in Paris or not?)

    Like alot of people, I carry a bit of Paris in my heart – France was my first foreign holiday when I was 9 and my first boyfriend and major love had holidays in Paris for our anniversary. Our memorable 2008 rail trip began and ended in Paris and of course last year I went there solo after a break up.

    1. Windchime

      I’ve never been to Paris, but I’m truly shocked and saddened by the events there. Sandrine, please check in.

    2. danr

      We haven’t been to Paris yet, but it’s always been in our someday plans. Our thoughts are with Paris and France at this awful time.

    3. fretnone

      Also thinking about our friends across the ocean… I also thought of you, Sandrine, when I heard. Please check in when you can. Sending out good vibes.

    4. Jen RO

      Too much death… I hope all AAM commenters and loved ones are OK. My company has an office in Paris… I’m sitting herr, refreshing lists in Facebook and hoping there will be no bad news on Monday morning…

      1. Not So NewReader

        Are you seeing any impact where you are- like tighter security etc? How are you and the people around you? I picture the whole EU as being pretty rocked by it all.

        1. Jen RO

          I haven’t really been out since the attack, but I read on FB that aiport checks have gotten stricter. I don’t think there is any danger for us in such an insignificant country… but it’s still a shock, especially because I have friends and coworkers in France, ans this comes exactly 2 weeks (to the hour) after a tragedy that hit much closer to home.

          1. Not So NewReader

            Am shaking my head, I cannot imagine. Please know that you and those around you are in my thoughts also.

        2. Elkay

          I flew yesterday. No extra security measures which was nice to see because it felt like there wasn’t a knee jerk reaction.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I felt a little weird- stalkerish- I clicked on her name on a previous day. It lead to a FB page with her last post being the 7th of the month. I don’t do much with FB, but I was wondering if someone else might ping her?

        1. Cruciatus

          Sandrine’s twitter account has been active recently. She probably just hasn’t had a chance to post here. Just look up SandrineSmiles and you’ll get there.

    5. Kat M2

      France was my first foreign trip, so my heart is certainly with Paris this weekend, as well as with Lebanon. Sandrine and any of our other French readers/commenters-please know that the AAM community is keeping you in our thoughts!

    6. Elizabeth West

      I haven’t made it to Paris, but I have friends in France in our chat room and I haven’t heard from them yet. I hope they were not in Paris and are okay. It was a friend in Spain who first came in and told us what was going on.

      I’ve been trying to discourage Muslim-bashing wherever I can. It doesn’t help things because it’s what They-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named want people to do.

      Sandrine, I hope you are all right, and that your friends and family are also!

    7. Talvi

      I’m feeling a little shaken – I lived in Rouen for awhile just a couple of years ago (it’s about an hour and 15 minutes outside of Paris).

      I’ve got a friend who lives just outside of Paris (her département is in the Île-de-France region), and I was very relieved to hear she was safe.

    8. Rachel

      I’m in Paris, thankfully all safe, but it is pretty crazy here, and it is unbearably sad, especially if you visit the places where everyone is gathering and leaving tributes.

  4. fposte

    Cora on Downton Abbey is pretty much constituted as a buccaneer now turned matriarch; it’s basically the next generation on.

        1. Noelle

          Yes, I am about halfway through and enjoying it a lot. It’s similar to Downton Abby but for some reason it was easier for me to get into.

    1. Merry and Bright

      I love Cora. I wish there could be a spin-off series about her back story. We’ve had a few hints but it’s tantalising.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      She has turned into the happiest of cats, constantly standing up on her back legs to get closer to our hands for petting. It’s really nice to watch after her early weeks, when she was so scared of everyone.

      1. littlemoose

        Our little cat does that too. We call it popping a wheelie. I’m glad Eve has warmed up so much!

  5. The Other Dawn

    Anyone going NaNoWriMo this month? I am. It’s going well; however, I’m behind in my word count by several days. I had several days where I just couldn’t sit down to write due to life. I’m proud of myself for hitting 13,000 words, though. I honestly didn’t think I’d make it that far. I typed about 1,200 words at work yesterday and, wouldn’t you know it, all the PCs spontaneously shut down and I lost it all. Guess it serves me right for doing that at work. (I normally save early and save often, but I had a lot going on yesterday and just didn’t get to it.)

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      I’d try not to get too caught up in the daily word amount – some words are better than none at all and you can use NaNoWriMo as a boost to continue with your writing afterwards now it’s become more of a habit.

    2. Luna

      Just hit 20,000 words. I actually can’t believe I managed that! Missed updating yesterday and today because of family commitments but am trying to break 25,000 tomorrow. And yes, I am mad.

    3. Swoop

      I do a mini version on livejournal (the full is way too intimidating :) ) – you pledge the number of words you think you can manage per day (bottom limit 100, no top limit) and report in each day. The community aspect is nice and it’s really interesting and encouraging to see the huge differences in output people have (both individually and the overall range).

      And heck at losing all that work :/ Hope it rattles around in your brain and comes out even better and quicker! :)

    4. Elizabeth West

      I’m trying to use it to finish Secret Book. So far, I’ve written more words blogging about it than actually writing. :P

      It won’t take 50K to finish. I only signed up so my local group could get points or whatever, and the moderator is someone from my Who group so I already know them.

    5. rozin

      I’ve been going at it with NaNoWriMo and have actually been doing pretty well. I’ve just about hit 25k (and will definitely do it by the end of the day). If your region has local write-ins, I recommend going, it’s a lot more fun to write in a group. Though the one thing that has helped me the most is sprinting. Take 15 or 20 minutes and write as much as you can as fast as you can, no editing and no caring about how bad it is. You’ll be surprised how much you can write when you turn your internal editor off. Good luck!

    6. Amy Farrah Fowler

      Yes! I’m at 21000 words right now… behind me goal (and nano’s “par”) but my husband has been SUPER supportive of my writing which has kept me from giving up. My story is going really well. I have no idea if it’ll be done with 50k words. This is my 4th year participating and I’ve never won, so hopefully I can manage it this year! Keep at it! I’m notorious for giving up and I always regret the stories I leave behind.

    7. Talvi

      I’m only at ~5000 words this year, but I’m also a NaNo Rebel this year – instead of a novel, I’m trying to piggyback my thesis writing onto the sheer energy that comes with NaNoWriMo. It’s going… slowly. I tell myself that this is because I actually have to be producing quality words this year!

      1. The Other Dawn

        I’m a Rebel, too. I’m writing about my life before and after weight loss surgery. Basically, life as an obese person. I wanted to write fiction, but I just don’t have a story in me at the moment.

  6. Ask a Manager Post author

    Car-buying update. It turns out, you should not buy a car on a whim, as I basically did last weekend and reported on here. Things that I didn’t think about and should have, in case this benefits anyone else:

    – Length. The 2016 Honda Accord Sport is really long: 189.5 inches, which is 17 inches long than my old car. I am not pleased; my one driving skill is parallel parking, and I traditionally have been able to wedge my car into the tiniest of parking spaces. So, loads of the spots I used to be able to park in are now off-limits to me. Apparently this is the direction Hondas are moving in though (and maybe all cars?); I looked at the specs on all their models, and most have gotten really long.

    – Audio. I figured I could have the radio removed and replaced with a satellite radio, and better speakers installed. Wrong! Apparently you shouldn’t ever remove the factory-installed radio in the Accord Sport because it’s wired into a bunch of other systems in the car (AC, dash info system) and removing it is likely to cause electrical issues in other systems (I verified this with multiple sources, including two dealers, so I think it’s legitimately true and not misinformation). And, reading a bunch of car audio forums online, people say upgrading the speakers in this model actually makes the sound quality worse, because the factory-installed radio is designed to work with the factory-installed speakers specifically. So if you buy this car, you’re stuck with the factory-installed sound system. It never would have occurred to me to ask about this before buying; I assumed you could always upgrade this stuff. I am Not Pleased. Although I’m going to add an amp and see if that helps the sound quality.

    – The dealer told me if I regretted the decision, I could exchange the car within two days. When I tried to … nope, not the case. There’s no federal law that requires them to let you, and they deny ever saying it.

    Their little lie aside, this is all on me for rushing into buying without thinking it through longer. If I’d spent more time thinking it through, I would have realized these are two things that matter to me and I would have bought a different model (whereas I bought without even contemplating either of these factors). The (expensive) lesson here is that you should indeed not go buy a car after only an hour of thought, and also that I apparently have terrible, rash decision-making skills when it comes to large purchases.

      1. danr

        Keep thinking on the positive stuff. And yes, cars are really wired together these days. I had a Sable wagon where the headlight controls stopped working. The fix was to replace the control module, which also controlled the ignition, door lock programming, and other non-engine stuff. I needed new keys programmed to the new module. In a year or two, start your research for your next car.
        In the meantime, use this one well.

    1. Noah

      The radio thing is true with a lot of new cars. The “infotainment” system is wired into so many other things that it is next to impossible to remove them. My Mazda 3 is the same way, thankfully it has a decent system.

      1. Afiendishthingy

        Oh dang. I don’t want an actual new radio in my mazda3 but I do want better speakers. I haven’t really researched how to do that yet, I hope I’m not stuck with the crappy ones that came with the base model.

        1. Noah

          I think you’re ok as long as you have a 2013 or earlier model. It is just the 2014+ Mazda 3’s and it might just be the ones with the tech package.

      2. cuppa

        What a bummer. I bought a CRV just before they started the 2012 infotainment models (literally they were loading the new ones off the truck), and I’m so glad I did. I’m weirdly attached to my after-market radio, and I tried the car for about six months before I finally caved and put in my old radio again.
        we regularly rent cars and have gotten a lot of Fords with the infotainment systems. They’ve gotten better since they first came out, but overall I found them to be pretty annoying. Our last rental a few weeks ago (a Jeep) didn’t have a CD player. I’m too old-school to handle these new cars. :)

        1. Kristen

          I just bought a CRV yesterday. It was a a little rash of a decision as I only wanted to test drive cars, although it was a model in my list of cars to be considered. My very awesome car circa 2002 with 216,000 miles on it died last week (stupid transmission). I knew this time was coming, but I was hoping I could keep it another year. Hopefully, the CRV will last that long or longer.

    2. Dan

      Dealers are slimy. It’s amazing how bs the car buying experience is for something so expensive. A lot of times, you don’t know what to ask until you’ve been burned. If you knew a small car was important to you, you would have at least test driven a smart car.

      I bought a brand new nissan versa a few years ago. Standard warranty covered 3 years/36k miles. They talked me into an extended warranty that covered 7 years/70k. Told me that if I never used it, I could get my money back.

      Ended up selling the car at 35k miles, within the standard warranty period. When I went to get a refund, they only gave me half. Told me then that the clock starts on the day I bought the car.

      They certainly didn’t tell me that when I bought the car, and had I known, I likely would have skipped it.

      Lots of things you don’t learn in life until you have to.

      1. Audiophile

        Oof. I bought a Nissan in 2011 and also got hooked into the standard warranty. I quickly changed my mind and went back within the 30 day window and got the money put on the back end of my loan. So glad I did that, because at 22 months of purchase, it was totaled when I was T-boned by another driver.

        I have an extended warranty on my current Hyundai Elantra, because it has “infotainment” system – Sirius satellite radio, in-dash CD player, etc. What I’m really worried about though, is the batteries in my keys going since I have a push button start car. I didn’t take the key replacement option so it will be expensive if I still have the car when it happens.

        1. Alice

          My experience has been with the button start key fobs, that the car will warn you when it’s getting low, and you can (with minimal cursing) replace the button battery yourself. Just so’s you know. Not sure how much the battery is but not more than 5 bucks.

        2. danr

          The battery for the fob is around a dollar or two. If the battery runs down and you haven’t gotten a new one you can recharge a capacitor in the fob enough to start the car and unlock the doors by holding it to the start button with the metal logo on the button. It’s not just decoration.

        3. Dan

          Hmmm… My new ride is a 2010 Nissan altima. The battery on one fob drained. You use the manual key to open the door, and there is a spot in the dash to tuck in the fob and start the car.

          New battery was like $5 for a set of two at autozone.

          1. Audiophile

            As far as I know of, there’s no place for me to put the key in my car. But I’ll take another look.

            I know I can unlock and lock the driver’s side door with the key because I’ve done that. It only locks the driver’s side though. But the dealership told me, if the battery went, I’d have to get everything rekeyed which would be super expensive. Maybe they were just trying to scare me into buying the $500 key replacement package, I don’t know.

    3. LizB

      :( When I bought my car this past summer, there were big, bold warnings all over the title transfer paperwork (I bought used) that there is no legal cooling-off period/return window for car sales. I guess lots of dealers like to tell people that or insinuate it, but it sadly isn’t true.

      1. Honeybee

        I think it’s a state by state thing. When I bought my car last summer I had to sign a separate statement that there was no cooling-off period, and there were multiple warnings about it on other sheets as well. That was in PA.

    4. Nicole

      I’m sorry you had such a poor experience. Thanks for the heads up. I currently have the opposite problem – not being able to choose a car. I’ve been shopping around for two years now and trying to get as much out of my fifteen year old Jetta. I just can’t seem to pull the trigger because I know I’ll have my next car just as long so I don’t want to make the wrong choice. I have decision fatigue!

      I think all cars other than the super sub compact ones are longer now. I can’t find a car shorter or the same length as mine that I like. Luckily I haven’t needed to parallel park in over a decade. I used to be really good at it too.

      1. hermit crab

        Yeah, I think cars in general are just getting bigger and bigger. I come from a Honda-driving family, and my 2008 Civic seems to be about the same size as my mom’s old Accord. And I think my brother’s Fit is actually bigger than the tiny Civic hatchback my dad drove in the 90s.

        1. Honeybee

          I think they are too; a lot of car dealers/manufacturers are advertising extended legroom and space as part of their package. I’ve compared the compact and full-sized sedans in a variety of manufacturers and for some there are really minimal differences.

    5. Observer

      What really surprises me is that they didn’t try to up-sell you. I knew going in the the audio and screen in our car (Toyota Corroalla) is so-so at best. You can get a nice upgrade if you are willing to pay about $700, though. I know that these car buying services are not supposed to make you crazy, but considering that the guy was willing to say something a lot more significant, this would be small potatoes – and possibly something you might thank him for.

    6. Cucumberzucchini

      If you ever do want to buy a new car again, many dealerships will let you take one home at least overnight to try (extended test drive) some even let you have a week. I’m a very slow car buyer. It takes me at least one year to buy a car. I took a new beetle home for a couple of days to try it out and I uncovered all the little annoying things about it that you don’t notice when you’re at the dealership. In the end I bought one, but I did it with full awareness of the pros and cons of that car.

    7. olympiasepiriot

      All the crap that is wired into a car these days makes me want to build my own from a pick-and-pull if I ever need to buy one. (In the meanwhile, I’ve got the New York City Transit System!)

    8. Honeybee

      In the future – and this may not be useful until 5 years down the road, but it may be useful to other folks – check out Edmunds.com. I did a lot of pre-research before buying my car (a 2014 Nissan Sentra, which I bought new). Edmunds has this program called Price Promise. You put in the specifications of the car you want and they find at least 3 nearby dealerships that have that exact car, and offer you a price that is guaranteed if you bring the certificate in with you. You can also use the Edmunds website to see the average price paid for your desired car in your area and read both expert and consumer reviews on the car.

      I probably spent way too much time on the reviews, but the website was super helpful – I learned a whole lot about resale value, different car specifications, etc. (And I discovered that I’m way more into cars than I thought). I got a really excellent deal on my Sentra because of the time of year I bought it and the price promise certificate that I used, and I knew it really was a good deal because I compared the price to local and national averages on the car and the MSRP. But the best part is that there was no haggling or anything. I walked into the dealership and showed them the cert and my financing; they sat me down with someone who helped me run the paperwork and I was out of there in like 2 hours. (They also offered me better financing with a lower rate, so excellent.)

      Some credit unions do this too – my credit union has a car buying service, but I got a slightly better deal through Edmunds. Which one is better depends on the make and model you’re trying to get because they have partnerships with different dealers.

  7. Winter is Coming

    I’m so disappointed…I was SOOO into watching Game of Thrones. I almost made it to the end of Season 3 and had to stop. I just couldn’t take the violence anymore; I was starting to have nightmares. It stinks because I really love the show! It was the Theon Greyjoy scenes that did me in. So my husband is going to continue without me. :(

      1. Windchime

        I would agree. You can skip the parts where they torture Theon. Just knowing that they tortured him and broke his spirit and that knowledge will be enough.

    1. Valar M.

      I agree with AaM that you can skin the Greyjoy stuff, but know that there will be other things as well. I have a really strong tolerance for violence as I am a big action and war movie fan, but there are scenes that turn even my stomach – especially in the latest season. Violence is a huge driver in the books, of course, but I think the showrunners take it to extremes. They got a lot of criticism for putting in violent scenes and conflating people and occurrences in the books this past season too, in a way I didn’t really agree with. I’m still addicted, of course, but I can understand where you’re coming from.

      Could your husband catch you up through the bad parts or warn you where to fast forward?

    2. Mockingjay

      GoT can be hard to watch. I DVR the episodes and watch them without my hubby. He doesn’t care for it.

      However, GoT vindicates my college literature professor. She opined that there are only two themes in literature throughout history: sex and death, and death and sex. (Read the Peloponnesian War. It is graphic.)

    3. irritable vowel

      I seriously close my eyes through all the really violent stuff, and my husband tells me when it’s okay to look again. (Although sometimes even the sound effects are gross!) I think it would be hard to skip through scenes, though, because you’d still have to see them, just sped up.

    4. INTP

      I stopped mid season 3 myself. I just realized that 1) I was in a horrible anxious mood after every episode, 2) seeing men depicted as constantly on the lookout for something to rape certainly does nothing for my ability to trust and relate to them, and 3) I only cared about 3 characters’ storylines anymore. So I read up on Daenerys, Aria, and Tyrion spoilers and have no regrets.

    5. Mephyle

      I am satisfied that I read the books, and will probably re-read when the next book comes out. I know all the characters and what happened (at least as much as I remember) so I’m not left out of important plot points everyone else knows. But having read the books I have no need or desire to watch.

    6. Gem

      Overall I like it better than my husband, even though he’s the one who first heard about it and wanted to watch it. He’s actually more squeamish and closes his eyes through the nasty stuff. Seriously – those Theon parts were the worst.

    7. Ani

      The season of Theon’s torture almost made me quit too — and I’ll admit that as someone who hasn’t read the books I’m always afraid in any episode the show is going to let Ramsey go 100x more explicit and violent.

    8. Emily

      That’s around when I stopped watching, too – I just wasn’t enjoying it any more. Occasionally I wonder if I’m missing out, but then I hear about some of the gross stuff that’s still happening on the show and decide that it’s probably better that I quit. (It helps that I’ve read the books, and am therefore less concerned about following major characters/plot points through the show.)

    9. Toriew

      I feel like I have a moment like this every season that I watch GoT, and then I forget about it during the off season. The worst for me was the ‘Mountain vs. Viper’ scene… I felt sick for days. Honestly, I’m not sure why I continue to watch. I think I’m waiting for my favorite characters to die before I completely cut ties.

    10. Honeybee

      I gave up on Game of Thrones/ASOIAF a while back for the same reasons. The books I stopped reading because GRRM really needs an editor, and there were just a bunch of gratuitous battles and rapes and unconnected conversations and thousands of insignificant characters, and they just got both uninteresting and far too graphic. I have a pretty high tolerance for violence in media, but the show I stopped watching because they were doing too much AND they seemed to be going for shock value rather than telling the actual story. They were inserting violent events that didn’t actually happen to certain people and using a lot of Rape as Character Development.

      So nah.

  8. Persephone Mulberry

    Minneapolites! If you are in the western suburbs tomorrow afternoon (Sunday), pop on by the Eden Prairie Community Center for the Relay for Life Holiday Market and say hi to me! I would love to meet some AAMers in person since I missed the last meetup. Event details are linked in my username.

    1. FD

      Oooh, I would love to come…I’m not sure if I can make it, but I will if I can (I live down in Rochester).

  9. Noelle

    (Slightly work related but only slightly) Anyone have suggestions for looking more polished? The post a few days ago about weight resonated with me for a couple reasons. First, I put on quite a bit of weight in grad school and while I’ve lost some of it, I definitely am not as self confident as I was before. I also work in a very conservative field and I’m pretty large chested. I feel like having breasts is somehow unprofessional, even though I realize this is ridiculous. I’m constantly wearing clothes that are two or three sizes too big to completely hide my figure, which makes me look sloppy instead. Does anyone have ideas on how to dress very conservatively while also looking polished and wearing clothes that actually fit?

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict

      Well, as far as conservative dressing and polish, you’re exactly correct that wearing things that are too big are going to telegraph a message that you are looking sloppy instead of of hiding anything. One of the keys to conservative dressing of a larger figure or large chest in particular is to not fall into the trap that “less skin = less sexy.” Turtlenecks, for the most extreme example, make a large chest look even bigger, and crew necks can have a similar effect (as can certain kinds of boat necks)–because there’s nothing to break up the visual flow of the eye. Necklines like a slight V-neck (maybe not enough to expose a lot of cleavage, but just a V-shaped neck) can help with this, as can a slight scoop neck, both of which are pretty common in work-appropriate blouses. Cowl necks can also be a nice choice, and depending on how conservative-and-professional you need to look, these can work.

      If you do wear a lot of higher-necked stuff, long or chunky necklaces or scarves can help to visually create a break and lowball your chest. You may find that you feel more “polished” if you up your makeup-and-accessories game, as well. This can send the message that you’re more put-together, if you’re doing your hair and makeup and accessorizing on point, so that even if your clothes aren’t quite what you want them to be you can still be looking well put-together.

      1. Noelle

        This is very good advice, particularly the no skin=not sexy issue. I haven’t fallen into the turtleneck trap, but I definitely tend to wear very thick, very high necked sweaters. I think one of the big things I have to do is invest in getting my clothes tailored (and just suck it up and invest in nicer clothes – I tend to always buy things on the cheaper side and not be happy with them, instead of investing in better pieces. This is a habit I am trying to break myself out of.). Thanks!

      2. Valar M.

        For me any kind of V or scoop ends in showing cleavage. The slightest lean over a table or crossing my arms and its hello cleavage. I’ve given up on trying to shield people from it.

        Some companies make shirts that have a double set of buttons – smaller ones in between the larger in order to avoid gaping between the buttons. This really helps clean up the look. I agree about the accessories and hair and makeup.

        1. Noelle

          What would you suggest in upping the hair/makeup game? I have long hair and I usually just pull it back in a low pony tail or a bun. I also wear some makeup but could probably do a better job.

          1. Chickaletta

            I think a pony or bun is fine. Just keep up with regular haircuts so there’s no split ends or frizz, and keep your bangs up to date in a modern style if you wear them. If you color, don’t let the roots get obvious, etc.

            I don’t have much advice about make except the same sort of thing: if you’re wearing trends that haven’t been seen in a magazine since 1993, or you can’t find your favorite shade of lipstick anymore, then it’s time for an update. I find that sometimes spending money on good makeup is worth it. Try some of the most popular items in Sephora, for instance. They’re popular for a good reason.

            1. Valar M.

              Except 90s makeup is really in this season. One of the most popular lipsticks of the moment is “1993” haha (But I know what you mean!)

              1. Clever Name

                I’ve noticed this too! I just really can’t bring myself to wear that particular shade of dark berry lipstick I wore through the 90s. I even stopped wearing lipstick and wore lipgloss for years in the early ‘oughts because I was so lipstick end out from the 90s

          2. Former Diet Coke Addict

            Hmm, hair can be tricky. The low pony can read as either “lazy” or “polished,” depending on how much you do around it. I think if you judiciously use a little hairspray, bobby pins, or serum to keep it looking sleek, that can mitigate a lot of the “young” factor (since ponys can look a little bit high-school or college-y, especially if worn with a headband). Try to stay away from flyaways or colourful ponytail holders/scrunchies, and maybe stay away from high ponytails altogether. Buns are a good choice, though, and if you can master a bun you can probably manage a few other styles–a chignon isn’t too tricky, or a Gibson tuck, or a French twist are all not much more difficult than a bun!

            As for makeup, if you’re familiar with the basics, you can try bumping it up a few notches. My usual routine sounds complex but takes, I swear, less than five minutes–I start with a BB cream to smooth out the skin (if you want to get into the world of foundation, youtube is going to be your best friend), brush and fill in the brows with powder, a couple two or three shades of eyeshadow blended (usually out of the same palette and almost always in earth tones), pencil-gel eyeliner only on the last third or fourth of the eye (or felt-tip liquid eyeliner, depending), and one or two coats of a basic mascara that’s not too outrageously plumping or anything. A tiny bit of blush and maybe a little hit of highlighter under my brows or on my cheekbones if I feel like it.

            The usual advice is to go to Sephora or a makeup counter with a look you like (Bobbi Brown and Clinique are usually good for more professional, less MAC-style vampiness) and get them to do a demo on you, which I’d really recommend if you’re looking to elevate your makeup game. If you’re on a budget, get familiar with makeup dupes and read up on some blogs that do the best-of-drugstore makeup, because it’s easy to overpay on stuff you won’t really use.

            1. Noelle

              I love the idea of bringing a picture with me to Sephora or the department store and having them do a demo. I spend far too much money on makeup (Sephora is dangerous) but don’t find many products that work well or are worth the effort. And I need to spend a LOT of time practicing with eye liner, I am not good at it at all.

          3. Valar M.

            For the makeup and hair game – youtube is a fantastic resource. Its a no pressure way to check out new looks, get ideas, and get step by step how tos. They have lots of demos for work looks that are soft and appropriate and they do a range of drug store to high end that you can help guide you budget wise.

            For hair, mine is long as well. I just try to mix it up once and a while with wearing it up or down – variety goes a long way. Product also goes a long way to improving how your hair looks – oils and shine serums will make it look healthier which can make you look more put together.

          4. Alice

            Just a thought with the pony tail, others can correct me if I’m not in tune with what’s fashionable. I find using a big clip instead of a hair tie makes your hairstyle look more ‘chosen’ rather than incidental. Not thinking of butterfly clip, just a big clip that can hold all of your hair.

            Signed,
            Someone who only wears ponys and braids

            1. Nashira

              For a fancy clip, the Ficarre clips are great. They come with nice enamel finishes, and they’re strong enough to hold up a yard of thick hair all on their own. I wore the heck out of mine before I went for a pixie cut.

      3. Buxom Babe

        Sorry but I disagree about the cowl necks and anything “chunky” in that area. At best cowlnecks add much more bulk and material in my danger zones, at worst they float on top of the tag-team and make my boobs look even more massive and the neckline dwarfed and out of proportion.

        When you have a larger chest you need to try absolutely everything on and plan on having only 1 out of every 20 items even look sort of decent… Most shopping trips I usually end up leaving empty handed because buying something that is sort of okay is a waste of money. If by some miracle something that actually fits and I like, I buy duplicates of that item on the spot because who knows when I will find something like that again.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict

          I think it depends totally on the type of cowl and the fabric/cut of the sweater. A heavy, bulky sweater with a big, heavy cowl can definitely make the bust look larger, but a thinner fabric with a less expansive cowl can do the job of a V-neck or scoop neck (i.e., breaking up the visual of fabric) without adding too much bulk.

          1. irritable vowel

            I am large chested, and I have to say I always assumed cowl necks would accentuate the “problem,” but I’ve been pleasantly surprised that they are flattering on me. I agree that cut and texture is important. Yes, they draw the eye and add bulk to an already prominent area, but they’re also deceptive in that the eye assumes the prominence is due to the fabric and not the boobage.

        2. Valar M.

          +1 for duplicates and multiple colors of things that fit. You can switch them up with accessories and cardigans.

        3. Noelle

          Yeah, I’ve only ever found one cowl neck that looked good on me, and that was many years ago. Turtlenecks and high neck shirts I can sometimes pull off, depending on if the material is thick enough to not highlight my chest below it. I’ve never found a v-neck that’s high enough to actually be safe for work. And I also agree on the buying duplicates – the last sweater I found that I loved I bought four of them. Sadly, that was so long ago they’ve worn out.

          1. irritable vowel

            I troll eBay for clothing items that I love and wish I had more of. You can set up saved searches that will alert you when items that match your search terms are listed — I’ve found it’s a great way to get new “copies” of some of my favorites!

    2. Cristina in England

      A suit or blazer that fits really well will take you far. This is one of those occasions where you should go get fitted in a proper shop, because different styles will sit really differently on you if you are short-waisted or long-waisted, etc, and you’ll want one that buttons under the bust, not on it. I would avoid button-down shirts because of the gapping problem. Try a nice blouse or top with a cowl-neck, a boat-neck, or a gathered neckline underneath the blazer.

      1. Noelle

        Yes, I definitely need to get my suits properly tailored. I think even that would make a huge difference. I’ll also branch out from my crew-necks and experiment with some different necklines. Thanks!

      2. Persephone Mulberry

        Gotta say, I totally disagree on the where-a-blazer-should-button suggestion. If 10 seasons of What Not to Wear taught me anything, it’s that jackets with a higher stance (top button hitting mid-bust) actually minimize a larger chest because they don’t allow for gaping and the perception of spillage (Clinton called it the “lock and load” effect).

        If you like the look of button downs under a jacket, just remember to always buy for the bust (no gapping) and have the waist tailored in if needed.

        1. fposte

          I would agree; it’s hard to get the lapels and neckline to lie well if you’re big-busted and buttoning only below the bust. I understand the visual impulse to break up the expanse, but I would do that with scarves instead. It’s different when it’s something like a sweater that wasn’t offering structure anyway; you might as well get the “break up” effect there because it doesn’t lose you anything.

        2. Noelle

          Yeah, I have some suit jackets that have buttons below the chest. It usually works for me if it’s a one button jacket, but if it’s two it usually makes the top gape open, making me look even chestier. I think I mostly just need to buy bigger suit jackets and have them tailored to my waist.

      3. Observer

        Actually, a well cut shirt with the buttons properly spaced can be excellent – the button spacing is crucial. Also, you do have to try on anything you see.

    3. FD

      YMMV, but one thing I’ve found is that wearing makeup as a choice–something that I want to do because I like how I feel about it–helps me feel more confident and less unhappy with my body. It sort of helps to feel like people are looking at my face, the thing that I worked on so it would look the way I wanted, instead of the rest of me, which I may or may not be feeling great about that day.

      1. Noelle

        I wear makeup, but I feel terrible at it. My skin is dry and sensitive and I haven’t found a great foundation to deal with that. I also don’t really know how to properly apply some makeup. Do you have any tricks or tutorials you recommend for learning how to put on makeup better?

        1. Observer

          Start with a good moisturizer.

          Personally, I really like a lot of the Clinique line. They strongly pitch their makeup as being gentle on the skin, and I think it’s pretty true. They do tend to be a bit on the “staid” side, although that’s changing a bit. But I’ve found that their products, while not cheap, tend to be good quality, and their makeup advisers are quite good with a good handle on different situations. They also understand skin types.

          1. Noelle

            I use Clinque moisturizer and makeup and it’s worked better than pretty much anything else I’ve tried. Maybe I need to go to the department store and see if I’m just using the wrong type/products and they have something that would work better.

        2. FD

          I have very sensitive skin–I break out with a lot of things. This is what I’ve found works well for me.

          First of all, I use Noxema, and then a baking powder scrub in the shower (as in, I keep some baking powder by the shower and use it to scrub my face). Then, I use a NON-OIL BASED lotion on my face. I just use a Target generic brand. I leave that to absorb for a while before I even do anything else.

          I learned to put on makeup first from a woman at a makeup counter. I use Bare Minerals, because their stuff works well with my sensitive skin. They can recommend a foundation based on your skin issues. Personally, I really like their Ready line–it’s a pressed powder that moisturizes without adding oil, and also has a bit of SPF.

          What you want to remember is that makeup is fundamentally about using color to alter the way that our eyes perceive size and shape. (For example, a bit of strategically placed light makeup can make the eyes look much bigger.)

          Other tips I’ve found to be useful:

          1. Primer is your friend. I just use a clear primer and it helps my makeup last all day, even in the summer.
          2. You can get away with not awesome makeup if you have awesome brushes. Good brushes make makeup go on smoother and blend better.

          1. Noelle

            Maybe I need to invest in better brushes, and get someone to teach me how to put makeup on. I think also that I tend to skip a lot of steps, so my primer and moisturizer aren’t as effective as they could be if I waited longer before putting on foundation.

            1. FD

              That’s key for me–I’ve found that if you put the makeup on too fast after you do lotion, it gets weird and streaky. I like to put lotion on right away after my shower, eat breakfast, and do my makeup last.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian

                That’s what I do, too. It gives the lotion a chance to sink in before I put the foundation on. Sometimes I use a primer immediately before the foundation, and then it really hours on extra smoothly. I’m to low-maintenance to always remember the primer, though.

        3. Lindsay J

          YouTube!

          I like Lisa Eldridge, but there are lots of makeup artists out there (professional and amateur) that put out videos.

          I would stick with things described as an “Everyday look” or even “No makeup makeup”.

          There are also Reddit communities that will help. /r/makeupaddiction is the biggest, but I’m not a huge fan as they mostly do complicated looks that are kind of intimidating and a lot of the voting seems to be based on things other than the actual makeup application. Communities I do like include /r/sugarfreemua and /r/BeautyDiagrams. Since you mention dry, sensitive skin /r/skincareaddiction may help as well.

    4. Not So NewReader

      No one has ever accused me of being on the cutting edge of style, so this may or may not be helpful.

      I prefer my clothes to blend in with the group, I don’t like loud/busy things. I choose a lot of outfits that have dark pants and I build from there. I try to keep it sharp but keep it understated, no red shirts and black jackets for me. I would put a softer color shirt in that mix. I guess what I am driving at is you can beef up your look but you can keep some of your personal preferences in your choices also. It’s really important to me not to be thinking about my clothes during the day. This not only means they can’t be sliding around on me, but they also can’t be announcing my arrival five minutes before I get there. Those two factors allow me to feel comfortable. Think about what outfits you feel the most like you in- the colors, the fabrics, the patterns, even the cut. Bring that forward as you step up your look.

      1. Noelle

        The vast majority of the clothes I own that I actually end up wearing are pretty consistent – black,grey, blue, green. I think I need to choose the things that look best on me (usually crew neck dresses with a defined waist) and just invest in higher quality stuff that doesn’t wrinkle or wear out as fast.

    5. VideogamePrincess

      Breasts are not unprofessional! The most important thing is to wear clothes that compliment your figure and make it looks like you have some balance, without being clingy. I have DD breasts, a high (and, I think larger than usual) waist and small hips, so it is possible to dress in a way that makes me look like I am a toothpick with a few olives stuck on. However, if I wear long shirts with a belt around my hips, it gives me more of a figure, downplays my cup size, and makes my waist seem lower and smaller. Another thing that works for me, actually, is to wear tighter pants and a shirt that ends higher up. I am not sure why that is, but perhaps when people see how skinny my legs are, they assume the rest of my is thinner too. Peoples’ minds really are susceptible to the power of illusion, so what they don’t see is often more powerful than what they do. That can go both ways–you can look either like you are thinner or have more fat.

      Another trick to diverting peoples’ views away from things you don’t want them to see is to find what parts of your body you see in a more positive light, and emphasize them more. For me, it was wearing tighter pants and a looser shirt, because my legs curve in a way which suggest I have more hips than I really do. And then, of course, I just work to have a cheery smile and a positive attitude, and talents in math and science. Everybody forgets what you look like when you do that. :) So start with what you like about yourself and work from there. You will have much more success when you focus on the positive, even in clothing!

      1. VideogamePrincess

        I also second the low shirts thing. However, if you’re afraid of cleavage (a true risk), wear a skin-tight camisole underneath. It will not be visible underneath the shirt, until you bend over. Then it will cling fiercely to the top of your cleavage and refuse to let anything be seen. Maidenform has good ones, I believe.

      2. ID10T Detector

        Agree on the skin tight camisole thing.

        Also from someone who had (until a recent reduction made them go away) significantly larger breasts than a DD, the long necklace thing …. no. But v-necks, some cowl necks, and breaking up the expanse of fabric is spot-on. Button downs are a HALLELUJAH FINALLY YES! though, with the invention of double-sided fashion tape. That stuff really rocks at keeping things closed. But you have to find the shirts that are tailored, too, and the trick is finding the ones that fit your bust AND the rest of you.

        1. VideogamePrincess

          I guess the long necklines varies from person-to-person–for me it works fine just as long as I use a camisole, but I can see how it would be difficult if the bust were too high or different in some other way. I can also do button-down shirts that are a little small with the use of discreetly placed safety pins in the areas where it might burst open.

          1. VideogamePrincess

            Little small in the *bust*, not for the rest of me! Although a jacket over larger button-up shirts can help emphasize your waist, and as a bonus you don’t even have to button it!

          2. ID10T Detector

            Where you use safety pins, is probably where I use double-sided fashion tape :)

            Also – the necklace thing probably depends on the definition of “long”, too. I can do the ones that hit around the top of the cleavage. The ones that go longer, to below the cleavage? In my “more than DD” days, that just hung weird and made them look even more huge.

            1. VideogamePrincess

              I meant top of the cleavage too. Haha I’m glad we’ve both thought of the same solution for the button-up tops. :)

      3. Noelle

        I love this advice. I’ve got a pretty typical hourglass shape, but I think instead of highlighting my waist I’m just dwarfing my figure to hide my chest. I need to stop doing that! My favorite clothes are actually a couple dresses that are crew necked, but tailored in the waist and the waist is actually low enough to sit on my natural waist (I’m not particularly long waisted but a lot of dresses tend to sit right under my chest). And I’ve definitely noticed that when I make a conscious effort to smile, it makes a big positive difference in how people react to me.

    6. irritable vowel

      This may sound silly, but I learned so much about what to look for in clothes for my figure by watching the tv show “What Not to Wear.” There’s a British version (which is mostly what I watched) and an American one. Not sure if they are available to watch online or streaming, but if so, look for episodes where the person being helped has a similar figure to yours. I’m large-chested and have never bought a crew-neck top since watching that show!

      1. Noelle

        I haven’t watched it, but I’ll check it out! I’ve definitely noticed that wearing the right clothes make a huge difference (especially when I was wedding dress shopping – it’s shocking how big a difference finding the right shape and style can make).

        1. irritable vowel

          Another thing I learned from watching that show is: just get rid of clothes that aren’t flattering on you. Otherwise you’ll be tempted to keep wearing them. And you don’t have to spend a fortune on a whole new wardrobe–I get probably 90% of my clothes at thrift shops. Yes, some of the things there will be obviously out of style, but you can find a lot of basic/classic items (black v-neck tops, etc.). Take a look at the pieces in your closet that you’re keeping and make a list of items/colors you need to go with them to look for when you go shopping.

    7. Sunflower

      I second a lot of these suggestions- primarily ones on the neckline. I agree that most high neck options make my chest look way more HERE I AM and a slight scoop neck or v-neck(wear a cami underneath if you need to) balance out my body much more.

      Don’t be scared of tighter clothes esp if you layer them with scarves or cardigans. I have a large chest, small waist and a bigger bottom. What works for me is wearing a tighter or more structured bottom(cigarette pants, a-line skirt) with a flowier top. In turn, I wear tighter shirts with looser pants. I like higher waisted pants because they create a longer, more flowing figure and lower cut ones can create a muffin top effect for me.

      Try to find the style that compliments your shape, not your size. A size 16 who is an pear shape will look better in certain items than a size 2 athletic shape.

      1. Noelle

        I’ve definitely fallen into a rut of wearing super baggy skirts and crew neck sweaters every day. I tend to actually look pretty good in high-waisted pencil skirts, but I need to get some that actually fit me. I still haven’t found a top that actually looks ok on me, but I am going to experiment. Thanks!

    8. schnapps

      For the girls, make sure they are properly supported. In other words, get properly fitted undergarments. A properly-fitted bra will make you look 10lbs smaller and give you the support you need, comfortably.

    9. Honeybee

      One thing that helps me look and feel polished are well-fitting, high-quality bras. I have a large-ish chest, and it’s amazing how much a good bra can improve the shape of your breasts under clothing and give you a streamlined, smooth look. I go to Nordstrom, get fitted, and have their lingerie specialists choose a selection of things for me to try on. They have so many styles and shapes and colors, but different ones give you a different look and shape.

      When I have a baggy, stretched-out bra it just feels uncomfortable and I’m self-conscious about it forever.

      Honestly, I just really recommend Nordstrom in general. They do basic alterations free of charge for most full-price items you purchase. So you can buy items to fit the largest measurement in an area and get them to alter it to your actual size/shape. You can also get a free consultation with a personal stylist there – you make an appointment, chat with the stylist about what you’re looking for, and when you show up your stylist will have pulled some clothing and given you recommendations. They encourage you to come in even if you’re just doing research and not planning to buy everything in one go.

      One thing I’ve learned about dressing more polished – which I hate because I am very impatient – is that having a smaller collection of higher-quality pieces that you acquire over time really makes a difference. The good stuff fits better and lasts longer, and the material snaps back after laundering better. (There are also fewer choices to make in the morning.) You’re also probably more likely to get the stuff tailored. Several people I’ve seen have also suggested having a good tailor on retainer, one who gets your measurements and alters all of your stuff that you need altered. Alterations can actually be pretty inexpensive in the long run, particularly if you get a piece you want to last a long time.

      I also agree with the voluntary makeup. I don’t wear makeup every day but when I do wear it I feel really put together, even if I just have a t-shirt on.

  10. Sunflower

    So everyone knows about my moving drama. I am happy to report that I made the decision to move in by myself! I found myself an adorable, charming studio in a great part of my city that I never thought I’d be able to afford(I’m a few blocks from nightlife but my street/neighborhood is super residential). I can now walk to work(hello saving more money) and my rent is dirt cheap- it’s actually cheaper for me to live here than with roommates. My studio is smaller and older than I thought I’d take but I was so drawn to it and I totally love it. The tenant before lived there for a long time but purchased a home so she is terribly sad to be leaving. I’m very nervous but feel like I made a great choice.

    So I’ve never signed a lease before. My parents signed my college one and I subleted into my current apartment so I never really needed to sign. So what do I need to REALLY pay attention to in the lease. I’m technically taking over the current tenant’s lease so it’s only for 6 months. I was told the only utilities I’m responsible for is electric. So what things do I really need to pay attention for? Or any other tips?

      1. Sunflower

        Thanks! I asked the current tenant about promptness and she said they are pretty good about fixing things within 48 hours and they take preventive measures by bringing in exterminators and such. What kinds of maintenance issues should/would be mentioned in the lease?

    1. FD

      Read every single clause. Understand your rights in your state. Do not let the landlord get away with “Oh, but we don’t enforce that.”

      Your lease MUST state what utilities you do and don’t have to cover, make sure that’s correct. Look for other rules as well: what if you want to terminate your lease early? Can your landlord terminate your lease early? What are the rules on pets? Smoking? Noise?

      Seconding the above, make sure you clearly understand who is responsible for what maintenance. For example, it’s common for the tenant to have to take care of bulbs, for the landlord to take care of leaky faucets. Your lease should be clear on that. Ideally, it should specify how long the landlord has to respond.

      1. Alma

        I have found that important details to cover (especially if they ‘generally fix things in 48 hrs’) are what the owner has to pay for if the place is un-liveable. For example, if the water heater leaked all over the entire floor, or the HVAC system needs a new compressor and temps in the apartment are not liveable.

        Be sure to get renters insurance. It costs about $15/month, and covers your belongings (in case all of your Manolos drown when the water heater leaks). It also covers any liability you may be responsible for.

        Have fun in your new place!! It is a great sign that the former renter is going to miss living there.

        1. Alma

          To be a lot more clear on the “what the owner has to pay for”… The heat went out in the apartment, and it was below zero at night, and not above the 20’s during the day. Landlady was dragging her feet ( and actually not answering her phone) – I should have had a clause that provided for a stay in a motel. That often motivates the landlord to pay more to get someone out there now, instead of when they can get to it.

          Or, provide you with a list of repair people to call, and then notify the repair people that you are authorized to call directly in case of emergency.

          1. Honeybee

            In some states you can withhold rent from a landlord that has not provided maintenance to certain basic services. I know in New York City there are certain circumstances under which you can withhold all or a portion of your rent if your landlord hasn’t fixed your heat, oven, refrigerator, etc.

        2. irritable vowel

          +1 on the renter’s insurance suggestion. It’s so cheap and will cover replacing any of your belongings due to theft or damage. If you have anything really really expensive, like jewelry, they might require that to be itemized on the policy for a small supplemental fee, but it’s still so, so worth it. EVERYONE should have renter’s insurance!

          1. Sunflower

            Thanks! I have renter’s insurance now and will be carrying it over to my new property(Mom works in insurance and has installed in me to never NOT have it). i totally agree everyone should have it! Many people don’t realize that it will also cover any personal items that are taken if you are robbed on the street or your car is broken into. Esp in a city it’s 10000% worth it!

            1. irritable vowel

              Yes, I thought I remembered that it would cover anything stolen from you in a street mugging, but I wasn’t sure so didn’t want to possibly give bad info. Glad to hear I remembered aright!

    2. danr

      As the others have said, read every line in the lease. If something isn’t clear, look up the phrase in google or bing and add your state.
      On the other hand, it’s nice that the landlord is letting you take over the current lease. Be a model tenant and the lease renewal should be easy.
      Also, you now have your exercise program built in by walking to work. And be sure to buy good shoes and or boots for the nasty weather.
      Congratulations!

    3. Carrie in Scotland

      my lease has a condition that I will not build a boat in my apartment.

      I’ll just let that sit with you a minute…

      1. Doriana Gray

        I’m now going to build a boat in my apartment, especially since I live down the street from a major river.

        1. Carrie in Scotland

          it’s a letting agency but yeah I figure that someone, somewhere must have built some sort of boat in their rental place. Otherwise what the fudge is it doing there on my lease??

          1. FD

            I guarantee you that someone did it once.

            As a leasing agent, I can tell you that any time there’s something truly bizarre in a lease, it’s because someone actually did it and they were trying to head it off from happening again.

      2. danr

        Someone probably did that at one point and then couldn’t get it through the door without damage to the door.

    4. Honeybee

      Pay attention to early termination procedures. I know it’s only a 6 month lease, but still. Some states don’t actually require landlords to provide an early termination clause in the lease, so you could theoretically get stuck with the bill for the remaining months of the lease if you have to move out early.

      Pay attention to the due date of rent, whether or not there’s a grace period, and how much the late fees are. I’ve lived in apartments where the late fee was really a slap on the wrist and I’ve also lived in places where the late fee was a significant percentage of the rent. You don’t want a nasty surprise in the event that you accidentally forget one month or something.

      Also damage clauses and any kind of requirements you must perform before moving out. My former apartment required us to get carpet cleaning and something else before you moved out.

      Also, in some jurisdictions annual rent increases may be specified in the lease. My NYC apartment was rent-stabilized so the yearly increase was listed in the lease. (I was able to negotiate a non-increase though.)

    1. Gene

      Best – Two paychecks worth of new vinyl windows sitting in the garage that will be installed next week, replacing 30 year old aluminum framed ones.

      Worst – Death by PowerPoint on Tuesday. We had The Mumbler, we had the presenter with different animations on every slide, we had the low-contrast (red text on blue slides) deck, we had the “no eye contact, I’m just going to read my slides at you” presenter.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I just did my windows, too. OMG, what a difference. On these cold mornings I touch the glass and the glass is NOT cold. My former windows had the ripply hand cut glass, very old. Money well spent, I’d say.

    2. Windchime

      Best: Adult child is coming over tonight for homemade pizza and a movie. I’m really looking forward to it.

      Worst: I’m having trouble getting adjusted to the time change. Also, I am in a funk and having trouble getting motivated to do housework.

    3. Jen RO

      Best: My friend’s daughter (who is sick with cancer at age 10 months) got through surgery successfully and is feeling fine so far.

      Worst: The death toll after the rock club fire keeps rising… and now Paris.

      1. Liane

        Glad your friend’s little one is doing well, and thoughts & prayers that she continues to.
        And also for all those lives lost in both tragedies. (I thought of you when I first read about the nightclub fire.

    4. Noelle

      Best: I found a really nice dress on ebay for a formal event I’m going to next week, and it was about a third of the cost of buying it new. Plus I’m actually getting the opportunity to go to formal events!

      Worst: I think I may have an anxiety disorder. I have always been a worrier, but it’s gotten much worse over the last year or so. I’ve actually had an awesome year – got a new job, got married to a great person, got to go on a couple of awesome trips and see the world, generally gotten my life together – but I am constantly oscillating between this feeling of dread and malaise from being so burnt out from the worrying. I think it may be time to find a therapist.

          1. LBAUTHOR

            No, not yet. I’ll say that my cat has been extremely helpful. If you’d like to contact me through the email address linked I’d be happy to give you some resources.

          2. Ruffingit

            Had this same issue most of my life. Medication was a God send for me. Not saying it’s the answer for everyone, but Zoloft saved my life in terms of anxiety.

      1. Winter is Coming

        I am helping my 19 year old daughter through this right now. The combination of an antidepressant/anti anxiety plus therapy sessions seem to be helping. It doesn’t happen overnight though, so be patient with yourself and the process and give it time. If you have access to an EAP I would recommend starting there. Good luck!!

      2. Nashira

        With therapy, the biggest secret is that it can take several tries to find someone you click with and that’s okay. It’s actually pretty normal.

        Also, meds can be a big help. It’s not just “take a valium” any more; there’s daily meds that can even you out some and those are awesome.

        1. Noelle

          I had a great therapist that I loved, but he no longer takes insurance. While I’d love to be able to keep going to him, $175 an hour is pretty steep. I may ask him to give me some suggestions for therapists who take insurance, although I don’t know if that would be weird/inappropriate.

          1. Nashira

            Not inappropriate at all. My previous therapist offered to refer me to people who took my insurance, but I ended up getting a referral from my psychiatrist’s office instead. I wanted somebody used to working with him if necessary, y’know?

      3. FD

        Anxiety disorders are the pits, but, it’s not the end of the world if you do have one! (I’ve lived with panic disorder my entire life.)

        For some people, medication can be really effective. They do often have to try a few things–the medication I’m on now (Zoloft) is I think the fourth one we tried. It doesn’t completely stop me from worrying but it lets me stop before I end up with a full panic attack.

        1. Noelle

          Yeah, at first I thought I was just being weird to be stressed all the time, and then this week I was waiting for a pretty routine phone call and my heart was pounding and I felt nauseated with worry and it finally clicked that this is not normal. I’m kind of scared to go on medication because I tend to have very weird/bad side effects to pretty routine drugs, but I do pretty well in therapy. I just haven’t found one I like who takes my insurance.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian

          I think I have an anxiety or depression problem. In the past six months I have done stupid financial things as an attempt to feel better, and now I feel even worse from the hole I’m in that I haven’t told my husband about yet. Now I feel anxious and depressed at the same time.

          1. FD

            It’s pretty common to start avoiding things when you’re feeling depressed.

            Is your relationship such that you could ‘talk’ about it by text, email, or the like? I sometimes find that’s easier.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian

              Our EAP had an open house the other day, and I found out that we can get eight sessions of marriage counseling for free. My husband and I have talked about going to marriage counseling even before I knew that, so now I just have to re-bring it up again from our conversation this summer. We both feel like the intimacy is gone somewhat from our marriage, and we have things that we’re angry and disappointed about that we’re scared to say to each other because we don’t want to hurt each other’s feelings. We talked about that and agreed that marriage counseling could help us, but I’m the phone-call-maker in our marriage, and I’ve been secretly to depressed to make the call. “Secretly” because I illogically feel that I’ve already used my one opportunity to be depressed and have people have to support me, and they shouldn’t have to be burdened by my weakness again.

              1. FD

                /nod/ I think that’d probably be a good idea. Sometimes depression and anxiety just happen, without anything apparent to help it along, but I’m sure that feeling stuck and unhappy about your relationship can’t be helping either.

    5. Alistair

      Best: I now have 33 board feet of soft maple, about half of which has a curly figure, sitting in the garage, waiting for me to turn it into a nightstand for my wife. And I got a great deal, too!

      Worst: Between my job, my wife’s job, and the endless, wonderful, terrible tine-sink that is a three year old, I won’t get that nightstand finished until about this time next year.

      1. Alston

        Nice!

        I just got a steal on some soft maple and walnut I’m using for a cabinet! Probably going to finish it up in the shop this week!

          1. Alston

            It’s going swimmingly! I’m almost 2 months into my 3 month long class, and I literally leave whistling every day.

            So far we’ve made a night stand, used a lathe to turn a mallet, and we’re mid way through making a cabinet. (I’ll post pictures in another post). As a group the class is moving at such a fast clip that it looks like we’ll be able to do a third big project, and I’m thinking of drafting and then building a chair with the extra time!

            And I talked to my teacher about applying to the two year furniture building program and he was extremely encouraging and thought it was a great idea.

            1. Alistair

              Excellent! I like the streak of sap wood on the cabinet door, and I really dig that mallet, especially that gorgeous grain.

              Have fun with the rest of the class, and good luck on your application to the Two Year program!

              I’ve put my email address in this reply (my name should be clickable, I believe), drop me a line sometime, I’d like to hear more about your class and projects.

              Cheers!

                1. Alistair

                  Haha, nope, we are totally failing at this! Ok, let’s try the in-message way.

                  ncrow42

                  at

                  yahoo

                  dot

                  com

                  Fingers crossed that I don’t get spam blasted by that!

    6. Carrie in Scotland

      Ok, I’ll bite.

      Best: seeing my friends for cake and coffee last week in home town. Had Monday off work and a half day Friday so a relatively short work week.

      Worst: still feeling doom-y, manager still off from work, still absolutely broke.

    7. Trixie

      Best: I’ve had great luck with used cable modems and books this week. What I can’t use or don’t need, will resell for same if not higher price.

      Worst: While money is tight, it’s hard to just enjoy this time of year. I never really warm up. That plus all I want to do is unplug until the holiday mass marketing passes.

    8. Short and Stout

      Worst: having very severe anemia symptoms such that I ended up signed off work by my doctor for a week and a half.

      Best: having a reason and treatment (yay taking iron tablets and eating liver) for being Exhausted all the time since at least August.

      1. Nashira

        Oh mercy, that sounds awful! I hope your iron levels rebound quickly. I know it can take a while. (My dad took a few years for Reasons, but it gave him an excuse to eat as much lean red meat and brussels sprouts, for vitamin C, as he wanted…)

    9. Doriana Gray

      Best: Today is my little brother’s 25th birthday. He’s finishing up school in another city so I don’t get to see him in person, but he sent me and my mom a sweet video of my precious niece sleeping. I love that little monster – she’s so cute. Just seeing that brief video almost makes up for –

      Worst: My mother’s theatrics. I’m studying for an extremely difficult underwriting exam I’m taking Monday morning, and my mother called me out of the blue telling me, not asking, that she was going to drop over my apartment. She knows I’m studying, I told her that last night when she kept badgering me about coming out with her to eat at a restaurant I can’t even eat at due to my celiac disease (and I told her this and said no), and when I told her once again that she cannot come to my apartment because a) it’s a mess and I don’t have time to clean it before her arrival and b) I’m effing studying, she gets an attitude and then sends me a passive aggressive stating that I seem to not want to be around her for some reason so if that’s the case, that’s fine, and I should just let her know. WTF?! Let’s ignore the fact that I just hung out with her last weekend and the weekend before, I’m always going out to dinners or shopping with her, and she calls and texts me multiple times a day – yes, I’m a terrible person because I don’t have time to entertain you WHEN I’M EFFING STUDYING! Ugh – I don’t have time or patience to deal with anyone’s shit this weekend when I’m freaking out about this exam. I paid $235 that I don’t have to take it and, if I fail, I’ll have to re-take it and my company won’t reimburse me for the cost of the failed attempt.

      Then add to that my constant stress about going back to work Monday and not knowing which version of my psychotic boss I’m going to have to deal with, and the fact that someone I’ve been secretly pining over for damn near two years just got married to someone else today (on my brother’s birthday of all days) – I am really not in the mood.

      I need a drink.

      1. Not So NewReader

        “Yes, mom, I am a terrible person. You successfully raised a terrible person.”
        Sigh.

        I am so sorry she’s like this with you.

        Sending good vibes your way, you are in need of a good or lucky break with something. I hope you get it.

        1. Doriana Gray

          Thank you – I need good vibes right now. It seems like every time I get to a good place in life, something(s) always happens to drag me right back down. 28 years of this is exhausting.

      2. Jean

        I’m sending you some additional good vibes.
        Re your mother: May your mom get so entranced by something else (almost anything else!) that she forgets to bother you for the rest of the weekend!

        Can you hide out for the rest of the weekend at the home of an understanding, thoughtful, and quiet friend?
        In the long run you may need to renegotiate boundaries with your mom–but right now I’m just trying to get you through the weekend.

        Re the one that got away: I’m sorry. That sounds painful.

        I hope your future holds improvements: a decrease in mom drama, an increase in eligible significant others, and a successful outcome on your exam.

        1. Doriana Gray

          Re: boundaries – that’s what I’m trying to do with her now because, frankly, she doesn’t have any. And the thing that galls me is, when she was studying for her insurance exams and asked me and my brother not to disturb her, we didn’t – no calls, no texts, nothing. We let her have her quiet time because we know how hard these exams are and how much focus you have to have to retain all of this information. Yet when it’s my turn, she can’t stop hounding me.

          I’ve just decided to stop answering my phone until after this test.

          Thank you for the rest of your well wishes :) I especially need it re: the exam. I just took a practice one and only scored a few points higher than what I need to pass, so clearly, I need to do some serious cramming between now and Monday.

      3. knitchic79

        Ick. Sorry Doriana. What you need is a shower beer. Those are the best when my stress level hits max.

        1. Doriana Gray

          Okay, I had no idea what a shower beer was until just now, lol. I’m so unhip.

          Since I’m not a beer drinker, I’m thinking a shower Jack might be in order.

        1. Doriana Gray

          You’ve been there too, huh? :( It sucks so hard, doesn’t it?

          My ex, who gives THE absolute worst advice of anyone ever, told me a couple months ago that I should just tell him how I feel. When I pointed out the fact that he was (then) engaged, the ex said to tell him not with the hopes of anything coming from it, but just so I get closure. I had to remind him that life is not a Julia Roberts movie – people just don’t go around professing their undying love to someone right before they get hitched (at least I hope they don’t). What makes the situation suck worse is that this guy works at the same company as me (in a different division), and we occasionally wind up in the same training classes, so I have to see and/or hear about him ALL. THE. TIME.

          Life is so cruel, lol. But yes, Elizabeth, hopefully we will one day get our own happy endings :)

      4. Carmen Sandiego JD

        Re: your mother, I feel your pain.

        The time I failed the bar exam, my mom got mad at me at a restaurant on Christmas Day and made me cry and feel less than dirt. I passed this time around, but I never forget how she made me feel (and I also limit the time I spend/call her–once a week calls tops, and visits every 3 wks to a month at very most)

        1. Doriana Gray

          Oh man, that’s awful. I’m sorry – mom’s can be rough. :(

          Good news is, despite all of my mother’s drama this weekend, I passed my exam! Now I get a break until the examination insanity begins again in January.

    10. LizB

      Best: My community choir is having our winter concert tonight, and it’s going to be great! I was worried about some of our pieces at last week’s rehearsal, but they’ve all really come together and are sounding wonderful. Plus some of my friends are actually going to be there for once! I’m super excited.

      Worst: I’ve accidentally gotten my hands in between my cat and her toys a few times this week, and have the scratches to prove it. Ouch. I need quicker reflexes.

      1. OfficePrincess

        I’m glad to hear your choir is pulling it off. Our winter concert is in 3 weeks and we’re rather nervous.

    11. Lizabeth

      Best – I became a great aunt and the photos being sent are darling!
      Worse – had to go to the doc to get something to get rid of “whatever” I ‘ve had for two weeks. Hate being sick.

    12. INTP

      Best: I saved a dog! I am at my grandparents’ right now, and they live on 13 acres, largely wooded. I saw a small dog wandering around this morning, but it sprinted off into the woods when I tried to check its tag. I remembered that I had seen a similar looking dog on a Missing Dog sign, so I drove back to that sign and called the guy. We couldn’t find him again just looking around the edge of the woods, but he came over in some hunting boots with the dog’s brother to look deeper, and they found him! I was worried because the dog is 12 years old, had been missing for two weeks, and we have a frost warning tonight, so I am extra-happy that they found him.

      Worst: Watching the coverage of the attacks last night with my grandmother, who has dementia and minimal short term memory due to a TBI. She kept saying “I haven’t heard of ISIS, have you? Where are they? Are they going to attack us?” and telling me about how they had to hide at night when she was a small kid during WWII. The attacks are horrifying for everyone, but it must be so frightening for her to watch that with no ability to have context or know what was really going on because you can’t remember news from the past few years (especially when the war you have the best memory of was WWII).

    13. Liane

      Best – went to a local Comics (and other things) con for the day with my daughter & one of her friends. I spent most of my time with the local Garrison (chapter) of the 501st Legion Star Wars costuming club, since I’m in their sister club, the Rebel Legion. They were doing a “Shoot A Trooper” fundraiser for Make A Wish Foundation. For a small donation, you can fire toy Nerf weapons with foam ammo at the costumed Stormtroopers and other characters. (It’s safe for us–if the costume doesn’t have a helmet, “targets” have to wear safety glasses/goggles.)
      I had my pilot costume in the truck, so I put it on to be one of the targets. Had a great time doing so. The Stormtrooper I spent the most time working with was hilarious. He’d hide behind me or hold his prop blaster like a basebat & try to bat away the foam ammo. People also got to take a lot of pictures with us too. Daughter’s pal took a couple of me, too. One of them I acted like a prisoner–kneeling with my hands on head while the Stormtrooper held his weapon on me.
      The girls had fun running around the con looking at everything, buying old comics, buying buttons. Her friend even told my how she’d never talked Star Wars or anything geeky with an adult before.

      Worst – Not too bad. We’ve been in New Place going on 3 weeks. Garbage/trash pickup still not happened. Plus we had other glitches moving in. Like having to do storage & hotel because the new place wasn’t ready before we had to be out of Old Place; getting natural gas turned on; and various issues with the range, which in my opinion the leasing co. needs to just replace it already. (I think the owner of the maintenance co. that takes care of things agrees.) Also, My iPad charger broke. So I can’t use the thing until Monday when the replacement arrives. Yay for College Son who lets me order & pay for stuff via his Student Amazon Prime account!

    14. knitchic79

      Best: I leave the cheese section at my store, last year this time my section was a total wreck. This year I’m rolling into the holiday season like a boss!
      Worst: DH has a badly sprained back. Physical therapy and muscle relaxers for him…extreme grouch mode too. Blergh

    15. Elizabeth West

      Best–I finally found a new purse today. I’ve been looking for ages, and the lining of my Primark purse (which I liked) finally gave up the ghost–waaah! Whatever the outside is made of still rocks, so I’m saving it for emergencies. The purse was more money than I wanted to spend, but it’s an Elliott Lucca leather satchel and it will last me for quite a while. I have a wallet by the same maker and it’s pretty tough.

      My back is still hurting but it’s getting better. I’m able to practice again though sit spins and arabesques are very difficult. Today I did a run through and even though I couldn’t do all my elements, the timing and placement were very good. :) I forgot I’m going to have to practice it as if the curtain were there–they put a curtain across the end of the rink for us to enter and exit and it blocks all the ice beyond the hockey goal line. I also better practice it as if it were on the other rink, just in case!

      Worst–I have been extremely tired and I am really behind on NaNoWriMo and I’m not feeling up to writing again today.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Oh, I forgot one—I nipped into Sephora to grab my Bare Minerals concealer, and the sales clerk tried to guess my age and she guessed 33. When I told her I was 50 she just about fell over. Ha!

        1. Doriana Gray

          That is awesome, lol. I love when people think I’m still in high school. It does wonders for your confidence when people think you’re younger than you really are, doesn’t it?

    16. Raia

      Best: I’m done nannying effective today! Mom was right, I need help with my child-tolerance skills.

      Worst: Saying goodbye to a community I’ve finally gotten closer to, to move away from that city and back home with my parents, with no job lined up anywhere.

    17. Dr. Doll

      The best has been some truly wonderful people who are relatively new to my life and who I hope will be friends for a long time to come.

      The worst, sigh, has been the news…and even more so, the generally poisonous reactions to it in my corner of the world.

    18. katamia

      Best: Figured out how to fix a writing project that’s been broken for awhile.

      Worst: My sleep schedule is totally out of control. Ugh.

    19. BritCred

      Best: I chance phoned the hospital just as they were assigning appointments for Saturday for dental operations so I don’t have to be in pain until January. They booked me in there and there for this weekend! The team were stunningly brilliant and wonderfully humorous to the right amount to keep you from feeling on edge or getting too emotional without ignoring your fears, and so far I’m seeing a number of other ailments disappear – just need to wait to see if that continues or they edge back once the meds wear off a bit more!

      Worst: Well having had the operation yesterday I’m still adjusting back and suffering the fun and games of recovery discomfort from the jaw etc and being aware of the end of the stitches in my inner mouth cheek. And I spent the morning until I went in trying to convince myself I *could* do this and my fears about anesthetic and all the other factors were allayed since this was my first ever operation (and I’d balked at it 18 months ago due to a less sympathetic team and ignoring my other medical conditions and questions).

    20. Sara

      Tied for best: We got a new copy machine at work, and the IEP meeting I’ve been waiting for since, like, mid-September is finally scheduled!

      Worst: Chicken is so flipping expensive at my new grocery store! Everyone I know is obsessed with this chain of stores, but I think the produce section is the only thing to recommend it. Chicken is easily twice the price I used to pay, and their selection of dry goods (especially beans and coffee) is really lacking, and at not-so-great prices.

    21. Seal

      Best – fixed my refrigerator yesterday. The freezer stopped freezing in the middle of last week and I was afraid I was going to have to shell out a ton of money to either fix it or replace it. Turns out the condenser coil was completely frozen solid – it’s behind a panel so I couldn’t see it – and the coils under the fridge were clogged with dust and cat hair. It took all day to take things apart, clean, defrost, and put back together, but once I turned it back on the freezer started freezing again. I still need to replace the door gaskets, but I found reasonably priced replacements online, so that will be next weekend’s project.

      Worst – my job search seems to have stalled out. I’m trying to stay positive and regroup, but it’s very frustrating. I need a change of venue sooner than later, both for my personal and professional health.

    22. CrazyCatLady

      Best: Made a tough decision that I’m proud of.
      Worst: Had surgery about 6 weeks ago and now have some terrifying weird awful infection type thing at the end of one of the incisions and it traumatizes me every time I have to see it.

    23. Elkay

      Best: met up with some friends
      Worst: I have become a massive introvert. I am exhausted, we didn’t even do much, just ate and chatted. It’s weird because I wanted to see them and enjoyed seeing them but when I left I just wanted to get home to my couch :-/

    24. Vancouver Reader

      Best: Work related best was balancing last month’s budget. Non work related best was a great craft fair yesterday.

      Worst: getting sick again. Twice in 3 weeks now. This is the joys of working with kids. ;)

    25. Carmen Sandiego JD

      Best: I passed the bar. Also, my best friend’s cousin who’s working in Paris, is ok thank goodness.

      Worst: My bf’s mom recently lost her job, and struggles with depression. She doesn’t really have a plan to get a new job, and her house’s mortgage is too expensive for her to keep living there, so she’s likely moving out mid-next year/downsizing. I want to help them, but I don’t know how :/
      Also, she’s ok, but can say things that might offend particularly sensitive people. She was a bit snarky when first meeting me, but we kinda get along now. My bf is considering having her move in with him after marriage (hypothetically) and I really, really do not want that to happen. I mean, she can be nice, but no. Just, no. Living with my mom was torture enough–my mom made me cry Christmas day last year, she used corporal punishment from day one, and mothers just…y’know. Bad, bad memories.

      Advice? Siigh.

    26. :)

      Best: I’m moving out of my parents house this weekend and into the most adorable little apartment right downtown in my city! I have tons of people coming to help me move, and my landlord is so cute! When I decided I was going to take the place she said “Oh I’m so excited you’re moving in!” and hugged me! :) And I have another best! My cheerleading team had our first performance at our gyms showcase (the biggest cheer gym in Canada), and we did SO AMAZINGLY. We were all so shocked and excited, and our coach is bringing us for sundaes on Tuesday. Yes, we are all from ages 17-29 and we are super excited for sundaes. It’s the little things.

      Worst: Even though all these good things are happening I’m still so bleh and tired all the time. And my coach and I had a little fight on the weekend and I wrote her a long message and I’m nervous to talk to her again. Apparently it’s my attitude, but I have the curse of the bitch face.

  11. LBAUTHOR

    I adopted a beautiful, sweet black kitten (7 months old) named Onyx. He’s such a good friend to me. What are your favorite inexpensive ways to make your cats happy?

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        absolutely, yes!!

        My cat also likes a tunnel I picked up in the supermarket for a few pounds. She sits and plays in it.

    1. Windchime

      Lots of playtime. For most cats, “play time” means “we are pretending to hunt”. My cat is three years old now and still enjoys the same games: Hide and seek (he hides and then “attacks” me when I walk by). Chasing a feather on a string or a piece of wadded up paper. Some cats really love catnip toys; OldKitty loved it but NewKitty couldn’t care less about it.

      I think that playtime and affection are the best treats for cats. And a nice, warm place to sleep.

      1. Windchime

        LOL, yes. I have a picture of OldKitty and he was pretty much decrepit, but I brought out the tissue to wrap Christmas presents and he was right in the middle of it.

    2. Cruciatus

      Yesterday I accidentally dropped a shelled pistachio on the ground and my one cat went crazy about it for a while. My cats have always enjoyed just getting some attention from me playing with them in some way. Then being done with me 15 minutes later. Jeb likes milk rings, boxes, random papers on the ground, and laps. Tao likes stringed things, boxes, and laps. Alfie likes feathery and chirpy stuff, tennis balls, and everyone elses’ lap but mine (though she sleeps in the middle of my bed every night).

    3. Mkb

      I love black cats! I have a 3yr old one named Midnight. Her favorite toy is a bottle cap that we slide down the hallway. She goes nuts for it.

    4. Trixie

      With kittens, I always try to make them feel more comfortable in the carriers and the car now. Leave blankets/toys in carrier at home so it’s his go to spot. I would take my cat out for drives when he was younger, and it made a big difference as he got older. Plus I handle his back paws a lot so he’s not freaking out when I trim them.

    5. LizB

      My cat loves the peacock feathers you can get at the pet store for $0.99 — she’ll bat and chew them half to death, but she still likes playing with them even after they’re kind of broken and sad.

    6. Lizabeth

      My one cat fell in LOVE with the tie on the end of my dressage crop, I had to buy another one for horse use that wasn’t shredded on the end.

    7. periwinkle

      Paper in many forms.
      1. My cats are big fans of Amazon Prime because I let them have the box until we get another shipment (and they get a fresh new box). Bonus if the products were padded with paper that I can leave in the box.
      2. Receipts. We keep a bag full of supermarket receipts that get wadded and tossed so our youngest kitty can chase it. He’ll trot through the house proudly carrying around his “prey” after defeating the mighty Safeway monster.
      3. Paper bags. A classic. Cut out the bottoms and tape a few together to make a paper tunnel.

      1. littlemoose

        Oh yeah. Leave out boxes or paper bags for your cat to sit in, play in, and/or sleep in. Little toy mice are also quite cheap and have been favorite toys of multiple cats I’ve had.

    8. Elizabeth West

      Psycho Kitty likes those little Friskies Temptations treats, the ones that have a crunchy outside and squishy inside. She has toys but she’s not much for playing. I fluff her bed up and change out the top thingy weekly. She’s been going in the doghouse at night since it’s been cold.

    9. skyline

      Attention. I adopted my cats as kittens, and in the first few months, it was easy to make time to play with them. I don’t love them any less now that they are magnificent adult ladycats, but I do find that I have to be a lot more intentional about giving them attention. It’s easy to just go through the basics of the daily routine (feeding, litter box, etc) when I’ve had a really long work day, but the cats do deserve better than that. And I’m blessed with two lapcats who come to me for attention, so the best thing I can do to make them happy is to give them that attention when they want it.

      On a less serious note, cardboard boxes. I make a lot of online orders, and I do not promptly recycle the boxes my deliveries come in. My cats just love them for hiding and play. There’s a giant one in my living room right now that’s been there since July, but it brings the cats so much entertainment that I can’t bring myself to get rid of it.

    10. cuppa

      My cat loves ping pong balls and plastic Easter eggs. She plays kitty soccer with them. Also paper (present wrapping is hilarious with her around) and boxes.

    11. Seal

      Boxes and paper bags are a big hit with my cats. They also love looking out the windows, so I have a shelf right under big the front window reserved for them.

    12. Clever Name

      Sit on the floor and try to get something done. Reading a book. Wrapping presents. Playing a board game. Our 15 year old crabby cat always appears and tries to “help”.

    13. Perse's Mom

      Congrats on the new fuzzy baby!

      I think the things my cats get the most value from are the free ones. Feral cat loves her morning pets and her sunny spot on the back of the couch. Perse loves climbing under the covers with me at bedtime and the sunny spot on the floor in the living room. And they love each other (well, feral cat loves Perse, Perse occasionally resigns herself to grooming feral cat).

      Toy-wise, I’ve had good luck with glitterballs and anything stringy – shoelaces are a hit. They don’t like anything that makes noise, and while they both go crazy for the laser pointer, I can’t use it anymore because Perse gets weird about it and she has enough going on without that.

    14. Sadsack

      The plastic pull-off seal that is around the tops of some milk jugs and water jugs. When I open a jug, I just throw the seal on the floor and my cat goes for crazy! Probably should be mindful of choking hazards with anything your cat plays with.

  12. Ruffingit

    OFFICIAL NON-JUDGMENTAL VENTING THREAD! Sometimes it just helps to let off some steam about the things that annoy you without anyone passing judgment. This is the thread for that – big, small, share it all!

    1. Cristina in England

      I’m ready to have this baby now. My hips hurt and I can’t sleep and I am so anxious about what to do with my toddler while I am in the hospital. I still have 5 or 6 weeks to go, and people keep saying I must be ready to go any minute because I’m so big. I just want this to be over and have a little baby to cuddle!

      1. AthenaC

        I always say that the only feeling that makes you look forward to labor is the feeling of being 9 months pregnant. Or 8 months pregnant – either way.

        One day at a time – you’ll get there. One day you’ll be in my shoes – 12-year-old and 9-year-old playing Wii together while 2-1/2-year-old sits on your lap eating potato chips.

    2. Carrie in Scotland

      Too many people everywhere :( it seems Christmas shopping has started already and here I am, thinking to myself that I actually can’t afford to buy anyone anything. I know it’s just stuff but I feel jealous of people being able to buy things.

      1. Cristina in England

        Your new city in particular seems to get Christmas shopping crazy at this time of year. I really hope your flat sells soon!!

    3. Holly

      I have a friend who has turned down hanging out every single time I’ve asked over the past three weeks. They “really, really wish they could” but X every single time. This time? “I can’t blow off my friend Y again, I’m sorry.” ….. I’ve been turned down upwards of 10 times by this person. I may have very immaturely replied back with “k.”

      Just.. of all excuses to use – the irony. THE. IRONY.

      1. Doriana Gray

        This happened to me recently. A “friend” kept making plans with me and then coming down with random illnesses (though she wasn’t too sick to go drinking with other people the very next night), and my final straw was when she made plans for us to go see a movie in mid-October, but then never texted when the day she suggested came up. She texted me the next day stating something went wrong with her phone – okay. So now I just respond to her texts when I get them, but don’t make any plans with her. She suggested we go out after my exam this Monday – yeah, no. I didn’t even acknowledge that statement, just thanked her for her well-wishes.

      2. Amy Farrah Fowler

        ugh! That is obnoxious :-(

        Sometimes, if I decide I do still want to be friends with this person, I will clearly state something to the effect of, “Wow, you’ve been really busy lately. Why don’t you let me know next time you’d like to hang out/next time you have free time/plan our next outing when things are a little bit calmer?”

        If they want to stay friends and you’re a priority, they’ll follow through. If they don’t, you probably won’t hear from them… :-/

        1. Overeducated and underemployed

          Seconding this. I have a one year old and a very limited budget for babysitting and going out, so I have to turn down a friend who suggests things a lot, especially because she’s spontaneous and will be like “are you free tonight? Or want to check out this brunch place tomorrow?” I just can’t do that kind of thing right now, evening plans take kid prep and eating out is budgeted so sometimes I don’t have the money that week. It is totally fair for her to wait for me to propose an alternative, and that way I can plan ahead and propose something I can afford and make time for. It’s not going to happen 10 times in 3 weeks though…Some people have social lives that move on a day today scale, some have less free time and can only check in with any given friend a couple times a month.

      3. Audiophile

        I had a “friend” like this. We lived in different areas, more than an hour away by train/subway. I kept trying to make plans with her and she’d act like she was doing me favors by seeing me. “I want to hang out, but so and so asked me first.” Huh. The friendship eventually blew up in epic fashion and I haven’t heard from her in about 4 years.

        These kinds of “friendships” seemed to be a pattern for me. I now have a few solid friends that I can go to and I have no regrets about the ones I let fade away.

    4. LizB

      The building I live in is owned by a rental company, and one of the tenants is the official on-site caretaker; he showed us the place, he brought us the leases to sign, he’s supposed to be our point person for everything. I need to get in touch with him, and I cannot find his freaking phone number. I never had it in my phone, I can’t find a single email or note where I wrote it down, and the sign in the building that says “Your caretaker is ____!” only has his first name, not his phone number or which unit he lives in. The rental company’s website doesn’t list his number. I’ve called their main number several times, always gotten their voicemail, and never once gotten a call back when I left them a message. I pay a pet deposit for our new cat and get a cover for one of our radiators (the company provides them), but I can’t seem to connect! I’m going to be really mad if we get in trouble for having a cat without official permission for a few weeks because I couldn’t find his darn number to set up a time to give him the paperwork.

    5. Stephanie

      Ha. I just left a staff meeting at my tutoring job (I work for one of those franchise tutoring centers). We vented about some of the students. It was cathartic.

    6. Ruth (UK)

      I hate opening post! I hate receiving it. It’s so often a bill or a thing I don’t want, or something that then requires me to do something. I dread opening letters (not counting anything that looks like a personal letter but those aren’t too common).

      I procrastinate even worse now because I live in a flat and have to go to my letter box thing and unlock it with a key and collect my post so I can put it off and ignore it way longer than if it just came through my door. Until I open the box, I don’t know if I have any so I just pretend I don’t have any post until I finally need to just go check :( Stupid post! It’s the Worst thing.

        1. cuppa

          I accidentally got my phone and DSL shut off because there was a glich in my automatic billing and I just never opened their mail (why should I? It was always a bill and I had automatic billing). Oops.

          1. danr

            I’m compulsive about opening all of the mail. Three quarters of our household monthly expenses are on automatic, but I check each one anyway. The bill goes in the the checkbook on the day that it is due to be paid. We’ve caught some glitches from various places because of this. It also means that we always have more money in the bank than our running totals show, since it’s rare that the bill is actually sent to the bank on the due date.

    7. INTP

      I live with my grandma who in addition to the dementia I’ve mentioned, is recovering from spinal surgery. I have a great-aunt (her SIL) who lives next door and is a retired nurse. This aunt is a generous and lovely person and is helping SO much, which I genuinely appreciate, but O. M. F. G. is she an overbearing, controlling personality. It’s hard to get angry about because it’s done out of love, but its really OTT sometimes.

      Example: She comes over to give my grandma her bath and help her with getting dressed in the morning. One morning, the home health OT wanted to work on bathing and dressing, so the OT came over and no one told my aunt that it was happening, I think intentionally and for good reason. She came over in the middle of the appointment and my grandpa told her my grandma was in the back with the OT. She made it VERY clear by her tone of voice that she was not happy about not being told and immediately ran back to interrogate the OT about whether she had gotten water on the surgery incision (shocker, she hadn’t). Then she called my mom all upset that they were “angry” with her. (I mean, no one was happy that she was freaking out on the OT but no one got confrontational with her.) This is a woman who literally walks into the house without knocking multiple times a day and one tiny boundary is that hurtful to her?

      If I eat anything around her she has to ask me a hundred questions about it and how I prepared it, and then name some other foods to ask if I eat them and how. If it’s a savory food, this involves asking me a hundred times if I put any meat in it (I’ve been a pescetarian since I was 11, I don’t put meat in things, she knows this) and what if I had preservative free chicken, would I use that? It’s to the point where I’ll literally hide in another room if I’m eating something new to avoid the conversation. This only started when I went gluten free and stopped eating anything she cooked (because between the bacon/pork used to flavor vegetables and the cornmeal that is supplemented with flour and gets in everything, there’s not really anything veg and gluten free that she cooks).

      I feel like I can’t complain about her IRL, because someone has to bathe and dress my grandma and I frankly don’t want to do it, or have time to do it, so I’m glad that she does help out so much. But it’s sooooooooo exhausting. This is the type of personality I am least likely to get along with and I’m nice to her but I very frequently need a break.

      1. INTP

        Adding: Everyone in this story is Southern, hence the weird social politics. If someone ever told her “You are over the line, please just leave the house for this appointment” it would create shockwaves for generations.

      2. Ruffingit

        People like that are totally exhausting. I feel for you. People who question your decisions and ask a million questions just make you want to run away as fast as you possibly can.

    8. onnellinen

      I am moving across the country in January and have so many unknowns it is driving me insane! These are all things that i know will get resolved and it’ll all get done, but I really, really hate this level of uncertainty. Can I rent my current place out? How much rent could I get? Where will I live in New City? What will New Job be like? (I am going to New City in a few weeks to look for an apartment, but even waiting a few weeks for that trip just feels so drawn out.) I wanna know it all now!

    9. littlemoose

      I am between sizes in jeans and it’s driving me crazy. My old jeans are too tight. :( The next size up fits okay at the beginning of the day, but by the end of the day they’re stretched out and too big. I’ve done some shopping for other brands/styles with very little success. (The company discontinued my #1 favorite style.) I don’t have the time or energy to shop a million different places for jeans. Any suggestions for non-skinny jeans for curvy ladies? I’m right on the cusp of straight sizes versus plus sizes – it all depends on how the brand is sized.

      1. littlemoose

        Not to mention that most brands’ regular jeans are too long, but the short lengths are too short. I’m 5’6″, definitely average height – why are all the regular length jeans for people with 34″ inseams??

        1. Windchime

          I would love to find regular jeans with a 34″ inseam. I can usually only find them with 32″, which is too short for me.

      2. Not Karen

        Welcome to my life.

        I like Lucky Brand Jeans, though I’m still between sizes there. MSRP is high, but sometimes you can find good sale/clearance prices. Their regular length is 32″ inseam.

      3. katamia

        Ugh, that is the worst! I’m the same way–in between sizes to begin with, my weight fluctuates a LOT, and I’m actually two different sizes–my thighs/butt are one size and my waist is one size smaller, so it feels like nothing ever fits. I’ve had good luck with pants from New York and Company (basically bought nothing but their boot cut jeans for years, although I’ve expanded a bit now because the closest one is annoyingly far away) and, surprisingly, Target’s Ava and Viv jeans.

        1. Perse's Mom

          I recently bought a pair of the Ava & Viv. Because I apparently don’t read very well, imagine my surprise when I tried them on at home and they turned out to be skinny jeans. -_- They’re still very comfortable and they fit perfectly in the waist/hip/stomach area. Not really a fan of the cut overall, so I tried the same size in another cut and it did NOT fit in the waist/hip/stomach area. This is one of many reasons why I hate shopping for clothes.

      4. hermit crab

        Oh, I’m in exactly the same place right now! Currently, I’m wearing the larger size with a belt and hoping that one or the other will end up fitting better eventually. Also, I recommend going to a big Goodwill store (or similar) and trying on all the jeans. There will probably be lots of different brands, cuts, and sizes and maybe you can find one that works, that you hadn’t thought of yet. And if you buy something and it ends up not working out, it’s only $5.

    10. Stephanie

      I had to hide FB posts from a friend who just finished an Ironman. Not that it wasn’t impressive, but yeah…she’s getting annoying with it. And her husband is doing one this weekend.

      1. Clever Name

        I did that with a friend who started posting almost exclusively about her shake diet and piyo workouts. She is a lovely person with a lovely family, and I loved seeing what they were up to, but I really don’t give a shit about the details of others’ diets and workout regiments.

    11. Talvi

      If my roommates could just… never talk before noon, that would be great. I get that silence is an unreasonable thing to ask, especially considering the hours I keep, but I hate being woken up every day after only a few hours of sleep. (You don’t hear me chatting with people at 2am, do you? I go out of my way to not disturb people when they are sleeping.) I’m about 95% certain I have Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, but as a grad student I can most days schedule my sleeping hours for in the vicinity of 4am-12pm. Please just let me sleep during them. I am a very light sleeper and while I can sleep through you making all sorts of noise in the kitchen or bathroom just fine, voices are my kryptonite. It will wake me every time and it will be impossible for me to fall back asleep until I can no longer hear conversation.

      1. Doriana Gray

        I have this same problem and so living in dorms when I was in college drove me nuts. I will never live with another person because of it actually. You have my sympathies :(

      2. KAZ2Y5

        I work the night shift, so I feel your pain! And lack of sleep! Have you ever tried a white noise generator? I used to live by myself, but at the moment I am living with my sister (and she works from home). I have found one app I like – Make It Rain:Sleep and Relax from the Google store. Also the Ecotones Sound + Sleep Machine (ASM1002) on Amazon. It is kind of pricy, but amazing. It has an adaptive capability – meaning when the outside noises get louder, so does the white noise it makes. And you have a choice of 10 different sounds, plus variations on all of them.

    12. Carrie in Scotland

      The people on my Open Uni module are really annoying me. E.g someone put up a graphic of pressing F5, you know, to refresh the page and I was like…you know that doesn’t make anything appear quicker? I channel Alison & interview advice when it comes to assignments getting returned – just put it out of your mind. And they replied “but I want it now!”. Eurgh.

    13. Mimmy

      I know there are a lot of cat lovers here, but we’re getting tired of our cat. She’s really wrecked our house – our kitchen floor, our couch, our carpets… Lately she’s been pooping on the carpet in the living room and/or has been having diarrhea. We’re having her checked out on Friday for that and to get her shots up to date. But she’s always playing in the water bowl–getting water everywhere–sneezing, crapping, spitting…..

      Sometimes we get really frustrated with her – one night when she crapped on my husband’s pants in the bedroom, he threw her outside (she is strictly indoors), but she immediately started meowing loudly, and he didn’t want to wake the neighbors.

      We’ve had her (and her sister, who died a couple years ago) since 2003 when we adopted them, and I think our health has suffered a bit. Nothing serious….it’s just a hunch that once the cat is gone, we’ll breathe a lot better. As much as we’re done with her, I feel most comfortable just letting things happen as they will, though DH has expressed concern that he will one day just get fed up and do something.

      1. Clever Name

        That’s tough. Pets can be really destructive. Please consider that both you and your cat may be happier if she were given to a different person to live with.

    14. Clever Name

      My company is going through a reorg. A person who basically made me think he was my friend and then who later stabbed me in the back (which had negative consequences for me professionally because our HR person was too checked out to actually find out if my coworker’s complaints had any merit) is likely going to head up a new group, and I’m kind of pissed about it. Not because I wanted that job, but because the company is basically rewarding a person who has tantrums and steps on colleagues to get ahead and who doesn’t do work he deems as boring or unsexy-even if it’s a part of his job. Ugh.

    15. Elkay

      I’m tired of being told I should feel sorry for someone at work who makes no secret of being ambitious and has just been promoted to earn at least 3x what I do. I get that it’s making their home life tricky but literally (yes, literally) none of the events that have taken place since their promotion were surprises. They knew exactly what they were taking on.

  13. Soupspoon McGee

    This feels like such a small thing, but I am really proud of myself. Last night, we were at a standing-room-only concert, and three women right next to me kept texting and talking, loudly. I seethed. I waited for them to stop. When my partner commented on a song, I said, “I couldn’t hear it!” more loudly than necessary. Well, my passive-aggressive seething wasn’t working (it has yet to work, anywhere).

    I went for direct: “Guys, I’m sorry, but I can’t hear him.” They actually apologized and moved.

    I do not like conflict and confrontation, and yet nobody yelled or cried or blamed me for being selfish or bitchy. Weird. If only I’d learned this a few decades ago . . .

    1. Noelle

      Congratulations! I also hate being confrontational (as though, “would you please stop doing that extremely disruptive thing” is confrontational…) but I’m trying to take Alison’s advice to heart about how you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable when other people are acting inappropriately. I used to be a lot better at this but I have relapsed lately.

    2. fposte

      I think that’s actually the most common outcome when you make a polite and reasonable complaint–it’s just that people don’t usually report those stories! So thanks for helping tip the balance.

    3. Jazzy Red

      Isn’t it a liberating feeling when you do that, and the whole world DOES NOT come crashing down on you? Good for you!! Now you know that you can do it again if you need to.

      I actually asked some people in church if they were planning to talk through the whole service. They weren’t happy with me, but they shut up, and no one threatened me with hell.

  14. Windchime

    I think I want a house cleaner. I’m not one to really hire for stuff like this, but when I moved to this house, I decided that I didn’t want to do yard work and I hired a company to do that for me. Best decision I ever made; I come home and the yard is mowed, leaves are gone, plants are trimmed. So now I think I want a housecleaner. Just someone to come in a couple of times a month and make things ship-shape. The thing is, I’m kind of a cluttery person. I know everything is supposed to have a place and that will make it easier to keep things tidy, but my mind doesn’t seem to work that way. Would I have to clean house before the housecleaner came? I feel kind of stupid asking this because I live alone so clearly I should be able to keep my own house up.

    If any of you has a regular house cleaner, can you tell me what your experience is? Do you love it? Is it worth the money? How much does it cost?

    1. Windchime

      PS…..right after I wrote this, I went to google “How to Clean house efficiently” and one of the suggested links was, “How to clean a bong”. Good to know that there are resources out there for everything.

      1. Jazzy Red

        Dana White has a very good blog about what she calls “slob brain” people. I wouldn’t call myself a slob, but I’ve gotten a lot of good, really helpful tips from her. Plus, she’s entertaining and seems like someone I would want to be friends with (she wouldn’t notice a dust bunny or two, I’m sure).

        http://www.aslobcomesclean.com/

    2. Noelle

      I’m in a pretty expensive area, and I pay about $200 a month to clean my apartment every other week. They scrub everything, vacuum, dust, etc. They also put things away although not always in the right place (I am one of those cluttery people who always remember where everything is in my piles of clutter so this throws me off). I probably wouldn’t pay for a house cleaner if I lived by myself, but I am married to a neat freak and I don’t think he could handle my natural messiness. I’ve been pretty happy with the service though.

    3. fposte

      I love it. My house cleaner is an individual, not a service, which I prefer for both continuity and ethics. It’s something you work on together–maybe I’ve finally got the guest room cleared out and want it cleaned, so I’ll let her know that, or it would be great to have the fridge cleaned this time of year, but otherwise she has her own routine–mostly prioritizing bathrooms, kitchen, vacuum.

      I do declutter some before she comes, but it’s kind of a good thing–it really only takes about half an hour, tops, for me to pick up the main areas, and stuff mounts up less as a consequence. If I didn’t she’d just work around it. Because I am very disorganized, I usually have a no-go area that’s just too cluttered to get to, and that’s fine. For me it feels like I’m being met halfway–if I had to pick up *and* vacuum, I probably wouldn’t do either, but if somebody else will vacuum, I can pick up. I’m paying $25 an hour in my non-urban area; usually it’s three hours. I suspect that’s on the low side, nationally speaking. As you describe with the lawn stuff, it’s worth every penny to me; it’s basically the closest I can get to bought time.

      I would hunt by word of mouth. If pets are involved, especially talk to pet owners, both for comfort with pets and awareness of hair burden :-). I also know my cleaning person does a lot of pre-Passover cleaning for people, so you might also talk to anybody you know who gets that done.

    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      I love it. I actually don’t mind cleaning but I have certain stuff that I hate (like cleaning showers, for some reason) and I like that I can just not ever have to think about those things. Also, I love having my house look so clean all at once, whereas if I did it myself, I’d never get that shock-and-awe effect because I’d spread out all the chores over the whole week. I pay $100 each time, and she comes every other week. She’s an individual rather than working for a service.

      (All that said, I’m gearing up to tell her next week that we can’t have her come in the mornings anymore — she likes to come at 9:30, which generally means I get four hours of sleep on those days because I stay up late/get up late, and it means I’m miserably tired all day as a result. She’s said in the past that she can’t be flexible on the time, so I think this means that we will need to part ways and I’ll have to find someone else who’s willing to come later in the day, which sucks because I’ve known her since I was 12, which is when she started cleaning for my mom.)

      But I highly recommend doing it.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Oh, and as for clutter: You really just need to move stuff enough so that she can clean. So you wouldn’t want stuff all over the floor or a counter because she needs to clean those spots. But you could totally pile everything up in a corner or on a table.

    5. Noah

      I pay $300 per month for someone to come in once a week. She’s an individual, doesn’t work for a company. Single mom, works very hard. I live alone in a two bedroom townhouse. I love coming home to a clean house. I don’t really mind cleaning, but it is easy to get behind and let stuff pile up.

      She does an overall cleaning every week, changes sheets, all that normal stuff. Each week she also focuses in on one room and does a deeper cleaning. Like in the living room she pulls furniture away from walls and vaccums behind and underneath everything, cleans the blinds and windows, etc. In the kitchen she takes everything out of the fridge and cleans it, dusts the tops of the cabinets.

      I do try to clean up the clutter before she arrives, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. She will pick up some stuff and clean around others. If it is too bad she will grab a laundry basket and put it all in that and leave it somewhere visible so I don’t think it is lost.

      It is important to find someone you can trust. She has a key to my house and an alarm code. The first few times I made sure I was home, but now I tell her to set her own schedule, just let me know the day she is planning to be there. Normally my scheduled time is 4pm on Thursdays and sometimes she brings her two kids along. They sit at the dining room table and do homework or watch tv while she cleans.

      I can’t say enough good things about it. I could and I would go back to cleaning myself if I needed to save money, but right now I’m enjoying it.

    6. Trixie

      When I can, I absolutely want to do this for my mom. While she enjoys cleaning and creating calm in the chaos, I think a monthly cleaning would be very much appreciated. Great gift for those parents who probably have all the material items they need.

      1. Just a good idea for everyone...

        I’m going to suggest that you obtain a “prescription safe” where you can secure your Rx’s so no one has access to them.

        They are available for $40 to $50 at the drugstore. Mine has an enter the code entry system, and will tell me if someone entered the wrong code since I last opened it. And it is obvious if it has been tampered with.

        It is not anyone’s business what you are prescribed, and is a safeguard for anyone who might be in your home.

        1. fposte

          Oh, that’s a good thought; I’ve wondered about this when I’ve had workers traipsing through the house. Thanks!

        2. Windchime

          Yeah, these are the kinds of things I worry about. I don’t have a lot of valuable jewelry, but I do have a few things and I hate the thought of having to lock stuff up. And I have a cat who is inside only; sometimes people who don’t have pets are forgetful about leaving doors open and it would break my heart if he got out.

    7. VideogamePrincess

      This is a funny thing to think about, because I hate cleaning my own house, but I wouldn’t mind cleaning other people’s houses. It’s like all your mess is staring back at you. So perhaps it might make sense to “cleanpool” with someone else and work to clean both your house and a friend’s together? Then again, I’m embarrassed enough of where I live that no one besides my husband is allowed in.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale

      I live in a mid-sized southern city and pay $150/month to have my house cleaned every other week. I use a service that sends two or three people for every cleaning, so they get a lot done in a short period of time. My service started with a slightly pricier deep clean, and then I have the option to do either the basic maintenance or the premium clean. I almost always do the basic, though I’ll probably get premium for my next cleaning. Every time they come, they thoroughly clean the bathrooms (I, too, hate cleaning showers, especially shower doors), wipe down the kitchen counters, do a basic dusting, make the bed, vacuum all carpets and rugs, and mop the floors. My house is relatively small and VERY easy to clean, but the savings of time and inconvenience for me are SO worth it.

      I went with a service because I knew no one here. I’m glad I did. I pay them by credit card, which they keep on file, and their office manager has my key, which is only given out to the cleaning team on the day they come to my house. When I lived in Queens, I paid a woman $110/month to clean my 500 square foot studio. She was ok– she admittedly hated dusting, and I REALLY hate dusting.

      The thing is, I don’t mind cleaning at all. What I mind is having cleaning hanging over my head and having to do it. I used to do most of my cleaning on Saturday mornings before my boyfriend woke up, but that got annoying because I couldn’t be thorough while he was asleep. So now I pay my service, they come every other week, they leave treats for the dog (who goes to daycare when they come), and I come home to a clean house.

    9. Tiffany

      I have someone come in every 3 months and do a solid deep clean of everything. In between that, I just do quick 5-10 minute cleaning sessions throughout the week when I have a moment. Everything stays pretty clean and clutter-free for the most part. If I could afford it, I’d probably bring someone in every month or every other month, but 3 months works well enough.

    10. Elizabeth West

      Watching this because I really wish I could have someone clean my house. I’m envious of the protagonist in Rebecca who doesnt’ have to do any housework or cook or anything.

      1. Windchime

        I just love coming back to a hotel room after a long day of work or sight-seeing to a freshly-made bed and clean towels. It would be so awesome to have that happen at home.

    11. Massachusetts

      I pay an individual 180 per month to clean twice a month in Massachusetts. They do all kinds of cleaning, but I leave them to it to decide what gets cleaned when. We are clutter people, but we have a laundry basket that we throw clutter in before the person arrives. I’ve found that the incredible clean feeling after they leave actually inspires me to put away the clutter basket, and I detest cleaning/tidying of all types.

    12. Today's anon

      My experience is much like everyone else’s here but what I want to say is – having a cleaning person come (she’s an individual, not a service) is also useful because it kind of “forces” me to put things away. But also like fposte said, have piles of paper on my desk and she just works around that. Mine also does laundry which I totally did not expect the first time and .. it’s wonderful :)

    13. J.B.

      We recently moved and I was dreading keeping everything clean while we listed our house. I am a clutter queen :) What worked? Putting half our stuff in storage. Then there really were places to put things. I went through and was really aggressive about what we did and didn’t need and now in the new house will do a major attic storage switchout twice a year.

      Now I do plan to get a cleaning service again when the bank account has recovered. The thing is clutter gets in the way. Your best value with someone coming in twice a month is heavy cleaning-floors, bathrooms, dusting-and clutter gets in the way. Many services have the standard list of things they do. I plan to go with a more expensive service that will come based on time and expect 2 people for three hours to be $150ish. I will have them put oven cleaning and fridge cleaning occasionally on the rotation.

    14. Brandy

      Boston suburb, 3000 sq ft house (but At least 3 rooms are not live in so there is nothing to clean- we just moved in and have no dining room furniture living room furniture or guest room). 2 people for ~ 2 hours every other week for $200.

      Most weeks we tidy up but that’s because we can get more clean for our $. If we clean first they can spend more time scrubbing and less time making beds and moving our junk.

    15. ThursdaysGeek

      We recently had a woman in our church saying that she needed extra money because one of her cleaning jobs had ended. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed in many ways, and the house is one of the things suffering. So we made a win-win agreement. She comes once a week and I pay her $25 an hour for 2 hours work. (When I cleaned houses in college, I got about double minimum wage, so that seemed reasonable.)

      She’s been doing a deep clean on a room each time, and is now starting do to maintenance cleaning on several rooms. She does a much better job than I’ve ever done, and we’re both happy. I had no worries giving her a key to the house. And when she’s done, she usually joins us for dinner that evening.

      Where the clutter is really bad (our bedroom), I’ll need to do some initial cleaning up before she starts tackling it. But she seems to work around the clutter pretty well, and it’s encouraging me to start keeping things a bit neater. She likes to dust, she likes to clean windows, she’s surviving better economically, and I’ve got one less thing on my too full plate.

  15. Alistair

    Hey all, been a while since I last posted.

    I had some issues related to depression, anxiety, and possibly ADHD that ended with me getting a letter of probation at work, and general feelings of being useless and terrible. This all happened at the end of August / start of September.

    I did go to my doctor, and she put me on generic Adderall. I had asked folks here for their experiences with Adderall, and got a lot of good advice, stories, and experiences.

    Since then, things have been great! The Adderall has given me just the kick I need to mentally make the next steps towards being mentally healthy. I got back into work in a good way, and have been kicking ass. I’ve opened up to my wife more, and she’s been wonderful and so supportive of me, even if she doesn’t understand everything I might have in my head. And somehow I am seeing my three year old daughter in a different light, and I am really enjoying my time with her now.

    I have no idea how everything turned around, but I’m thankful they have. Though I’ve been quiet here, I still read every day. Thanks to everyone here for their advice back when I last wrote in, I really appreciate it all.

    Take care everyone out there. And thanks again.

    1. Trixie

      This is wonderful to hear and what a way to head into the holidays! I know meds aren’t for everyone but often they can dial in right where we need them to.

    2. VideogamePrincess

      Great! Please be careful with your mental health. I have ADHD too, and it tends to cause incredible sensitivity to any sort of criticism, that can spiral pretty fast into depression-like symptoms. In other words, things can go quickly from slightly-not-good, to bad, to worse. I am on anti-depressants now, and the issue can be a real obstacle to people taking you seriously. Here is an article about it. http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/10121.html

      Also, please make sure you absolutely get enough sleep, as nothing exacerbates symptoms like lack thereof.

    3. INTP

      Yay! That’s exactly how meds work when they’re working well ime – as a boost to help you do other things to take care of yourself rather than as a magic cure. (I was pretty disappointed to find that Adderall didn’t magically give me the willpower to not start browsing AAM, Pinterest, etc when I should be working, though. Just made me a little more efficient when I used my own discipline to stick to work.)

      I was on one med that made me feel cured immediately…and a couple of months later, I was hypomanic from it.

      1. Alistair

        Oof, hope I don’t get that way too. Though I sometimes have the urge to just keep downing the pills just to keep the “up” feeling. But yes, the Adderall does give me the willpower to get away from distractions like that. I can much more easily get into my projects.

        On the bad hand, my time management, and priority choices (which were never great) have gotten worse, and I tend to get hyper focused on useless details. I mean, if the map’s border is off center by 1/32″ over a 34″ span, is anyone going to notice but me? More importantly, will anyone else even care? But if my choices are excellent correct projects that are slow, or on-time projects that are super sloppy or incorrect, I know what my preference is. I believe my boss would agree, though he would probably push for more speed.

  16. Ask a Manager Post author

    Hey y’all. I’m experimenting with a feature here and would love your feedback:

    Lots of you have asked for the site to “remember” whether you had comments collapsed or expanded, so that if they’re collapsed, they stay that way even when you reload the page. Well, it’s currently working that way, of as this morning!

    However: That means that if you have comments collapsed and you click on a specific comment in a thread (non-top-level) or you leave a response to someone else’s comment, when the page reloads, it won’t take you back to that comment (because it’s collapsed); it will just take you to the top of the post and you’ll have to scroll down to find where you were. (In other words, since comments are collapsed, it can’t take you back to a mid-thread comment.)

    Seeing it in action, I think that might actually make it unusable for people, since when you reload the page (and the “remembering” feature is triggered), that’s usually exactly when you want it to take you back to the same spot on the page that you were on.

    What do you think?

      1. Ruffingit

        I agree with you. What I’d really love to see on this site is an edit feature so people can delete posts they place in the wrong thread or edit for grammar.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Placing comments in the wrong spot: We don’t see too much of that, BUT I know I am constantly checking to make sure I am where I want to be. I assume others are doing the same. It’d be nice to have a visual cue. Maybe change the size of the reply button? I have no idea if this possible. I am thinking along the lines of the deeper you go into a thread the smaller the reply button.
          So to start a new thread, that reply button would be the largest. And a reply like mine here to Ruffingit’s comment would be a much smaller reply button. (I say as I check to make sure I am in line where I want to be.) Again, I have no clue if that is even possible to do.

    1. Christy

      Hmm. I have to scroll up to the top of the page, click on collapse comments, and then ctrl+F my way down to the next thread anyway, so it would still save me time to just have to ctrl+F to the next comment (or the thread that I replied to).

      1. Christy

        Otoh, it’s pretty awful not seeing where your comment is immediately. I think I agree with you, seeing it in action, and I’m a total comment collapser.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      I only ever collapse individual threads, when I see where they’re going and I know I’m not interested in that thread. I would find having them all collapsed really annoying.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Well, you’d still maintain whatever your preference was — collapsed or expanded. It just now remembers if you collapsed them or not, and when the page reloads, it saves that preference. The issue is that you had collapsed them, you’ll lose your spot if you were anywhere other than a top-level comment thread (i.e., if you’re replying, it’ll just take you up to the top of the page and you’ll have to find where you were).

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          I see now, I’ve tested it out a bit. But you’re right, the biggest issue will be for people who like to keep them collapsed, they’ll have trouble finding their comment(s) after they post them. Still, it’s their choice, and so I think it’s nice that it remembers it now. People can always expand all when participating in a very active thread (like the open threads), then switch back to collapse all later.

        2. misspiggy

          I really like the new approach, because I like to read from the top each time and check out new comments. Going back to a pre-collapsed page is great because I can scroll quickly down to check whether a thread has expanded a lot, and go into that one for an update.

    3. Claire (Scotland)

      Yeah, I just encountered this and got incredibly frustrated by it. Definitely not a fan! I use collapse all routinely, and this makes it pretty much useless.

    4. Carrie in Scotland

      To be honest, I automatically collapse the threads and open when I’m interested in them.
      What I don’t like is after commenting all the threads have expanded and I have to scroll waaaay back up to collapse them again.

    5. knitchic79

      I just noticed this! Lol think it’s one if those things I thought I wanted and now I’m torn. Maybe give it a week and get more feedback next open thread?

    6. Jubilance

      I like it – after I comment I hate having to scroll back up and hit collapse all.

      I know you aren’t a fan Alison, but I really like how Disqus handles comments and I’m putting in my vote to try out Disqus on the site :-)

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        One of the issues with Disqus is that some workplaces block it. Also, sometimes it goes down and then there are no comments! (But I agree Disqus has cool features.)

  17. The Other Dawn

    I own a house that was built in 1735. We recently ripped up the dining room carpet, because one of the cats destroyed it; she seems to have been somehow traumatized by the fact that we moved a year ago. So, we have 1920s hardwood underneath. Meaning, narrow boards, which are probably about 2 inches wide. Oh, and whoever installed the floor laid the boards in the wrong direction; the boards should be going with the length of the room, not the width. We know that the original 12 inch boards are underneath, but don’t have the time or money to undertake something like that now. For the moment, we just want to do something with the more recent hardwood that’s on top of it. So, we’ve sanded the floor down to bare wood and plan to do something with it.

    I’ve been trying to find examples of colonial-era hardwood flooring and I’m having a hard time. I know they wouldn’t have actually put any kind of finish on the wood; however, sometimes they would paint the floor. That kind of appeals to me, since this floor will eventually come up anyway–there’s no way I would paint the 280-yr old original floor–but I can’t find any examples online. I’m hesitant to paint, because I worry it will look like we just got lazy or something, or it will look weird. Anyone know where I can find examples of a painted floor? Preferably in the context of a historical home.

    1. The Other Dawn

      I forgot to add that I’m kind of liking the way the floor looks after sanding: the tone is a bit uneven, which makes it look old and worn, which in turn makes me think that maybe it hides that fact that the floor is more 1920s than 1730s. I think the reason it looks uneven is because maybe the former owners didn’t sand it evenly when they refinished it last time. Either way, I’m kind of liking it. So, that makes me even more torn about painting vs. staining.

      1. fposte

        I think leaving it the way it is is fine if you like it. Or you could consider a limewash effect, or just a wax.

        I’ve recommended Houzz–you can also just search for wooden floor finishes and they’ll likely have a feature covering a bunch of different options.

    2. fposte

      Look at houzz.com. I just searched under “painted floor” and they’ve got several how-tos in their “Stories” section plus a metric ton of photos. I then searched “painted floor historic” and found a pile of examples.

      1. misspiggy

        Ooh thank you fposte, Houzz is great. I assumed it wasn’t UK-focused, but it has a UK version, very excited!

        1. fposte

          It’s also got a fair bit of Australian stuff on there, plus some European. Adds spice to the “guess the location” game.

    3. Noah

      My sister lives in an 1860s house. She sanded and waxed the hardwood floors. Just used paste wax and a buffer. It turned our really good. Not super shiny, but a nice soft shine.

      1. The Other Dawn

        I’m glad you mentioned shine. At my old house we refinished the floors and my brother-in-law used a very shiny finish. It was nice, but something without a real shine would fit more with the age of the house; they wouldn’t have had shiny, much less finished, floors in 1735.

    4. fluffy

      I was interested to see that the woodwork at Mt. Vernon was painted with an imitation wood grain. The docent said it was very common in colonial houses. I wonder if they did floors that way, too.

  18. super anon

    is anyone else hopelessly addicted to collecting all of the cats in neko atsume? a coworker showed me the game last week and i can’t stop playing it. it’s so cute!

    1. Anonymous Educator

      If you have an Android device, you may want to check out Mitchiri Neko Dash. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been updated yet to work with the newest iOS.

    2. bkanon

      Yesssssss. I just saved enough gold fish to expand my yard. Kitty toys EVERYWHERE. They really like the yarn ball.

    3. Emily

      Yes! I started out about a month ago with the Japanese version (I don’t know Japanese, but it’s easy enough to use without reading the words) and have since switched over to the recently-added English version.

      Right now, my favorite toy is the cardboard truck.

    4. Mallory Janis Ian

      I hadn’t heard of it until you posted this, but now my son and are both playing. I’ve had twenty cats visit my yard so far!

  19. i guess anon for this

    First — so sad about France. Really hoping all AAM readers are safe.

    Second — I was the one who wrote in about my hesitation getting in touch with my dad last week. Thank you to everyone for your advice and experiences. I ended up choosing a sort of middle ground — emailed instead of called. My dad is a super animal lover who has been pretty open about loving his pets more than us (thanks dad!). I sent him a quick note saying that I heard he wasn’t feeling great and when I’m not feeling great I watch the following videos. Then some links to legitimately my favorite silly cat, dog, etcs videos, and ended with hoping he was feeling better soon.

    Naturally, no response.

    I actually felt better afterward though, even expecting no response. I don’t think he told my mom or my sister about my email — maybe never even opened it — and I didn’t mention it either, but it’s not really about them. I feel comfortable with my choice.

    1. Ruffingit

      Good for you. One of the hardest things to accept about people is that they are who they are and sometimes they are not going to change. And that’s OK. You do what you need to do to take care of you and feel good about you.

        1. Ruffingit

          Awww, thanks. I’m just paying it forward because I get a lot of support here. So appreciate that from everyone.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Well thought out and well done! I am sorry that you got no response, though. Relationships require the participation of BOTH people, a two way street. If he does not respond you have gone as far as you can go.

      1. IGAFT

        Thank you! Really appreciated such a thoughtful comment last weekend from you as well. I’m not too bummed by the non-response. Who knows if hearing from me helped. I hope it did.

    3. nep

      Nice approach. Glad you’re feeling comfortable with your decision — and it’s quite healthy to let the reaction or non-reaction be what it will.
      All the best.

      1. IGAFT

        As mentioned last week, your suggestion to treat my response as one I would give to acquaintance, simple as it was, clarified things for me greatly. Thank you again :-)

    4. Sourire

      So glad you found something that worked for you, and that you seem really accepting of the fact that you can only control your actions, not his nor his reactions.

    1. nep

      I have. It was worth it to me because I wanted the immediate feedback on form as I was learning some new things.
      ‘Worth it’ will depend on why you’d want to work w a personal trainer. People’s reasons vary. I know people who work with a trainer because it’s only if they’ve put out some money and made an appointment that they’ll get themselves to the gym and work out. For others, it’s worth it because of a certain trainer’s knowledge of form, of designing workouts for specific goals, etc.
      What would be your goal in working w a trainer?

    2. Sherm

      I had two trainers over the course of a year. (My perspective is from someone who had plenty of gym experience and self-teaching.) Both were young guys whom I think were not enormously knowledgable. The first guy was tough on me; I remember being sore for 9 days later, and being relieved when there was a red light while I was driving, so that I could put my arms down for a rest. The second guy was more relaxed. What was helpful was that I had someone to answer to. Feel like ditching a workout? Too bad, the trainer is expecting you at 6. All in all, I got the same results as the times that I managed to motivate myself on my own.

    3. Noah

      For me it wasn’t worth the continuing expense. However, it was a good way to build a routine and have accountability that someone was there waiting for me at a specific time.

    4. AnotherFed

      I’ve done the free/discount couple of sessions when going a new gym, but never bothered to continue it. For me, it’s helpful for a couple sessions to learn how to use any unfamiliar equipment and get some suggestions for workout routines to work on anything specific I want to strengthen. After that, having to meet someone at a specific pre-arranged time is just too hard to do with my fluctuating work schedule. I hate mornings, so getting to a workout before work is Not Happening, and by the end of the day I just want to get in the zone and get my workout done, not have to interact with anyone.

    5. Mando Diao

      Everyone I know who has used a personal trainer has said that it’s the best way to get significant results. It’s expensive, so it depends on how much you’re willing to spend on something that WILL work.

    6. J.B.

      I have, and am looking to set up with a trainer again. The first time really helped me learn to use the equipment and this time I’m finally accepting the need for physical therapy and looking for someone to extend that. It is expensive, but can be helpful. It makes a huge difference to have clear ideas in mind of what you want to do, and small group training might also be an option.

  20. Buggy Crispino

    I’ve been seriously thinking about getting Lasik surgery. I started wearing glasses at 10 and switched to contacts at 14. I’m now 52 and wondering if it’s really stupid for me to even THINK about Lasik. I’m currently wearing multifocal contacts, but for days when I do lots of reading at work, I still end up with a pair of reading glasses. I’m pretty sure based on my age I’ll have to always continue with some sort of reading glasses, but kind of fear how bad my close up vision will really be when Lasik corrected. I have ZERO interest in some of these mono-vision procedures where they correct one eye for distance and the other for close up. I know your brain is supposed to eventually learn to compensate, but I think I would absolutely hate that.

    Does anyone have any advice, thoughts, success or even horror stories for me?

    1. Soupspoon McGee

      Go for it! I had Lasik in my late 30’s, and I love it. My vision was terrible before. Since the surgery, it’s remained 20-20 for seven or eight years. Until I had Lasik, I did not realize how uncomfortable contacts were, or much time it took to deal with them.

      In the last year, I’ve had to start wearing reading glasses. I found some great bifocals on Amazon (clear on top, magnifying on bottom). Those are a godsend, since I can go back and forth between reading and looking at the rest of the world.

      1. Soupspoon McGee

        Shop around. Evaluations are free. Talk to more than one doctor. The first one I spoke to said I wasn’t a candidate, but the second one, a specialist, showed me lots of research to the contrary. You can even watch a surgery with a patient’s consent (my sister watched mine on a big-screen TV–my 3-foot eyeball made by baby niece very happy).

        Go with a reputable place that specializes in laser eye surgery. This is one area where you should pay more for quality and long-term results. Ask what is included (pre-op care, meds, follow-up appointments, corrections). Most of the bargain places charge extra for all those.

        Understand that it’s gonna hurt (not for everyone, but for me), but only for a little while. Your eyes will be more sensitive to light and more prone to drying; my doc gave me several samples of eye drops.

        Again, I do not regret it.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Only success stories. One friend had been wearing thick glasses since the age of four. He is doing terrific. Except for the part where he absent-minded looks for the glasses he no longer needs. ha!

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      I did it last year and love it. However, I had a really uncomfortable few weeks afterwards. Apparently a small number of people get terrible dry eyes for a while afterwards (where it feels like something’s in your eye), and I had that for the first week or so, as well as pretty strong light sensitivity. But that all went away and now I have perfectly comfortable 20/20 vision. (That said, apparently for a very small number of people, that side effect is permanent, which is scary for something that’s purely elective.)

      1. Aunt Vixen

        Another data point: My husband has the permanent dry eye side effect, but he doesn’t describe it as terrible or feeling like there’s something in his eye. He does carry a bottle of artificial tears wherever he goes, and from time to time he stops and takes a hit of the eye drops. By him the change from super-heavy glasses to + 20/20 vision (his vision with the naked eye is now better than my vision with contacts) is absolutely worth the occasional dry-eye discomfort.

        1. Anon the Great and Powerful

          My uncle had this side effect, too. He’s always complaining about his dry eyes and squirting a full bottle of artificial tears into his eyes every day. His experience scared me away from the surgery permanently.

    4. Sourire

      I’m pretty sure my Dad got his around that age or possibly older. He does not wear reading glasses, but his vision problems were always more long distance related to begin with anyway. He does experience “halos” as he describes them at night, but is otherwise really happy with it. He got it quite a while ago though when the procedure was much newer, so maybe by now it’s even better/there’s less of the halo issue…?

      1. fposte

        Halos are also pretty common starting at about that age as the lens gets a little cloudy, so maybe it isn’t even the Lasik behind your dad’s.

        1. Sourire

          Who knows – could be. I do remember it being once of his very first comments after the procedure though – that they came on immediately afterward.

    5. Dynamic Beige

      I have ZERO interest in some of these mono-vision procedures where they correct one eye for distance and the other for close up.

      My father participated in a trial of this. He had been getting contacts that way for years. AFAIK, he didn’t have any issues.

      But, before you go getting your hopes/horror stories, I suggest you find a reputable place locally and go in for an assessment — which should be free. You may not have enough corneal thickness for Lasik, and then you’ll have to decide whether you want this enough to do PRK. It’s a pretty safe procedure, no one has ever lost their vision from it and they’ve been doing it for a few decades now.

      FWIW, I got it done about 10 years ago and am just needing reading glasses this past year. I find it’s most obvious when it comes to the small print on pill bottles and reading books. Without them, I just can’t settle down and read a book, I get antsy somehow. I couldn’t get cheap reading glasses from the drug store, I had to get prescription ones because I needed less than a 1.0 and they don’t have those at the drug store. Everyone I know who has had it done hasn’t regretted it.

    6. Buggy Crispino

      Thanks to everyone for the information and feedback. In the past I’ve always said I see better with my contacts than with glasses, but it’s finally gotten to the point that I’ve realized how much of a PITA contacts are. The multifocal contact lenses I’m wearing have a trade-off in that neither my distance nor my close vision are perfect, so it’s gotten to be very annoying that I can’t read the guide/menu screen on the TV.

      I appreciate all the information. My regular eye doctor has mentioned Lasik to me in the past, so as far as he thinks, I’m most likely a good candidate. He was also the first one to tell me not to skimp or make my decisions based on best pricing and that he had a very small list of Lasik centers he would “let me go to.” Since I’ve been seeing him for 20+ years, I know he’s as concerned with the outcome as I am myself.

      Thanks again for all the input, everyone, it’s greatly appreciated.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        That’s a very good point about the type of centre. When I was looking at doing it, my eye doctor said pretty much the same thing. He told me that he had received a bunch of letters from various clinics that had sprung up all over saying that if he took this weekend course, they would pay him $X per eye he corrected. He said that I might get lucky and get someone who had done the procedure a few hundred times… or I might get someone who had just taken the seminar that weekend. Granted, this was over a decade ago so maybe things have changed. When I was looking into it, I had to go to a place to get my corneas measured for thickness, this summer when I went to the eye doctor, it appeared he had a machine on his table that would do it.

        IMO, check out places. See what kind of equipment they have, where you feel most comfortable, what’s closest to your home. Be sure to take the valium, and ask your doctor if it’s safe to take a sleeping pill afterwards so that you can just sleep (I didn’t and that’s one thing I wish I had done differently)

        As for your question about your near vision, that is the one thing I noticed. It was like my vision completely flipped. Before, I couldn’t see anything 6″ past the end of my nose. After, I couldn’t see anything that close at all. In a TMI example, before I could see close enough to shave my armpits, now I can’t. So there are trade offs, but then again, there are trade offs with anything. Continuing to wear glasses/contacts, there are trade offs with that as well — convenience, on-going cost of maintenance.

        1. ID10T Detector

          My LASIK surgery center sent me home with Ambien – they wanted me to sleep the rest of the day, that night, and rest as much as I could the next day to give my eyes time to heal. I had PRK, though – and while it was a longer recovery time than LASIK, the actual procedure wasn’t any longer. It was absolutely the best decision I’ve made for my vision.

          Also, while my insurance didn’t cover it, both my health insurance and vision insurance had negotiated a discount with the provider I chose (I didn’t know about the health insurance price before we went in for the consult, actually) and the health insurance discount turned out to be almost $1000 less than what my vision insurance had negotiated. So that was a nice surprise.

    7. schnapps

      I had laser surgery about 7 years ago. My mom had laser surgery about 8 years ago. We both love it.

      My mom was 58 when she had it done. She was having to get new glasses every year with multiple progressions in them (she had the maximum number of progressions they could do and they still didn’t work that well for her). So she went in for laser surgery and now she buys her reading glasses at the dollar store. The hard part for her was learning NOT to wear glasses.

      Note: there are two types of laser surgery (or there were about 7-8 years back). LASIK is pretty popular but it doesn’t work for everyone. If your corneas are too thin (will happen if you wear contacts a lot or have naturally thin corneas like me and my mom) you have to get PRK. You also have to not wear contacts for a bit before (I think for me it was two weeks).

      Also, please don’t go to one of those $250 an eye places without checking out other places. You’ve only got one set of eyes; don’t leave them to Dr. Nick :)

      When I had mine done, I went to the guy who pioneered it and fixes everyone elses mistakes. My vision went from 20/600 to 20/20. They told me eventually I’d need reading glasses and that’s just a function of aging as the eye dries out.

      My vision is still perfect. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

    8. Lore

      Since you’re already in your 50s you might want to get a cataract evaluation before you make the decision. I had LASIK at 30 and got 6 great years of glasses-free vision but then started developing cataracts and by 40 needed full-time glasses again. I just had cataract surgery at 46 but I’ve learned that a) the calculations required for picking the lens are significantly more difficult post LASIK and b) they often use LASIK to tweak the results of cataract surgery if the lens is not exactly the right power but you might not be able to have a second round (I could not because I don’t have enough cornea left). If you get it, make sure you get a copy of your pre LASIK eye measurements from your surgeon in case you need cataract surgery later (or as I did go to the same surgeon for both).

  21. Luna

    So we’ve decided to get a cat flap that works off my kitty’s microchip – it’s got some kind of built in scanner that only reads the chips you want it to read. I’m pleased these things even exist as Mr Fussypants (not his name) hates collars and being a big tom he is strong enough to snap regular cat flaps (he apparently did that his first night in the shelter, the rescue charity told us, good job cat!) but these microchip ones seem pretty solid. Anyone used one?

    1. Not So NewReader

      Oh this made me laugh. Around here people can wake up to finding a critter in their house that came in though the flap. What a great idea this is.

    2. Holly

      Can you share which one you got? I have two cats and one is a giant bully to the other, and I’m thinking of how to come up with a safe space for the bullied cat – if I could get a microchip scanning cat flap I can install in, like, a wooden comfy box or something, it wouldn’t let him in but would let her…maybe. I’m trying to think of what I can do.

      1. Luna

        We’ve gone for the Sureflap one, and that’s really based on the good reviews its had. I tend to lurk on the Maine Coon owners forums and discovered that even a big male one of them can’t destroy it – my cat isn’t a Maine Coon but he’s big and can get pushy at times so I figured if a Sureflap can contain one of them, it can contain my little monster.

    3. dragonzflame

      We have a Sureflap – it’s great. We’ve also recently bought a SureFeed, made bybtge same co, that makes his food accessible only to him. This really helps with our dog as it means the cat no longer has to be fed on the dining table. They certainly cost a pretty penny, but I think they’re ultimately worth it.

      Main thing is to take it slow when getting puss used to it as it can be a bit scary the first few times the door unlocks for them.

      1. Luna

        I’m sure it won’t take him long to get used to it, he’s pretty adaptable. He certainly settled into life with us pretty quick and we were worried about that because we’ve not had a rescue cat before. Cat flap should be a breeze – I hope! Will let you all know!

  22. Sourire

    Ugh, I’m just having a really terrible week. I got some really terrible work news (like really, really bad – not my fault and my job is not in question, but things will be tough for a while), terrible personal health news, cried in front of the new guy I’m seeing about both (way, waaaaay earlier than I wanted him to see me like that), and new new guy lied to me about something. Something mundane, but I’m already kind of questioning things with him (if anyone remembers last week – I was really questioning psychical/sexual chemistry). And what’s killing me is there was just no reason to lie! It worries me… I think it’s probably just not going to work out, but I don’t want to admit that to myself fully just yet. I’m incredibly afraid of being alone (was for years before him), and he basically broke up with someone to start seeing me. So now I feel like an ass saying, “Hey, I’m just not feeling it”…

    1. Doriana Gray

      Sorry your week sucked. I’m right there with you, though – hopefully, this upcoming week is better for both of us.

    2. Not So NewReader

      You deserve better than a liar. And, nothing more lonely than being in a relationship with someone you cannot trust. That can be more lonely than actually being alone.

    3. catsAreCool

      Someone who lies on something that isn’t necessary sounds like someone who will lie to you a lot. Probably better to break up now.

    4. OfficePrincess

      I’m sorry it’s been a crappy week :-( Liars just aren’t worth it though, especially if they’re just lying for the sake of lying. If you otherwise had good chemistry I’d say sure if you wanted to, have fun for a little bit longer since it’s not getting too serious yet, but if the chemistry sucks and he lies, is he really bringing enough to the table to be an improvement over being single?

    5. Sourire

      Thank you for the support everyone! It’s just really hard, because it’s really nice to have someone around to comfort me/get me through this bad stuff that’s happening and he’s been great at that. Chemistry issues are still there though. I’m really hoping at this point that we can maybe continue on as only friends but I’m not sure how optimistic I am about that. I think he’ll be really hurt and/or upset with me about the breaking up with the previous girl thing. I mean he was unhappy and supposedly was going to do so regardless, but I can see how being upset at breaking things off may cause a rose-colored glasses effect a la “I broke up with this perfectly fine girl to be with Sourire and now she doesn’t want me…” (and cue bitterness)

      1. misspiggy

        He may feel like that, but a) you’re not responsible for how he chooses to feel, b)if he lays it on you it’s a sign that he’s not an ideal partner, and c)in the long run he could end up feeling grateful that you catalysed him to leave a bad relationship and be free to meet someone more compatible.

  23. Stephanie

    So I mentioned a couple of weeks back I was going to head to Portland (OR) to visit some friends. Possibly rethinking the trip now. So I’m working, but still not making tons of money. I figured I could swing the airfare and budget carefully for the trip itself.

    I get an email about going up to the mountains to ski and do outdoor stuff for part of the visit. Problem is, the lodging and ski passes and such will blow this way out of budget for me. As regular commenters know, I live in a hot climate and don’t have much in the way of winter wear, especially for outdoor recreation. Hesitant to go buy some solely for this visit only since it won’t really get used in Phoenix a ton.

    So I’m thinking of ducking out. But saying “I’m not doing this if we’re skiing” is a bit more adversarial than I’d like. Should I just come up with a fake commitment?

    1. Sherm

      Well, *exactly* saying “I’m not doing this if we’re skiing” sounds a little adversarial, but why not “Would it be possible to do another activity? I’m afraid that skiing isn’t in my budget.” I have friends who are sometimes or always broke, and I’m sure to plan activities that they can afford. I would rather see them than do the activity.

    2. Buxom Babe

      Oops! Hey Stephanie I just replied below and forgot to hit the “reply” to button so it didn’t post under your question… hope it helps.

      1. Stephanie

        Possibly? One friend is close in size to me. I would probably have to buy winter boots, though. (Guys, I’m not kidding about my anemic winter wardrobe.)

          1. Stephanie

            Aw! That is so nice of you. Unfortunately, I’m nowhere near that. But I appreciate the offer–you guys rock.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          When you ski, you usually rent the boots with the skis. The bigger deal is making sure you have waterproof* pants and a jacket, good gloves, and the cash for the rental equipment and lift tickets, which are not cheap. You could look at the Mt. Hood page to find the cost for rentals and tickets, which will probably help you in your declining the fun. Oh, and if you’ve never skied before, a beginner’s package with tickets, equipment, and a lesson is the best option.

          *Even a jogging shell over jeans or sweats is better than just jeans. Don’t even bother if you only have jeans, because you’ll be so wet and cold that you won’t have fun. The local thrift stores should have an assortment of useful gear.

    3. catsAreCool

      How about something like ‘Skiing isn’t in the budget for me. Is this something you’re planning to do?”

  24. Winter is Coming

    What is a polite way to tell someone to mind their own business? I have a feeling I am going to be called out for being FB friends with a blacklisted family member, by two other family members. I think the whole thing is stupid and juvenile, but I don’t want to make it worse by getting back in their face with a snarky or defensive response. Looking for something calm & vague.

    1. fposte

      Where will you be called out? If it’s on FB, ignore it. If it’s directly, sounds like a good moment for the old “Thanks for the input.”

    2. Not So NewReader

      It could be that no matter what you say it will be snarky to them. Why not just shrug and change the topic?

      Them: What did you friend Uncle Bob for? You know we all hate him.
      You: [Shrug] So how did you make out at the doctor the other day? [Redirect to some other very important topic that you know they can yammer on for a good fifteen minutes.]

    3. nep

      If you feel you must say anything at all —
      ‘I understand your dismay [if you do], but this is my choice and no one else has any say in it. Let’s just move on.’
      (Actually I’d leave out the first part and just start with ‘This is my decision…’)

    4. Winter is Coming

      It would probably be in person when I see them next. I like the shrug & deflect, so will give it a try. I really don’t feel like addressing it at all, so I like this approach. It will probably come as a question similar to the one posed by Not So New Reader.

      1. knitchic79

        Ick…we’re going through something like this. Deflect deflect deflect. We were very clear upfront that we would not be a sounding board for their meanest towards eachother. Once everyone realized we would not participate it got easier to be the neutral parties.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger

      Good for you for not escalating or trying to defend yourself. In situations like this, many times people feel the need to justify, argue, defend, and explain their actions, but that’s often just giving more chances for the person who is questioning your actions to keep attacking your decisions, your actions, and your motivations. If you refuse to engage, it gives them no traction and they will usually give up more quickly.

    6. Mando Diao

      It would really, really depend on why this person was blacklisted, how much information you have, and whether these other relatives are aware of how much information/context you do and don’t have. In instances of abuse, I would condemn anyone who knew about the events and still spoke with that person. If things are murkier, judgment comes into play.

    7. CoffeeLover

      You could always just set your facebook settings so people can only see the friends they have in common with you. Conversation avoided.

      1. Winter is Coming

        Wow, thanks, this is really helpful. I had no idea you could do this. Going to change it now.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Ooo- this could get interesting. You might find out who else has also friended Uncle Bob. Not that you would point out anyone’s hypocrisy or anything, though, noooo.

  25. Buxom Babe

    I would find out how commited your friends are to skiing before inventing the fake commitment. I know what you mean about clothes getting limited use, I just finished a stint in Alaska (when I normally live in Hawaii) and it was Autumn but snowed while I was there. I wound up freezing my toukais because I just couldn’t bring myself to buy a winter jacket I wouldn’t wear for more than a few weeks.

    Your friends may have extra clothes to loan you, and/or have great a discount for skiing. I would be honest about your budget and tell them that these plans may break your bank if you aren’t careful. Worse comes to worst, you can always say you can’t do anything risky because you are having issues with your deductible and can’t afford an accident. I am sure your friends would like to see you and wouldn’t mind changing their plans (or watch you wave from the lodge with a hot chocolate in hand (sorry for the cliché.))

  26. Jane, the world's worst employee

    I potentially *might* be making an offer on my first home this week! Very exciting and something Ive been working towards for years – I’ve literally scrimped and saved for the last few years and it seems like it’s on the verge of happening. Good vibes being sent my way would be much appreciated.

    The home I’m considering is a Cape Cod-style home. Does anyone have any experience owning a Cape Cod? Also, what advice do you all have for first-time homeowners?

    1. Sourire

      Good luck!

      My best advice would be to find a really good home inspector. I didn’t know any and basically just trusted my realtor on a recommendation. They guy seemed thorough and did find some things, but the more I live here the more I find that he missed and/or downplayed (or so I feel). Every house is going to have problems and things that will need to be fixed that will come up in a home inspection, but some certainly more than others.

      Also, and you may already know this, but since you said you’ve been scrimping to save, make sure you have a good amount set aside that is not going toward your downpayment and closing costs. SO MANY things come up while in the process of moving in that it’s nice to have some cushion.

      1. fposte

        Building on this, I’d also say be prepared for some surprises; even the best house will give you some, so don’t let it take the bloom off the rose for you.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I grew up in a Cape. It was a good solid house. Not a lot of space and not a lot of rooms, but what was there was well done. Have the fireplace checked before using it. Make sure the furnace is not hooked into the fireplace chimney.
      My parents really had a soft time of it as far as doing major repairs to the house. My husband and I bought an old school house and the difference between the two houses as far as repairs is like day vs night.

    3. AnotherFed

      Congrats!

      Like others said, make sure you set aside a little bit of a cushion, and be prepared for at least a short list of home improvement tasks you want to get done. Even the best houses have unexpected things come up. If you don’t end up needing it, treat yourself to something fun or special – moving and home improvement are hard work!

      1. danr

        Even brand new homes have things that need to be done in the first year. We still have a light switch that doesn’t seem to control anything. It’s interesting watching guests flip the switch, then realize that nothing happens.

    4. Graciosa

      Take your time.

      Turning a first house into an actual home is a lot more involved than you expect. There are the unexpected expenses others have noted, and the level of decision making required can seem overwhelming.

      Treat this as a project. Create a couple notebooks for your home.

      The first one is (boring) important paperwork – mortgage documents, insurance documents, the warranty for the microwave, the instructions for the stove etc. There is a truly amazing amount of paperwork associated with owning a home. My mortgage documents, home inspection, and purchase-related materials are in a clear plastic legal size sealed zip-style envelope. The stuff for items in the house is in a couple binders organized by room. There are clear plastic holders in the binders, one or more for each room (including the garage and outdoors).

      This is a bit of a pain to think about, but it’s easier to start out with a system for managing it than to keep trying to remember where you put this stuff.

      The second binder should be for your plans and dreams (much more fun). Put in sketches for how you want to arrange the furniture in the living room. Paint chips for the color you’re thinking of in the bedroom. A page from a magazine showing the creative arrangement of towels for your bath.

      There will be plenty of hard decisions about whether you spend a limited budget this month on finally getting window coverings for the second bedroom or a desperately needed table in the back hall. Try to find a balance between eliminating annoyances (there will be some – no home is perfect) and adding joy.

      There should be something you LOVE in every space. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to make you smile when you see it. Never forget that your home is the place where you are happy – it doesn’t have to look like a magazine and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks if you’re pleased.

      Good luck – and congratulations.

  27. fposte

    I have a Cape Cod-style. It’s a pretty flexible term, but around here it means you don’t really have much attic between you and the outdoors–that basically a lot of second-floor ceiling is really close to the roof. That means that the second floor can be a lot warmer than the first in summer, and I don’t like the heat so that’s been my main reservation about the style. But I still love my house, which is also my first house. And I really love the interesting ceiling angles and cozy slope in my shower and nook in the bedroom, so I’m generally pro on the style.

    My first-time homeowner advice would be to have a really good time :-). Know your budget, but enjoy nesting and painting and tweaking.

  28. Lizabeth

    Favorite movies that are visually stunning?

    Anna Kaareina/Keira Knightly
    Les Miserables/Hugh Jackman
    Hugo
    Moulin Rouge
    Hero/Jet Li
    Amelie

      1. fposte

        Funnily enough, I was thinking of Malick’s Days of Heaven. Man knows how to paint.

        I would also put in a plug for Fargo.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      Dark City
      The Crow
      Night Watch
      The Fifth Element
      Snatch
      2001: A Space Odyssey
      Fight Club

      I would second Hugo and Hero, too.

    2. Mephyle

      Baraka (and presumably Samsara, which I haven’t seen, but is made by the same team and is described as an “unparalleled sensory experience”.)

    3. Doriana Gray

      Amelie is great. So is Pan’s Labrynth. And virtually anything by Tim Burton and old MGM musicals.

    4. Carrie in Scotland

      Amelie for me also.

      Not a favourite but this year or last I saw ‘Under the Skin’ with Scarlet Johannsen which was an odd movie but looked stunning.

    5. fposte

      This also makes me think of how much more artistically television shows seem to be designed these days. For instance, something like Alpha House is just a delight to look at, with the constant refrain of turquoise running through every scene. Maybe HD upped the stakes?

      1. Doriana Gray

        Pushing Daisies was one of the best looking TV shows I’ve ever seen. High def certainly helped.

        Oh – and also the first season of Gossip Girl. Yes, I watched that mess, please try not to judge me, lol.

    6. AnotherFed

      Serenity
      Pan’s Labyrinth
      Gothika – it’s not really beautiful, but for some reason scenes from that one just stuck with me

    7. Mando Diao

      Bright Star. Google “bright star movie” and you’ll see a screencap of Abbie Cornish reading a letter in a field of blue flowers that will take your breath away.

      All the Real Girls is like a postcard from a perfect autumnal landscape.

    8. INTP

      Marie Antoinette (the Sophia Coppola one)
      The Devil Wears Prada – partly the clothes, but it always satisfies me when I want a visually inspiring movie

    9. danr

      2001: A space odyssey
      My Fair Lady (remastered edition)
      Star Wars: 4, 5, 6 (original versions)
      Independence Day

    10. katamia

      All the ones I can think of are Bollywood movies, actually.

      For purely visual awesomeness, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movies, especially Devdas and Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, are head and shoulders above everyone else. Exception: Guzaarish, which was made at a weird point in his life and is much less visually stunning than his other work. His movies are generally not that well written, though; as a filmmaker, he seems to be more interested in creating movies with beautiful sets, costumes, and soundtracks (again, Devdas is probably the winner there IMO) than he is in having decent scripts, but, honestly, his movies are beautiful enough that at least some of them are worth a watch despite the weak scripts.

      Also Farah Khan’s Om Shanti Om, Amol Palekar’s Paheli, and Santosh Sivan’s Asoka.

    11. CoffeeLover

      I’m a huge fan of Tim Burton. He’s so good at creating a mood through visual effects alone. The best example in my mind is Edward Scissorhands. Very surreal.

    12. olympiasepiriot

      Chariots of Fire.
      Mad Max Fury Road.
      Defiance. (That forest should have been listed under Cast.)

    13. Charlotte Lucas

      Shakespeare in Love
      Flamenco, Flamenco – This is a Spanish movie that is a showcase of flamenco artists. Not only is the music and dancing wonderful, but the art direction is amazing.
      Nightmare before Christmas

  29. Computer Guy Eli

    I’m having a hell of a time trying to get a hold of my weight. My diet seems to be the only thing that I do where I can completely understand what I need to do, give myself the chance to succeed, and then STILL eat when I -know- I’m not hungry, and when I -know- I shouldn’t be eating. It’s almost like I’m possessed when I get the urge to eat. I can be telling myself every moment along the way “Stop. Don’t eat this. Stop it right now. Cut it out” And then be looking at an empty bowl five minutes later.

    1. fposte

      Have a look at Brian Wansink’s Slim by Design–it talks about ways to set up your kitchen and food to minimize that kind of temptation and habit. We’ve got a million years of evolution telling us that we should take in calories when we can. That’s a hard thing to push back against, and relying on sheer determination almost never works.

      1. fposte

        BTW, if the bowl is by any chance a cereal bowl, Wansink talks about exactly that–the regular visibility of a box of cereal in the home correlates with a higher weight.

      2. Jcsgo

        +1 This book is so interesting and gives you a bunch of life hacks to make eating/losing weight easier, based on research.

        1. fposte

          I’m pretty sure I first heard about it here! (Maybe from Stephanie?) Anyway, I’m crazy about it and try to extrapolate to non-food behaviors as well.

    2. Mephyle

      I recommend Ditching Diets by Gillian Riley. She explains exactly what was happening to you when you were confronted by the magical self-emptying bowl, and tells you how to fight it. Her method resonates with me like nothing else I’ve seen. After studying this book, I find other explanations and advice fall short. It’s not easy or effortless to do what she advises, but it works.

    3. Not So NewReader

      I always think of weight-loss, exercise plans etc as a lesson in humility! ;) We have to put up with our repeated failures and still manage to live with ourselves! ugh.
      Always remember a bad plan is better than no plan. The munchies hit- what to do-what to do. OH look! There is a Super Sweet Cereal with Added Junk! I will have a bowl or three! BTDT.

      Know that munchies hit. Build a plan. Line yourself up with crunchy things to graze on- nuts, carrots, apples, etc. Another good idea is to remember that thirst masquerades as hunger. You could be thirsty and not realizing. Don’t wait for hunger symptoms to hit, have random glasses of water through out your day. Also consider a protein drink. A body that has a good nutritional state is less apt to want to graze.

    4. oranges & lemons

      Not really diet-specific, but if you haven’t before, you might want to think about the conditions which lead to eating more than you want to, since your description reminds me of various compulsive habits I have (or used to have in some cases). Over time I’ve noticed that my compulsions tend to kick in when I’m stressed out, trying to avoid something, bored, or spending too much time alone. Avoiding the conditions which lead to compulsions have been the only really helpful thing for me to be able to minimize them. Good luck–it can be really frustrating to deal with these kind of situations where rational thinking seems to have no effect.

    5. TL -

      Try not keeping the stuff in your house, if it’s snack-type food and not meals that you’re eating. Make treats things that you have to go out and buy just a single serving of (bonus points if you have to walk/bike there). Take the easy out if you can.

      Try to keep more ingredients instead of prepackaged foods, if possible – less for the health benefits and more so that if you want food, you have to go through the trouble of making it.

    6. blackcat

      If you like them, I encourage you to try keeping celery & carrots around instead of other snack foods. They’re both healthy and crunchy, which I find means I get tired of eating them. I find I fill up really fast on them (weight loss isn’t my goal, but keeping refined sugars to a minimum is. So I now have the rule that any snacks I eat have to be unprocessed. So basically just fresh fruit/veggies).

  30. nep

    What kinds of things are you eating when you’re not hungry… that you know you shouldn’t be eating?
    I’ve always really liked the idea of ‘crowding’ out, rather than ‘cutting’ out — getting filled up on healthy foods can help.
    That said, I think you’re describing something many people experience. Food is powerful stuff, and it’s often tough to move / think beyond that instant of gratification.
    Do you notice a difference in how you feel when you are able to go a while without eating a lot of less-than-healthy foods?

    1. Not Karen

      Definitely. If I deny myself food that I “shouldn’t” be eating, I feel incredible emotional distress.

  31. NicoleK

    I’m in the market for the “perfect” white button down shirt and don’t want to spend more than $100. I have a Worthington blouse from JCPenny. I like the fit, style, and cut of the shirt but material is thinner than what I would prefer (normally pair the blouse with a cami). Any suggestions?

  32. knitchic79

    Didn’t mention this last week because it was a bit depressing, but now it has a happy ending. We lost my dad at the end of September, it’s been hard on everyone. But last week my mother forgot my birthday. It really hurt because it’s hard enough facing all of these “firsts” without him but also because I thought we were getting closer finally. She texted me and called a few days later and apologized. She’s definitely been a bit lost so I do understand. But now we have plans to go see a movie together this week, so I’m just gonna look forward to that. :)

    1. Not So NewReader

      Good for you and good for her. This situations are so very hard for everyone involved and for soooo many reasons. I am sorry for your loss.

  33. Anonymous Educator

    Binge-watched Master of None on Netflix, and it was so refreshing and funny! Spouse and I both reacted the same way after the last episode (“Where’s the second season?”). Highly recommend to anyone looking to binge on a new TV series…

    1. OfficePrincess

      My husband and I are still working through West Wing (first time for him, old favorite for me) but I think that may just have to go on the list for when we finish.

      1. Al Lo

        We just started a rewatch of Everwood. Second time for my husband, but the first in at least 6 years, and my umpteenth time through. Of all the shows I love dearly, this one is such a balm for my soul, and so underrated in the universe of early-aughts WB teen dramas. Smart, sensitive, and still one of the best examinations of grief I’ve ever seen on TV. I always tell people who love the parent/child relationships on Gilmore Girls (another of my all-time favorites) that Andy and Ephram’s relationship will satisfy just as much as Lorelai and either Emily or Rory.

    2. Al Lo

      Agreed. We watched it last weekend, and it’s so good. I loved the Parks DNA evident in it: it’s a show about nice people, generally being kind to each other, living life and figuring it out, and the drama isn’t your typical sitcom high stakes. I had to recalibrate my expectations to that when, during the first episode, a scene between a man and a little girl that, in a different show, would have gone somewhere awkward and/or dramatic and/or controversial didn’t go that direction at all.

    3. Lulubell

      JUST discovered that this week and loving it! I think I am about 7 eps in. I tend to be very jaded/critical of TV shows and I can’t get over how much I simply love this. It is so funny and smart and spot-on.

    1. Sara

      I read that earlier today, it was really interesting! Never thought about the third-person singular “s” being so unusual before.

  34. Goliath Gary Willikers

    I’ve been stood up twice in the last twenty-four hours with no message or explanation. (Combined with my general social isolation in a new state, It’s making me feel weirdly invisible today, like I can’t be entirely sure I’m not Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense, being ignored because I’m SECRETLY A GHOST.)

    One was by a first date, who left me shivering in the snow waiting for him last night.

    The other was an old friend, who has done this so many times I really feel like I’m the one to blame for continuing trying to make our friendship work. The thing is, she’s a great friend when she actually bothers to show up, but she just doesn’t bother most of the time. I thought things would improve now that we live in the same state, but clearly, nothing’s changed. As long as we remain nominally friends, I expect this to continue. And yet I can’t bring myself to pull the plug on this friendship, because I still have a lot of emotions tied up in her friendship and approval, and because it feels melodramatic and harsh and final after all we’ve been through together.

    It’d be so much easier to cut her off if she was a dramatic, toxic presence in my life who I didn’t even really enjoy. Instead, she’s just flaky and completely unreliable.

    Not really asking anything, I guess. Just frustrated.

    1. catsAreCool

      For the old friend, maybe you can meet at someplace where if she doesn’t show up for a while, you can still be entertained/interested?

      Did the date have any kind of excuse?

      1. Goliath Gary Willikers

        Nope, haven’t heard from him at all. The silver lining is that I really wasn’t sure I was feeling it with him, so at least I’m terribly disappointed. Just a bit annoyed.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger

        I agree with catsAreCool. I had a friend like this, and I’d just go on without him if he didn’t show. He got a little upset at first, but I told him that I waited X minutes past when we were supposed to meet, and if anyone should be upset it should be me. I also started reminding him when we made plans: “OK, so we’ll meet at 6pm, right? The movie/concert/whatever starts at 6:30, so I want to head in by 6:10. ” And then I would head in at 6:10. :)

        As far as the date goes, consider that a bullet dodged. If someone considerate was running even a few minutes late, they would have called or texted.

  35. OfficePrincess

    This has been a seriously tough week, with long days, work stuff, money stuff, and just winding up exhausted. But the icing on the cake is that my oldest niece got married today and my husband and I were the only aunt/uncle not invited. On the one hand, I’m not sure we could have afforded to make the trip, but being blatantly excluded is pretty rough. Though, I’m not sure I should be surprised since her mother (my stepsister) tends to forget that I’m family too. She and my other stepsister frequently post on FB about each other being their favorite sister and will tag only each other and my stepbrother in all of those sibling memes. (My stepbrother on the other hand, does tag me every time he posts something like that. I really appreciate it, but it makes the other’s behavior really stand out). My mom was actually planning to not go to make a statement, but now some health things have happened that mean she and my stepdad definitely couldn’t go anyway. I’ve already been completely abandoned by my dad’s and stepmom’s families, so being shut out by 2 out of 3 stepsiblings is just really hard. I’m also dreading going home for Christmas and hearing “We missed you at [niece’s] wedding”. I doubt it’s common knowledge that we weren’t invited, so I’m expecting sincere inquiries and don’t know how I’m going to manage to avoid giving an inappropriate reply.

      1. pony tailed wonder

        Yes. Just be honest. Maybe even say you heard the wedding was lovely and then change the subject.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Yeah, I see no need for covering up for someone else. A simple, “we weren’t invited” speaks volumes. Don’t protect other people, you have enough going on with your part of the story.
          Maybe take a break from family Christmas this year? Or find a way to reduce the time spent with family?

  36. Cruciatus

    So I never know what to get my sister for Christmas, especially now that I don’t see her very often since hanging out with her fiance is not high on my list of things to do (but that’s probably another story). She makes enough money to just buy whatever she wants, when she wants it (and she normally does). I’ve been going more toward practical gifts so it’s not just more stuff, but maybe something she’ll use. I remember reading here about those meals & ingredients mailed to your door and thought that might be a good idea. I know Blue Apron was the one mentioned here, but the Hello Fresh menu looks tastier to me (and there are even others like Plated and many more).

    Does anyone A) have strong opinions either way about which meal-to-your-door service to use and B) have other gift ideas for the person who already has everything? I don’t like just buying more schtuff. I want it to be used, or fit in to what they already have and not just something they like but end up shoving in a closet (or regifting later).

    1. nep

      I really like the idea of giving (and receiving!) gift certificates for spa treatments, deep tissue massage, and the like. Would she like something like this?

    2. AnotherFed

      Can you do something like a photo calendar or other personalized but useful gift? My aunt did one of those for gifts a few years ago, and I really liked it. Everyone can use a calendar, and it was nice to have good quality photos of them, including some goofy ones from when we were all much younger – we’d gone from all living within a few hours of each other (and seeing each other pretty often) to all the cousins being scattered across the country. It sounds like you and your sister are growing apart, but this would be a way to give a personal gift that wouldn’t be their third copy of the same thing.

      If you go the food delivery route, I’d suggest scoping out how your sister and her fiance feel about it before getting it for them – it’s awesome if they love cooking and want to make that easier, but it could also be tough to schedule a delivery time (or even have someone home to take the box inside if they travel a lot!) or use before the food goes off.

    3. Lizabeth

      Are you guys at the point where Xmas presents don’t make sense? My sister and I agreed not to do gifts “unless” it’s a really good gag gift and we’re in our fifties.

    4. Katie the Fed

      Why not just talk to her about stopping gift exchanges now that you’re both adults and can buy what you want for yourselves? I did that with my sister and we both like it.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I noticed a while ago, that people I do not exchange gifts with seem to be stronger relationships. We do pick up little things randomly through out the year for each other- usually items that are just a few dollars. But I noticed once the gifting went away, we spent more time putting thought into our conversations. I’m likin’ it.

    5. LibbyG

      Another food idea: I got a great gift from Zingerman’s once. It’s a nifty family of gourmet food companies in Michigan. If you think a super-fancy olive oil or quarterly bacon delivery would suit, you might want to check them out.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I am a huge fan of Zingerman’s! I’ve gotten people their bread of the month club and their baked goods of the month club, and it’s always a huge hit. And sometimes we just order a box of delicious stuff to eat ourselves.

    6. Liz in a Library

      On the food services… I’ve tried them all, and these are my favorites:

      1. Plated. Interesting menus (for me), makes a lot, easy-to-use site. More expensive than the others, though.

      2. Home Chef. My husband’s favorite. Tends to kind of meat-and-potatoes, but every single thing we’ve made has tasted good.

      3. Blue Apron. Good, but the recipes aren’t as interesting to me. I prefer to Home Chef but he doesn’t.

      I really wanted to like Hello Fresh, because the recipes seemed good and the little packages they come in are so convenient. But I got rotten (not wilted, rotten) produce twice in a row and so gave up.

  37. Nonny Moose

    I am young, unmarried woman who is a member of a small non-profit organization dedicated to the arts. I’ve been a member for a good long while, have served on the Board of Directors, and consider many of the other members to be good friends. One of the newer members is a man who is (I think) in his 50s. He’s an odd duck but seemingly harmless – friendly, but very awkward in social situations and gets flustered easily.

    The thing is, I think he has a crush on me. He’s constantly finding (awkward) ways to start conversations with me. He has complimented my appearance on several occasions. I sometimes catch him staring at me. Whenever I show up to a meeting or an event, he expresses a lot of excitement at seeing me. He’s started patting me on the back at random times.

    Now that I’m typing it out, it sounds really innocuous, but there’s a certain air about it that makes me nervous. He’s a nice guy and I don’t think he’s any kind of threat (or at least I hope not), but I definitely don’t have any romantic attraction towards him and his behavior weirds me out. He’s old enough to be my dad, at the very least. I have a serious boyfriend and have brought him around to events, but I don’t think this guy has gotten the hint.

    I’m not sure how to approach this. He’s never done anything to confirm that he has a romantic interest in me – if he asked me out I would know exactly what to say to shut it down, but he’s never done that so I’m just not sure how to dissuade him without it being something of an overreaction. I have no problem speaking up for myself but I want to be kind and not embarrass him either.

    Any advice?

    1. Nonny Moose

      I should also note that he had requested me as a friend on Facebook, and I accepted – but he later unfriended me (no idea why). He recently sent me a LinkedIn request – I’m not sure what to do with that at all.

      And I just confirmed via social media that he’s in his mid 50s.

    2. nep

      Do you want to dissuade him for your sake or for his? I mean — is his current behaviour toward you a nuisance and a burden to the point that you want it to stop? Or is it that you think failing to say something now is leading him on in a way, if in fact he is romantically interested? If the latter, seems to me you don’t need to dissuade him unless/until he expresses a romantic interest and pursues that. That would be the moment to move beyond hints and to directly telling him no and to back off. My initial thoughts.

      1. Nonny Moose

        I guess a little bit of both? I’d like to put him in “the friend zone” (for lack of a better term) both for his comfort and for mine; if he truly is pining away, I’d like to not lead him on (even unwittingly), but I would also like to be able to go to meet-ups without having to side-step the awkwardness. I feel like I’m always trying to escape his attention and that’s not comfortable, and presumably it’s not comfortable for him either.

        This is assuming his intentions are innocent, and I have no evidence that they aren’t.

        1. Not So NewReader

          He may have innocent intentions of dating you. Just because a person is not a stalker does not mean they have NO larger intentions. He could still be hoping to ask you out. You might not be able to put him in the friend zone because that may not be where he wants to be.

          Mention your bf a lot, don’t connect on LI, and maybe consider asking him if something is wrong randomly when you catch him staring. Remember the rule of three. You see a behavior three times that is a pattern. You can feel free to address the pattern if you chose.
          Either way, if this goes on much longer, you might consider saying, “I have seen you staring at me a few times now, is there a problem that you want to discuss?” Probably he will say no. At that point you could say something like, “It’s not nice to stare at people. Please stop.” The fact that you mentioned it might jar him into reality and he might stop.

      2. CoffeeLover

        I agree with nep. I’ve had this kind of attention a time or two in my life (aka pretty damn frequently). It’s a little annoying to be on the receiving end and always having to brush off obvious flirtations, but I never do anything until a clear move is made on his part. If you’re seeing someone, even at the early stages, you could mention him to show your lack of interest. Or instead of mentioning a “bf” you could just say you’re going on dates, i.e, “do you have any plans for the weekends”, “Not much. I’ve got a date tonight, but that’s about it”. You are opening yourself up to having to field questions about said bf/date though, so I usually stick to ignoring until obvious.

    3. Anonymous Educator

      The thing is, I think he has a crush on me. He’s constantly finding (awkward) ways to start conversations with me. He has complimented my appearance on several occasions. I sometimes catch him staring at me. Whenever I show up to a meeting or an event, he expresses a lot of excitement at seeing me. He’s started patting me on the back at random times.

      Now that I’m typing it out, it sounds really innocuous, but there’s a certain air about it that makes me nervous.

      Starting conversations is innocuous.
      Complimenting you on your appearance is a little irksome… I suppose you could write it off as a generational thing, but that’s a tiny bit creepy.
      The staring is definitely creepy.
      The patting on the back could be nothing… in fact, it’s almost assuredly not sexual/romantic (I never pat my spouse on the back).

      I wish I had some advice, but definitely don’t gaslight yourself into thinking it’s not creepy and is just innocuous. If you feel nervous about it, it’s with good reason. Trust your intuition!

      1. Nonny Moose

        Thanks for the perspective – it’s helpful to see someone else’s processing of the situation. I’m definitely not ignoring my gut instinct. The women in my family are all psychic and our intuition has served us well. He hasn’t done anything threatening, but the uneasy feeling is strong enough that I definitely avoid being any place with him alone.

        1. Nonny Moose

          I should perhaps add that the compliments about my attire have all been beyond “That’s a nice outfit” or “You look very nice today.” Specifically, he’s taken to calling me “beautiful” or “lovely”, which I consider to be kind of an intense thing to call a friendly acquaintance.

          1. Tara R.

            The next time he calls you beautiful, I would say “Thanks, but my boyfriend’s the only one who gets to call me that! Now, about that [non-profit related thing]…” Or even “I’d much rather hear that I’m great at [soliciting donors/sorting through grant applications/whatever you do] than hear about my appearance, Todd!” Cheerful but firm and just steer the conversation relentlessly forward, not giving him the chance to object that he’s just trying to be nice or wahtever.

    4. NicoleK

      You seem to be handling it pretty well. Continue to keep your distance, limit your conversations with him, be cordial but not friendly. When he pats you on the back, let him know that it makes you uncomfortable. If he compliments you, thank him politely and redirect the conversation. If he corners you into a conversation, feel free to liberally mention your boyfriend.

  38. Anon the Great and Powerful

    I have lupus and my hip has been really sore/stiff so I haven’t been working out lately. Sitting, walking, standing, it’s all painful. Fun! My doctor claims that working out and losing weight will help the stiffness (which doesn’t seem right since the stiffness is the whole reason I stopped working out?). What workouts do fellow lupus people do in this situation? I don’t have access to a pool which would probably be ideal. Yoga, maybe?

    1. BritCred

      Having been through the NHS course for CFS patients they suggest stretching exercises mixed with mindfulness (being aware of the pain and stiffness, accepting it and “letting it go”), Yoga and Graded Exercise Therapy (the basic being do something that is at a “comfortable” level and slowly extend it bit by bit by say walking with 10 seconds of running/jogging and if that isn’t too disruptive then do that for 2 weeks and increase. Main point being sure that you have stability rather than increasing too fast and hurting yourself. It can even be as little as walking for 5 minutes a day and increasing that to 7 after 2 weeks and then 10 etc.)

      Deconditioning due to inactivity is a real thing – I used to be able to walk 2 miles + a day before my Fibro/CFS hit and now I’m lucky if I can do 0.5 mile every third day.

      However as a chronic pain sufferer I know that that extra trip across the road to the shop once a week is enough to send me to bed and not within my remit and so far non of the above has helped for me. If this helps for you great and please don’t take my lack of success as too much of a deterrent – I don’t personally think of it as a way *out* of chronic pain but as a reconditioning regime once things are under control.

      Worth noting: The 2011 PACE study on GET and how wonderful it is for *everyone* who suffers chronic fatigue and pain is rather deeply flawed and at best only worked out 40% participant improvement/recovery rates which becomes even more suspect when their criteria for joining the study were pretty much the same as “recovery” criteria. (Plenty of articles out there so I won’t post links here)

    2. Artemesia

      I don’t have issues as serious as yours but I have arthritis and am well, just old, and I have to adapt exercises. My hip was so sore all last year, I was fearing potential hip replacement in the not too distant future. When I stopped using the step in step aerobics, my hip got about 85% better and is now a minor annoyance and stiff, but not significantly painful. I had to adapt pushups because I can’t bear that kind of weight on my wrists without making arthritis worse — so I am lifting weights while suppine, while others in my exercise class are doing push ups. I find I can do a recumbent bike machine when some of the others don’t work for me.

      I’d see a physical therapists and see if she can work up a program that provides exercise while protecting your joints. Swimming might be a thought, but you need some expert guidance.

    3. dancer

      My mum has lupus and she swears by yoga. She says stretching is the only thing that gets her out of bed in the morning. She also tries to go for a walk every day for cardio and says that also helps.

  39. Alistair

    I remember a number of you like the Preston & Child Pendergast books (Elizabeth West, I believe you’re one?). They’re one of the few authors I will actually buy hardback for. Well, I was in our local bulk-supply warehouse store today, and saw they have a new book out, Crimson Shore! I bought it, but haven’t started it yet (too many others in the queue).

    I was mostly right, too: they had White Fire, then Blue Labyrinth. I had guessed their next book would be Red something. Crimson is close enough! I didn’t enjoy Blue Labyrinth very much, but White Fire was a great book, much like their early works. I hope the new one hews more to White than Blue.

  40. fposte

    And another interesting rabbit hole led me to this intriguing piece:

    http://www.houstonpress.com/arts/it-s-time-to-admit-the-whole-comments-section-thing-hasn-t-worked-out-7851548

    I want to find the University of Wisconsin-Madison study that “showed reading rude, attacking comments, even in tiny amounts, made readers more inclined to be negative about the whatever they had just read.”

    It makes me think of how I’m much likelier to be a courteous and even generous driver when somebody’s been that to me.

    1. Not So NewReader

      We tend to become similar to the people we hang out with. I remember my parents annoying me with that old saying, but wow, it is true. I have even read of people who examine every single relationship around them- does this person lift me up or pull me down?

      1. fposte

        It’s always a nice moment when you’re meeting a friend’s friends and you think how cool they all are, and you realize you must be like that too.

        1. Treena

          Yes! I have a ton of friends who have never met, and they all met at my wedding, and pretty much everyone commented on how wonderful all of them were. It was lovely to hear that.

    2. fposte

      And I’m really liking this writer in general. Here’s another interesting piece:
      http://www.houstonpress.com/arts/it-s-weird-how-people-correct-me-when-they-think-i-m-a-woman-7623225

      A quote from there about some interesting research: “It got me thinking about an article I read recently about video games. A recent study suggests that when low-skill male players are confronted with a female player of higher skill, the males are more likely to use sexist language and insults. High-skill male players were less likely to do so.”

    3. Dr. Doll

      I have made myself a policy that I do not comment (I need to strengthen that policy to “not reading comments”). It takes waaay too much of my writing time and no one ever got promoted for writing in comments sections! …also it makes me feel terrible.

      This blog is different, 99% of people here are here to help and I appreciate that.

    4. BrownN

      I think this is the article you’re looking for regarding the study:

      The “Nasty Effect:” Online Incivility and Risk Perceptions of Emerging Technologies†
      Ashley A. Anderson1,*, Dominique Brossard2, Dietram A. Scheufele3, Michael A. Xenos4 andPeter Ladwig5

      Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
      Volume 19, Issue 3, pages 373–387, April 2014

      1. fposte

        Oh, wow, I didn’t expect somebody to find it for me! Thanks so much–I bet I can get that online through the university.

        I think civility needs to be a topic in its own right more than it has been. I hope there’s more work coming in that area.

  41. Katie the Fed

    I’m really excited to host Thanksgiving this year! I did it once before, last year, but that was in my tiny condo with a tiny kitchen and I almost lost my damn mind. Now I have a house with TWO OVENS (thanks, previously homeowner) and two fridges! So ridiculous. It’ll make it much easier to host.

    So – any favorite recipes? Recommendations for timing things? Making ahead? I know I can look this all up but I prefer tips from real people.

    1. Wrench Turner

      I’m going to spatchcock and grill a small turkey or large chicken. Sweet soy sauce and sweet chili sauce make a great glaze for roasting. Also making sides in a slow cooker is super helpful since the cooker is its own the serving dish but you also don’t have to mess with it once started.

    2. Athena C

      Make as much as you can the day before. Tarts, mashed potatoes, stuffing, casseroles. All of that can be reheated the day of, and you don’t feel like you’ve got a thousand things to still assemble, it’s all done and already been cleaned up. It will save your sanity.

      This year, it’s just mum and me, so I’m doing Cornish hens, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and a simple green salad. Oh, and these potato rolls I saw on Food Network and want to try.

    3. skyline

      I love Smitten Kitchen’s take on green bean casserole from scratch. Plus, you can prep most of it in advance.

    4. katamia

      I love Bobby Flay’s roasted Brussels sprouts with pancetta (link in reply), although I use prosciutto instead of pancetta.

    5. Sourire

      In Garten’s Cranberry conserve. I leave out the walnuts and make it a few days in advance. It has converted people who previously claimed to hate cranberries/cranberry sauce. It’s gotten to the point where I make a bunch of extra batches for people who request it that no longer come to my Thanksgiving but would like it for their own.

    6. Jubilance

      Two ovens and 2 fridges? OMG my husband would love that! Lucky you!

      I love super traditional Thanksgiving – turkey, dressing, candied yams, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and sweet potato pie for dessert. If you’d like the sweet potato recipe, let me know! It’s my auntie’s recipe and it’s the best pie I’ve ever had.

    7. Noah

      I only have one oven but I use my crockpot and toaster oven (which is largish) as extra cooking or warming spaces.

    8. danr

      If the ovens are convection ovens, the turkey will cook a lot faster than before. Plus with two ovens you don’t have to cook ahead of time, but you do have to prepare as much as possible ahead of time.
      Have fun and good eating.

    9. Sydney Bristow

      We are hosting this year too in our much larger apartment with a way nicer kitchen. 2 ovens is my dream though!

      The repeat favorite around here has been Nantucket Cranberry Pie. I think it is the Pioneer Woman recipe. It is so amazing with fresh whipped cream.

        1. Emily

          Oh, that looks delicious! I really like Smitten Kitchen’s take on cranberry pie, but this one looks good too.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Oooh thank you!

        Funny thing is I haven’t used the two ovens at the same time yet. And one of them is convection, which I’ve never used. I’ve been using the second one for storage – frankly I’d rather have the storage space!

    10. Natalie

      If you decide to brine your turkey, pick up the Ziplock XL storage bags – they’re huge, flat bottomed, and food safe. Turkey in the bag, pour brine in, and put the whole mess in the fridge.

    11. Lore

      I’ve found this squash dish to be a really nice side because it’s done on the stovetop so it won’t conflict with casseroles and potatoes and such in the oven. http://www.thekitchn.com/a-side-dish-recipe-for-roast-chicken-balsamic-butternut-saut-with-parmigiano-shards-pick-a-side-from-tara-mataraza-desmond-195791

      There’s also a squash gratin with breadcrumbs and cheddar that is from the NY Times some years ago and I have to relocate the recipe every time.

    12. Artemesia

      As much as possible ahead. Brine the turkey. And our favorite veggie is lightly steamed flourettes of brocoli that are then tossed in a mix of dijon mustard and olive oil — everyone loves it, it is easy.

  42. Arjay

    Any ideas for Thanksgiving-type cold or room-temperature appetizers that I can make ahead of time? I’ll have to bring them to work with me to go straight to the party after work. I can refrigerate them, but reheating prior to or at the party might not be possible.

    1. katamia

      It’s not really traditionally Thanksgiving-ish, but hummus is pretty versatile and also very easy to make.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I love all things dip-related, so I vote for fancy crackers and some interesting dips. Last year for a party I made pimento cheese and a mushroom “chopped liver” with hard-boiled eggs and walnuts (ugh, it was so good). You could also do hummus, which is super easy and keeps well. The other advantage of dips and crackers is portability– you can put everything in individual containers and just go.

      If you’re feeling particularly fancy, quickly steam some asparagus, let cool, then wrap each stalk in proscuitto.

    3. Sourire

      If you wanted to do a somewhat fancier version of cheese and crackers, I’ve really enjoyed cranberries and apples with brie and that seems fairly festive/thanksgiving-y.

    4. AnotherFed

      Deviled eggs are great for that, and they don’t break the bank if you’re trying to make enough for a large group to all get some. I’m not sure how traditional they are, but we almost always have a couple varieties (some spicy, some sweeter, some with bits of ham, some with cheese, etc.) at our Thanksgivings.

  43. A Teacher

    I know I’ve mentioned on here before that I foster dogs for rescue. This weekend was awesome because I adopted out my 68th foster to an amazing home. My 69th Foster comes this Sunday. He is a beagle Australian Shepherd mix and was going to be euthanized because animal control is full and in that part of the state they honestly just euthanize after a few days. So he’s coming here and will find him a good home. I guess that was the best of the week.

    1. Katie the Fed

      Aww! Good for you! I wish I could rescue but my sweet rescue pittie doesn’t play nice with others.

  44. Chorizo

    On Wednesday, my BF texted me a picture of a Shih Tzu dog that had been surrendered to the animal shelter where he grew up. This poor dog was severely matted and looked miserable. We decided to sponsor a grooming session for him. They had to shave him and bathe him 3 times to get rid of the flea infestation. The poor little thing had to be sedated to be groomed.
    Hopefully the little guy finds his forever home soon!

  45. Tara R.

    So I went in for counselling on Thursday. My previous experiences have been less than stellar. My counsellor when I was 12 essentially repeated “Your dad is horrible and you should move out” ad nauseum until I stopped seeing him (in retrospect he may have been right, but it wasn’t helpful) and the one I saw a few times last year was very religious (not a problem) which factored heavily into her interaction with me (definitely a problem). So I didn’t have high hopes.

    And then this 5’4″, 20something woman with short brightly dyed hair, facial piercings, and tattoos steps out and I just immediately felt so much more at ease. I felt like I could trust her. And of course it’s ridiculous to decide whether or not you can trust someone based on their personal appearance, and I wouldn’t have written off someone older and more conservatively presented, but it was nice to feel like she was immediately on my team. To make matters better, she actually LISTENED to what I said, and was reassuring and honest and validating and didn’t try to dictate my experiences to me at all. And she just seemed to *get it* right away, and didn’t push on anything that I didn’t want to be pushed on (which is a good part of counselling, I understand, but I’m not crazy about it in the first 20 minute meeting).

    The only downside is that scheduling with her is tricky. But I’m really excited about this and I feel like maybe I can start to actually heal a bit.

    (Dad is using again and going into treatment for the 3rd time soon. I’m visiting home for the weekend and I’m dreading our visit tomorrow. Trying to come up for some deflections when he starts trampling all over boundaries, and trying to figure out how much I’m willing to listen to him vent/complain about his life.)

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      I’m really glad that you have found someone to be on Team You. All the best for the ongoing situation with your dad, that must be really difficult to handle.

    2. Dynamic Beige

      My counsellor when I was 12 essentially repeated “Your dad is horrible and you should move out” ad nauseum until I stopped seeing him

      What? Where did he expect a 12 year old to go? It’s not like you had your own personal apartment, fully furnished and paid for the next decade, standing by just waiting for you.

      FWIW, when I was a teen, I considered leaving my one parent and going to live with the other… but I knew somewhere that she would never let that happen, she would see it as the biggest betrayal in the history of humanity and it would completely damage our relationship (such as it was) forever. So I stayed and decided going to college was a better way to escape. A friend of my parent, her daughter was having a rough time at school, how I don’t know. I was astonished when she let her daughter go live with her father, it completely blew my mind. It wasn’t the first inkling I had had that my mother wasn’t “normal” but it did teach me something about selflessness and parenting.

      I’m glad that you have found someone who you feel comfortable with and excited by the possibilities of getting the help you need to navigate this situation. I hope that this person turns out to be someone who is able to provide you the help and insight you need!

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict

        God, no kidding. That’s pretty terrible advice for a 12-year-old–even in the case if the kid’s parents were divorced and living separately, it’s an awfully big decision for a kid to make and I don’t know if all custody agreements would even OK it.

        Anyway, Tara, you are in your first semester from school and away from home, right? Take it easy on yourself and I’m glad you’ve found someone you feel like you connect with. Scheduling can be a big giant pain, but it’s great that you feel so positively about someone. I’ve been through a lot of similar stuff, so contact me if you want someone else far removed to talk to about it. Good luck!

    3. Not So NewReader

      This is so hard, you are in the parent role and he is in the child role. ugh, ugh. I remember one day I had had it with my father. He called up and said he got a ticket. Okay. He had been in an accident. hmmm. And I asked, “how many beers did you have?” One. My husband was a former insurance adjuster he said you always have to ask one what? can? 6 pack? keg? One WHAT. I skipped that part and I went directly to, “Well, Dad, it looks like you should not be driving even after one beer.” He did not have vehicle because it was towed to a shop. I said, “Well, Dad, I am sure you will work something out on that.” I wrapped up the conversation, hung up and cried for hours. Me, the person with two cars in my driveway, I did not offer one of the cars. It was so fn hard. I wanted to bail him out, but he was at the bottom of this dark hole and no matter how hard I tried I could not reach him. We both had the same blood in our veins but we were so disconnected. How ironic.

      We have to keep trying until we satisfy something inside us and that something is knowing that we gave it our all. We each have a unique definition of where our boundaries are and what we consider to be over the line or the last straw. Confusingly, boundaries shift as the years roll by. That is okay, needs change so the boundaries should flex to meet the current needs. So, yeah, with all those variables, no one can tell you where your boundaries should be.

      Later in life I had another person who had the habit of repeating her life stories over and over. I suggested journaling- write the stories out long hand. When ever she launched into one of her stories, I referred back to the journaling idea. “Oh, I remember that story. That story is a great example of something to write in your journal.” I am not sure if she ever did it or not- but it gave me something to point to every time she started in on her sad stuff. Maybe this journaling idea would give you an idea for something that would fit in your setting.
      Or maybe not.
      I will say, after my parents that most things in life have been comparatively MUCH, MUCH easier.

    4. Sunflower

      I’m so happy you found a counselor you like! I’ve seen therapists I didn’t like in the past and recently started seeing 2 therapists. One I knew right away that I wasn’t into but the other I’ve felt a great connection with. I’ve only seen her a handful of times but I feel great about her so far and it’s an amazing feeling! Good luck.

  46. SL #2

    I’m on a tech-buying spree, apparently, because my new Kindle Paperwhite arrived on Friday! I travel a lot for work, so this is going to come in handy. I spent a good chunk of time tonight converting PDFs and ePub files into more Kindle-friendly file formats, but it’s going to be worth it when I’m done.

    At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

    1. Noah

      Oh, I love my Paperwhite. The battery lasts weeks, it is amazing. People always ask why I have both that and a tablet and the battery life and weight of the Paperwhite are perfect when all you want/need is an e-reader. I also have Kindle Unlimited, which gets you a ton of books for $9.99 per month. You can have up to 10 checked out at once. I read a lot, and combining Kindle Unlimited with the local library’s ebooks is great.

      I’ve debated getting a case for my Paperwhite, but I’ve had it a year now and there’s been no damage without a case. I don’t throw it around or anything, but it does go in a messenger bag nearly everyday and travel along with my iPad and assorted other crap.

      1. Artemesia

        If you ever want to get a case, Oberon makes absolutely lovely leather cases for Kindles and Nooks. Mine is just beautiful and just seeing it puts a smile on my face.

      2. SL #2

        I don’t plan on getting Unlimited but that’s just because my local library has ebooks and tbh not a lot of people are making use of it. But maybe if I discover that the library’s selection is too limited, I’ll give it a shot.

        I haven’t gotten a case either! I won’t travel with it unless I’m going out of town (I drive to work, so I don’t even have time to read it on a bus or train), so I don’t think it’s necessary if it’s gonna be at home 80% of the time.

    2. danr

      Be sure to get some regular books for reading. The Pixel of Ink site has daily recommendations of free and inexpensive Kindle books. They cover a bit of everything. Link below.

      1. SL #2

        Oh, excellent! I was perusing the free section on the Kindle store but nothing really caught my eye. Thank you!

  47. Talvi

    Anyone have suggestions for eyeglasses to fit smaller faces? (Brands that carry small sizes, for example, or if you happen to know of any good stores in the Vancouver area?)

    I’ve been looking for new frames since May. My current ones are about 5 years old, and I would like a change. But I can’t seem to find eyeglasses to fit my face, or at least, none that I like the look of (the only ones I’ve found to fit thus far have very thin silver or gold frames, and those disappear into my face. I’m looking for something a little bolder.)

    I’ve been going into every single glasses store I’ve come across lately, and it’s getting to the point where I am frustrated almost to tears by my inability to find anything I like even a little bit. My problem is the size of most frames – they’re too big for me. (I’m looking for a lens width of about 47-49mm and a bridge width of about 16-17mm (with adjustable nose pads) or 12-15mm (no nose pads). Most glasses seem to fall into the 50-52mm lens width and 18-20mm bridge width range, which just feels like they’re going to fall right off my face!)

    1. hermit crab

      What about trying frames that are meant for kids? That seems to be the size range you’re describing. Obviously there are some kids’ styles that will look ridiculous on an adult, but I’ve also seen a lot that are just smaller versions of standard frames.

      1. Talvi

        I have tried some kids frames, actually. Then I seem to run into the problem where the arms are too short (about 125mm, when I’d need about 135-140mm)…

        I just can’t win!

        1. Charlotte Lucas

          My reading glasses are kid-sized frames. Try somewhere that caters to families – they’ll have more options for sizes, and the sizes for middle-school aged kids might be what you need.

    2. CollegeAdmin

      I have the same struggle of trying to find small glasses. I’ve had luck with a few brands like Vogue, Seventeen, and currently Ralph by Ralph Lauren. I shop at LensCrafters or Sears Optical, but I’m in the US and don’t know if either of those are in Canada.

    3. schnapps

      I used to always hit Tru-Valu Optical (800 block of Broadway). Reasonable prices and a good selection. There’s also Image Optometry in the 700 block but I’ve never been to them.

      I don’t wear glasses since my laser surgery, but I took a look at Tru-Valu’s website and the optician there is the same one who was there 7 years ago and she was very good.

    4. cuppa

      I had my heart set on aviators, and I had to try a ton to find some that didn’t make me look like a basset hound, since I have a small head, too. I finally found mine at Fossil. Some brands specifically make glasses for smaller heads; if you Google it, you should be able to find some.

    5. Sarah

      You can search by size on Clearly Contacts which is Vancouver based but online only I think, that might help narrow it down to some brands and then you can call brick and mortar stores in your area?

    6. dancer

      I think I’m a similar size and I’ve also had a lot of trouble finding frames. My last frames were the Kate Spade Janene and I currently have the Sperry Ellis Sanibel. Both were pretty affordable. The Sanibel is a hair wide on the bridge for me, but it works out because if they were right where they’re supposed to be, my eyelashes are super pressed into the lenses. Links to follow.

  48. PostPartum

    Moms,
    How do you tell if you have postpartum depression?

    My husband thinks I do but I am not sure. I do feel overwhelmed but that seemed normal considering that we have a new born. I love our little girl like crazy but I am also not sure I love “motherhood”. It is never where I saw myself and feels a little like I was dropped into someone else’s life.

    So how do you know what’s normal and what needs treatment?

    1. Christy

      I would talk to your doctor. When I was wondering if I had anxiety, I started seeing a therapist. Turns out I was right. I don’t think you wonder about being depressed/anxious if you aren’t, and I think even wondering could benefit from a counselor.

    2. Mean Something

      Just coming here to say that new-parent feelings of being overwhelmed and dropped into someone else’s life, coexisting with feelings of overwhelming love for your new little daughter, are common. There is still something of a taboo around expressing ambivalence about motherhood, and it can be scary for spouses, family, friends to hear–but it’s still within the range of normal. I was totally in love with my baby (now 16, still totally in love with her) but also amazed by how thoroughly her arrival destroyed the previous version of my life!

      If your doctor has been in practice for any length of time with newborns, she will have heard it all. Don’t be afraid to talk about it. You could talk to either the OB or the pediatrician.

      Support and companionship are important–other new parents to talk to, friends or family to hold the baby while you take a shower or a nap. I hope you have a lot of that. Sending you hugs!

    3. Katie the Fed

      People who know you well often see these things before we do, so I’d take this seriously. I noticed when a friend was going through it – her idiot husband was completely unaware. I had to make a very awkward call to her mom who lived close and ask her to check up on her.

    4. J.B.

      Talk to your doctor please! Even before you do, sleep. I know that may sound impossible but rearranging the baby care (husband would keep kid downstairs, do a bottle then bring her to me the next time she woke up) to get me one stretch of sleep as close as possible to 5 hours was huge! Even if you’re breastfeeding-one bottle won’t kill it and you are worth care too. I’ve been there, and it’s tough. Best wishes.

    5. AthenaC

      Just wanted to add that I did not naturally connect with any of my of my three children. I did not have any warm fuzzies when they handed me the baby, or when I nursed them, or held them, or anything. Taking care of them when they cried was a deliberate effort of the will every time; it was something I did simply because I knew I was “supposed” to. That first 4 – 6 weeks is simply hell no matter how you slice it. It just seems to take about that long to get used to having a (or another) baby.

      Now, the lovey-dovey, warm fuzzies started to develop (but only started) around 6 weeks or so and were firmly intact around 4 months. But getting to that point where I wasn’t lying when I said “I love my children” was a continual choice I made for their first few months of life.

      No idea if that’s “normal” or not, but if that’s you, don’t feel bad because you’re not the only one!

      Fast forward to today, and my kids are 12, 9, and 2-1/2, and I do love all of them very much and I am much more comfortable in my role as “mom.”

      1. Katie the Fed

        Thanks for such an honest comment!

        I know I want kids, but I’ve never been into babies at all. I really want a kid from ages 3-11, then I want to ship them to boarding school in siberia. I’m not sure if I’m fit for motherhood.

      2. Thinking out loud

        +1 to this. One of the best things someone (another mom with older children) said to me before my son was born was, “I know everyone says it was love at first sight, but it wasn’t for me. But I have come to love them very much.” I agree that if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it couldn’t hurt to talk to a doctor. I also found mom’s groups to be very helpful – I joined one at my local hospital, and it was great to talk to other women with kids the same age as mine. My son is almost three, and those moms are still my friends.

  49. SandrineSmiles (France)

    Hi everyone.

    Yeah, being French isn’t quite easy today. I’m not far from Paris and could have been in the area when the stuff happened: my Dad lives about half a mile away from some of the events and I have many friends in the city. Dad was at work that night, and yesterday he was stupid enough to actually go out and come to Mom’s place, and hasn’t gone home yet (half because he spends time with my little sister, half because we have no idea whether there is a curfew or not) .

    Also, I’ve gone back to Mom’s with the cats. The fiancé and I are on a break because I did things that need figuring out, and we need time away from one another so I can work on fixing myself.

    Hard, hard week…

    1. fposte

      Thanks for checking in, Sandrine. Sounds like it was a challenging enough time already even before Friday. Our thoughts are with you.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Oh, my heart aches for you and your situation. I thought you were kind of close to all that horribleness. I am glad you are okay considering all that was/is going on and I hope things improve for you very soon. I am glad you have your family around you. Warm thoughts heading your way.
      Thank you for the update and keep us posted on how you are doing. I am not sure what we can do as a random group of people here on AAM, but if you know of something, please be sure to share.

      1. SandrineSmiles (France)

        I have an American friend tell me I was welcome to his place anytime. Well, truth be told, I’d love to go there but… plane ticket. What an escape it would be…

        Thanks for the warm thoughts! Seeing you people care is a lot already. And given my situation it’s not like I can go around with a hat and beg so I can escape, so I’ll just read the kind words and shut up ^^

        <3

      1. SandrineSmiles (France)

        Yeah… We spent the evening “counting” and looking for info. I had to listen to my friends as they were looking everything up since my phone’s internet barely allows me to do anything (thank Goodness AAM is a “light” site I can load!) .

        Ouch.
        Ouch.

    3. nep

      Thanks for letting us know — was wondering about you.
      Du courage.
      I’ll be interested in hearing more from you in the coming weeks about impact on daily life, interactions, regional elections, life in general…

    4. Jean

      Thanks for the update. I’m glad you’re safe and, as TheLazyB said below, “so sad for those who are not.”
      France is in the thoughts of people all over the world this weekend.
      I hope that someday all people will figure out how to coexist peacefully.

    5. Carrie in Scotland

      Good to hear from you Sandrine. I hope by taking a little time for yourselves you and your partner can make your way back to each other. I hope all your friends and your dad are ok.

    6. Elizabeth West

      Thank you for checking in, Sandrine. We’ve been worried about you. I’m glad you and your family are safe. *hug* I’m sorry for all you and your country are going through right now, and I hope everything works out for you personally.

    7. Windchime

      I’m so glad you and your family are OK, Sandrine. We have all been thinking about you. My heart breaks for you and your country right now.

      1. SandrineSmiles (France)

        Thank you. Everyone is in panic mode due to what’s happened and what’s also likely to happen. Oh well. So many people think we’re at war.

        I did think we were in one, just not THAT kind of war. Ugh.

    8. SandrineSmiles (France)

      To anyone still reading here, you can also follow me @ SandrineSmiles on Twitter. I post a LOT in French, but chitchat is welcome there. If you read the blog, don’t hesitate to chat there too.

      I’m so, so glad AAM is such a good community. You are all awesome, no matter how heated it can get sometimes. Thank you. Thank you.

  50. Chillin' like a Louisvillian

    I will be moving to Louisville, KY very soon, so I’m already looking for ways to meet people and get to know the area. I’ve found a fair amount of things like book clubs, rec league sports, and meetup groups, but I haven’t found anything that really set me on fire.

    What do you suggest that’s low pressure, low commitment, and/or low cost?

    What I’d really love is a recreational choir– I’ve Googled “choirs Louisville” but everything that comes up is SUPER SRS COMPETITIVE SINGING (complete with a complex audition process and major time commitment if you make it in) and/or church choirs. I’m just an OK singer, I don’t want a huge time/travel commitment, and I DEFINITELY don’t want to sing religious songs, I just want to sing recreationally with a bunch of other people once in a while. Does something like this even exist? How would I find it?

    1. Stephanie

      Is there an ensemble at the university? My alma mater opened up its nonmajor orchestra to community members

      If you’re into running, running groups are a low-pressure, cheaper way to meet people.

    2. Imperatrice

      I am in a community choir (auditioned, had to be able to read music and match pitches but a good mix of experience and not at all hyper-competitive, rehearse once weekly) and found them from Google searching “name of town + choir”. You could try searching “chorus” as well – it might pull up some less-intense options.

      I also think checking with colleges and universities is a great idea – even if you can’t join their ensembles, they may have ideas of groups in the area that would fit your needs.

      I was in the same boat as you – moved to a new town, wanted to socialize and do something in the evenings. Being in a choir has been great for that. Good luck!

  51. Carrie in Scotland

    UK TV that y’all should look out for if they appear online somewhere:

    London Spy (spy, MI8, romance between a genius and a man who works dead end jobs)
    River (sort of crime drama with Stellan Skarsgaard – it’s hard to quantify but I find it excellent)
    Unforgotten (cold case crime drama)

  52. Jcsgo

    Has anyone read “Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives”? Thoughts? What type are you? Any rebels?

  53. Mimmy

    This site is reallllllllly hogging up my CPU today – probably the flash from the ads? I know Alison posted instructions on how to disable Flash, but what if I’m on a site that also uses it and I actually need it?

    1. Anonymous Educator

      You don’t need to disable Flash altogether. You can set it to play only on demand. As an example, in Chrome, go to Settings > Advanced Settings > Privacy > Content Settings > Plugins. Then select Let me choose when to run plugin content.

    2. CoffeeLover

      You could also get ad-block. I used to be against it because it would block all ads and therefore, all revenue for sites that I enjoyed. They’ve updated ad-block recently so it only blocks really annoying ads (I think you can still choose to block all ads if you want). It takes a couple of minutes to install and is the best thing ever.

      1. CoffeeLover

        I will add that my ad-block blocked 34 ads on this page. Unusually high number for a page like this.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Huh. There are actually only six ad spots on the page; it’s not possible for there to be more. So it must be calculating differently based on something about the ad code for those six spots.

    3. BRR

      I’ve been finding occasionally the site has been really slow recently. Like can’t keep up with my typing slow. This has happened on two lenovos, both using chrome but in incognito so possibly the ads caused it. I can’t remember if it happened outside of incognito with ad blocker. On my Mac at home in chrome with ad blocker it’s been fine.

      1. fposte

        I don’t know what ad it was the other day, but it almost blew up my poor little laptop–I’ve never heard the fan hit that pitch before.

    4. Lionness

      I actually noticed the same thing the last few days. All of a sudden it was just dragging everything down.

  54. Imperatrice

    I live in an apartment building that allows no dogs. There are signs everywhere stating that no dogs are allowed on the premises at any time. This was a mark in its favor when I moved in here – I love dogs but I don’t love living in apartments where others allow their dogs to yap all day and leave surprises all over the lawn.

    Well…as I sit in my dining room, I can heat a dog yapping down the hall. And I know which apartment it is. Its a college-age guy who moved in last month. The noise is incredibly aggravating (I can hear it from 100 feet down the hall, with both our doors closed) and it is startling my cat as well.

    Do I rat him out? Or mind my own business (though it is irritating to both me and my cat and thus sort of my business)? Should I do the passive-aggressive “Leave a note on the door” thing, letting him know that we all can hear it, and hope he takes the hint?

    1. nep

      I think that somehow intervening to make this stop would fall within the bounds of ‘minding your own business’; it’s loud and the noise is aggravating — and the no-dog rule was important to you.
      An anonymous note to the landlord / management company? (I reckon there’s no leasing office or manager on site — or someone ‘in charge’ would be hearing the dog?)

    2. CoffeeLover

      How long has the yapping been going on? If he just got the dog, then it will take a week or so for the dog to adjust (could be true for an old dog moving to a new place as well). If it’s only been a few days, you could wait to see if it gets better. I personally think no-pet (or no-dog) rules are stupid for pets that don’t bother anyone else, but I guess it’s easier to have a blanket rule than just allowing responsible pet owners with well-behaved pets. Anyway, I do think it’s well within your rights to report (this coming from someone who has a cat in a strictly no-pet building). The kind thing would be to leave a note first and give him a chance to handle the situation, so he isn’t caught off guard with an inspection and subsequent eviction.

      1. Imperatrice

        The yapping has been going on for at least two days.

        Respectfully, I disagree about the blanket bans on pets – and I think cats are a different issue as they tend to be quieter and their litter leaving are your problem, not others, if you choose not to deal with it. I don’t have a yappy dog because I don’t want one to give me a headache, and I would like for others’ dogs to not give me a headache either.

        FWIW, I have administrated residential buildings before, and these kinds of blanket rules usually have to do with the property insurance. Some won’t insure buildings with dogs. Cats are usually less of a problem. (I have a great story about having to remove a hermit crab from a boarding school dorm that I administrated…)

        I definitely think you are right that leaving a note is kinder – I don’t necessarily want him to get in trouble, I just want the barking to cease, for my sake and for the poor dog’s. He can’t be happy.

    3. Noah

      I’m probably an ass, but I would rat him out. If the dog was quiet and he picked up I wouldn’t, but now that’s its bugging you I would go to management.

      I have a dog and I cannot stand barking. Very thankful my dog is quiet.

      1. Imperatrice

        Yeah that’s kind of where I stand – if you want to break the rules, that’s fine, but once it starts affecting me we have a problem.

    4. BRR

      I would first leave a note to give him some time to find a home for the dog. I left a note for a neighbor but did it as a “just so you know your dog is barking when you’re not home. I wanted to let you know so you could make sure everything is ok.” Then I left a second note that was more firm about the barking and giving an FYI it was again hoa policy. You might try a note a note that says “your dogs barking is really noticeable, I wanted to let you know so management doesn’t find out.” Something that is more concern because it will be received better. In my head the less notice he has the more likely the dog will end up in a bad place. I’d also probably take some video just to have in case.

      That is of course what I would do. I think you’re well within your right to go straight to eat him out. He’s the one breaking the rules. But again I worry about the dog.

    5. Menacia

      It would bother me that the guy had a dog in the first place, regardless of the barking. There are rules for a reason, and I’m sure management would not be happy about the situation. People need to stop taking advantage and not thinking about how their actions affect others. I call BS, and I’d call the management company.

    6. Lionness

      The property manager may already know. It could be a service dog or a companion animal (both of which are often excluded from pet bans)

      1. Treena

        I haven’t met too many service animals, but aren’t they usually trained to be very quiet unless needed?

        1. Lionness

          Usually, but it really depends on the service animal. In addition, companion animals are often not as disciplined but many states also exempt them from pet bans (as they are not pets).

          1. Imperatrice

            If you could hear this dog, you would doubt that it could be a service animal. Constant high pitched neurotic yapping, all day. I suspect the resident wasn’t home either, with the level of noise – and you would think a service dog would be with him.

    7. Treena

      This happened to me once, I came home from work one day to see a dog in our front yard, and it ran behind our house where our neighbor (same landlord, no dogs allowed) is. It turned out his friend was house-sitting and brought his dog along and didn’t realize there were major holes in the fence. I mentioned it to neighbor a few weeks later and said something like I was really worried about visiting dogs getting out, it wasn’t a good idea to have them over, etc. Months later, I noticed one of my patio chairs missing and found it later in the bushes blocking one of the holes in the fence. No idea if it was a friend or neighbor who did it, but I was pretty straightforward about that not being ok to neighbor and it never happened again. That said, it wasn’t worth all that effort and if given a second chance, I would rat him out right away. Like you, I saw that clause in the lease as a major perk and I don’t want to hear/see dogs around.

      1. Imperatrice

        Thanks for validating my desire to live in a pet free building – I love animals, and I love dogs (my parents have a big love of a lab and I consider him to be my surrogate puppers) but I don’t want to deal with others’ potentially misbehaving/noisy dogs in my own abode.

  55. Luna

    So I’ve finally found a reputable course to get me certified so I can make a hobby a job!

    First of all, hurray! This is a Good Thing!

    Secondly, the tutor is someone who I had as a lecturer about fifteen years ago when I was at university and we really butted heads over certain aspects of my work. Nothing major but I’m wondering if she might remember me negatively. I’m still going to do the course but my husband was like ‘oh I remember her, she made you cry’. This could be interesting! I have till April to steel myself and hope she’s forgotten me!

  56. olympiasepiriot

    I saw a very exciting hockey game today. Not NHL playoff, but my kid was goalie (bantams) and they went to a shoot out after a 7-7 game where it was almost always tied. Mine blocked 2 shots, his teammates got 2 in. He’s been having a rough few days (13 y.o. space cadet hormone syndrome) and I almost burst into tears at that!

    I’m pathetic.

    1. Mean Something

      I’m glad it was an exciting game with a great outcome for your kid! It’s good to enjoy the thrill of victory once in a while (knowing that the agony of defeat comes to us all as well). <–dating myself with these phrases!

  57. CrazyCatLady

    I woke up with [what I think is] an awesome idea for a kids/early teens book and/or movie. I do not like children and have no idea how to relate to them but the concept is so amazing and I can’t stop thinking about it. What do I do?!

    1. nep

      Start writing. Get it down on paper (or into the computer) while it’s fresh in your mind and the excitement is there. You never know. Even if you end up doing nothing with it, good to record it when fresh. I have found over the years that I really miss some nuance and magic when I don’t get something down straightaway.

  58. sprinkles!

    Non-traditional and cheap wedding venue ideas? I’m getting married next year and will be having a fairly small wedding (less than 100 people). I would like to hold the ceremony and reception at the same place. We are on a tight budget (just having bought our first house), so we are only having cake and light refreshments.

    Also, any thoughts on where to find a reasonable wedding dress? I was planning hitting the $99 sale at David’s Bridal but would love to have other options.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I’m guessing you can’t change the wedding date, but the best thing my spouse and I did to save money was to have our wedding in the winter instead of the spring or summer.

    2. BRR

      I got married on a sat afternoon in a restaurant that’s usually closed for lunch on the weekends. It was 39 per person plus the cost of alcohol then a mandatory 20% tip and 7% tax. Very easy, great food, and it was non traditional which I wanted. We did have to look around for a cheaper restaurant though.

      For your situation see if there is a venue at a public government location like a park (mine has a boat house but sadly it was being renovated) or check historical societies, art councils, and libraries.

      1. danr

        Are there restaurants near you that you go to now? If you are known to them, you may be able to work something out.

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict

      Single biggest thing you can do to reduce wedding venue cost is get married on a not-Saturday sometime not in the summer. You can get venues for a third to half the price by getting married on a Friday, Sunday, or other slow day, especially in the off-season. Added bonus: other vendors will usually be cheaper as well.

      Restaurants can be a good choice for cheaper venues, but not all of them will be OK with only light refreshments. Other good choices can be sites administered by your local municipality (or wherever you’re getting married), like parks and recreation centres, but be alert that you may incur charges here for renting tables, chairs, and other things you might need.

      Check out A Practical Wedding and their associated book. It’s the best and most thorough guide out there for holding an inexpensive wedding that is what you want, but isn’t going to break the bank.

      For inexpensive wedding dresses, think online rather than bridal stores. BHLDN has some cute dresses in the under-$500, but I can’t vouch for their quality. Also start thinking about “cute white dresses” rather than “bridal gowns,” and the cost will go way down. Usually Modcloth, J. Crew, Nordstrom/department stores will have cute short dresses that you can dress up with fancy accessories (try Etsy for these).

    4. nep

      The nicest, most charming and heart-warming wedding ceremony I’ve ever attended was in a park smack in the centre of downtown. (Feasibility of that depends on your date.) After the ceremony, a three-piece band surfaced and started playing some great music, and we all danced around the park and across the street to the restaurant where the reception was held. It was a fantastic, feel-good event.

      1. nep

        (This was the first thing that came to mind — but I’m realising I’ve got no idea whatsoever what that would cost.)

    5. Sydney Bristow

      Do you know anyone with a backyard large enough that you can use? We had ours at my parents’ house this past summer with about 70 guests. Their yard isn’t huge but the measurements worked out with the tables in a specific configuration.

    6. Jubilance

      Check out the Broke-Ass Bride blog – they specialize in finding cheap options for every component of your wedding. They also do a feature where they find cheap dupes of high-end wedding gowns.

      Cheap venue ideas:
      Church hall
      American Legion/Knights of Columbus hall
      Public park – generally you just need a permit
      Restaurants – a lot of restaurants will let you rent out the space without a rental fee, you just pay for the food & drinks

      Good luck! I got married this year and we tried to keep our expenses as low as possible.

    7. Not So NewReader

      Wedding gown: You may have a consignment shop near you, check google for consigned bridal wear.
      OR. I borrowed a gown from a family member. Since I did not want to lug this gown through life along with all the other stuff I have, this was a good idea. I tried it on first. She paid to have it dry cleaned before I wore it. After the wedding I paid to have it dry cleaned and boxed then I gave it back to her. My gown cost me a whopping $50.

      If you are going pretty informal, maybe the both of you could just get nice suits that you would wear on other occasions.

    8. Elizabeth

      We had our reception at the headquarters of the historical society in our town…a pretty Victorian house. We had a caterer and had finger foods and champagne and cake. We had a piano player, ( no dancing…I don’t like to dance and my father had died when I was 15 and I didn’t want to go through the whole father daughter dance thing.) it was perfect, everyone loved it and said how different it was. We left on our honeymoon around four or five o’clock and everyone went to a relative’s house for an after party. Not expensive at all and very nice!

      1. sprinkles!

        Are you me? :) Because this sounds absolutely perfect for our situation. My father died a few years ago and I hate the idea of “being given away” anyway. We’ve also decided not to have any attendants because we want to keep it really simple and also because we love our friends too much to put them through the crap that comes with being in the wedding party. ;)

        1. Treena

          I didn’t want to be given away either, didn’t want to walk down the aisle, no attendants, etc. We had our wedding in a garden under an arch, and it was in front of a little shed, so we were hanging out near the shed and walked to the arch from behind, essentially appearing out of nowhere. We exited down the aisle, and that was the perfect amount of display we wanted.

    9. Noah

      My sister found a local park that had a building for the reception, basically a large hall with a small kitchen and restrooms, nothing fancy. The actual ceremony was outside, near a lake at the same park. The rental fee for 6 hours was only $150. They had folding tables and chairs, so no rental fees for that. My brother is a chef, so he helped out with catering. My mom made the cake.

      The only downside I remember with the venue was the family ended up staying after to clean everything up so we could get the deposit back. Not a huge deal, but there will be work involved if you want to save money.

      Another option that some friends have used in various spaces at the university we attended. You have to get catering through them, but the venue costs were very low and there are some beautiful places on campus.

    10. Sunshine Brite

      I think parks are the best bet, especially if there’s predictable weather. We rented a park building because unpredictable weather which was good since it rained.

      I actually went with 2 dresses because I found deals and couldn’t decide between them. For under $400 including alterations and cleaning I got a long dress with a train on Craigslist and a tea length one from a college friend off Facebook.

      1. Charlotte Lucas

        Parks and other public buildings. Our library just got a complete renovation, and I think they now do events on the top floor. Museums are another option. It really depends upon where you live, though. The one caveat is that city buildings often don’t allow alcohol on premises.

        This summer I went to a wedding that was held in a small art gallery on a Sunday morning. (Denver arts district.) It was lovely, and I’m sure not too expensive. (Second marriage for the bride, and both are teachers.) I think it was a great way for a local gallery to make some extra money, too. (There was also a discount for the guests if they bought any artwork within a month of the wedding.)

  59. FiveWheels

    Throwing this out here… I have an immediate family member who suffered from oxygen deprivation at birth. He is now in his forties and almost certainly not capable of living alone, eg he holds down a job but is unable or unwilling to get out of bed when he needs to. Prone to temper tantrums. Not able to manage finances long term.

    At some point in the future I might find myself as his primary caregiver. Does anyone know any resources /websites /forums that deal with this kind of situation? Google mainly brings up lawyers or government services, neither useful as he has no formal diagnosis and will likely never get one.

    Thanks in advance guys!

    1. danr

      Don’t assume that no formal diagnosis is possible. Given what you know, talk to your doctor and find out how to get a full medical and psychological work up. Once you know what medical and psychological conditions there are, you will know what kinds of assistance are available.

      1. FiveWheels

        Knowing him, there is no way he would willingly go for a diagnosis and he is not so consistently impaired that one could be forced without his consent. In calmer, after-the-storm moments, we have even tried to discuss some kind of therapy or counselling – he took it as an insult and refused to even consider it.

        That sort of issue is why at this stage I’d like to find resources and forums for people in similar situations, who have possibly dealt with relatives in a similar position.

      1. FiveWheels

        I doubt he would qualify based on the level of his impairment. Even if he could, he would never in a million years apply – he has refused to even look at various wage and housing assistance programs because, essentially, he thinks they’re beneath him.

    2. Beth

      I recommend talking to your doctor and a lawyer. I’m in a similar situation and although I haven’t dealt with setting up a trust etc yet ultimately I’m going to have to have a lawyer deal with it so I can control the money so that I can control her/keep her safe and make provisions for if I die first. My doctor was helpful for understanding what steps I can take if there is an emergency, and in reassuring me about medical/public services options.

      1. FiveWheels

        I am a lawyer ;-) Though this is not my area of specialty. The issue with setting up a trust is that he is impaired enough that he almost certainly couldn’t live alone, but not so impaired that he could be forced into having his affairs managed by others. There’s also a lack of money which doesn’t help!

        This may sound very callous but I really do not want to be the one responsible for him anyway. The relationship between us broke down a few years ago and I don’t want to be involved… While also not wanting to see him end up unemployed and homeless. I understand these two desires may be in conflict.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I totally get what you are saying. Please take this thought in the context of my attempt at a helpful thought: If you do not want to help him then don’t. Logically speaking, if there is friction between the two of you, then he will probably not let you be effective in helping him. Oh, you may do little things here and there but mostly you’ll end up frustrated.

          Sometimes people have to have their own learning experiences and it’s a slow, painful process to those of us watching it.

          Sometimes people have to hit rock bottom before they will accept help. It might be hard to conceive , but perhaps he has not hit rock bottom yet.

          And yet other times, people will allow total strangers to help them and never allow those they know well to help out.

          Just because you are a lawyer does not mean you have to help him. That is a huge leap in logic. Proof: Look at the millions of people who NEVER call your office. You can’t help them.
          Just because you are family member does not mean you have to help him. He has clearly shown he does not want help. You know, yourself, that if a family member insisted on helping you, when you did not want help, you would be annoyed.

          My suggestion is to watch from a distance. Don’t slam the door shut and lock it. Keep the door ajar and wait. There are little things you can do such as sending the police to do a welfare check if need be. The bad part about this method is that it’s hard to watch and say nothing. The good part about this method is that IF the opportunity comes up where you can make a difference in someone’s life, you will have retained enough involvement so that you know when it is time for you to step in AND be effective. You could do this for months or for decades- no way to know- put yourself in a place that is sustainable for you in the long haul.

          1. Cristina in England

            That’s great advice. Also read AAM’s own regular commenter the Golddigger’s blog because she has been writing for months about people who refuse to help themselves, or anyone else for that matter (diaryofagolddigger dot blogspot dot com)

    3. Jean

      What about The Arc (www [dot] thearc [dot] org) ? The chapter in my area* offers speakers on a variety of topics for parents/guardians/caregivers. The organization was founded in 1953 by parents of children with intellectual disabilities. They’ve had several different names over time as their focus broadened from children to adults and as general acceptance of people with disabilities increased. (Sad but true: people who seem “different” for whatever reason have had to assert their rights to be seen as equal, full human beings.)

      You could also check out other sections of the special needs community–specifically, parents and others who care for or work with and on behalf of adults with autism, physical disabilities, and other circumstances that may require varying degrees of accommodation or assistance.

      One of the things I found most helpful was the sense that I had fellow travellers; that I am not alone in this business of learning many things at once while navigating the sometimes overwhelming special-needs landscape.

      Good wishes to you.

      (Personal summary: I joined this community about a decade ago when our son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome aka Asperger’s. The term no longer exists as per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. I continue to use it because it’s a quick, useful way to describe one particular neighborhood along the autism spectrum.)

      Two passages leaped out at me from The Arc’s web pages:
      (Alison, I hope I’m not overstepping the boundaries here by posting so much information!)
      * The first two paragraphs on their “Who We Are” page:
      “The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. We encompass all ages and more than 100 different diagnoses including autism, Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and various other developmental disabilities.
      . . .
      “With nearly 700 state and local chapters nationwide, The Arc is on the front lines to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families have the support and services they need to be fully engaged in their communities. The Arc works with its federation of state and local chapters to create an impressive network of human service agencies ensuring they have the strongest civil rights advocates promoting and protecting their needs at all levels.”
      https://www.thearc.org/who-we-are

      and

      * “We strongly believe the only ‘r-word’ that should be used when referring to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is “Respect.” http://www.thearc.org/who-we-are/history/name-change

      *suburban Maryland aka metro Washington, DC

      1. FiveWheels

        Thanks, I will check it out! I have looked at autism and related organisations before, but it’s very hard to find information that is useful about an adult in denial that he has any special needs.

    4. Jean

      I had a long, thoughtful reply that has twice vanished when I hit “submit.” Sigh.
      Fortunately I was able to capture it by clicking back to the previous page with the (very full!) Comment window (and then copy-pasting it into a new message and emailing it to myself).

      Hopefully it will come through later this evening; if not, I’ll try to re-post at the end of the thread early tomorrow morning. Long story short:
      1) I recommended an organization called The Arc. Their web site is www (dot) thearc (dot) org.
      2) I said that it’s helpful to meet other people facing similar challenges. This can give you moral support, new ideas about problem-solving, and information about other community and/or online resources.

      Right after Submitting, I wanted to post a P.S. with a second idea, but that thought disappeared thanks to my annoyance about the first post going into … cyberspace? the ether? an electronic black hole?

      1. Jean

        Of course my first reply appeared right after I posted my second one! :-P
        (Should I change my name from Jean to She Who Cannot Post In Fewer Than One Thousand Words?)

      2. Carrie in Scotland

        @ Jean – links are moderated so it goes through Alison first, so it causes a bit of a delay.

        1. Jean

          Carrie – thank you. I just realized that I was careful to reformat all of the links except for the two indicating the original sources. Note to self: More vigilance next time.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            For what it’s worth, I’d argue it’s better to leave the links as active links. Things get released from moderation pretty quickly, and active links are easier for people to use. It’s not going to be sitting for a full day or anything like that.

  60. AvonLady Barksdale

    I know it’s late in the weekend, but I’m about to hit my limit. Pretty sure I have bursitis in my hip– it hurts when I stand up, occasionally when I walk, and when I roll over on my side. I’ve tried resting but the kind of rest this might require is kind of impossible right now. Has anyone dealt with this? Do you have any exercises to recommend? I should probably book a massage. Or see a doctor. GAH.

    1. fposte

      That could be all manner of things, and most of them are quite likely to calm down, even though right now it feels like it will never, ever stop. So, yeah, see a doctor, and a massage isn’t a bad idea either. In the meantime, rest, ice where you can reach, NSAIDs if you can take them.

        1. fposte

          Yeah, that’s a tough one to beat. The spine doctor said “Surgery will not make you eighteen again.” (Considering the cost, it should have.)

    2. Jillociraptor

      Oof, sorry to hear that! My mom has bursitis in her hip and she has had some local steroid injections and myofascial release therapy, both of which have helped, if temporarily. A pillow between or under your legs might help too? Hope you’re on the mend soon!

    3. Adara

      I have bursitis in both of my hips and it’s no fun. I find stretching the IT bands and the inner thighs to be helpful in addition to stretching the front part of the hips/upper thighs. Kneel on one knee (the same knee as the hurt hip) and gently drive the hip forward and hold for 30 sec. Repeat 2-3 times/day. I found physical therapy to be marginally helpful, but YMMV. Ice and heat helped, but I can be tricky to reach that area. For me, the pain was deep in the joint.

      I run and continue to stay pretty active. I also work on my feet all day, so supportive shoes are a must if you’re in a similar situation. I do ache from time to time, but the stretches keep most of it at bay. And I do recommend a doctor to get a diagnosis. Good luck!

  61. EvilQueenRegina

    I’m really wondering what my family are thinking at the moment. Yesterday my aunt saw this sweatshirt with Bride to Be written on the front band was trying to hold it up against me and then today she was looking at this dress and said that if I was getting married that was what she would wear to the wedding. But I’m not engaged, not even close, and I can’t understand why my family are even talking about it!

    I do have a horrible feeling that they’re thinking of Robin. And let’s face it, that isn’t going to happen. Even though the horrible Will Scarlet seems to be off the scene now (all I know is they never re-added each other on Facebook after Will’s old profile got banned due to him posting nude photos, don’t ask) if I married him I’d probably be left waiting at the altar for him to get to the next level of some daft video game. Ultimately, I don’t understand how people can prioritise video games over interacting with other people, I never did anyway but since losing people in sudden unexpected circumstances I have always put talking to people before things like that. Am I setting my standards too high, is prioritising people over that stuff really so strange?

    1. fposte

      People are harder than videogames. For some people, this is like saying “Why are you eating ice cream when you could be chopping veggies to make a stir-fry?”, and their answer is basically “Why would I chop veggies and cook something when I have ice cream?”

      1. Jean

        >“Why would I chop veggies and cook something when I have ice cream?”

        fposte, this would make a wonderful T-shirt slogan.

    2. olympiasepiriot

      No, you aren’t setting the standard too high. Better to know that in advance. If you were an devoted gamer, too, you might like it better. I assume you’re not from your post, so, accept that about yourself. And don’t get involved with others with totally incompatible priorities.

    3. Amandine

      “Am I setting my standards too high, is prioritising people over that stuff really so strange?”

      I don’t think it’s a matter of standards, just of difference. You are free to prioritise that stuff, and seek out relationships with people who have similar priorities if that is what will work best for you. Other people will have different priorities – and that’s OK. They aren’t worse than you (or better), just different. Making it into a referendum on people’s “standards” is not a good idea.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I have heard of people getting divorced because one person prioritized video games over living an adult life. Someone pointed out, “I don’t need another child to take care of.”
      Some people prioritize drugs, alcohol, work, motorcycles or whatever. It’s a way to escape. Of course, it causes a downward spiral because time spent on the “hobby” could have been time learning life skills and how life works. Not developing these parts of ourselves leads us to more of whatever the “hobby” is- because we start to actually need the escape more and more. Life does not get easier, it gets more complex. We are supposed to have learning experiences and the next learning experience expands on the previous experiences. In short, if you wait until you are 50 to learn how to have relationships with other people it is going to be waaaay too hard to learn this. Escaping leads to more escaping for some people.

      Speaking of escaping. Your family seems to be living vicariously through you and your imaginary wedding. You have choices here. You can stand back and be silently amused at their dreamworld stuff. Or you can jar them into reality by saying, “If there is ever going to be a wedding I will tell you. If you don’t hear me say that then there is no wedding. Please have enough respect for me that you do not impose what you want on me and my life.”

      You may be a practical minded person, surrounded by dreamers and escapers. That’s hard to live with.

    5. Graciosa

      I basically agree with you, but I will caution you about viewing this too simplistically.

      I happen to be a very strong introvert in a job that requires that I talk to people all day. Sometimes I need to recharge.

      It doesn’t mean I don’t love my family – it means I am out of energy. There are times when I just don’t have anything left to give – and yes, for me, interacting with other people requires me to give energy. Immersing myself in a book – or yes, even a computer game – can help me recover enough to get back out there.

      Regardless of the cause, this is still a legitimate form of incompatibility in a relationship. When one person wants to hide away for a few hours while the other wants some face time, it is going to be a problem.

      It is absolutely fair to decide this is not something you want to live with, but I chimed in to request some compassion in assessing other people’s motives. I am absolutely prepared to believe that you are right about Robin and he is just obsessed with video games – but someday you may meet another person who exhibits some of the same behavior for entirely different reasons.

      It is unfortunately not unusual for introverted behavior to be attributed to a lack of caring rather than a lack of energy.

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