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.

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

{ 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.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        I actually did skip all of the Theon torture scenes. Agreed – they didn’t really add anything.

    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.