weekend free-for-all – November 7-8, 2015

Olive and Eve in basketThis 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:  Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, by Allie Brosh. If you don’t already know Allie’s awesome blog, you should. The book is filled with more of the same — brilliant narratives about her childhood, her depression, her dogs, and more, all illustrated with the funniest drawings you’ve ever seen.

{ 846 comments… read them below }

      1. Terra

        Ideally if he is guilty the case will show that, he’ll be convicted again, and serve his full prison sentence without the possibility of innocence hanging over his head. Also, the case is fishy enough that I’m glad there’s going to be a trial to better scrutinize some of the weirder things because either he’s innocent and there’s a killer out there, Jay was way more in on it and should also be in prison, or he is guilty but someone in the prosecution or defense screwed up pretty badly and got lucky that it didn’t end worse.

      2. Dang

        I think he did too. It’s strange to me how that podcast was such a roller coaster.. .I really didn’t WANT to believe he did it.

      3. Can't Think Of A More Clever Anon Name Today

        I think the opposite. I really don’t think he did it. I think Jay knows who did and was afraid and now it’s so far gone that he is also afraid to tell the truth. The timeline and other things just make it seem so unlikely that it was POSSIBLE for Adnan to do it. The state messed up and just wanted a fall guy and focused on the easy target.

        1. Andraste

          Jay to me came off as so untrustworthy. The interviews he did after the fact just cemented that in my head. I am not willing to say Jay did it, but I definitely think he is shady and his word doesn’t count for much.

          As for Adnan, I really don’t have an opinion on whether or not he did it. I do think there wasn’t enough evidence to convict, though.

          1. Sara

            I totally agree. I’m really split as to whether Adnan did it or not, but between Jay’s bizarre changing stories and the (now) obviously useless cell tower “evidence,” I’d most likely vote not guilty if I were a juror.

          2. K.

            Right. I tend to lean toward his innocence but at the very least, there’s reasonable doubt all over the place.

          3. Sunflower

            I’m on the same page as you. I’m really not sure whether or not he did it- it seems like he did because there are way too many things he can’t explain but there also seems to be no motive.

            To me, this seemed like an easy case for a juror. It seemed really clear that there was not enough evidence to convict- esp when I found out that the cell phone records told us basically nothing.

          4. mander

            I agree! I don’t have a strong opinion about whether he is guilty or not, and that makes me question the validity of the whole case against him. If I was a juror and had the information laid out in Serial I would not have voted to convict him because it’s just not plausible that it happened the way the prosecution said.

            And Jay is just so weirdly fishy that I pretty much discount his testimony altogether.

      4. The IT Manager

        Why do you think he did it?

        Honestly I don’t think there has been any credible evidence against him. Jay is not credible.

        I have been listening to Undisclosed and I’m convinced Adnan was framed by the detectives that either truly believed he did just because he was the ex-boyfriend (although why not at least investigate the current older bf) or even worse that figured he’d be a good fall guy for them to close the case.

    1. Cristina in England

      I read a theory that Adnan and Jay did not do it, but they knew who did: a drug dealer or someone else they were afraid of, and so Adnan was threatened into taking the fall because there was so little evidence for it that it was unlikely he’d go to jail. I am pretty sure that was on Slate.com but I can’t find the article right now.

      1. The IT Manager

        But Adnan didn’t take the fall – he didn’t confess, and he fought the case hiring a seemingly bulldog of a lawyer.

        1. StudentA

          I never thought about that. That actually makes sense, Cristina in Englad.

          The IT Manager, he did take the fall. Perhaps he hired the bulldog lawyer in hopes that Defense would find the holes in the story on its own, as opposed to Adnan and Jay actually ratting someone out.

    2. littlemoose

      I’m glad the case is getting another look. The cell tower records were some of the little objective evidence the State had supporting its narrative and timeline, so this question about their reliability is certainly material. The investigations done by the Serial staff and some of the others who have worked on his case have turned up other factual inconsistencies, e.g., no pay phone at the Best Buy. Jay’s knowledge of the location of Hae Min Lee’s car certainly suggests he had some involvement in the crime (although I’ve also seen wilder speculation that the police provided him that information). Even before I read the additional articles adducing some of the facts I just mentioned, I still believe the case against Syed was legally insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty, and that he should have been acquitted. I’m still torn on the question of his actual guilt.

      Um… I think I need a hobby, guys.

    3. schnapps

      My opinion is that there’s enough to evidence to show a very badly mishandled case, on all parts (his defence attorney, the police, and the prosecutor) and that he deserves another full trial. The judge has only opened the post-conviction relief hearings to hear Asia’s testimony and review some other testimony regarding whether the fax cover sheet from AT&T was relevant. Whether this results in another trial is another question entirely.

      This is all explained on Split the Moon (Rabia Choudry’s blog).

    4. Anonathon

      Very glad they’re re-opening the case because it sounded like a complete mess. Even taking out all the post-Serial evidence, the prosecutors’ presentation of the crime was so ludicrous that I can’t believe the jury even followed it. (I had to listen to that “Route Talk” episode several times to get the idea.) Now, I think he probably did do it, just not in the way that they presented. So yes, I think he’s guilty or at the very least complicit. But no, I don’t think he should have been convicted.

  1. Dr. Doll

    Oh , so glad I am getting in (very) early today because I really need advice! Is the following a scam or is it legitimate?

    My parent died about 4 years ago and we children took care of all the life insurance, etc., that we knew about. I recently received a letter from a company saying that they had been retained by a life insurance company to try to find heirs or beneficiaries because there might be existing assets. The letter asks if I’m an heir or if I know someone who might be. If I say I am an heir, and give contact information, someone will then contact me to get documentation that I am who I say I am. After I prove that I am a real heir, the insurance company can talk to me about the assets. The letter says that if there are assets, the retained company gets a cut; if any assets are not claimed in time, they go to the state. If I do not respond, they will not contact me again.

    The letter LOOKS legitimate to me — it’s very clear and straightforward, has perfect spelling and grammar, has real addresses, etc., and the return envelope had pre-paid postage. My brother thinks it’s a scam, but my husband and I both thought it is real. Does anyone actually know about this?

    1. fposte

      Hmm. Did it name the decedent? Have you googled contact info for the firm? (Prepaid postage actually makes me more suspicious rather than less, though.)

      It seems like a plausible business model–bounty-hunting abandoned assets for a cut. But that doesn’t mean it’s real.

      1. Dr. Doll

        Yes, it did name my parent. The unclaimed asset company is real, as is the asset holding company. So, I’m thinking that this is, as you say, a bounty hunting model. It’s not unreasonable, if a person didn’t know to search for unclaimed assets (which I obviously didn’t).

    2. danr

      It’s a scam. Use the state’s Unclaimed property site to see if your parent had assets that were transferred there. Usually the executor of the estate would be the one to claim any assets for the estate. Plus, you won’t be paying anyone for the service. It’s probably a good idea to check the site once a year for awhile.

      1. MLT

        This! These folks will put your claim in for you for a fee. Do a little leg work and put the claim in yourself. The fact that you got the letter, suggests there is money to claim because these companies access public records to get their mailing lists.

    3. it happens

      It could be legit, or not. It could just be a company scraping state abandoned assets sites. Every state has rules about unclaimed property – like bank accounts and insurance policies. You can check these sites for any states that your parents may have lived in/worked in for yourself. I’d try that first. Even if you find a name on the site linked to assets, don’t get too excited, it could just be $5 and they don’t tell you the amounts until after you’ve proven your legal right to it – but, hey, free money!

    4. The Cosmic Avenger

      Sounds like, at best, one of those “we’ll apply for you” scams where they charge you to do something that you can do for free through your local or state government. Check (both) your parents’ names for unclaimed funds in the state(s) in which they lived (including earlier residences, as they might have lived in NY when they died, but if they lived in NJ in the 80s when they took out the policy, NJ might be the state that is holding the unclaimed funds.

      Link will be posted in a reply to this comment, but you just need to make sure you start at the legit association site, missing money dot com. (Yes, it’s a dot-com, but it does link to and search the state treasury sites.)

    5. Artemesia

      What I would do is contact the states where your parents might have had any dealings. These are public records and you can get information about funds from banks and other sources that revert to the state if not claimed. States have web sites where you can access this information. There are middle men who try to mediate this and perhaps that is what you have here and of course there are scammers — certainly don’t provide any funds for ‘fees’ involved in this (if legit they would deduct the fees) — but you probably don’t have to pay someone to obtain these funds if they exist.

    6. Graciosa

      The insurance company (if it exists) has an obligation to attempt to locate beneficiaries *without* charging them extra fees. This is definitely a scam.

      Also, any insurance company would have required beneficiaries (even if it’s the estate) to be named at the time the insurance was purchased. They do occasionally run into problems when the beneficiary has moved a number of times, which would trigger the state law provisions regarding unclaimed property. But the fundamental point is that the insurance company would know if you (or an estate) were a beneficiary – they would not need to ask you.

      This type of scam works because everyone who gets this type of notice without realizing it’s a scam is hoping it will be true. It is unfortunately common for people to get these kinds of solicitation after a death in the family – the scammers use public death notices and announcements to identify vulnerable targets.

      I don’t want to discourage you from checking legitimate avenues for recovering any unclaimed property (it’s actually a good practice to check at least every few years anyway) but you don’t need to give up part of anything that might be out there to a scammer who sent you a mail merge form letter.

      I am sorry this happened to you, and sorry for your loss.

    7. Not So NewReader

      FWIW, a friend of mine, who is a lawyer, had a similar thing happen to her. Her family is taking the letter seriously and investigating what might be there. Like you are saying the “finders” get a percentage for locating the beneficiaries. My friend’s story spans several generations, though. The deceased person is a great or great-great ancestor.
      Just rounding up all the beneficiaries is quite the project. Evidently, there are companies that have just sprung up in this line of work- they locate people who have inheritances and do not realize. I can’t vouch for the legitimacy of any of the companies- but I think going forward with caution is the best course.

      I do know from a more personal experience that life insurance companies will NOT tell you how much money is involved UNTIL they know they have the correct beneficiary. I am not clear if that is because of regs or because of company procedures. This murkies the waters because you do not even know how much or what kind of inheritance is coming. It detracts from their credibility- but apparently they cannot tell you a monetary amount until later on. So you don’t even know what you are dealing with. My guess would be they have done the math and their cut of the inheritance makes it worthwhile to them.

      Please check with the BBB or perhaps the Attorney General’s office. Barest minimum you should not be giving them any money for any reason. They are telling you that their payment is a percentage of the inheritance- so there should be no need for you to give them any money.

      As an aside- my lawyer friend laughs/jokes because she feels that there is not much money in the inheritance and it will be divided 13 different ways. Her punchline is she will receive a check for $2.53.

      I am advocating to go forward in investigating this because even after their finder’s fee, it’s still Found Money. It’s like finding a $20 bill in your winter coat when you pull the coat out of the closet for the first time this winter- that is Found Money, too.

      Let us know how it goes for you.

      1. Dr. Doll

        Thank you, NSNR, this detailed response is very kind of you! And yes, if there is money, $2.53 sounds about right, chuckle.

    8. Dr. Doll

      Also it’s not about money for me. I’m simply feeling anxious that I might have been less than perfectly competent and responsible while wrapping up my parent’s affairs!

  2. i guess anon for this

    Having a hard time understanding family obligations. My dad is apparently really suffering right now (mental health) and I’m being told to call him and cheer him up by my sister and my mom. He hasn’t called me for anything for probably 2-3 years. We have a totally neutral relationship. He doesn’t ask me how I’m doing or what’s new. He is totally indifferent to my life. We still see each other probably once a month, and it’s not uncomfortable, just totally blank.

    I don’t really feel angry about this anymore, but I don’t feel compelled to call or visit to cheer him up. We don’t have that sort of relationship. I’m being told by my sister that this makes me unsupportive and uncaring. Maybe so? Is the burden of maintaining a relationship on the child? I have a lot of empathy for mental health problems, and it does actually pain me to hear that he’s not doing well, but I really don’t have anything to say to him.

    I don’t know — thoughts? Anyone have a similar family dynamic?

    1. nep

      I’ve got no experience with this or any special insights — Just passing on what comes to mind…The pressure from mom and sister does not seem right at all, and it seems you should contact him only if you become inclined to do so. But if you do decide to — what about just seeing him as an acquaintance or friend you know is having a tough time? In other words, not worrying about a father / child dynamic and how things ‘should’ be in such a relationship (in which there would be certain things you ‘should’ say). Perhaps seeing it as reaching out to simply someone you know — and just letting a conversation go as it will. Something unexpected and positive might come from it for him, you, or both.
      All the best and keep us posted.

      1. i guess anon for this

        Thank you — it’s such simple but great advice to treat this situation as I would with any acquaintance. Even that feels awkward given our lack of personal contact, but if I do get in touch, that will very much be in the back of my mind.

    2. Knitting Cat Lady

      If you don’t want to call your dad, don’t call him.

      It’s as simple as that. Just because you share DNA you’re not obligated to maintain contact.

      And as we all know, simple things are the most tricky.

      1. i guess anon for this

        Thanks for the reassurance :-)

        I suppose the thing that trips me up here is that he’s been ill for my whole life and upbringing. He’s been a bad father in a lot of ways because he had no dad, grew up in rough circumstances and has done a shoddy job until now examining his problems. I somehow feel totally lost re: reconciling my lack of a desire to go out of my way to maintain a relationship and seriously feeling bad for him, and I guess I do kind of resent having to feel so bad for someone who failed me in many ways.

        I was raised to be really compassionate and I think I have a hard time figuring out the hierarchy of compassion and avoiding personal discomfort, if that makes sense. I actually don’t feel great about super self preservation and military-like boundaries stuff that I see sometimes in conversations about severing ties with parents who were, in any way, less than perfect (not that I think that’s what you’re saying at all). That doesn’t really resonate with me. But I also don’t think just because you share DNA with other humans, you are bound to do anything and everything for them against your own best interested. Confused :-/

        1. Knitting Cat Lady

          Maintain the level of contact you are comfortable with.

          My grandma goes on and on about wanting to see me. There’s about 600 km between us.

          She expects me to come and visit and refuses to come see me. Traveling is not the problem. She’s been on holiday all over Europe five times this year already. I only visit for the Christmas holidays.

          I don’t call her either. Because she never does.

          1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

            Yes, this. I have family who are usually perfectly happy not to be in contact so we’re just… never in contact. If the message was that your dad wants more contact but doesn’t know how that might be different, but if he’s perfectly fine with things as they are (as it sounds like) then you have no need to feel any guilt or pressure. It can take a long time to learn that, but if you say it often enough I promise it does come – and you will probably have a better relationship then too*.

            *As in you will both be completely comfortable with having a little contact and be able to relax a little more. Just being comfortable can be hugely healing in a relationship.

          2. Ezri

            I never call my paternal grandmother, and she’ll never call me. I’m past caring – she insists on being treated as the family matriarch, expects everyone to do what she says, criticizes everyone’s life choices (except her *favorite* of my uncles and his family), and gives out lavish gifts so she can guilt trip people later. No thanks.

            I do call my maternal grandmother. She still sends me birthday cards each year, calls at least once every couple of months, and asks about my life. She’s, y’know, nice to me.

            You aren’t obligated to call your family members, and you certainly aren’t obligated to call them equally. Do what is comfortable for you.

        2. the gold digger

          He’s been a bad father in a lot of ways because he had no dad, grew up in rough circumstances and has done a shoddy job until now examining his problems.

          At a certain point, people don’t get to blame their childhood. And just because you had it rough growing up does not give you license to not treat your own children well. Indeed, it should make you more resolved not to repeat the pattern. I understand that not everyone has the self awareness to change behavior, but that does not mean that the children of someone who was not a good parent gets to require that the kids suck it up.

          I was very lucky to have good parents – they were already good parents but took parenting classes because they wanted to do better – but am married to someone whose father was in a similar situation to yours. I have seen how awful my father in law is to his own children and I want to slap him and say, “You are 81 damn years old and, according to you, the Smartest Man In The Room. Grow the F up and be nice to people.”

          All this to say – you do not have to talk to your dad if you do not want to.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            Aside from what she said…

            It takes a lot to be able to say “nope” and mean it. You face your family who just don’t get it, other people and their opinions/condemnation. There’s a huge burden in society to “honour thy mother and father.” So I can understand if you do not want to hang out with your father. By the time I got to 16, I realised that my father was a stranger, he had spent so little time with me and the time he did spend near me, he wasn’t really interested in interacting with me. So, sorry Pops, but I’m not going to drop everything and run to you when you’re terminal. No point. Like you, there’s nothing he could have done or said that would have made up for all the times he disappointed me with his rampant neglect.

            Having said that, if you really can’t avoid it, or you do break under the pressure, is there something your father likes to do? Play checkers, gin rummy, go fishing. If there is something you could do with him that wouldn’t involve talking, you might be able to think of it like you’re doing volunteer work at a senior’s home with an elderly person. You bring him a magazine of his interest (sports cars, Cat Fancy, crossword puzzles), play some gin, and then you leave. You did it, you made the attempt to cheer him up, people get off your back. The problem would be if it works, because then you might have to do it again. If it doesn’t, you can say you won’t go on a fool’s errand again and it’s not your job to make your father happy, it’s his job to manage his own moods, energy and emotions — no one else’s.

    3. Myrin

      Uuuuuugh, this is me, minus the pressure from mum and sister, thankfully. We’ve been estranged for quite some time now and he and I actually never really got along (even before my parents’ divorce eight years ago) but it’s become super weird a few months ago. He’s always been indifferent to our lives but still at least tried to seem interested and engaged when we visited him. But both me and my sister realised independently that he’s become highly uninterested and obviously indifferent in the last half year or so. I went to visit him once in his new flat and was there for two to three hours and he kept talking about himself. He literally didn’t ask me one question, not even something generic-polite, like, “How’s uni?”. I told him about my new part-time job which I’m very excited about and he “hmm”-ed and started talking about himself again! Argh! I mean, we’ve always had a neutral and kind of superficious relationship but this is taking it to a whole new level and he and I haven’t actually spoken since then. BUT I totally imagine him sitting at home alone bemoaning how his cruel kids won’t call or visit him and look after him and whatnot. All of which is to say, I feel you (thankfully without any kind of pressure to change, though) and I totally wouldn’t contact him if I were you if you don’t want to. You’re not his personal cheer-on-puppet. If he wants help, he needs to talk to another adult who is not his child, preferably a professional. If your sister is so adamant about this, she should do the cheering herself, if you ask me. And regarding the “uncaring and unsupportive” – it might sound cruel, but this is totally how I feel about my father. Yes, I’ll admit it freely, I don’t really care about my father and I definitely don’t want to support him. Not in a specifically malicious way, I am sorry in a general sense that he’s in a bad place but not more so than with any other random person who I hear is having a hard time. You don’t have to bend over backwards to cheer someone up when you don’t actually really have a relationship.

      Also, you might be interested in this very recent Captain Awkward thread, specifically a subthread started at 9:24 am (I weirdly can’t find out how to link to an individual comment there, sorry!). Commenter Serin – to whom I answered and talked a bit more about my own situation, btw – said some really powerful and true things (it was specifically about abuse which isn’t the case with me and doesn’t seem to be with you, either, but the bigger picture is absolutely relevant, I find) and other commenters added things that sound super applicable to both your and my situation. I hope you can find it as eye-opening and helpful as I did, especially regarding parent-child relationships and power dynamics in them in general!

      1. Myrin

        Ah holy wall of text – the first paragraph was supposed to be at least two! I hope it doesn’t lessen the ability to read too much! u__u

        1. i guess anon for this

          Ha, wall of text not a problem.

          Incidentally, your dad is basically my mom! The incessantly talking about themselves without a pause to ask you how you’re doing, which has either gotten worse or just more obvious as the kids have gotten older. I’m sorry you have a parent like that too. My dad is actually pretty much silent, preoccupied, or actively occupying himself with other things when around any of his children. I don’t think he knows how to talk to us about himself, our lives, the weather, anything really, and he hasn’t made much of an effort to figure it out.

          Either way, thank you for sharing and I will check out the Captain Awkward link. Also, thank you for the “go talk to a professional, not your children” bit — though that applies to my mom more than my dad, it is absolutely true and a helpful reminder if anyone starts to feel guilty or cold for not listening/counseling/comforting their parent.

      2. AdAgencyChick

        I think we should start a club. OP, I have nothing more to add to the excellent things that have already been said except more sympathy.

        1. i guess anon for this

          Thank you, and I’d be honored to be in your club, even it’s because we’re united by shittiness :-)

    4. The Cosmic Avenger

      Other people don’t get to define your relationship with your dad, and they don’t get to tell you what you can and can’t live with. Many people with difficult or fraught relationships with their parents get told “you’ll regret it later”, when the adult child knows from experience that the relationship is actually best maintained and kept alive by limiting contact and emotional exposure.

      tl;dr version: you do you. Everyone else should butt out, even family.

      1. Myrin

        And interestingly and not at all surprisingly, I’ve seen so many people who’ve been told they’d regret it later say “Well, parent is dead now and guess what? I don’t regret breaking off/limiting contact!”. But apparently that’s a concept some people don’t understand.

        1. Excel Millennial

          In general, that’s been my experience with things I’ve been told I’ll regret later. I invariably don’t. At least for me, when I make a decision, I take that “later” into account. So if it doesn’t pass the “later” test, I won’t even make that decision in the first place.

        2. Ezri

          I haven’t spoken to my mother in six years, and I probably never will again. I know someday she will die, and I’ll probably hear about it, but I won’t be sorry I stopped talking to her. Sometimes it’s better to have no parent than a toxic one.

    5. Terra

      I had a similar situation with my grandmother when she began developing Alzheimer’s. First, you’re not under any obligation to communicate with anyone you feel uncomfortable with. Period.

      However, you have to consider your relationship with your mom and sister. They shouldn’t be pushing you to do something you don’t want but resisting will probably cause negativity with them which may be something you want to avoid. It might help to flat out ask them why they think you should contact him and why it upsets them that you don’t want to. It won’t necessarily fix everything but it may make them realize they’re being unfair to you and/or reveal something that changes your mind.

      Also, some psychiatric/mental issues can show symptoms that go unrecognized for a long time. Depending on what your dad is suffering from and whether or not he’s receiving treatment now it may be that his past behavior was partially due to his illness and with treatment he feels bad about your relationship or something similar. This is also why I’d try talking to your mom and/or sister because it may be he’s asking about you but is concerned that you don’t want to speak to him? If that’s the case you can always choose to tell them “I’ll talk to him if he calls, here’s the number, I’m usually available at this time” and but the burden on him to decide if he wants to talk to you or not. I know sometimes you may not want to be the first to reach out if you feel hurt but if the other person is willing to do so you feel better about talking to them.

      1. i guess anon for this

        You are absolutely on to something in your last paragraph. I have no doubt that my dad’s inability to dad is related to his undiagnosed mental health issues (depression and, more prominent right now — anxiety) and has been for my whole life.

        Basically, background that I failed to include originally — my sister got in touch with my brother and I to let us know that our dad wasn’t doing so hot, and said that he asked for support. Because this seemed like such an uncharacteristic thing for him to say, we asked about one million follow up questions (did he really? (yes) he asked for all of us? (yes) he asked for all of us to rush to his assistance or call him tomorrow? (as opposed to what?)) She was highly offended by all of this and it wasn’t until the next day that she admit that no, she had actually suggested to him that we come over and he said something like, oh, that might be nice. And that he had never asked for any of us to come, period.

        I would feel very differently if this wanting support came from him directly. I asked my mom whether he asked for all (or any) of us to come, and she said that no, he didn’t.

        1. Tex

          For someone in the throes of mental issues, reaching out is probably going to be the last thing they can vocalize even though its quite clear to others (like your sister) that they need support.

          I’m going to go against most of the other commentators here and say reach out more often. It can be a superficial 5-10 minute phone conversation on the weeks you don’t see him in person – you don’t have to repair the relationship or even cheer him up, just check in.

          One vivid example that I was reading on Reddit about a young woman’s experience with being depressed in her early teens really resonated with me. She said her father would come in after work and just talk to her for an hour every day, ramble on about his day at work, other minor things about life; basically a running monologue as she was pretty unresponsive. She said she didn’t realize until years later how much that helped her maintain a connection outside her own self imposed world.

          On another note, you could also look at checking in on your dad not as a duty to him, but as alleviating some of the burden off your mother and sister.

          1. TL -

            I disagree. It’s not the OP’s job to help her father (but it is a father’s job to help his child, especially if she’s a teenager) and her father hasn’t put in any kind of effort into their relationship that makes the OP want to be supportive of him during this time. It’s not her job to manage or help with his illness – and, frankly, it sounds like he’s been ill for a long time, it’s negatively impacted his life, and he’s done very little to indicate (at least to the OP) that he’s interested in changing the situation. Helping him is not her responsibility. In the unlikely event that she could make a difference – and I truly doubt she could, given that he doesn’t seem to value their relationship – she has no obligation or incentive to.

              1. TL -

                Feeling like your parent doesn’t love you and/or care about you is an incredibly unpleasant experience. I do not fault the OP for avoiding a conversation that would most likely evoke a whole bunch of emotions related to the above.

        2. Terra

          Yeah, in this case I’d say your options are going to depend on your personal feelings toward your dad and how big a deal this is with your mother and sister.

          1) Call him which will pacify your mom and sister. It may lead to a relationship with your dad. If it goes terribly you can be very upfront that it did not go well and you have no interest in continuing to speak to him.

          2) Tell them that you will accept his call but aren’t going to call him. You can even say that you don’t want to “bother” him or aren’t sure he wants to talk to you if your mother or sister push. This may pacify them to some degree while putting the ball solely in your dad’s court but you’re pretty much stuck talking to him if he does call.

          3) Stick to your guns. Say you don’t want to call him and aren’t going to. This will probably upset your mom and sister though you can try to mitigate it by explaining why or by saying you don’t want to talk to him now. You can avoid talking to your dad for as long as you like.

          In your shoes I’d probably go with the middle of the road option for the sake of compromise and hopefully pacifying my sister and mother but that’s just my opinion. You may want to talk to your brother before you make a decision since sticking together might be easier if you decide to stick to your guns.

      2. matcha123

        I agree. I think that she should talk to him. I don’t get why that’s so hard?
        And I really think people here are cold. From what was written, it doesn’t look like she had an abusive relationship, just “neutral.” I guess I could understand if she wrote that her father was never in her life, beat her, constantly put her down, threw her out of the house and hasn’t talked to her in 20 years…

        I think that as kids, yes, we bear some responsibility in helping our aging parents. “Some responsibility” is more than “what I feel comfortable doing because wah, I don’t like it.” I know based on the answers here that most people are of the “leave the house at 18, cut off contact, if my mom dies in a cold field alone it’s not my problem because she’s her own person and I shouldn’t have to call her” mindset, but…unless he was an awful human being, is it so bad to call him up?

        1. i guess anon for this

          Hmm, yeah, I think it was an emotionally abusive relationship by lots of people’s standards. When I was 15 he disowned me and refused to talk to me for several months for not joining a certain kind of club, very negative and dismissive and cold.

          I get what you’re saying, but even totally disregarding the question of abuse, you might feel differently if you had a parent who has made literally no effort to know you for your whole life. He hasn’t called me to say hello, how are you doing, what’s up probably EVER in my life. He hasn’t called to say Happy Birthday in the 8 years since I moved out of my parents house. He didn’t call me when I had unexpected, life threatening, emergency surgery earlier this year. Not before I went in, not while I was in the hospital, not after I got out or while I was recovering.

          I mean, I don’t really care at this point, but why would I call to cheer him up? And is it really a child’s responsibility to try and make their parent have a relationship with them? I agree that I feel sort of uncomfortable with what you call the cold attitude towards family that we often here, but I don’t really think this is that.

            1. TL -

              I posted this accidentally above but feeling like your parent doesn’t love or care about you is a deeply unpleasant experience and I don’t blame the OP for avoiding anything that would strongly evoke that or related feelings.

            2. Blurgle

              Possibly your self-esteem, or even your equilibrium.

              Emotionally abusive parents are the worst, and it’s often both necessary and morally upright to distance yourself from them, up to including cutting them out of your life forever. Often the worst thing you can do is to be all “it’s family, he’s your father, what could it hurt?” in the face of prior abuse.

        2. Myrin

          Yeah, no. Sorry, but no. A relationship doesn’t have to be abusive to not be worth it. Obviously, I can only speak for myself but man. What i guess anon for this wrote in reply to you is much worse than my own father. In fact, my father wasn’t abusive at all, not even “just” emotionally. He’s just… indifferent. We’re very different people in general and obviously you can’t only hang out with people who are exactly like you but I don’t actually share a single thing with him, our outlooks on life are that different. What I mean is, if he were a stranger I met somewhere we wouldn’t have anything in common and I wouldn’t be interested in talking to him. In fact, I would actively not want that because of some very annoying and uncomfortable habits he has and a certain kind of attitude it shows. Add to that that he has been absolutely indifferent to anything “me” in the last several years and… well, why should I try to contact him? I’m serious. Just because he’s my father? Um, well, that’s just genetics (really, that’s what it is; he could as well just have been a sperm donator, that’s how involved I am with him).

          And I honestly don’t understand your last paragraph because that’s not what I’m seeing at all? To contrast, I have an absolutely great and wonderful relationship with my mum. I’d be devastated if anything happened to her. Incidentally, we live together, so there’s no need for me to call her, but if we lived apart, I’d probably call her every day. I absolutely wouldn’t expect her to call me first out of some weird principle but that is because I love her and I know she loves me and because we’re very close and mutually like each other and are interested in the other and want to hear about their day and so on. I already know that I’ll be her caretake when she’s old. I also know that I absolutely will not ever be my father’s caretaker when he’s old. Arrange something should he need it – maybe, depending on the years to come and the situation then. But he hasn’t taken care of me or my family when he should have, when we were just children and dependent on him.

          So yeah, maybe I’m cold, but I won’t be “the bigger person” in this. Why should I – and OP – take time and energy and maybe even money and resources out of my life to care for someone I literally don’t care about? Someone who could be a random stranger? I can’t think your answer to that being anything other than “Because he’s your father!” and, well. Let it just be said that both me and my sister generally say that we don’t have a father. Because he hasn’t behaved like a father basically all my life. And someone doesn’t have to be abusive or The Most Horrible Person On Earth for me to not care about them.

    6. fposte

      People have given you good advice on the dad front–short version, no obligation, up to you–but I’m thinking about your mother and, particularly, your sister and their response here. It’s fine for your sister to choose a different relationship with him, but not fine for her to berate you for not being her.

      It’s a much easier mental picture to deal with when everybody in the family is in agreement and everybody’s doing the noncontroversial thing, it’s true, but that doesn’t mean your relatives are entitled to that. I think there’s some Captain Awkward on this component as well, and I’d look there or just consider ways to reject the premise of the question: “Sister, I love you and Mom; I don’t think I become uncaring just by not doing what you want, though.”

      1. F.

        Going through a little of this myself with an emotionally abusive father who has dementia. I am the one who ended up with the depression and anxiety. I live a thousand miles away and have already made it clear that I will not be visiting or going to the eventual funeral. My brother and sister also lives far away from our parents and have almost no contact with me or each other. My brother suddenly took an interest in our parents and couple of years ago and now helps my mother manage their affairs.

        Enough background. I am dealing myself with guilt and no small amount of pressure from my mother because she is alone in taking care of him. I spent years in therapy learning how to set boundaries, and I am not going to violate them to go back into the unhealthy relationship.

        OP, please consider some short term therapy for yourself to explore your relationship with your father and the rest of your family. It can help you set boundaries with them that you can live with and articulate without guilt, especially since it seems some of them are trying to manipulate you into doing things you don’t necessarily feel are right for you.

        1. i guess anon for this

          Thank you, F., and I’m so sorry you’re going through that. Dementia terrifies and saddens the hell out of me, and I’m sorry that you’re being pressured to take on a caregiving role that is not healthy for you.

          I appreciate the therapy suggestion. I know I need to go, that I’ve needed to go for awhile, and jeez, talking about how my dad failed to address a lot of shitty deep seated issues and didn’t dad very well as a result is nothing if not a perfect reminder to do some self examination on my end.

    7. Curious

      As someone whose parents are quickly losing their health and who just had a loved one die, I recommend reaching out. You never know the good you might do.
      You never know when you could lose them.

      If the answer to the question of “if they died tomorrow, would I regret not contacting them?” is yes, then you need to do so.

      1. TL -

        Mmm. Family doesn’t always equal loved ones, though. I agree that if the OP feels like she’ll regret not talking to him, she should. But I also think that the OP doesn’t sound like she’ll regret it as things stand.

        1. Myrin

          Yeah, it seems like quite a few people can’t really believe that “I won’t regret not doing the thing” is a thing when it comes to BUT FAAAMILY. To which I can only answer with a repetition of what I already wrote above: If I found out today that my father died, I’d feel a general “That’s awful, I’m sorry to hear that!” feeling but nothing more. Nothing in my life would change other than some clusterfuck he’s left me with probably. (And it’s not that I “hate family” or something. My mum and sister are the most important people in the world to me and I’m close to the extended family on that side, too. I’d be absolutely devastated if something happened to any of these people, especially mum and sister. In fact, I also feel bad for thinking this thing about my father’s death, but it’s the truth.)

          1. Blurgle

            It’s actually really hurtful to read some of these comments, where people think you should just suck up and forget being abused because faaaaaaamily. So hurtful. So codependent. So wilfully ignorant of the very real lifetime pain abuse causes.

            Myself, I think abusive parents should expect to be abandoned by their kids. It’s the logical – and healthy – consequence of their actions.

            1. Anna

              It’s not codependent if the person is thinking of how they will feel in the long term. My husband doesn’t have the best relationship with his father, who was emotionally distant and a total jerk. But I know my husband and I know he’ll beat himself up when the time comes that his father passes away if he doesn’t have even a modicum of a relationship with him. So I’ve encouraged my husband to have that modicum of a relationship. That’s not codependency; that’s protecting my husband’s future mental well-being. Basically it comes down to if reaching out now means later you will not second-guess yourself or beat yourself up with guilt, you might be better off swallowing the hurt and controlling the relationship now. If that’s not the case and you feel good about where you are, then don’t do something that would cause you more pain now for a pay-off you won’t need later.

    8. CoffeeLover

      How would you feel if he died tomorrow (sorry for being dramatic)? If you would feel fine with your current level of contact, then continue as is. If you think you would feel guilt/regret/remorse/whatever, then contact him. It would be a few minutes out of your day. A few minutes of sacrifice and awkward conversation is better than a lifetime of regret. Of course, that only holds true of you actually think you’ll feel regret.

      1. CoffeeLover

        I’ll add as a completely personal point, I would probably contact him in your situation. It would be doing something nice for someone. If you had an abusive relationship that would be totally different, but from what you’ve said, it just sounds like your relationship is just distant.

        1. i guess anon for this

          Yeah, so I feel pretty comfortable saying that I wouldn’t regret it if I didn’t get in touch with him, which is maybe telling. If he were on his deathbed and I knew that and chose not to visit him, and he died, I know I would regret that. This is not that.

          And re: abusive, I guess it depends who you ask. Certainly some would say yes, others might say run of the mill inadequate, flawed parent.

    9. Perse's Mom

      If you have a neutral relationship, what makes your sister and mom think it will cheer him up to hear from you?

      If you see him once a month, you can always let him know during the next visit that if he needs something from you (if HE says it would be helpful to him), you’re open to seeing/contacting him more often (only if you actually are, obviously). Tell your busybody family members that you’ve left the ball in his court, and your relationship with him is not their concern.

      1. i guess anon for this

        Ha, yes, this is an excellent point. I have no idea whether getting in touch with him would affect him positively, negatively or not at all. I think it’s actually more that they want to drum up the “look at the people who care about you and hope you feel better” sort of support, which I understand.

    10. Graciosa

      I think you already have your answer (“I don’t feel compelled to call or visit to cheer him up”).

      On the family front, I would not get dragged into a call or visit if you’re not so inclined, but you might consider a card or brief note to your father (“Sorry to hear you’re not feeling well – hope you’re better soon”) as a token gesture that doesn’t require the same time / effort / interaction as a call or visit.

      Don’t misunderstand – I am completely in favor of your enforcing whatever boundaries you choose. I also dislike emotional blackmail (and this is particularly silly as it is not only not your *obligation* to “cheer him up,” but if he is really suffering with mental health issues, it is not within your *power*). I just wanted to give you another option to consider.

      Once you’ve decided what you’re comfortable doing (or not doing), don’t let yourself be talked out of it.

    11. Anon Worker

      Not a similar family dynamic but I have an understanding of mental health through work. Back when I did residential work it was always surprising to me how much effort family members were willing to put forth with someone so involved with themselves due to serious and persistent mental illness. The disease truly makes for some selfish behaviors, particularly due to lack of insight. I’ve known people who act super indifferent to their relatives when they see/talk to them then when asked about it later talk about how fun it was and I’m left wondering for who. I don’t think it’s a burden specifically on the child, but the mentally well. Sometimes in families the sick get the attention, energy, etc. no matter what the disability and the well’s needs aren’t met. He might appreciate a card with no return address if you don’t want him to have your address or something that takes less emotional energy from you, but you don’t have the burden to do that or call or caregive in any way. If you do something, it should be to maintain the relationship if that’s what you want, if it’s something you want to do, if it maintains the boundaries you’re comfortable. Your mother and sister are wrong for trying to dictate what those boundaries are.

    12. Not So NewReader

      OP, lots of really well-thought out advice here. Something will resonate with you. Read everything, and later as you go about your day you will realize certain sentences or thoughts echo in your head. Those that echo are probably the ones that are closest to fitting your situation and what you should do.

      Remember, always remember, it is not up to us to be responsible for someone else’s good cheer. If a person is not happy we cannot force them to be happy. Likewise with cheering up a person, we cannot cheer up a person who is not open to being cheered up. And this is the flaw in your sis’s thinking. There is no magic bullet, you will not go flying in there and save the day and cure all. It’s just not going to happen. If it was, your sis would have done it by now. This is why it is your call.

      When faced with decisions like this I do a little exercise that goes like this: Twenty, forty years from now, when I look back on this situation, can I live with myself? Do I feel I did my best? Did I leave any stones unturned*?

      *Stones unturned. Some people would call it “regrets”. I think of it a bit differently. I think of looking under each stone as considering all the angles. It sounds like you have done a lot of this already as you indicate you know about his upbringing and feel badly for the pain/loss he went through. That is a huge stone to have rolled back- good on you! Additionally, you sound pretty mellow, like you are in a balanced place in spite of it all. That is one more thing in your favor.

      I tend to view life as a series of learning experiences. There are times we can help people. And there are other times when we have to allow them to have their own learning experiences. One of the ways we sometimes know the difference is by how much we get hurt/injured in the process of helping out. Whatever you chose, do not give so much of yourself that you, yourself, become ill, injured, or financially/psychologically wounded. If any of these things happen then it’s time to take a step back and let others have their learning experiences.

    13. LeRainDrop

      Similar, though not the same. I don’t think you need to call your dad often if you don’t want to, but a large part of the purpose is to relieve some pressure off your mom and your sister. If you have good feelings for them, then consider calling your dad as helpful to them, not for your dad. My dad is definitely struggling, and I end up being the child shouldering the largest weight in keeping him connected to the family. When we’re on the phone, he rarely asks anything about me or my life, but just goes on and on about miscellaneous things that I think are mostly trivial. I ask my brothers to call dad once every week or two so that I don’t have to be the only one listening to dad’s ramblings and so that I don’t have to keep fielding my dad’s questions about my brothers, why don’t they call him, whether they call me more than they call him, etc.

  3. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

    So, I am having a bit of a first world problem and I was hoping for some advice.

    I am supposed to be getting married next year and I’ve started looking at dresses. I made the decision some months ago to quit shaving – it was winter & we were poor. I decided to carry it on partly because I liked it, partly after becoming outraged over some studies looking at how hirsuit women are treated and partly because we’re even more poor now.

    Anyhows, I’ve been made to feel very uncomfortable about not shaving for my wedding. I’ve seen a dress I like but it would make it very obvious; the other option is to look for long sleeved, full length dresses, but I’m not sure they’d work too well. I’m definitely open to full length & short sleeve and probably would shave armpits for that.

    The thing is I am torn. On the one hand I want to buy the best dress for me. On the other I don’t want to feel self conscious on my wedding day. But I don’t want to give up my Principles either. (For what it’s worth, I know my partner prefers me natural – he’d be happy either way but he feels like I shouldn’t be pressured into anything by other people)

    Sorry for the length/details, but I’m really stressed over this and I’d love some pearls of wisdom.

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict

      So, when you say not shaving, do you mean underarms, legs, or both?

      Honestly, the only advice that’s relevant here is that you absolutely have to please yourself. Nobody else is going to do it for you. If you don’t want to shave anything, don’t do it, and everybody else can screw off as long as you and your partner are happy.

      But specifically regarding wedding dresses…well, are you looking for short or long? The vast majority of wedding gown are full-length and will cover up your legs, but there are a number of cute short or high-low cut dresses out there, and if that’s what you want to wear, wear it and enjoy yourself! Unfortunately, most dress styles right now tend to be either strapless or sleeveless, although sleeves are coming in quite a bit and you may be able to get lucky that way.

      What’s more, don’t get too outrageously in love with one dress before you’ve tried anything on. You may find (as many many many women do) that the dress you thought you loved isn’t comfortable or flattering or it has a weird detail that makes you hate it. The best dress for you isn’t the one that makes you look like a fashion plate–it’s the one that makes you FEEL like a million bucks. If the dress that makes you feel ah-MAZING has a short hem and is sleeveless, get it. Don’t shave if that’s what you want to do. Please yourself–get the dress that will make you feel incredible.

      You may want to look at Offbeat Bride and A Practical Wedding–I don’t know if either one of them has specifically covered not-shaving, but I’m willing to bet it’s come up at least once on the Offbeat Bride forums.

      -FDCA, former bridal salon employee

      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

        Thank you for the advice and the links. I will have a poke around! I haven’t tried any dresses yet, just browsing the internet, but I already have a fairly clear idea of what I *don’t* like. I will remind myself to keep an open mind though.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict

          It’s good to have ideas of what you definitely like and definitely don’t like. If there’s something that’s an absolute deal-breaker for you (you loathe lace, you 100% must wear sleeves, you can’t cope with anything other than a V-neck), keep that in mind, but otherwise, be open-minded! I cannot tell you the number of women I helped who were absolutely in love with the idea of one dress, tried it on and were heartbroken at how much they disliked it, and left with something they adored that they would never, ever have thought of.

          Seriously: pick the dress you feel most amazing in. Forget anybody else and what they have to say about your hair (or anything else–trust me, people will practically be lining up to give you their opinions on their wedding). Make it the best day you can for you and your partner and that is the only thing that matters.

    2. nep

      Interesting. Thanks for sharing this.
      (What do you mean by ‘I’ve been made to feel very uncomfortable about not shaving for my wedding’ ? By what / whom?)
      I stopped shaving underarms years ago. One time I shaved for a date and man that turned out to be such a stupid thing to do.
      I can relate to being torn. I don’t want to shave. At the same time I know it’s a jolt to some people to see a woman like that; and I’m very conscious of this and it influences how I dress. Wish it weren’t such a jolt, and I guess I perpetuate that in a way.
      What’s your gut telling you? Would wearing a dress that showed your underarms make you ill-at-ease for your wedding day?

      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

        I think it would, a little bit. But I also want to try and fight that a bit – though perhaps not on my wedding day..? It’s reassuring to know I’m not the only one who struggles – thank you for sharing.

        1. Lionness

          Ok, so here’s the deal. Your wedding day is important to you. Your principles are important to you. If you feel like shaving will make your wedding day more comfortable for you, then you are NOT sacrificing your principles in doing so. You are not forcing (or even asking!) anyone else to do so, you are doing so for yourself.

          FWIW, I stopped shaving regularly more than a year ago for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is I just don’t give an eff about it. It saves soo much time.

      2. the gold digger

        I know it’s a jolt to some people

        I am one of those people. When I do see it, I get jolted – and then I remind myself that it is NONE OF MY DAMN BUSINESS. It is merely a matter of taste. And philosophically, I think the non-shavers are right! Why should I remove my body hair just so other people are not uncomfortable?

        I say wear the dress you want and don’t shave. If people are jolted, that is their problem.

        1. nep

          Right — that’s what I meant by I’m probably perpetuating this ‘mystique’ or shock surrounding it by not being as open as I might.

    3. Lucina

      Hi, not really advice, just my point of view. I don’t shave my body, only my little moustache… or upper lip hair, if you prefer, and I get my eyebrows groomed. I think shaving is a lost battle and a senseless imposition, and I am always surprised by how pervasive the no-hair culture is. At the same time, I have internalised the current aesthetic guidelines and I understand why women desire to shave. In my ideal world, shaving and make-up would be at the same level, extra grooming that you can do if you want, but not an expectation. So I think I’d shave if I were getting married in a sleeveless or short dress, and I’d probably wear makeup too (not something I regularly do). 364 days/ year of principles is enough for me and it is hard already to find short sleeve tops for daily use that are not too revealing for my underarms. I hope this is clear, I’m usually confident in my English; I just can’t speak/write today!

      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

        I like the idea of 364 day a year principles! That sums it up quite nicely. I haven’t even got into make-up yet… My partner really does loathe it, but I think I’ll see how my complexion is nearer the time (said with a grimace)

        1. TootsNYC

          As for principles–what about the principle that you get to do what you want? That you are entitled to have a situation-specific approach? And that judging people–for either compliant, noncompliance or CONSISTENCY–is something that should Not Be Done?

          Get the dress you love; then decide whether you want to shave underarms for that day.

          You might have to deal with the growing-back-in period, but OK. You can decide whether you’re willing to go through with that.

      2. Emily

        This is my personal take, too – I will shave when I’m going to be wearing a sleeveless dress at a fancy venue and/or family event, even though I don’t normally shave my armpits or leg hair. It’s just easier in certain contexts for me to not worry about the judgments I’d get from other people.

        That said, I think that The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon should do whatever makes her happiest/most comfortable, whether that is shaving or not.

    4. knitcrazybooknut

      I agree with the other comments, and I want to chime in, too. It’s your wedding.

      Yours.

      A wedding has so much conflicting significance in every culture, and it can be a little crazy-making to emphasize the parts that you want, and stamp out with death shoes the parts that you DON’T want. I understand not wanting to be self-conscious, but you get to choose that. Do you feel self-conscious during other events?

      It sounds to me like someone in particular has spoken some cruel words in an attempt to get YOU to do what THEY want you to do. (I’m not saying it’s your mom; it could be anyone. But let’s just say I have experience with that particular figure making Stalin look mellow.) Let’s break it down:

      Still your day. Alllllll yours.
      You get to choose what you want to do.
      During the event, you are going to be thinking about your wonderful spouse-to-be and the future life you’ll lead, presumably with your beautiful, lush body hair still intact!
      What anyone else thinks about it is their business, and if the sight of said hair wafting gently in the breeze offends them, they have the opportunity at every moment to NOT LOOK.

      I’m always going to be hugely in favor of people putting their own spin and style on any formal event; I think it’s lovely when you can see the personality shining clearly through. But I also think you should do what makes you happy. If it feels like a personal failing to shave, then don’t. If you feel like someone will say something to you about it at the actual event, you have my permission to throw a fit. (Or just use Carolyn Hax’s favorite response: “Wow.”) Often, if I’m worried about something, I will do a dramatic interpretation of The Worst That Could Happen with my husband, with him playing the part of me. I get to act out exactly what I think The Problem Person will do, and it gets really hilarious really fast. After you’ve laughed at how ridiculous your worst fears are, it’s hard to get worked up about someone being stupid and rude.

      I think you should do whatever feels right for you to do. I hope you have a wonderful wedding!

      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

        OK, it was my mum – but she doesn’t do it to be nasty, she just can’t quite handle my not-normalness.

        I do like the idea of role-playing (it’s actually just a handful of friends invited, but there’ll be photos to go over ><) I shall have to co-opt my partner in :)

    5. Cristina in England

      I love the idea of 364 days/year principles. For me, it’s more like 11 months out of 12. I don’t shave generally but I do if I’m wearing a short dress or short sleeves (this is like 4-5 days of the year where I live, sometimes consecutive, sometimes not). I don’t feel the need to make a Statement about it, I just do what is convenient for me.
      If you did want to make A Statement, then I read an article about women who bleach/dye their underarm hair green or pink or whatever. I think that’s awesome. I can’t remember the instagram hashtag, but there is one.

    6. FutureLibrarian

      I do not care, personally, what you choose to do with your body hair. I believe that you need to take care of you, and you should do what makes you feel best, especially on your wedding day.

      However, to play devil’s advocate here…

      Society does expect women to shave. Right or not, fair or not, it’s the society we currently live in, and I doubt it will change any time soon. Because of this, be aware that “excess” hair (as determined by others, of course, not you!) will likely invite a barrage of comments not only on your wedding day, but on your wedding photos for years to come. Weddings seem to bring out the…nasty side of people when it comes to snide comments. Why? I’m sure we could list a billion reasons. People are rude. People are jealous. People will say crap.

      I’m sorry. I do wish things were different. :( I hope that whatever you decide to do, you are able to make the choice that brings you the most joy!

    7. misspiggy

      My personal take is that it’s sexist to expect women to shave their bodies because men don’t have to. So what would an equal standard look like for men and women on a ceremonial occasion? Current standard for men is to cover up any body hair (and have well groomed facial hair, e.g no stubble.) The implication might be at least short sleeves and at least a three quarter length skirt. But you might not want to be bound by any conventional standard, in which case do exactly what feels comfortable.

      By the way, my sister in law wore no make up at her wedding and looked wonderful – a perfect blushing bride, in fact, because without foundation we could see her happiness in her face much better.

    8. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

      Thank you all for your replies so far. There’s lots to think about, and some great tips and resources, and it’s definitely buoyed me up a bit. It’s also really heartening to know that I’m not the only person who struggles with these kinds of issues.

      I won’t be properly dress shopping for another couple of months, but I’d be happy to post an update once I find one, if anybody’s interested. I feel much better prepared for dress shopping now, so again – thank you!

      1. Not So NewReader

        I think once you have actual dresses in front of you, your answer will be apparent to you. It’s hard to sit at home and figure this stuff out. In the moment, with hands on, can bring sudden clarity.

      2. KD

        I’m a little late to this but…

        Anyone who would make you feel bad about yourself or your choices on your wedding day has no business being at your wedding. Which is exactly what I had to express to my mother for my wedding. Not as a threat but as a reminder that adult me (not the 5 year old my mother remembers fondly) had decided to marry my husband and no other choice made about the wedding would overshadow that.

        Have a wonderful wedding and try not to stress too much.

    9. Mando Diao

      I would factor the photography into your decision. While all wedding photos are time capsules, consider whether you want a significant chunk of your budget to be spent on photos that might display something that you end up changing your mind about later on.

      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

        We’re having a very-low budget wedding, so we’re just asking friends with good cameras to take pictures. I’m definitely mindful that this is what will be appearing in my grandchildren’s houses though!

    10. Mina

      Didn’t read all the comments; sorry if it’s a repeat.

      For what it’s worth, I hide unshaved legs under tights All. The. Time. Stockings are too transparent, but white or tan tights might work – especially for people far away. This is of course, only if you don’t want to shave and care enough about other people’s opinions to hide it.

      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

        Thanks for the suggestion. Usually only thick black tights seem to work, but it’s definitely something that I can explore.

    11. gg

      Late reply because I didn’t get a chance to read over the weekend…

      First off, I totally agree with everything everyone said about doing what makes you most comfortable, whatever that may be, and anyone who thinks differently can be pointedly reminded that it’s not their wedding, so they don’t get a say.

      But a couple of possibly practical ideas…

      Regarding using tights to try to cover up unshaved legs. You mentioned that usually only thick black tights will work. I don’t know if it would be your style, but maybe consider wearing bright/bold colored tights. Those would probably work better than white at covering, and could be a fun pop of color. Especially if you do the same color as whatever the Groom is wearing for a vest or cummerbund or other accent color.

      Regarding sleeves vs. not. I don’t know if you want to avoid sleeves because it’s going to be a warm weather wedding, or maybe you’re just like me and don’t like how the sleeves on a formally fitted dress tend to feel too tight/restrictive. But a style I’ve found that I love is to have what’s basically a tight fitted sleeveless bodice, with a wide off-the shoulder collar. It isn’t restrictive the way sleeves are, but it hides the underarm (and on me, the upper arm flab).

  4. Random Reader

    Runners of AAM! Thank you to whoever suggested ‘Zombies, Run’ as something to listen to when running. It’s kept me going longer and faster than before. Anyone have any suggestions for good podcasts to listen to when running? For some reason, music makes me bored. I need lots of suggestions as I’ve signed up to do my second half marathon in a couple months :-)

    1. Stephanie

      So I haven’t tried running with it, but I like the Mortified podcast. People read their old diaries (or letters or AIM chats) from childhood and embrace all the awkwardness. It’s pretty entertaining and I’m imagine you wouldn’t notice 30 minutes had passed.

      1. TootsNYC

        That might be particularly good for running–you might run harder just to get away from the embarrassing situation, and the “fight or flight” rush. I know that at embarrassing scenes in movies, I get really antsy.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.

      I also find music boring when working out; I used to do the treadmill thing, and I found there was only one podcast that actually kept my attention when running, and that’s My Brother, My Brother, and Me. Super funny! (The brothers also do another podcast called The Adventure Zone where they play Dungeons and Dragons, which I think I’d also be able to run to). I tried This American Life, which I really like, but would get bored with it too.

      1. Liz in a Library

        Yeah, I’ve found that anything featuring a McElroy is perfect for me. I use MBMBAM for exercise and chores, so if I’m not bored…it must be good. Also, Sawbones is probably my favorite podcast out there.

    3. EduNerd

      -Stuff You Missed in History Class (random things you never knew, like the history of PB or the story of a woman who survived not only the Titanic but several other ships sinking)
      -Missing Maura Murray (about an unsolved disappearance of a college students in the early 2000s)
      -Undisclosed (a corollary to the Serial podcast)

  5. Trixie

    Has anyone come across a more natural breath freshener? I usually like Altoids but it’s more sugar than I want. I know funnel seeds after a meal are an option but that’s not convenient at work or teaching.

    1. Knitting Cat Lady

      A lot of my colleagues brush their teeth after lunch.

      Just brushing, mind you! No flossing in the office bathroom.

      1. Trixie

        I’m hoping I can find something easy to do right at my desk or while teaching. Maybe peppermint oil drops mixed with something orally?

    2. Cristina in England

      Peppermint tea seems to do the trick too, and may be easier to incorporate into your daily routine. I don’t think it is as effective if you put honey or sugar in it, though.

      1. Phyllis

        Ok, not quite awake yet and sort of misread your question. The brushes don’t really help with lunch breath per se, but still good for overall dental care. Off for more coffee.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Health food stores have a variety of products to chose from. Many of them are tiny and you can keep it in your pocket or handbag.

  6. Key to the West

    I’ve got a date this week.

    I’ve never been in a proper relationship or been on a proper date but the guy seems lovely so I’m excited!

      1. Key to the West

        Definitely! We’ve spoken loads via text and seem to click so I’m hoping there won’t be too many awkward silences.

        I’ll definitely be offering to split the bill!

      2. A Dispatcher

        Has anyone found a guy willing to take them up on this (on the first date anyway)… I swear I’ve gotten to like the 5th date before I’ve been able to even pick up a portion of the cost of something. I’m more than willing to split or even pay but always get shut down.

        Also, good luck Key to the West! I hope it goes really well for you :)

        1. Key to the West

          Thank you! I’m quite excited for it! Only problem is I’m going straight after work so struggling with what to wear (will probably go for a classic black dress and heels).

          1. Nashira

            That sounds like a great outfit! You can always stash a pretty scarf or some interesting jewelry in your purse and swap it on before you get there, if you want to change it up from how you looked at work.

        2. Aardvark

          I have! But I’ve had to be pretty assertive about it–like, toss down the card and then stare down the guy. But if he can’t handle that, he can’t handle a relationship with me, so…

          1. Treena

            Same here! I don’t “offer” to split the bill, I just assume we will be. I think of it as going somewhere with a friend, it’s just sort of implied. I don’t really say anything, I just reach for my purse, get out my wallet, and take out the card. Usually don’t even bother to look at their faces because I’m preoccupied. They usually say something, but I brush it off in an elegant way (at least I hope it comes off as elegant!).

            Once, I was on a second date at the movies. On line for tickets, he said that I “had” to let him pay for the tickets and I said no that’s ok. He went on and on about how he had to treat me to something or it wasn’t a date blah blah, so I said that we’d buy our own tickets, and he could treat me to popcorn. He agreed, and then when we got to the counter, I let him go ahead of me and he bought two tickets! I was steaming out of my ears, and I took a $10 bill and stuffed it into his pocket. Suffice it to say, we didn’t make it past the second date…

            The way I see it, is if someone doesn’t respect you enough to allow you to pay for something, then they can’t respect you in any meaningful way. It’s just not compatible/possible. But, this also depends on if you wanting to pay is a cool girl show or if it’s something you actually want to do.

        3. Num Lock

          One of my aunts did this. She basically threw down the gauntlet, as I understand it–either they split the bill and base any future relationship on being equitable partners, or she walked away. It worked. They’ve been married probably 30-odd years.

          When I was younger I cared more about free food to be honest, but now that I’m older I see and appreciate the wisdom more. I will probably be more forceful in any future dates (it’s been a while.)

        4. Lindsay J

          Yes. My current boyfriend split the first check with me.

          Umm, our first date consisted of lunch, dinner, and breakfast I believe.

          So we split lunch/drinks, dinner he paid, and breakfast I paid. And that’s the way our relationship has continued pretty much. Sometimes we split and sometimes one if us treats and we assume it probably all evens out in the end.

          Being treated like an equal partner and capable adult is important to me and whether or not there is weirdness about paying for meals seems to be an indicator of that.

          I also like splitting the first check because then nobody feels obligated to the other person or taken advantage of in any way. I know I would feel badly if I allows a guy to pay for dinner and drinks and decided during or shortly after the date I had no intentions of seeing him again. And I also wouldn’t want to place myself in a position where a guy felt I owed him something because he had paid.

        5. Dan

          This is partially in response to you, and partially general commentary on the issue.

          Paying for the first date is tricky business. There are advice blogs that suggest that if the man doesn’t pay on the first date, then it’s not really a date.

          So I offer to pay, and if a woman does more than casually offer to pay for her half, I take it to mean that she’s not interested in a second date, and this is her way of indicating so.

          The thing is, going forward, I’m very much in the “both parties pay their fair share” camp. If you’re deadset on paying, just tell me that you’d like to pick up the second date. Leave it to me to ask you out, but I’m well aware that you’re going to pay.

        6. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

          Our first date my partner and I both paid for something. After that he paid more, but that was because he had a full time job and a good income while I was a student living on £30 a week, so we quickly agreed to pay ‘in proportion’ to our ability.

          Best of luck Key to the West :-D First dates are so exciting – I hope it goes really well for you!

        7. Lissajous

          I’ve absolutely no issue with splitting, but usually the way it pans out for me is whoever picks the place for the first date pays – which has usually been the guy, come to think of it – and then alternate (and tell them that will be the deal! Usually when the bill comes on the first date and they insist on paying is a good time). I’m an Aussie, so I don’t know if there’s a cultural difference, or just in the guys I tend to become interested in.

          Then again, I usually don’t go on a first date unless I’m pretty sure there’ll be a second. It wouldn’t be such a good strategy for first-time-meeting dates. Although hey, way to make it clear if you’re not interested in a second date! “Normally I’d suggest alternating, but as I have absolutely no intention of ever seeing you again, here’s the cash for my half. Bye!” Preferably delivered whilst already standing, so you can swish suitably away, without the awkwardness of getting out of a chair =)

        8. Natalie

          No, I almost never had an issue splitting the check or getting separate checks. My fiancé, in fact, was one of the few that really wanted to pay. Normally that’s a red flag for me but he wasn’t dismissive or anything and just explained his preference. And our relationship is very egalitarian now.

  7. Tiffany

    So I could use some advice.

    I moved into my current house in July. When I did so, it was with the understanding that new windows and trim would be done and new AC/heating would be installed. All of this was supposed to be done before the end of August.

    In reality, it’s been a non-stop nightmare of my landlord getting around to finishing stuff. I have almost all new windows but no new trim. I have 1 new AC/heater window unit but it’s only enough to heat/cool the bedroom. Still waiting on the 2nd one for the living room. There are bug issues galore and she won’t take care of it because she says the inside is my responsibility (even though there’s no mention of pest control responsibility anywhere in the lease) and she only has to take care of the outside (someone comes every 3 months). I finally got the building officials involved and now she has to take care of things or risk getting fined (except heat, that’ll have to wait until it’s consistently cold outside and my house stays below 68 degrees with the 1 heater running).

    However, she’s now giving me the option of amending my lease and letting me move out by the end of the month (instead of end of May). I know it’s because she doesn’t want to have to do all the stuff that I’m going to keep pushing for her to get done. My gut feeling is that I should get out why I have the opportunity to do so because otherwise she’s just going to keep making my life miserable. The realistic part of me thinks that trying to move in less than 4 weeks while unemployed (I am getting unemployment insurance, so I do have money coming in) is a terrible idea. I’d almost certainly have to just rent a room from someone instead of getting another house or apartment. (Rent here is really high because it’s a college town and student housing prices drives the market rate up). I moved in here because she was offering a really good price on the rent because of the few repairs that still needed to be done. I figured dealing with that for a couple months was a good trade-off of the rent price. I can’t even get a decent apartment for the same price I’m paying for my house.

    I don’t know what the right decision is. I keep going back and forth. On one hand, renting a room would save me some money in the long run (I’m looking at some options that would almost cut my monthly bills in half) and get me away from my landlord who is a bit of a lunatic and who’s word I can never trust. On the other hand, moving takes a lot of energy and that’s energy I should be using to focus on finding a job. Also, roommates. I have really enjoyed having my own space and have had really bad luck in the past with roommates. I’ve learned to stay away from college kids, but I don’t know how much better moving in with people my own age (late 20’s) would be.

    1. Num Lock

      I’d ditch the landlord. You mention you’re unemployed, so anything that cuts your bills in half is probably going to be beneficial. Plus it’s often pretty easy to bounce out of roommate situations, so once you’re back on your feet you should be able to get out into a better situation quickly. Moving will be hard, but if you can find a couple college kids with a truck you might be able to do it pretty cheap.

      You’ve got a couple of weeks to do some evaluating of potential roommates. Most older folks I know are past the “I need a warm, paying body in that room” thing and try to get the right fit.

    2. FutureLibrarian

      While my issues weren’t quite as horrible as yours, I had a landlord who made endless promises that never seemed to be met.

      I moved out after almost a year…and nothing was ever fixed.

      While challenging, I suggest you get out now. You don’t want to discover in the middle of January that you won’t have heat, hot water, etc. and your landlord is too lazy to fix it!

    3. BuildMeUp

      It may not be an option given what you’ve said about your landlord, but if it is, you could reach out to her and say something like, “I’m open to moving out earlier than the end of the lease in May, but I feel I need more than 3 weeks to find a new place and make moving arrangements. Can we amend the lease to end on X date?” with X being a date far enough in the future (like the middle or end of December) that it gives you a little more time to sort things out. That way she gets out of making repairs (which sucks, but unfortunately sounds like it will be a difficult fight) and you have enough time to find a good place to move.

    4. Tiffany

      Thanks everyone. I met with someone yesterday who has a room to rent…it’s not the most ideal situation, but ultimately saving money (after the 1st month anyways) and getting away from my landlord is better than the alternative of staying. So, I’m signing a new lease today and will move out before the end of the month. Now I just gotta pack things and find a home for at least half my furniture. I have a feeling moving in 3 weeks is going to be a bit stressful, especially with a holiday thrown in. Hopefully it goes smoothly though. I’m going to pay a couple kids my aunt takes care of to help me pack and clean (they’re middle school and high school age) and find a couple college kids to help move the heavier stuff.

  8. Ollie

    The movers are on their way…my fiance and I are moving to Boulder, CO in the next week!

    No questions, just really really excited :)

      1. Ollie

        Thanks, we’re moving from South Florida. I’ve lived in Florida for most of my life and I’m just so happy to finally be getting out. Florida is…special to say the least

      1. Christy

        I love any town/city that is described as “the people’s republic of”! I used to live in the people’s republic of Takoma Park and it was the best.

    1. LCL

      Well, my baby moved on up the road to Boulder,
      And livin there is makin her so odd
      She gave away her rockabilly records,
      And bought a new CD by Bighead Todd
      We used to ride my 57 Chevy,
      Now she says that cruising leaves her bored,
      She’s livin in a psychedelic school bus,
      And traveling round the country with the HORDE
      (Hillbilly Hellcats, rev it up with Taz is one of the greatest CDs of all time!)

    2. J. Lynn

      Boulder is a very nice town; I lived there for 2 years. The mountains are picturesque and Denver is only an hour away if you need a bit of a bigger city outing.

  9. nep

    Anyone here ever seen (in person) ‘Gordo drummer’, who’s apparently from / in Sydney ? Just astounding speed and agility.

  10. Trixie

    One of my favorite political programs is Washington Week with Gwen Ifill. It’s such easy discussion to follow but it must be rehearsed or prepared with guidelines. I wish more programs were as easy to actually listen to.

    1. nep

      Washington Week is good. Do you watch C-SPAN at all? Often some great stuff on there.
      I like Diane Rehm’s Friday news round-ups, and PBS Newshour’s analysis with Shields and Brooks.

    2. fposte

      Oh, I love Gwen Ifill and I haven’t watched that for a while; I broke my Newshour habit and never really picked up a substitute. Thanks for the reminder.

    3. Trixie

      I wish the Friday night show was longer than 20-25 minutes. The web cast extra used to stream live but now it’s all uploaded later.

    4. Nother Name

      I think there’s preparation, but I also think Ifill is a really wonderful moderator. She should moderate all political debates.

  11. Ask a Manager Post author

    I think I have to buy a new car. I don’t really care about cars at all. I want them to get me from one place to another safely and with a minimum of problems, and that’s it. I’ve always driven used Hondas; my current one is 15 years and I’d happily keep it for more years except that Sam just peed in the back of it (long story) and everyone I’ve talked to has said the smell won’t come out unless I replace the seats, and the cost of doing that would be close to the car’s Blue Book value.

    So I think I’m going to finally buy a new car and am wondering: How much work do I really have to put into this if I honestly only care about safety and reliability? I’ve read some Consumer Report reviews of the Civic, Accord, and CR-V, and I think I’d be happy with any of those. Can I just … go buy one? Am I supposed to be doing more work than that in this process to make sure I’m picking the right one?

    1. Colette

      If you’d be happy with one of those, test drive them and choose. You can save money by playing dealers off each other, but you don’t have to do that.

    2. Amber Rose

      Nah. If you know what you like, go get it. I did zero research on my current car. I drove one as a rental for about a month a few years ago and decided I wanted to own one, so I went to the dealership and said so. It’s lovely.

    3. danr

      Be sure you test drive the different models that you’re looking at. We’ve found problems with general layout that sent us to other models. Decide how much you want to finance the car. If you can put a chunk of money down and finance the rest, those regular payments do wonders for your credit score… even if it’s terrific. And yes, after the test drives show which car you want to buy.. just buy it. The only thing I’ve found helpful is to go onto the automaker websites and build the car that you want… and then see how close you can get at the dealer. The cars on the lots won’t match what you did on the websites, but you’ll know how the extras stack up. If there are subtle differences in the model levels, you’ll also know that before you go to the dealer. As with buying a house, there are a great many pieces of paper to sign.

    4. Jill of All Trades

      I’d always driven a used Honda with about the same safe+reliable = winner. A couple of years ago I had to replace my poor totaled Honda, so I decided to branch out and test drive some that I’d heard good things about. I ended up with an Outback that I love and the AWD was amazing during Snowjam that winter.

      If it would make you feel better to put a little more into it, go drive a few things this afternoon. And don’t give them your phone number no matter how much they pressure you! You’ll contact them if you decide to buy what they’re selling.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger

      If you’re buying a used one, find a mechanic you trust and have them check it out before you buy it. It could be that there’s something obvious that needs a $1,000 repair, so all else being equal, you want the car that will not need a lot of work right away. Even reliable cars need big repairs occasionally. (We just put $1400 into our 2006 Accord, but it’s still under 100,000 miles and very reliable, so it is still better than any used car we could get for $1400.)

    6. catsAreCool

      I think Customer Reports are enough, but yeah, drive it before you buy it. Maybe google reviews to find out if there are any pet peeves.

      If you’re concerned about getting a good deal, there’s Kelly’s blue book (I think it’s usually at the library), and I’ve heard (from a car salesman who I know) that deals really do tend to be better at the end of the month, and that you should always be ready to walk away from a car deal if it’s not right – don’t fall in love with the car until you’ve bought it.

    7. knitcrazybooknut

      We have an 88 Honda Civic with almost 300k miles on it, running strong. I bought a Smart Car six years and 90,000 miles ago, and it’s been perfect and reliable as well.

      If you’ve read the Consumer Reports reviews, and you know your finances, pick a day to go test drive. Don’t let anyone strong arm you into a choice, and you’re golden!

      1. Ruffingit

        How are Smart cars on the road? I love them, but my husband always says they would probably not hold up well driving in heavy wind for example or in an accident. Thoughts?

        1. Natalie

          I’ve never been in an accident in one, but from what I understand they do have decent crash test rating. They do shift noticeably in high wind, but IME not necessarily any worse than a small sedan.

          What I dislike is the shifting – it’s not terrible smooth and there’s a noticeable lurch in the engine when it moves from 1st to 2nd. They don’t seem to have the pickup I like driving in the city. But I drive them through car2go; it could be the engines in the consumer models are better.

        2. schnapps

          Smart cars are good for city driving. If you have highway driving, they can be really rough. I had a company smartcar for a couple of months (long story) and there was a stretch of highway I had to drive just about every day. This was around the same time my MIL had a Major Cardiac Episode (ruptured aorta) and was transferred from her smaller town to Vancouver General for surgery, got pneumonia while she was there so FIL flew in and would come in with me every day.

          He was not impressed with the smartcar. He said it felt like the car was going to take off at some point in the middle of a storm. I hated driving the thing – it was rough, noisy and way too light (and don’t get me started on the base model – it had no power steering). I stopped in one day for fuel and the guy helped me with the windshield fluid. It took him about 10 minutes to figure out the hood – it’s attached to the car by a canvas strap on the front, btw.

          I think it’s one cool feature is that you can replace the panels so you could have a different coloured car every day. But it’s made of plastic, and not in a good way.

          I’ll take one from the carshare pool if I have to drive into city centre. But if I have to go long distances, I’ll take my own car or a company sedan/wagon.

        3. Al Lo

          I just got a Smart a few weeks ago, and I’m still totally in love. I drive it on the highway every day, and it feels surprisingly stable. Haven’t driven it on highway snow yet (although I have driven a car2go Smart on city snow over the past couple of winters), but I’ve hit a few pretty windy days, and there was a bit more shifting than my Rio, but not much more. The inside feels roomier than you think it will, and that translates to feeling pretty stable on the road (for me, at least).

          The shifting is a little jerky, and at least the older Smarts (which mine is) don’t come with standard power steering, since the car is quite a bit lighter than a typical car, so the initial get-go, between those two things, takes a little getting used to. Having said that, I didn’t find it took much more to get used to than driving someone else’s car, when I’m not used to their gas/brake/clutch and it feels a bit jerky the first time you drive that anyway.

          Crash test ratings are quite good — I can’t remember the exact stat, but I think that fatality rates in Smarts are significantly lower than many other models. The best part is the gas mileage. My 2oL tank gets me as far as my 44L tank on my old Kia did, and when I fill up for less than $18, it makes me really happy.

          1. Al Lo

            (I got a speeding ticket on the highway in it a week or so ago, and the cops were giving me a hard time about my wind-up car getting enough speed to actually get a ticket.)

            I have found that the first few weeks are a little bit of a scavenger hunt in finding where things belong in that car — where the battery is, spare tire, oil, windshield washer fluid, etc. I’ve spent a bit of time now getting familiar with all of that so that in an emergency I’m not scrambling, but I can see how that would be frustrating in a scenario like schnapps was describing, where it’s not really your car and you don’t know the ins and outs as well. It’s just all so compact that things aren’t necessary where you expect them to be based on most other cars out there.

    8. Cristina in England

      I can’t find it right now, but I read an article (I think it was on Lifehacker) about how there is actually a clause in the purchase agreement most dealers give you saying that the sales person does not have to tell you the truth about the car or what condition it is in. Read EVERY clause before you sign, and if you find that one, cross it out and initial it.

      1. Anna

        Many states have “lemon laws” to avoid this specific thing. Dealerships are required to provide all the information on the car and if something goes wrong, you have a period of time to return the car if it’s used.

    9. Terra

      If you care about price you may see if you have a no-negotiation dealer where you live. Often they have the best or nearly best price and may be worth it just to avoid the hassle and high-pressure sales tactics of other dealerships. If not it’s another price you can try to leverage with dealers to get a lower overall price.

    10. Dang

      I knew exactly what car I’d buy when the jalopy I was driving pooed the bed (acura TSX). I went to two dealers and bought in the same day. Honestly I don’t have the patience for that kind of thing. It ended up totally fine.

      I’d just do background research- fair price, what others are paying, etc.

    11. LAMM

      That’s what I did. I went to the dealership and said that I wanted to buy a civic. Didn’t have any requirements. I wanted a white one and luckily there was only one left on the lot so I didn’t have to make any decisions. I really lucked out on that one. Went back the next day to sign the paperwork and drove it home. Super painless.

    12. Kitty O'Shea

      Before you buy a new car, try a gallon of Nature’s Miracle (about $35 at Petco). Pour or spray it on the seat, soaking it thoroughly. Let it air dry, no blotting. Repeat as necessary. It really works and is unscented; it doesn’t just cover up the smell, it removes it.
      If you still want to buy a new car, you can’t go wrong with Honda. Maybe a little dull, but dead reliable. I’ve had good luck shopping on the last day of the month, at the end of the day.

      1. Liz in a Library

        Agreed. I used Nature’s miracle in the car after a trip to the emergency vet scared my kitty and he peed everywhere. It took some soaking and several tries (thankfully we had a wet vac), but it worked!

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          My car was fairly new (a 93 Saturn) when Gus had a last blast after going to the vet to be fixed. Male cat urine is especially strong, and even though I cleaned it out as soon as we got home, I didn’t know about the special cleaners like Nature’s Miracle at the time. If I’d used something like that, I’m sure it would have helped a lot. As it was, it took a few years (!) before the smell went away entirely, but only a few weeks while it was especially bad. I renamed my car the Saturine.

          I also recommend a wet vac and some cat urine neutralizer. If nothing else, it will help you with the resale value on your current car.

    13. Florida

      I think we are sort of conditioned to believe that car-buying should be a huge hassle, requires a ton of research, and will take a lot of time. I bought a Honda about a year ago. I probably invested about an hour of internet research and another two hours at the dealership. I’d say that is easy considering I only do it once every 10 years or so.

    14. Grumpy

      There are amazing car detailers who can get all kinds of smells and messes out. Last I checked it was about $250 to have the interior detailed. Or maybe get new rear seats from a wrecker and have them installed — likely what whoever buys your current car is going to do.
      Also, watch out for cars that have been flood damaged or written off and are being resold. And there should be a database somewhere of stolen vehicles and vehicles with liens against them.
      Good luck!

    15. F.

      Just go buy one! I love love love my 2012 CR-V, and my husband just converted from a 2000 Toyota Corolla to a 2015 Honda Civic, and he loves it, too! We relied on Consumer Reports and asking friends and relatives. Just be sure to do a test drive and make sure you are comfortable driving whichever model you choose.

    16. Sunny with a Chance of Showers

      My sister has a CRV and loves it.

      OTOH, I live in the wintry Midwest and gave up my Ford Focus for a Subaru Impreza. LOVE. It’s close to the size of the Focus, but a definite upgrade and has all-wheel drive, which is a MUST for me now. Love love love.

    17. Ask a Manager Post author

      I am at the dealership and about to buy a 2016 Honda Accord Sport. It feels way too fancy for me but that is probably because I’m used a 15 year old Civic. I used USAA’s car buying service so I’m getting a good price without having to negotiate, but oh my God it is taking forever I’ve been sitting in this room for I don’t know how long.

      1. National Geographic Woman

        We test drove an Accord when we bought the Civic. Very nice car! Congratulations!

      2. The Cosmic Avenger

        Wow! It’s probably all over now, but I’m glad you used USAA’s car buying service. There are a few dealerships in the DC area that have no-haggle pricing, where they show you their manufacturer price, and they mark it up a certain amount (when I did it it was $600), but I think that buying service gets you close to the same deal.

      3. Noah

        The waiting is the worst part! I bought my Jeep online and they emailed me the paperwork, which I signed, scanned, and emailed back. A few days later a car was delivered to my driveway. One of the best car buying experiences of my life.

      4. Girasol

        I buy what the mechanic I trust will maintain. He kept my Civic rolling until a ripe old age so I asked him what to get next. He said a Fit. So far I’m delighted with the advice. If you need to go bigger, though, you can’t go wrong with a Honda, especially if you know a good mechanic.

      5. The IT Manager

        I know! The dealer convinced to buy on a Friday night at closing time! Don’t know why since I said I’d return Saturday, but I was there until about 10 pm at night because there’s so much paperwork.

      6. Windchime

        Congrats! I hope you like it. I bought a new Acura last year and I have zero tolerance for all the dickering and games that usually accompany buying a car. I went in, told them the model I wanted to test drive, and then said that I want the Costco price. Done. I went back in the next day with my down payment check and got my new car.

      7. Observer

        The difference between a current car and a 15 year old one is pretty big on some ways, but surprisingly little in others. It takes a bit of adjusting to, in a good way, though. The Honda Accord gets some good ratings, so if you have a good mechanic you should be able to keep that thing going for a nice while.

        Enjoy and use it in good health.

    18. doreen

      My husband just bought a new Honda a couple of weeks ago. He was pretty sure he wanted a Civic (since he’d been driving the last one for about 12 years). We test drove an Accord and CRV as well, but we spent a total of maybe an hour test driving and deciding on the trim line. And we only went to one dealer that we had dealt with already – even if we paid a little more than we might have elsewhere, the convenience and good service there were worth it.

    19. Purrsephone

      You can probably get the smell out–if you are willing to put up with this–by putting some open bowls of plain white distilled vinegar in your car when you are not using it. It will soak up the smell but it will take at least three weeks. If you can leave your windows all open that will help the vinegar do its work.

      However, if you prefer to buy new I say you’ve done your homework with CR. Just go buy the Honda model you prefer. My Honda Accord coupe is now 26 years old and still going strong. I did have the entire engine replaced about 8-9 years ago. It will probably have to be replaced in the next couple of years because parts are getting harder to find but I intend to run it out to its limit.

      Good luck!

    20. Noah

      As someone who loves cars, and driving a variety of them, I do not get this at all. :)

      If you would be happy with a Civic, Accord, or CR-V, I would say go to the Honda dealership look at them, maybe test drive all three and then decide which one you like the best. It’s hard to go wrong with a Honda. You might also look at Hyundai or Kia, sometimes you get more options for the same amount of money with them compared with Honda and Toyota and the warranty is longer.

      I don’t really like Consumer Reports because they don’t really take the drive-ability portion of a car into account. They focus on reliability and safety, which are not bad, but for me fun to drive is a big factor. Of course this is the same reason I would probably never buy a Toyota Corolla, I think they look bland and the driving experience is mediocre.

      Cars today are more reliable than they ever have been. The only ones that really suffer from reliability issues are the high-end luxury cars. Any major manufacturer, foreign or domestic, is going to have a reliable, good quality car available.

      One final note, car buying shouldn’t be a hassle. If your credit is reasonably good, I would arrange financing from a credit union or bank before going to the dealer. Also, be willing to walk away if the experience starts to suck. The last car I bought took around 90 minutes from the time I walked into the dealership until I was drove away in a new car.

    21. Ask a Manager Post author

      Thank you, everyone, for all of your advice!

      As you saw above, I ended up buying an Accord Sport. I test drove a bunch, and was really, really tempted to go with the Civic since it was the most similar to what I’ve been driving, but I decided I shouldn’t be buying based on familiarity and that I’d probably kick myself later for not upgrading when I had the chance. (I tend to hate new purchases at first if they’re different from the old version that I loved, and then later I start liking them better, so I tried to remember that). It really does feel way too nice compared to the old one (what is with all this new fancy stuff on the dashboard? and why is it so shiny inside?), but I’m assuming I’ll quickly get over that :)

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I read an article that recommends a fully-decked out Honda accord for people who think they want their first luxury car. It is supposedly cheaper and easier to get parts and labor for, and feels luxurious to drive. I have a 2011 Civic right now, but I have my eye on an Accord with all the upgrade options as my next vehicle in a few years.

        1. catsAreCool

          4 doors are so great when you have people who need to get in the back seat though. Also, if you need to put cat carriers in the back, 4 doors are great for that, too!

        2. Buggy Crispino

          I’m in my first 4 door ever – and I have to say I like how easy it is to get in and out of it in crowded parking lots. Since the doors are shorter on a 4 door than they are on a 2 door, they actually open to a wider angle and give you more room for getting in and out. Maybe once you get used to it, you’ll see some of the benefits and be happy with it.

          1. Mike C.

            Heh, I just saw your comment and I agree completely. There’s nothing worse than someone who parks really close to my driver’s side.

        3. Mike C.

          If it makes you feel better, you’re going to have a much easier time in tight parking spots. I went from a four door to a two door and I was really surprised at how long the door was.

      2. The IT Manager

        Interesting. I replace my Ford Focus with a Honda Civic. I like the Civic, but I loved my Focus. I think I was drawn to the Civic newness because the 11 year newer model of Focus still felt familiar. Also like the glowly dashboard lights of the Civic which in retrospect is not the kind of thing you should base a buying decision on. And the friendly very young Army veteran salesperson managed to create more sympathy in me than other salesmen.

        The Honda Civic is not a bad car, though. While I don’t care for the more sedan-ish silhouette to the car, the shorter, lighter doors on the four model is VERY nice change. Like others have mentioned, you can get in and out in smaller parking spaces.

    22. Student

      When I needed a car, I just went and bought one. I looked at blue book prices for a few cars that were about what I thought I wanted before-hand because I was worried about the price negotiation part. I got a car loan lined up from my bank. I didn’t do any further research or prep beyond that. I test-drove a car I liked to make sure I fit in it correctly (I’m short – not all cars fit right). I bought one within my budget. The car works fine and I’m quite happy with it.

      1. Lindsay J

        Yeah, I didn’t go crazy looking for a new car.

        My mechanic had recommended a couple of models he liked when I talked to him about whether my old car was worth getting replaced.

        I kind of got my heart set on one just from the look of it, and it was a Hyundai which my grandfather approved of.

        I used the internet to find dealers that has used ones near me.

        One was Enterprise car sales, which does fixed price sales. And the car they had was newer and less miles than the other places where I was able to get price quotes. (I didn’t compare a lot of dealers, maybe like 3 or 4). I called and they said they’d work with me on my credit (mine is pretty terrible).

        I made an appointment. I showed up. She preapproved me. I test drove. I agreed to buy. They priced my old car. I bought it.

        I turned down all the add-ons except for gap insurance.

        I like my new car a lot. :) It’s a Hyundai Elantra GT.

    23. Hlyssande

      My parents have a mid-90s CR-V and it’s fantastic. They have had to make some repairs, but it’s definitely a trooper if you want something bigger than a sedan.

  12. Anonymouse

    Hello all! I’ve just started my second year of residency as a family medicine doctor. I’ve noticed a trend on the Internet of unhappy feelings towards doctors, including on this lovely forum. I’m wondering how y’all feel about it? The most recent example was on Friday, where multiple posters insinuated that doctors don’t know how to handle dosing, or that veterinarians are better at dosing than doctors. A lot of pediatricians I know would take pretty strong offense at that. That’s just one example I see of this general vibe of “doctors don’t know what they’re doing.”

    Me personally, I do the best I can to abide by my patient’s wishes while making sure that whatever they’re prescribed doesn’t cause more harm than good. I have to say, it’s frustrating to see the comments on here and wonder if my patients are already walking into my appointment with this sense that I don’t know what I’m doing, or that I’m just out to get them, or that I’m in cahoots with big Pharma. Y’all, I drive a 2006 Hyundai Elantra. I and most of my fellow residents aren’t in this to make money. I genuinely worry that this overall negative vibe towards doctors is going make it harder to convince my patient that 1) I know what I’m doing and 2) I’m really trying not to hurt them or cause harm.

    1. nep

      That’s got to be tough.
      I’ve had perhaps one or two positive experiences with doctors in my lifetime; I avoid doctors as much as possible. I do recnogise what important roles they play and I know I would/will be happy one is there for me if/when I were in dire need. Mixed feelings. I’ve got quite a negative image of doctors just based on my experience and what I hear from friends and family, which is all I’ve got to go on.

      1. GOG11

        I used to avoid doctors, as well. Like with any group of people, it’s a mixed bag. Some people are going to be a good fit and will provide the type of care and bedside manner a person wants/needs and some doctors won’t be a great match. I tend to have odd reactions to medications and I have a lot of health problems, but I am young and I appear to be healthy. I’ve gotten written off by several doctors and simply told that “I’m young and not to worry about it” and in almost all of those cases, the condition they weren’t taking seriously did end up requiring treatment/ongoing monitoring, etc., that they missed. Luckily, I’ve found a family doctor who is fantastic and who has built a good relationship with me. I trust him and his judgment because he’s never been dismissive toward me or cavalier about my health. He’s up front with me, sometimes to the point that he confesses I either deal with the effects of my condition(s) or I deal with the effects of the treatment(s), knowing that either option sucks sometime. He also involves me in decisions about my care. It makes a world of difference.

        I’m sorry if you encounter resistance, but I would hope that your patients would give you a shot, even if they had prior bad experiences like I did. Continue to do what you’re doing and I think it’s OK to be frank about things when they aren’t ideal – and if something isn’t ideal, it doesn’t mean that’s your fault. Medicine does have its limits, unfortunately. At least that’s what works for my doctor and me.

    2. fposte

      I think you are entering family medicine at a really hard time, and I salute you.

      In general, I’d say yes, many of your patients worry that you don’t know what you’re doing, think you’re out to get them, or believe you’re making big money. That doesn’t mean they don’t need you or want to be taken care of by you; it’s just complicated. Instead of taking it personally, think of yourself as being a people vet–vet patients are often distrustful and unappreciative, but that says nothing about the practitioner :-).

    3. Jill of All Trades

      Part of the problem with the experiences I’ve had is when medical staff waste time by not listening to some basic stuff and talking to me like I don’t know the difference between a foot and an ear. Seriously. Or they decide for me what my concern is. I’ve also experienced some pretty liberal prescribing of narcotics that takes me aback due to my disclosed family history of alcoholism. And the stories I could tell you about the blatant malpractice my dad experienced after his surgery a couple of years ago, including the one doctor who didn’t believe him when he stated that he has had anaphylactic shock from contrast dye, to the point where the guy was was just going to go forward as though my father had tolerated it well in the past.

      You may be awesome, and many of your fellow residents may be awesome, but there are simply not enough of you in the profession.

      1. Anonymouse

        I hear what you’re saying, and I’m sorry you’ve been through some unfortunate situations in the health care world. Health problems suck, and having to navigate through frustrating situations is doubly sucky.

        What would you suggest I do if you came into my practice? What would establish a good starting point with you? Most of my patients seem pretty comfortable with me several minutes into an appointment but certainly not all. (Pediatric patient’s mothers especially….)

        1. Florida

          I think many people judge whether their doctor is competent or not based on how polite and kind the doctor is and how well the doctor listens. Probably not a good way to do it, but I think we all do that on some level.

          I always appreciate when my doctor says things like, “We can give you drug A or B. I’m recommending drug A because it has fewer side effects. If you find it doesn’t work in about a week or two, give me a call and we can try B.” As opposed to saying, “Here’s drug A. Call me if you have any problems.” The first way lets me know (a) you have thought about what you are prescribing me and (b) there are other options if it doesn’t work.

          1. A Dispatcher

            “I think many people judge whether their doctor is competent or not based on how polite and kind the doctor is and how well the doctor listens. Probably not a good way to do it, but I think we all do that on some level.”

            This is my mother exactly. I understand why she feels this way and that bedside manner is important, but sometimes I just want to shake her. For a GP, sure, bedside manner is going to very important, but someone like her cardiologist – worry about the competency/standard of treatment first Mom! I’m pretty much the exact opposite – I don’t want to make small talk, I don’t care if you’re cold. If you are good at what you do, I am all good (exception being I don’t like feeling like I’m being rushed out. Quick is fine, as long is it’s also thorough). I realize I’m in the minority though.

            1. Florida

              You know, I think everyone does it to some extent. I think it’s sort of an unconscious thing. I’m not sure. I read something that twice as many people focus on the doctor’s personality and the relationship with the doctor compared to the delivery of care and outcomes. Maybe because it’s something we can judge. If my cardiologist tells me, “this is what’s wrong with your heart. Here’s what I think we should do…” I don’t know if he’s right or not. What do I know about cardiology?! But I know if he treated me well.

              I agree with you about the small talk, though. I’m not interested in that, but I do need to feel like you are treating me like a person and not a body whose being pushed through the assembly line.

              1. TL -

                Ugh, one of my worst doctor experiences was with a doctor who was so focused on bedside manner and proving she was listening, she couldn’t actually provide treatment.

                I’m much more of an “If you can tell me what’s going on and provide treatment, I’m good” person.

              2. katamia

                The relationship affects the delivery of care and the outcomes, though. I went to a doctor once and laid it out and said I wanted to go back on X medicine for a minor chronic condition because it made me feel better. He prescribed me Y, which I didn’t want and turned out to interact badly with another medication I was already on (which he knew). He also lectured me like I was a total idiot about basic dietary facts that are common knowledge that could help me manage my condition. I’m not normally big on the whole “bedside manner is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO important” thing, but if he’d actually tried to form a real patient-doctor relationship with me, then I think things would have gone better, he wouldn’t have lost a customer–no way am I going back to him–and I would have the medication that would make me feel better.

            2. Observer

              For a GP, sure, bedside manner is going to very important, but someone like her cardiologist – worry about the competency/standard of treatment first Mom!

              But, that’s the thing – if the doctor is not respectful then there is a very good chance that your standard of care is going to suffer, and sometimes in ways that are not that obvious.

        2. Jill of All Trades

          I can’t help with kids (don’t have any) and their parents. I actually am a rather healthy person and really only have standard check ups (when I have them), so hearing from people who have more pressing issues and higher frequency visits would be more helpful. I can say that a calm demeanor is good, listening skills and not being dismissive, and telling me why you think action A is the way to go or that drug B may relieve me of the burden of having a stomach lining (before I find out on my own!).

        3. Ruffingit

          I could write a novel on this given my many experiences with my mother’s doctors. She has several specialists. First, make sure your front office staff is polite. Ask patients how they were treated by the staff. I’ve left great doctors over staff who were rude or impolite.

          Listen to your patients. They know their bodies. They don’t have your knowledge and experience, but they are not stupid. If they find something on the internet and it’s incorrect, explain why and don’t be snarky about it.

          Make sure phone calls are returned in a timely manner. There have been times when we called a doctor for a prescription and they return the call six days later. The patient could be dead by then.

          Make a new patient packet that explains how your office works. Who should patients call for insurance or billing questions? If you need a prescription who do you call then? Make it clear who handles that for your office.

          If you don’t know the answer, say so and tell the patient what you will do to find it.

          If you have particular specialists you refer to, make sure they don’t suck. Because I do judge doctors on who they refer me too.

          1. Not So NewReader

            This. This. This.

            When the patient returns ask them how they felt they made out with the drug/whatever you prescribed. I see a Grand Canyon size gap when it comes to follow up. People very seldom ask if a drug worked or a treatment worked.

            Find out their experiences at the various test locations (MRIs, CATs, etc).

            Consolidate appointments. Do not make me come in three or four times for the same thing. I cannot afford it. I won’t be there.

            Realize that each trip to the doctor is EXHAUSTING for a sick or injured person. My husband had 67 doctor’s appointments in 13 weeks during his final illness. NOT one of his EIGHT doctors thought to check on how he was doing getting to all these appointments.

            Teach people how to care for themselves. Especially important: do not send them home with equipment they do not understand. My friend has an inflatable cast and an air pump. She had no idea what to do with it.

            Make sure they have the equipment they need. My friend with the inflatable cast was not given a wheelchair or crutches or anything for navigation.

            If a person does not want drugs, respect that. Don’t tell them they are stupid. Find other things for them to do.

            Learn how to space your appointments. This takes time to figure out pacing. One good thing to do is to have a dead spot in the middle of your day. If you run over on time in the morning, your afternoon appointments might be on track because you had a blank space on your appointment calendar.

            Many doctors ignore the business side of their practice. They delegate that out to someone who, in turn, runs amok. Learn something about running a business. Learn about managing employees.

            Above all else. remember what you do to or for one spouse, the other spouse feels it as if you have done it to them. There is that strong a connection. I should think it would be the same with parents and children. You may think you are treating a man, but you are actually treating a man and his spouse, likewise with children. You are actually treating a child and his/her parent.

        4. Zingbot

          As a new mom I realize I probably give this vibe but mostly it’s fear that something will be really wrong… I think it helps a lot when my sons Doctor is calming to him but straightforward and speaks to me like I know what’s best. I’m guessing she gets a fair amount of moms (and you too) that think no one can possibly know what’s best for their child besides them (probably rightly so to a certain extent) so possibly making them a partner in that extent as much as you can… I don’t know if this is helpful I just always feel panicky when I take my kid to the doctor and realized after reading this she probably thinks it’s her but really I’m just scared something might be wrong…

          1. Not So NewReader

            This is what I am talking about- you are not just treating a child, you are also treating a parent. Teach the parent as you go along. Knowledge calms people.

        5. K.

          I’m lucky enough to be in good health so I don’t see a ton of doctors, but I’m diligent about getting my regular checkups. I get annual GP checkups, well-woman gyn checkups, and dental (twice a year) and vision screenings. I love my gynecologist because she takes the time to listen and get to know me. I saw her in the spring for a problem visit (I’m fine) when I had three major life stressors happening; I saw her in the fall for my annual and she asked how I was doing re: each of the major stressors, and she named them. When I ask questions, she always treats each one as though it’s important, explains new procedures thoroughly … she’s so great. Her office runs smoothly – the receptionists are polite and efficient and in general, if I have an appointment at 10 AM, I am seen at 10 AM.

          However, I’m in the market for a new GP because my old one doesn’t seem to care about me. Doesn’t remember my history, barely makes eye contact, rushes, and has made me feel silly and (in some cases ashamed) for asking questions about my health – which makes me not want to ask questions, which is ridiculous, so I’m moving on. I’d like to stay within the same practice but after my last checkup over the summer (so still dealing with the three major stressors, which I mentioned and she literally did not respond) I resolved never to see her again. I don’t know if it’s personal and she just doesn’t care for me or if that’s just how she is in general and I frankly don’t care; I’m lucky enough to live in a city with lots of options, so I intend to find one who acts like s/he wants to be there.

          You seem like a very compassionate person, which is a step in the right direction – the fact that you care enough to ask is key. I’d say listening and explanation of procedures and prescriptions go a long way.

          1. nep

            Wow — I want a gyn like yours.
            Good for you for moving on from that GP — you deserve so much better.

        6. Older Not Yet Wiser

          I trust and respect a Doctor who makes me feel as if they care. If they listen to what I say and respond in a way that seems like they heard me and understand. That would probably be about twice in my lifetime. Most doctors seem annoyed that I even want to ask a question. And the times I’ve actually had a pretty good Doctor, the office protocol and staff have been a nightmare to deal with.

        7. Short and Stout

          See if your patients stay with you?

          In all instances where I have been unhappy with a particular GP I have ended up switching to a different doctor at the same practice.

          Also, work really really hard on making sure your own internal biases — ie making prejudiced assumptions — don’t affect how you treat your patients.

      2. Anon the Great and Powerful

        This has always been my issue with doctors, too. My current family doctor and dentist are both great, but every other one I’ve seen has treated me like I’m either a) lying about my symptoms to get drugs or b) too stupid to explain my symptoms.

        1. Jill of All Trades

          Oh, my problem has always been that they hand out powerful, addictive drugs like candy. Thank goodness I don’t like them and they don’t really do much to me.

          1. Anon the Great and Powerful

            I couldn’t get anything stronger than Advil after I got hit by a car! The emergency room doctor told me I was just pretending to be in pain so I could get Oxycontin and sell it on the street. :(

            1. Jill of All Trades

              Awful, I’m sorry that happened. My only trip ever to the ER was for a scratched eye during Memorial Day weekend many years ago (before urgent care was a thing). They gave me 2 Lortab that night and a script for something just as strong (percocet? Oxycodone?) to fill in the morning. The dentist who took out my wisdom teeth gave me 2 scripts so I had plenty of opportunity to see which worked best.

          2. Windchime

            Yeah. I had surgery a couple of years ago and the doc gave me a prescription for 60 percosets. SIXTY. I have a high pain tolerance and a very low tolerance for painkillers; I think I took a total of 2 1/2 of them and then had to take the remainder in to be disposed of.

    4. catsAreCool

      I think people get overly influenced by maybe a few “bad apples”. I was fairly annoyed when a doctor acted like she thought I was a wimp because the procedure she did hurt. I also once went to a dentist (about 30 years ago or so) who would stick a needle in the gums to numb it without numbing the gums first so the needle wouldn’t hurt so horribly.

      However, most of the doctors I’ve been to (male and female) have been very nice and also very professional and tend to be careful about prescription amounts.

      I also know someone who’s a doctor, and although she’s modest about it, it seems like a number of the patients have followed her when she switched clinics. Maybe because she’s kind, thoughtful, thorough, very careful about not over-prescribing, and just a really nice person.

      I think if you do a good job, people will figure it out eventually. You may get some suspicion from new patients who are trying to figure out what kind of doctor you are, and that’s tough, but I think most of this is because people have had bad experiences.

      1. Lindsay J

        I used to refuse novicane when I got cavities filled became the giant hook-needle thing used to inject the novicane hurt worse than the actual filling.

    5. danr

      I think a lot depends on where you practice and whether you seem to be part of an assembly line seeing patients like clockwork, or part of an unrushed practice, seeing patients with time to talk with them. Yes, those unrushed places exist, but you need to be out of the cities and large suburbs to find them.

    6. the gold digger

      Nope. Looooove my doctor, even got my husband to go to him. I have friends who are docs and have almost always had docs I like. The only time I changed docs – two times – was because 1. Doc #1 didn’t laugh at my jokes and 2. Doc #2 was chronically late. But I did not doubt their competence.

      My dad died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He spent time at Wilford Hall, the air force hospital in San Antonio, and then at a Catholic hospital, where he died in their hospice unit. ALL the doctors, and the staff, were amazing. They were so caring and so compassionate.

      My husband thinks the docs at the ER didn’t do right by his mom, which may be the case, but as a pediatrician friend said, “Things get screwed up all the time in the ER!” His drunk dad (260 lbs) fell on his drunk mom (110 lbs) and broke both of her knees. But ER sent her home after one x-ray. She was immobile for four days – peeing into a trash can – and in great pain. My husband got there and called an ambulance immediately. Although the initial x-ray missed the break (which was tiny and took a week to detect with various imaging technologies), I blame my husband’s father, who let his wife sit in a chair for FOUR DAYS IN PAIN and did not seek additional medical care.

      1. GOG11

        “Doc #1 didn’t laugh at my jokes” – do you have difficulty trusting people who don’t laugh at your jokes? People who don’t laugh at my jokes tend to make me uncomfortable as I’m generally pretty funny and adaptable (as in I’m a good judge of knowing what will make someone laugh and adapting my interactions based on that). I’ve never heard anyone else say that whether or not someone laughs at their jokes factors into their interactions/decisions with others, so I’m curious if you think along the same lines, or maybe I’m misreading what you meant.

        1. the gold digger

          It wasn’t that I didn’t trust her, I don’t think (I have never really analyzed this!), it’s just that it made me uncomfortable to be around someone so humorless. Being naked in front of a stranger is stressful and I joke to relieve the stress. If she isn’t going to laugh, it just increases the stress.

          I told my roommate (at the time) about the doc not laughing and my roommate said, “Maybe you’re just not funny.”

          Which I thought was hilarious.

      2. TL -

        On the ER thing: Most ERs are there to keep the patient alive. That’s kinda it. If you’re dying, or have something drastically wrong that could lead quickly to a life-threatening condition, their job is to keep you alive and/or stabilize you so your life is no longer in danger.

        I don’t think a lot of ERs do a great job of stressing the importance of following up with your GP or a specialist after a visit, but I think the idea is that you generally should. If your MIL was not in danger of dying and was stable, they did the right thing by sending her home – they don’t have the expertise to treat knee problems and their resources are better spent elsewhere – but they should’ve recommended STRONGLY that she see a doctor for follow up.

        1. the gold digger

          TL, I agree – the ER is for life threatening emergencies. (I used to work for an HMO and this was one of the biggest fights we would have with members – that just because it hurts does not mean you go to the ER – a broken toe is not going to kill you.)

          What I don’t get is how my FIL could have let her be in great pain and completely immobile without taking further action. If my husband were unable to move – if I had to take him a trash can to pee in – I for sure would be on the phone to our doc right away, even if it was a Saturday! How do you watch someone you love suffering?

          The only reason my husband called an ambulance when he got to their house (his brother had called to tell him that Doris had gone to ER and he was really worried) was because he could not get her into the car himself – she was only 110 malnourished alcoholic lbs, but she was 5’10” and dead weight. The ambulance was the only way to transport her. She was not in danger of death or loss of limb. She was admitted to the hospital, but not for the knees – she was super dehydrated. (Which of course – if you have to pee in a trash can, then you are going to drink less water. Not less booze – the booze stays the same or goes up because you are in excruciating pain – but no more water!)

          1. TL -

            Oh, absolutely. I read that story on your blog and I think your husband did the exact right thing – and your FIL is a cruel ass.

            I was referring to the first admittance. The second – if someone is immobile, you need to get medical professionals to help otherwise they’ll never get treatment.

            1. the gold digger

              Yeah, my husband’s parents are super keen on the ER. Years ago, my MIL fell and thought she might have broken her ribs. She was not coughing up blood or anything – just in pain. She waited a few days, then called her doc, who told her to come into his office the next day. She didn’t want to wait, so she went to the ER.

              Honey. You don’t wait until days after an injury to go to the ER and you don’t go to the ER because it’s closer than your doc’s office. I think Medicare must not charge much for ER visits (as opposed to the $2,700 I had to pay when I fell off my bike and my doc’s office refused to treat me – said I had to go to ER for a CT scan). I also think Medicare must charge almost nothing for paramedics who come to someone’s house to get him back into bed after he has fallen, drunk.

    7. Mimmy

      I do think it’s common for new patients to come in wary or even untrusting. However, I believe it’s up to the practitioner to build positive patient relationships. I like physicians who are genuine and will take the time to listen to a patient’s concerns or questions. I’ve had doctors talk down to me and lecture me, and I don’t care for that at all.

      With regard to the negative perceptions of doctors: That’s a tough one for me to comment on because I have a lot of relatives in the medical profession, including my dad. All of them are pretty awesome :) :) Anyway…I wonder if part of it is just a product of a massively complex healthcare system and all the frustrations that come with it. I could probably write a novel about that.

      1. Miki

        If you really want to be a good doctor: listen to your patients. And by that I mean really listen. Check out Lisa Sander’s “Every patient tells a story”, and try to apply that into your practice. Patients will love you!

    8. A Dispatcher

      I like doctors, I don’t have a problem with them, I’m really pretty trusting and have never had a bad experience, so, I’m probably not your ideal audience for this one.

      However, my mother who has had a lot of health problems does tend to get annoyed with her doctor’s offices sometimes and her complaints are mainly that she feels the staff and/or physician does not listen or get back to her in a timely fashion when she has questions or inquiries. I see this a lot in my job too because I sit there and listen to emergencies all day, so I sometimes forget that something that seems mundane to me is an EMERGENCY to the person who is calling me. I wonder if maybe sometimes physicians offices are the same. Where we tend to forget that while it doesn’t seem like a priority to us, it very much is to the patient and they can get very upset when they don’t feel they are being treated in a manner equal to how important *they* feel that their issue is.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict

        Yes, this is huge. If I have a question about something significant enough that I made a doctor’s appointment and took time out of my day to come to the doctor–I want to be listened to. Maybe the doctor hears that question 90x a day–but I’m asking it for the very first time in my life. I don’t care how much the doctor answers that particular question–I care about how much she is doing to make sure I understand it.

        And God, if the doctor is walking out of the room and goes “Any more questions? Okay have a nice day” like some of them do? It feels like blatant contempt for the patient. Clearly they’re not interested in any questions I may have, and I’m not going to grab them by the shirttail and go “Doctor! Wait! Wait” while they walk out the door and I’m going “But what about this speckled rash?” for the entire office to hear.

        1. Not So NewReader

          In my own work, I believe that if I am hearing the same question over and over that means I am not doing a good job of anticipating questions or explaining regular things. It is hard to explain the same thing over and over, it is wearing on a person. But that is part of the job and it is up to me to stay sharp on this point.

          In my years of working, I have found that most people come up with similar questions. It’s easy to anticipate that when talking about “A”, they will ask about “x and y”. I weave x and y into my explanation about A. Why wait for them to ask?

      2. INTP

        Yes, this is a good point. I had a doctor that would make all phone calls around 4pm, and never answer or return calls at any other time of day. After I had a physical including an HIV test, she left me a message at 4:30 on a Friday saying that she needed to speak to me. I had to wait 72 hours to find out it was just an abnormal pap. (And thank goodness I had a desk job with the flexibility to step out when the phone rang, because she never ever answered calls, only made them and only at that one time of day.) It wasn’t a fun weekend or Monday.

    9. Terra

      It’s partly that doctors see us at our most vulnerable and when we’re ill which often means we’re cranky. It’s also partly that even with the ACA a lot of people still pay more for health care than they do for anything else and still have to wait weeks or months to get an appointment that can start up to an hour late.

      I think you’ll be fine as long as you try hard. Treat your patients like people as much as possible. Listen to them even if everyone googling WebMD drives you crazy. Apologize for being late even if it wasn’t your fault. Try not to take it personally when a patient gets mad because angry customers are everywhere. If ordering an x-ray requires a pregnancy test don’t ask the patient if they’re pregnant and then order the test anyway because then it seems like you don’t trust us and were wasting our time. Just say “I have to have a pregnancy test done before I order this x-ray, it’s a legal issue.”

      I think it gets easy for doctors to treat patients like they’re lesser or dumber or unimportant and maybe we are to medicine but every patient you run into has a career like yours where they have to deal with dumb customers who get mad about stuff that isn’t our fault. As long as you can empathize with that I think you’ll mostly be fine.

    10. Special Snowflake

      I generally like all the doctors I’ve interacted with outside of my college health center so maybe I’m an anomaly. That said- I am always skeptical of places like the ER where I was completely misdiagnosed once and had to write in pain for four hours (separate occasion).
      So in a place like that I might be more skeptical of what doctors are telling me but certainly the ones I’ve interacted with have not been in bed with big pharma or otherwise bad.
      All that aside, if you’re conscientious and don’t act like you shouldn’t need to explain things and listen to your patients you should be in good shape! (At least with people like me)

    11. FiveWheels

      Personally, I and my immediate family have had too many experiences of doctors badly misdiagnosing life threatening illnesses, or taking far too long to make a correct diagnosis, to trust a doctor just because they’re a doctor.

      It’s the same with any professional or expert. I won’t trust someone just because they do a job I can’t do, I trust them only if I know they’ve done it right and even then I don’t assume they’ll always be right. Same with builders, plumbers, mechanics, physiotherapists, lawyers… The only difference is if a doctor messes up, the consequences are likely to be worse.

      One thing I will say is if a doctor assumes I should trust him just because he’s a doctor, all trust goes out the window.

    12. BRR

      I think a lot stems from healthcare being so expensive and so many chances at having negative outcomes. The doctors I have liked the best have some alternative hours, don’t keep me waiting, try to keep my cost of care low, and I feel they are working hard at my care instead of some who seem to treat as if I’m a sample case in a textbook.

    13. Rena

      You should check out the Who’s My Doctor movement! The founder has a couple of really interesting TED talks, and it’s all about transparency and doctor/patient trust.

    14. Florida

      Regarding your big fat salary and your sweet deals with big pharma (lots of sarcasm), I think people get frustrated with medical bills because health care is very expensive. So, if I’m paying a lot of money in health care, it makes sense that the person I see, which is my doctor not my insurance company, must be the person who is making all the money. The insurance company is making a ton of money, but I can’t see that person, so I connect it with the doctor instead. That’s just a theory.

      I love what one of my doctors has done. He took a few checks that he got from insurance companies. The checks were for ridiculous amounts like $1.86 or $2.34. He redacted any private information about the patient, framed the checks, and on the mat board, he wrote, “Your health insurance at work.” He has about four of these hanging in his waiting room.

      1. INTP

        I do agree with this. There’s also no transparency in the process. You can be charged for services you didn’t even know that you had. I was charged $500 for a podiatrist telling me “You have a stress fracture, wear this boot for 6 weeks.” (He coded it as “treatment of ankle fracture” but the insurance company’s follow up questions showed that it wasn’t a real fracture so they didn’t want to pay.) Various lab tests can add up to hundreds of dollars even if you have insurance, but patients have no control unless they ask the doctor at every turn what services they’re performing and what it will cost (and even then, they might not be able to get an answer without contacting the insurance company mid-appointment). And if the doctor tells you something wrong, they are still allowed to charge you for their own mistake. (Happened to me with the dentist. I explicitly said “I’ve had some surprises in the past, and so I’d hate to let you perform a service and then not be able to pay the bill. Could you please let me know after you get the approval from the insurance company what it will cost?” She told me they checked and it would be free. Then sent a bill for $100 because apparently she asked about the wrong kind of filling.)

        1. Treena

          This! Pretty much everyone has had this experience. A doctor saying this will be covered, and it’s not. SO SO common now. With the medical providers I’ve worked with, they just avoid getting into it completely because it’s not their job. Which is a good practice because you’re going to get it wrong.

          Someone I knew went to a Dr. and said she was really tired, so the dr. ordered a bunch of labwork. It wasn’t covered to the tune of $1,000. Because she was tired, the dr. coded it something that basically meant the insurance didn’t feel the labwork was necessary.

          1. catsAreCool

            I am switching my primary doctor partially because she never gives me any idea how much things are going to cost (or even if they are going to cost me anything). I got surprised with a $200 bill I hadn’t expected. My dentist’s office tends to be pretty good at estimating this – they might not be exact, but they’re rarely off by more than $30.

            I want some idea and ideally a range of what things are going to cost.

    15. Elizabeth West

      I had a conversation about this just today. My doctor’s office is a residency program, so about every two years, I get a new doctor. So far, I’ve had only one crappy one–he pulled my BC when he found out I had a DVT years ago (he sent me a letter saying he wouldn’t renew the prescription). When I called to discuss this/options, he would not return my calls, etc. I finally had to call the office manager and she lit a fire under his bum and he called me. Gah.

      The rest have been lovely (although they all look about the same age as Doogie Howser!). But I may have to switch offices to get someone long-term. :P

    16. LizzyB

      My biggest frustration with doctors is when they don’t respect their patients. First example: A doctor said to me in a snotty tone *while* I was having a pelvic exam, “Now LizzyB, if you’re sexually active this shouldn’t hurt.” He didn’t even diagnose the problem correctly – the nurse practitioner I saw the next day did. Still makes me mad more than 20 years later.

      Second example: Urgent care doctor couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my husband and was about to send him home. I pushed back. They listened and admitted him to the hospital, which led to the diagnosis of a serious but manageable condition (it comes and goes, so can be difficult to diagnose). Again – the urgent care doctor respected my judgement that something was off instead of dismissing me as a worrywart.

      Good luck with your residency. I think your patients will be able to tell that you care and are trying to do the best for them.

      1. Treena

        “This shouldn’t hurt.”

        Seriously, literally erase this from your vocabulary. There is nothing more demeaning and alienating than someone performing a medical procedure telling you how you feel. I was once having a colpo and I said it was stinging. The Dr (who had just met me, I usually saw a cnm) said, “Well, it shouldn’t be stinging.” and didn’t even pause to say it! The nurse came up nearer to my head, squeezed my hand and gave me the most pitying look I’ve ever received. I could feel her apology radiating, since she knew the Dr. wouldn’t stop.

        1. nep

          YES. Never say anything along those lines.

          Man, Treena — that sounds just horrible. Did you change doctors?

          1. Treena

            I never saw her again, the only reason I saw her was because only MDs can do the procedure, I went right back to my nurse for everything else.

            Oh! Which reminds me of another crazy story. I had unprotected sex (and pulled out) ~4 times after my Depo shot ran out (unknowingly). When I called to set up my next shot, they said I was overdue, so I went in for a blood pregnancy test, and it came back positive. I knew we had pulled out, and that it took me 6 months for my period to come back the last time I was on Depo, so I was really not feeling like I could be pregnant. I asked the RN if there was any chance it could be a false positive. SHE SAID NO. I get that you’re trying to prepare me for my “unexpected pregnancy” but seriously, that’s just not true (which I learned later working in a reproductive health office!) Oh, and I also was never pregnant, according to the second test they did. I still say they mislabeled my tube of blood, but seriously, tell patients anything is possible, because it is!

        2. Not So NewReader

          I think I used to see more of this when I was growing up, I hope we are trending away from it. Medical care should not inflict more pain than the person already has. Pain levels should not go up with the treatment. If it does there is no need to call the person a cry baby or foolish or tell them it is their fault.

          When I was in my 20s I punctured my knee in a car accident. I was 200 miles from home and really scared. The doctor called me every cuss word you can think of because I was crying and shaking. At that point, I realized that the doctor probably had no idea what to do to help me (why else would he cuss like that?), which caused me to cry and shake even MORE. Which of course led to the doctor cussing at me even more…. it was an ugly situation.
          I think the doctor sent me home without telling me that my knee was broken. I later learned that is SOP for that hospital. They routinely do not tell patients they have a broken bone, if the patient is, in their opinion, “difficult”.

          1. Victoria, Please

            *what*? They don’t tell people that bones are broken because the person is *acting stressed*? The f**k!?!

            1. Not So NewReader

              Yeah. The proof came years later. My friend asked me to meet her at the hospital. I went. One of the nurses pulled me to one side and said. “Your friend is being very difficult and hard to manage. So we just wrapped her arm in extra gauze and we will be releasing her. Her arm is broken. Just so you know.”

              And in that moment, I realized they had probably sent me out of there with a broken knee years earlier. I had my entire leg wrapped in miles of gauze. Dang, that thing hurt. And it took months to learn how to walk on it again.

      2. catsAreCool

        My OBGYN is great about understanding that that kind of exam is NOT comfortable. Then again, she’s female, so I’m sure she knows firsthand how they feel.

        I hope empathy is getting better. The doctors I’ve seen over the last few/several years (hasn’t been many; I’m pretty healthy) have been good about understanding that things sometimes hurt, but I remember a couple of doctors when I was younger who were very unsympathetic.

        1. Ellen

          In all seriousness, have you seen a physical therapist that specializes in pelvic issues? Having an extra tight area down there can be a correctable muscle issue. having the therapy has made a huge difference for me…just wanted to pass it on because it’s something no one ever talks about. I wish I had know much sooner!

    17. Pennalynn Lott

      The doctors I’ve had bad experiences with all had a “holier-than-thou” attitude. Like just because they went to medical school, everyone else in the world suddenly became idiots. I walked out on one doc in the middle of an exam when he wouldn’t answer my question about what causes migraines, “Because the explanation is technical and you wouldn’t understand it.” Hey, glassbowl, I have a subscription to the NEJM. I read stuff like that for fun. I think I’ll be able to manage whatever “technical” lingo you throw at me.

      And, for the love of Pete, don’t roll your eyes and cut me off mid-sentence when I say, “I read an article about x-symptom / disorder / thing I am experiencing.” Not everything on the internet is trash. Some of us actually do know how to look for citations and read original studies. Get to know your patients so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to trust their sources. Don’t just write everyone off as an idiot who believes every click-bait and spammy thing out there.

      FWIW, my current doctor started off as being a “I know more about your body than you do” type, but I called him on it and explained that, no, I’m not a moron and, yes, I consider myself a more-than-equal partner when it comes to making decisions about my health and well-being. And, yes, I will research the hell out of whatever he tells me (or prescribes for me) so that we can have an intelligent conversation about it. We now have a good working relationship.

    18. Aussie Teacher

      The two best things my (fabulous) doctor does: 1. She really listens to me, with full eye contact, empathy/sympathy and repeating back key phrases to make sure she understands. 2. She talks to my kids like little people, telling them what she’s going to do before she does it and explaining as she goes. My kids adore her too and I would follow her to any practice in the state!!

    19. Rubyrose

      I’m lucky right now – have both an awesome family practitioner and dentist. Their common traits is that they really listen to me and somehow they are able to remember the basics about me from one visit to another, and I don’t go that often.

      A common trait I’ve found, though, with practitioners that I’ve not had a good relationship with is that on the first visit they don’t introduce themselves! Something simple like that, takes 10 seconds, but I’ve learned to use that as an initial indication about them. This just happened to me a few days ago, with a new orthotic/prostetic tech. After the non-introduction, he followed up with asking me the same question four times. Sorry he did not like my initial answer and apparently could not wrap his head around it, but the answer was not going to change. I walked out after 10 minutes and could tell he had no clue about what had just happened. It really is not my job to actively teach and mentor the practitioner on how to communicate and interact with people. Just because y0u have had teachers actively guiding you for years does not mean that everyone else in your life has that responsibility.

      I would think it might be intimidating for a new practitioner to start treating someone who has lived with a chronic condition for ages. Again, listen to what they are telling you. Now, you could easily have a better/new approach to their issue that they need to hear. But you have a better chance of gaining their trust and getting a behavioral changed from them if you hear them out first.

      Just the fact you are asking the questions you are says good things about you. You are thinking about it. Good luck!

    20. nep

      Seeing a pattern here? Listening — really, truly listening and taking it all into account — is good.

    21. INTP

      I’ve had a number of bad experiences with doctors, particularly GP doctors, simply writing off a complaint as the simplest and most common explanation when I know that’s not it, and not being able to get treatment due to this. For years I tried to describe my sciatica pain to multiple doctors and was only ever told “It’s just general overuse pain.” You can imagine how frustrating it is to know something weird is going on and be dismissed. The sciatica is a self-diagnosis from the internet – I’m not sure there’s any point to trying to get a doctor to confirm when none were ever able to get closer than “normal overuse pain.” My ADHD symptoms were dismissed as generalized anxiety. The SSRI I was prescribed made me sick, but the psychiatrist kept insisting that I keep taking it and increase my dose. I figured out that I had ADHD when we discussed it in school and I took that diagnosis to a new psychiatrist who agreed that it sounded like a textbook case but still required me to receive neuropsych testing that hasn’t proven any more effective than a general clinical interview in order to prescribe meds. Even my asthma wasn’t diagnosed until I was 28 because I don’t have the most common presentation (mine is primarily coughing) – I was at the pediatrician’s several times a year, many of those to check out my respiratory issues, and was just never tested. And my last GP would not even entertain testing me for celiac, though I confirmed some sort of reaction to gluten (when doing a GF trial at the suggestion of a different doctor) and I have various digestive, immune, and allergy related conditions in myself and my family, because she said that everyone with celiac is underweight (not true). She also insisted I take fiber for my constipation even though I tried to explain that it seems to be worst after I eat an excessive amount of fiber and would not discuss other possible causes/remedies with me.

      So, after stuff like that, I just don’t really trust doctors to diagnose things that can’t be clearly seen in lab results and aren’t the classic presentation of a common ailment. I don’t think it’s some character flaw inherent to doctors or that they’re in it for the money, I imagine that it’s just not having an encyclopedic knowledge of all sorts of conditions and the recent research on them (which is understandable) and not trusting patients’ gut feelings or insights (which might be understandable, but also leads to patients being dismissed when they are right). When I do have something wrong that is NOT the most common presentation of a common issue, I tend to anticipate that it’s going to be a massive ordeal to be diagnosed and treated.

      I know you guys can’t trust every patient that argues back or insists something is not right about your diagnosis or treatment, because many of them will be wrong. I don’t know what the solution is here, really. I’m just sharing my side in case it helps you understand what you’re seeing in your patients. (And I’m not saying that you are prescribing or diagnosing incorrectly by any means, just that defensiveness and distrust might be due to doctors who have done so in the past, especially if they did so due to their dismissal of the patient’s own opinions.)

      1. INTP

        Adding: I’ve also had great doctors that have helped me a lot. I’d say the common traits are
        1) Current on research and developments in their fields
        2) Open to non-medicinal interventions too – will suggest lifestyle, diet, etc to help with chronic things
        3) Look at multiple options before arriving at a diagnosis. Don’t just decide on the first thing that seems to fit.
        4) Have a thorough conversation or conversations about whatever is going on, and they respect my knowledge of my own body and don’t treat me like a hassle for having pre-researched to come up with some things to ask about. (I get the sense that some want to go back to the days before Google existed and people knew anything about their own health because it’s easier for them.)

        1. Pennalynn Lott

          Yes, #4! The doctors I’ve had problems with seem to wish they lived in a world where doctors were seen as gods, not consultants and partners. Where they were the only source of medical information for patients. Um, nope.

          Yes, doctors learn a lot of stuff in med school, but it’s impossible for one person to know everything. I have found myself in situations with my veterinarians where I knew more than they did about a specific condition [lymphoplasmacytic stomatitis] because I had the time to devote myself to that one thing, whereas they need to have a broader base of knowledge. (They have since incorporated the treatment protocol I found into their regular practice, btw.)

    22. Noah

      I like my current doctor but there are times his office staff irritate the crap out of me. I have to pick up a script every 30 days for ADHD meds. It has to be printed and signed by the physician. It cannot be faxed or called in. Yet, every 30 days I go around and around with the front desk staff who say they’ll just have someone call it in for me. This month I said “its a schedule II drug, I have to have a signed, paper script”. She then asked, “why do you take that?” Umm…its none of your business, and if you really want to know just read the chart.

      So yeah, long story short, the entire experience can effect patient’s views of “the doctor”. I have to make an appointment to check in with him every 3 months and I plan to tell him about the issues I’ve encountered with the front office staff. Maybe that will help, or maybe it will just piss them all off so it becomes worse, who knows.

    23. OP

      Anonymouse you have chosen a remarkable vocation. The length and breadth of your education and training is incredible. I have been an RN and now an NP for more than 20 years and admire and respect your profession and most of your colleagues including the med students and residents that I work with every day. While physicians as a group most definitely have a PR problem, I think you will find that if you communicate well and respect your patients, you will keep feeling the love.

    24. nep

      A friend of mine — after a bad experience with a doctor and his staff — went to their office specifically to say to the doctor: ‘I’m firing you’.

    25. Num Lock

      I have had wonderful experiences with doctors. I had an amazing pediatrician who I was able to see throughout my childhood. I would not be his first adult patient if I still lived in the area, honestly.

      I lucked in to a great doctor in a large practice where I live now. I have had 0 issues with doctors in the practice, though I have had problems with nurses or other staff dropping the ball. It’s the price I pay to have doctors who can take the time they need with each patient. I would not trade my primary care provider for anything.

      My mom is a pharmacist, so I’ve heard (more than) my fair share of “what were they thinking?!” dosing/prescribing rants. There are, based on her experiences, some real crazy things going on out there. It’ll take a while to build a reputation as a good doctor, but it’ll happen. Every time I hear of a coworker or friend talking about switching doctors, I mention my doc and find out that’s who they’re already looking to establish care with because of her reputation!

    26. Sandy

      I think my biggest frustration is when doctors assume that I’m either an idiot or that I have no medical background at all.

      The thing is, I have an MPH, years of training other people in first aid, I once sewed my dog’s paw back together after he severed part of it (long story) and at least 25 years of experience navigating the medical system to deal with serious chronic illness.

      When I come into your office and say “I think I might have an ear infection, here are the relevant symptoms, I can’t take antibiotic A because I’m allergic and antibiotic B has a history of not being effective”, PLEASE don’t get all up in a huff and assume I’m trying to game you.

      I want to get out of your office as quickly as possible, I know you have limited time and a long line up in the waiting room, and I emphatically don’t want to be treated like I don’t know what the difference between the ear canal and an ear drum is.

      1. Pennalynn Lott

        Yes. This. I had both of my hips replaced recently. Before the first surgery I told the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the nurses that morphine does nothing for me except make me nauseated. They all chose not to believe me, so I woke up in the recovery room screaming from the pain. The recovery nurse told me I just needed to calm down because she’d given me x-amount of morphine, which was very high. Through chattering teeth, I tried to explain to her that morphine is useless on pain for me. I was sent to my room after three hours, still in serious, gut-wrenching pain. [Imagine having someone cut a 10-inch slice through the skin, muscle, tendons and ligaments of your hip, then forcefully wrench your leg out of socket, saw the bone, shove some metal into your femur, and slam it all back together. Now imagine waking up from that with ZERO pain medication!] It took the nurses another two hours to get the doctor to write a prescription for Dilaudid, which, finally, mercifully, took the edge off my pain.

        I suffered through five hours of unbelievable pain because a bunch of medical people thought they knew my body better than I did, and that I was trying to game them for stronger drugs. (What the hell? How does that even work when you’re talking about recovery from a major surgery? It’s not like I’d asked for a 3-month supply of oxycontin. I just wanted to have my pain successfully managed after having a chunk of my body removed.)

        1. This too shall pass

          EXACTLY this and because I had that experience with an ACL replacement, I was very careful going into a surgery last year. I even had a separate visit with the head anesthesiologist. Who nodded and smiled and basically acted as if I was a kook, and don’t worry we know what we are doing. You guessed it …,the pain needs didn’t work. I didn’t get iut of recovery for three hours while they tried to control the pain.

    27. Talvi

      Listening, really listening to me is very important, and please don’t brush me off. There’s one doctor at my university’s student health centre whom I refuse to see (which is a bit frustrating to schedule, because she’s there 4 days a week and most of the doctors there are only scheduled 2 days a week) because both times I saw her, she came across as impatient and patronising – and that there’s the other thing: please don’t talk down to me. Not only can I handle technical explanations, I really do want to know the technical details. It’s probably better I get them from you than looking them up for myself later.

      1. blackcat

        So I’m one of the people who doesn’t trust doctors with dosing. Pediatricians are often GREAT at this. Really awesome. But with someone who always treats adults, I really, really don’t blame them for not taking into account how small I am. They have lots of things to keep track of, and this is something that *I* know about *my* body. I’ve been offended when a doctor insists this doesn’t matter AT ALL, but 9 times out of 10, I’ve encountered doctors who either say “Ah, yes, ok, let’s adjust this.” or “Smaller doses haven’t been shown to be effective. It’s a problem with the research that they don’t include people like you. I have to go with what information I have.” Neither of those responses are a problem. So basically, treat the patient as though they are knowledgable about their body. There’s a HUGE amount of variation in human biology out there, and I have encountered a few (but not that many) doctors who don’t seem to acknowledge this. I once witnessed a great exchange between two doctors, one who refused to believe that I don’t respond normally to many anesthetics and one who was like “This is totally normal for redheads.”* So trust patients when they say “There is X weird thing about my body.”

        I’d also say probing patients to figure out what level of technical detail they want is really, really valuable.

        I had an ER trip where the doctor came back at some point and said “So there’s this new study, and I think they point to a genetic syndrome you have. I’m happy to send the article to your GP for follow up and/or referral to a geneticist…. Oh, you said you’re a scientist, right? Do you want a copy?” Answer from me “Yes, please!” I can read medical journal articles just fine, and because of my university affiliation, I have access to them. I expect doctors to treat me as a fellow scientist. Nearly all *doctors* I’ve interacted with are great at this. I’ve encountered some NPs & PAs who are much less so (that said, for primary care, I’ve mostly seen NPs who I’ve been happy with. When I have a sinus infection, I don’t need someone with an MD).

        One of my good friends had her pediatrician tell her that something about her son’s development was “abnormal,” causing her to panic. After some research, she found that “abnormal” meant only 1.5 standard deviations away from the mean. Sure, that’s slightly abnormal, but A LOT of people naturally fall 1.5 standard deviations away from a mean! It’s totally different than 3 standard deviations! So that level of information would have been really helpful to her as someone with a scientific background.

        That said, details about the statistics totally overwhelm some people and shut them down. This is certainly true for my grandmother and two of my aunts. They have truly terrible emotional reactions to anything involving math, so giving them numbers to work with isn’t helpful.

        *Story: I once had a minor orthopedic procedure done that is normally done under local anesthesia. I convinced the doc to just forgo it–I’d be fine. She asked if she could bring in medical students (procedure took place at large teaching hospital). Suddenly, there were 15ish medical students in the room getting a 10 minute lecture from an anesthesiologist about various factors that cause different people to respond to anesthetics differently, and the risks associated with forgoing it. Fascinating! Then, the main doc asked me if I was comfortable narrating what I felt for the med students. I happily obliged, under the condition that one medical student gave me something to squeeze while I was in pain. I am all for being the example for something “unusual” for medical students to learn from. It’s important for young doctors to see those unusual things in the training, and many, many don’t.

    28. Student

      I hate doctors. My experiences with them have been bad. Maybe if I explain what I hate about doctors, it’ll help you out in some small way. Maybe it’ll just confirm your fear that many of your patients dislike and distrust you.

      I hate going to the doctor, because you’re never open outside of my normal work hours and I have to take time off to do this. I hate waiting for the doctor. I have to schedule time often a month in advance – so I have to do the calculus of “will this still be a problem by the time I see a doctor”. Then, I have to wait in their little room for ages, often an hour or more. Completely isolated, with no easy way to even ask what the wait time is. I understand that doctors get emergencies, but it shouldn’t be so hard in this day & age to keep people up to date on wait times and to provide better estimates.

      I hate medical histories. My parents have tons of health problems, but I have no idea what the proper medical name is for some of them, let alone how relevant they are to me. My grandparents had tons of health problems. And if I’ve got something terrible in my medical history, I would appreciate medical personnel not gasping wen they get to it.

      I hate talking to the doctor. It feels like most of the time they are very dismissive of me. I especially hate when they are very quick suggest a problem is due to “stress”. They don’t seem to pick up on the main issue I’ve come to address. And now they all want to up-sell me on some elective procedure. And always with the pee test and asking me when my last day of menstruation is, no matter what the actual medical concern is. I hate the pee test most of all. I know that you don’t really need it for most of the things I come in for.

      I hate getting the diagnosis. No discussion of what the heck the diagnosis means – I want to know if this is temporary, if this is contagious, if it is heritable, if it is likely to reoccur! I want to know if I’m getting something to alleviate symptoms or if I’m getting something that should fix the underlying problem, but instead I often have to google my meds once I get home. Minimal instructions, often given by somebody else who can’t answer questions well. No discussion of treatment options. Frequent doses that are just too high – especially for painkillers. That’s when I get a diagnosis – usually they just seem to want to milk me for money by referring me around to every specialist who could possibly weigh in before telling me they have no idea how to help me and just giving up, with no discussion of options. And why the heck do I need to come into the office once per year to get prescription updates on meds that I’ll be on for years to come, or to give me simple test results? I know you’re just pocketing the easy money from the insurer for those appointments – they just waste my time and yours (but lots more of mine).

      I hate wrestling with insurance after a doctor’s visit. I know it is only tangentially in your sphere of influence, but it’s something I heavily associate with doctor’s visits. Insurance agencies are the miserable frosting on top of the horrible doctor’s visit cupcake of despair.

    29. Observer

      I haven’t read the responses yet, so I may be repeating a lot, but here are my thoughts.

      A really good doctor is worth his weight in gold. And even just a decent doctor can be a really good preexistence if she is right FOR YOU. And a lot of them are not.

      So, lets start with some things that are way too common. Many doctors simply do not respect their patients. One common way this shows up is in how quickly they interrupt the patient who is describing a problem. A typical consult is approximately 11 minutes. If left to themselves, patients typically provide all of the relevant information a doctor needs in 90 seconds, including things the doctor might not have thought to ask. Yet, doctors are so convinced that patients are not capable of telling their own story that they interrupt the patient in 30 seconds. And, a common result of this is that necessary information does not get transmitted.

      Many doctors are arrogant, even when idealistic and otherwise nice. As well, they have a “lone hero” mentality. Which means that NO ONE gets to question the doctor – not the “ignorant” patient, nor the nurse etc. If you have ever read Atul Gwande, he talks alot about the usefulness of check lists. Why are doctors so resistant? They are not the only ones who deal with complex and high stakes situations, yet in other such professions, check lists are absolutely standard. Of course, this is just part of a larger culture shift that needs to happen. Most people don’t see the back end of this, but they do experience the way their doctors look at them.

      Less common, but still too common is the fact that many doctors, especially specialists, do not see their patients as PEOPLE, but rather this, that or the other body part. There are a lot of negative repercussions, but the most ironic is that it leads to a lot of MEDICALLY stupid decisions.

      What makes things even worse is the racism that is common and sexism that is endemic in the medical profession. There is tons of documentation of this. The comment thread you mention is actually a perfect example of this – the reality is the women generally DO need different dosing than men, and even a non-sexist doctor may not manage this correctly, because his training and / or the drug information falls down in this area. Beyond that, the prejudices that doctors have translate into how they treat their patients. Women, people with the “wrong” accent, with “exotic” looks, etc. tend to be not taken as seriously as white males. Again, it’s not just statistics that don’t properly control for things like socio-economic factors, but well controlled studies that document these problems.

      So, yes, while most of us appreciate doctors, many of us are also acutely aware of the issues that many, many doctors present.

    30. J.B.

      You’ve gotten a ton of responses here so I’ll try to tailor mine a bit. I cannot believe the hours that most US physicians work. The system seems designed to chew up and spit out doctors. There’s also the constant tension between availability and relationships between doctor and patient. I recently pulled my kids from a large pediatric practice in favor of a small family practice because their regular pediatrician dismissed my kid who was having panic attacks as misbehaving. I have found the tradeoff for the smaller practice to be less convenient hours but more consistency. In the larger practice some of the pediatricians we saw for sick visits were much quicker to write antibiotics then others. I really appreciate having NPs and an MD in the same practice – I feel more comfortable generally with the NPs who are both great listeners and very capable but able to call in the supervising physician as needed.

      1. catsAreCool

        The hours they have to work when they’re residents shouldn’t be legal. It seems dangerous for the patients and the residents, and it may set doctors up to think those hours are OK.

        1. Mike C.

          This is something that really, really bothers me as well. We have limits for truck drivers and for pilots, bit when it comes to medicine, the answer is always, “Weeeeeell we suck at handoffs so rather than improve that process we’re going to make folks work insane hours instead”.

          I mean what in the hell is that? I get that you can’t just sub people in during a long surgery, but I bet a little technology and a lot of good practices would go a long way in letting residents and nurses actually have normal hours.

    31. Not So NewReader

      If you are still reading I would like to say I have the utmost in admiration for you- you are a very strong person.

      I would like to address two things. Your comment about veterinarians and your comment about Big Pharma.

      Vets: They are people of science, too. My chiro said that he would never, ever become a veterinary chiro because they have to learn so much more than he had to learn. He feels their work is more difficult than his work with people. I think that there are learning opportunities in everything, all the time. I watch my dog, he is a mammal just like me. There is some cross over or parallels in how our bodies work. I can learn something from watching him. Not much different than watching laboratory rats/mice/other animals- it’s an opportunity to learn something.
      The best doctor I ever had felt that he could learn things by watching people, animals and even plants. He made himself into a sponge that just absorbed everything around him. Everything interested him, if my dog had a problem he would be interested in how my dog was doing with the vet’s treatment. This doctor also gardened, he learned about plants and plant life, he learned about how foods impact the body.

      Big Pharma. Start by not having things around the office with the names of drugs or drug companies on them. These are supposedly gifts but they are actually advertisements for the product. I see a pen/sticky notes/other things with drug ads on them, I instantly become wary. Don’t accept gifts from detail people. Yeah, it’s just a coffee pot and the office could use a new coffee pot. Go to the store and buy one, don’t accept it as a gift.
      When you are reading studies, find out who funded the study. Always be aware of who is behind the study. It may or may not mean anything. But lack of awareness can be construed as a lack of thoroughness, so watch out for this part, make sure that you are seen as being thorough.

      Thank you for asking and thank you for reading through. I knew you were working in my area I might want to make an appointment with you. You seem to be heading in the right direction over all.

    32. Megan

      I am always impressed with doctors (or dentists) who clearly explain how much insurance will pay vs. what I will pay. I would much rather ok a test if I know ahead of time it might cost me out of pocket and have time to check with my insurance in advance of the test. I’ve changed my doctor when they didn’t let me know in advance and I got hit with a huge bill for an optional test.

  13. Regina 2

    Does anyone have any recommendations for starting up an exercise program? Specifically towards building stamina? I have never been an athlete but up until my current job, was quasi-active. The stress from my current job has made it so I eat all my feelings (noodles and bread 24/7), and don’t prioritize working out anymore. The only exercise I enjoy is dance, but there are virtually no classes around me that I can attend given my long hours, for multiple times a week. I hate running. I tried a boot camp, and it was okay, but I found the people to be a bit cult-y.

    Any recommendations? I feel terrible about my health and know once I’m in a routine, exercise will make me feel good. But right now, I’m depressed and meh about everything (see the above whininess!).

    1. Colette

      Get an app that times intervals. Start short, work up to long.

      The big thing really is just doing it.

      If you want to try things you don’t know how to do, a class or trainer are good options.

    2. nep

      You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised how much better you’ll feel — physically and mentally — just moving your body on a regular basis — be it putting on some good music and dancing for 15-20 minutes, brisk walking, lifting some dumbbells.
      Agree with the suggestion about interval training. Really anything you enjoy doing will help you start to build stamina. I find that using a timer or Tabata rounds helps me hang in there, because I don’t want to stop before the cycle’s up.
      Would you be working out at home or at a gym? As you know there are countless workout videos on line, including many that require no equipment at all.
      Consistency trumps everything. Great you’re looking to get in more exercise — your body and mind will thank you.

    3. Cristina in England

      Maybe you could try to build in some movement or activity not as “exercise” with special clothes required, but as a part of your normal day, like walking to the store or walking up the stairs instead of using the elevator? I hated running for about 15 years (tried it once every 5 or so) and finally a couch to 5k clicked with me and I did that until my first pregnancy. I have not managed to find time for running since then, but I don’t have a car and I go for daily walks with my toddler. Even if it is around the block, at least I’ve left the house (I am a hermit in spirit so I can go days without leaving the house).

    4. Trixie

      No matter what’s going on any given day, I always feel better after doing something. It may be a walk (flat or hilly), following a short body weight video on youtube, or yoga class. The more consistent you can be (even 5-10 minutes at a time), he better and stronger you’ll feel. I like group classes because you’re in together and all suffering/working hard in unison. You’ll start to recognize faces and there’s a certain accountability when someone starts looking for you.

      I’m not sure what your job is but when I’m working at the desk I stand up and move as often as possible. I love noodles and bread too much so I tend not to keep them in the house unless they’re whole grain and even then, it’s often too tempting. If I’m full on healthy food, I don’t snack as often and tend to keep eating better because I just feel better. No acid reflux, headaches, dehydration, etc.

      Can be very challenging and difficult at first. Keep your bigger picture in mind and just keeping come back at it.

    5. Terra

      If you’re interested in an overall type of conditioning I’d look into five basic exercises (shortened to 5BX or VBX) or ten basic exercises (shortened to XBX generally). They were designed by the Royal Canadian Airforce to take (theoretically) anybody and get them ready to join the military. Both consist of a series of bodyweight exercises and a cardio portion. They have a built in system for adding repetitions and intensity without adding a whole lot of time so they’re pretty easy to fit into a workday. They can also be done without the use of any equipment and in a fairly small space.

      1. FiveWheels

        I don’t know these specific programs but I second bodyweight exercises. Easy to do, limited time needed, limited equipment needed.

    6. Florida

      At the beginning, I’d focus on frequency more than anything else. A 10-minute workout everyday is better than a 1 hour workout once a week. And maybe don’t even try once a day to start. Try twice a week. Then up to three times a week. Etc.

    7. Be the Change

      I became instantly addicted to CrossFit the moment I started it (a month ago, I admit, not very long). I know what you mean by “culty” and I’m sure I will sound like a groupie here in a minute too.

      But what I’ve really appreciated about it is that they let you start exactly where you’re at, help you learn to do things well, and scale things to your capacity. The box I’ve been going to has a sweet story from one of their coaches. An elderly couple wanted to join, and she started them on step-ups onto a 10-lb weight disk, which is about 1 inch thick, because that was what they could do. Now, they are stepping up on 20-inch boxes! So it’s very developmental. Plus, everyone is super-friendly and encouraging. Show up and try your best, and you’ve met everyone’s expectations. (I’m old enough not to give a flying eff if some 20-yr-old thinks less of me because I can’t do what she can do, but I’ve never gotten that vibe anyway.)

      If you decide to check it out, make sure that you find a box where they are very concerned about safety and not pushing to the point of over-reach, and where they are not all into the competitions. Competitive boxes are less fun for us mere mortals.

      1. AdAgencyChick

        It sounds like you’ve found an excellent gym.

        I’ve been CrossFitting for close to five years and I love it, but I cannot unreservedly recommend it. Taught by a good coach who knows how to introduce new people to the movements and scale workouts appropriately, it is life-changing. Taught by a terrible coach, at best it is expensive cardio and at worst it is a recipe for injury. I usually try to visit the local gym when I’m traveling, and unfortunately I have seen firsthand that the quality varies A LOT.

        So for those trying CF out — shop around. Don’t just do what I did and pick a gym out of proximity alone — I lucked out, but not everyone does!

    8. Stephanie

      I’m a huge proponent of swimming. Easy on the joints and you can work at your own pace. And there’s just something about the water that’s calming. Most major areas should have a free* or low-cost rec center you could swim laps at.

      *On the off chance you live in DC, the city’s aquatic centers are free with proof of residency and really nice.

      1. Trixie

        I need to do this. I’m at two different facilities with easy pool access. Just get getting past the pet peeve of dealing with a new suit.

    9. Sunshine Brite

      Do what you like so you keep going. If you like to dance, pick up a dance DVD or try a streaming service. I’m a Beachbody coach so I have Cize and I can get myself to do that sometimes on days when I’m just not feeling it from any other types of exercise. Or if it’s more ballet type dance you like there’s Barre method type exercises out there.

      I suggest paying attention to what you eat. Maybe food journal or quick jot down your motivations when you eat. Don’t necessarily have to assign good/bad values or anything (I do my best not to!) Just what and why. That sometimes spurs me towards better choices on my own. Maybe look into mindful eating practices or just trying to do more veggies/fruits first. I think that makes a bigger difference in how I feel than exercising.

    10. K.

      I agree with all the advice to do something, anything, every day. I’m a cyclist (spinner when the weather doesn’t let me ride outside) and the good thing about that is that you can start by just riding around town, if you have a bike. If you live in a city that lets you rent them, try that. Yoga and swimming might be good if you’re just getting back into exercise – just look for a gentler yoga class, and there are a trillion yoga videos on YouTube.

      I know what you mean about running, but I’ve been adding runs to my workouts because I am thinking of doing a short triathlon in the spring, and I kind of enjoy it. (As long as it’s outside. I loathe the treadmill.) Short distances though – you won’t find me in a marathon.

    11. Schnapps

      I found the 21 day fix works for me. Half an hour a day so I can squeeze it in on my lunch breaks. It’s a Beachbody program so easily available.

    12. Disasteroid

      I would suggest taking a look at Nerd Fitness. The basic starter exercise programs are easy to find and make sense. And there is a fair amount of information to be found on ramping up the workouts in whichever direction you want to go.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        Between my Winnie the Pooh Stoutness Exercises, I find dancing is good fun and doesn’t make me feel like I am exercising.

  14. Colette

    So yesterday afternoon, I went blind in one eye. It came and went for about an hour. I’ve seen five doctors since then, none of whom have answers, and had multiple tests (all fine) with one yet to be scheduled.

    Mostly, I’m annoyed that this is messing up my weekend. And I need a nap.

    1. nep

      How stressful. Hope you’ll be able to get some rest, and get some answers as to why this happened and how to address it. All the best.

    2. Jill of All Trades

      That sounds scary and annoying. Was it really blurry vision or couldn’t see a darn thing including light?

          1. Dynamic Beige

            The first migraine I had, I saw pinwheels, there was a missing piece from my field of vision. It was scary. Mercifully, that was the only time it ever happened like that. Hopefully, this will be the only time you have the blinding whiteness.

            1. Winter is Coming

              That was the same things that happened to me! I actually had one every few months for about 2 years then they just stopped.

          2. ThursdaysGeek

            My thought too — my spouse says his vision partially blanks out, usually for only an hour or so, with no pain or anything else. It’s been occasionally happening for decades, and ocular migraine is our best idea. It happens when he’s extra tired.

        1. bkanon

          I had this happen a couple of years ago. If you can, ask an eye doctor about the possibility of iritis. It’s an inflammation that can be treated pretty easily with steroid drops. It scared the hell out of me, because I had that white-vision blindness, but it cleared up fast once I had the drops.

          Though I did look like David Bowie for a bit! I had to dilate that eye to help keep the iris from getting more irritation, so I spent a couple of days with one blown pupil.

    3. Artemesia

      When that happened to my husband it was an occluded vein — it got a bit better over time but it still caused a lot of damage. There are a lot of potential causes and I am surprised that 5 doctors haven’t figured out one of them. Hope they do soon.

      1. Colette

        In my experience, medical science isn’t about finding the smoking gun as much as eliminating all of the clubs, knives, and swords until the only thing left is the gun.

    4. Not So NewReader

      The one time this happened to me, it was my kidneys. [Graphic alert!] I was not peeing correctly. I think it turned out to be a kidney stone. Like you are saying my vision came back pretty quick. The stone took a bit longer to clear up, but it did clear up.

      If this does not fit your setting, I hope at least it gives you an example and some hope of how the problem may not be a severe thing. It could be something that is quite fixable. Fingers crossed for you.

  15. Owl

    Hyperbole and a Half is brilliant.

    I don’t know if anyone else listens to Welcome to Night Vale, but I just finished the book a week ago and got it signed on Monday! It was a really good book (I thought the first two thirds of the book were better, but the last chapter was amazing), and the signing was great as well. Night Vale is so delightfully weird and funny and human that I look forward to every episode.

    1. FD

      I listen to it too, though I’m behind right now. Want to get the audiobook, but I’m holding off, because I suspect my fiancee got it for me for Christmas.

    2. Cath in Canada

      I’ve tried to get into the podcast a couple of times now, but just can’t. It’s weird because it’s the exact kind of thing I usually like, my friends who usually share my tastes all absolutely rave about it, and I can’t articulate exactly why I feel so meh about it. Kind of frustrating! Maybe I should try the book instead

    3. Lamington

      i’m a big fan of allie, it definitely helped me thru my depression. Someone that understood and also love her funny bits with simple dog.

  16. Carrie in Scotland

    I’m 30 today.

    I spent it alone, although tomorrow there will be cake with friends.

    Yeah, and my neighbour is threatening legal action on me potentially because I can’t pay my share of the building costs.

    1. Lucina

      Happy birthday Carrie! I’m sorry about your neighbour, and I can’t really offer any advice, but I hope you spend a great day with friends and cake.

    2. Cristina in England

      Happy Birthday!! I hope you have something good on iPlayer to watch.

      That is really shitty about your neighbour. I am sorry. I hope you can get some good free advice.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Happy Birthday, Carrie. I hope you get an unexpected happy surprise.

      Your neighbor is not too swift. If you have to pay legal fees to defend yourself against his claim then that means it’s even less likely that you will have money to pay the building costs. Not a good move on his part. I hope this changes for you very soon.

  17. Lizabeth

    Going to be visiting Toronto, CA over Thanksgiving to see the Turner art exhibit. We’ll be staying overnight. What other sightseeing should we do and any good coffee places and restaurants recommendations would be appreciated!

    1. Mephyle

      PATH (especially if the weather turns out to be bad).
      Coffee: Merchants of Green Coffee. It could be combined with a visit to the Distillery District – it’s not so far away from there.

  18. Jen

    I am really struggling with being disappointed in many things in my life that i cant control. I recognize that i have more than many people- good job, healthy kid, secure and safe housing, etc. I recognize that i need gratitude and to be thankful for what i have. I went to a therapist. It was stupid. Plus she hugged me. Ive been doing loving kindness meditation. Anyone have other suggestions? Im in such a funk. I didn’t get what i wanted but i got a lot. And its time to accept it and move forward.

    1. nep

      What specifically disappoints you in your life?
      Do you exercise? I don’t mean that flippantly or mean to over-simplify things. Getting my body moving saved my life.
      I’d like to hear more about what you’re disappointed about — ‘I didn’t get what I wanted but I got a lot’. What is it that has eluded you?
      Sorry you’re in a funk.

      1. Jen

        Sorry im hours behind. After i finished grad school i worked and supported my husband through med school. Got pregnant after he graduated in 2012. He hasn’t ever worked or done anything since graduating. Kid is in full time daycare so i can work. We were together 5 years before marrying; 4 more years before the kid. I thought i knew the guy.

        We still live in the tiny rowhouse that we bought when i was in grad school. Im nearly too old to have more kids, which i wanted to do. Between mortgage, student loans, etc i can just barely afford our life.

        But the thing is. My kid is healthy and smart, i like my neighborhood and city, i can afford my house, i am working in my field, i can make my student loan payments. I need to get a divorce but i cant right now and in the meantime my husband is a decent guy in terms of every day life stuff and hes a good dad. Im in a better place than a lot of people. Its not the life i expected but its ok. I am paralyzed with anger and sadness and im beginning to feel like its self indulgence. So i didn’t get to be a doctors wife with a big house up the street, 3 kids, a part time job and extravagant vacations and savings accounts. Its time to get over it. Except i cant. Im stuck. I just rehash the whole thing all day every day in my head. I’ve gotten back to yoga which was always my mental safe haven. Started meditation. It helps but its like a grain of sand on the beach.

        1. misspiggy

          That is truly tough. When a frustrating situation is right before you all the time, and you’re not in a position to resolve it, it’s very hard. Identifying all the good things as you have done seems wise. But would it also help to decide on a few more steps to improve your situation? I don’t mean focusing on the doctor’s wife dream, but what would feel like an improvement, however tiny? What would make your life feel more like yours? And if you can’t do x thing now, could you plan to bring it off the shelf at a certain point in the future to examine again?

        2. Cristina in England

          You have just said it all: you want a divorce but feel you can’t right now, you want more children but with a partner you want to divorce, that is a no-go, and you don’t want to have to be the sole breadwinner, is that right? Not one of these is trivial on its own, but taken all together it is no wonder you are so unhappy. These are three huge things.

          You might be better off reframing your unhappiness, removing all references to ‘self-indulgence’. Yes it is best to be grateful for what you have but it sounds like the terms of your marriage right now are not what you agreed at the start (that is how Dear Prudence would frame it). If you are choosing to stay in your marriage then please seek counselling, ideally with your husband to discuss these changes. You are not selfish for wanting things that are different from what you have. Please ease up on yourself. It is ok, and in fact a good thing to practice good self-care and work towards making yourself happier.

        3. nep

          You’re saying ‘I can’t’ and ‘I’m stuck’. Saying that / buying into that is very powerful — and not in a good way.
          It sounds like you’re seeking ways to get out of the funk, which is great. Baby steps. You *can* bring about change and make things better.

    2. catsAreCool

      You might try another therapist. Just because you didn’t like one therapist or her methods doesn’t mean you won’t like them all. Sorry you’re feeling down. I hope you feel better.

      If you watch the news or spend a lot of time reading the news, you might want to cut way back on it – it tends to tell you all the awful things and very few of the encouraging things.

      Take it easy on yourself. You don’t have to feel great all the time (although that would be nice).

      Have you had a medical check-up recently? Sometimes feeling sad is actually a physical problem (like thyroid) that can be fixed.

      1. Florida

        Agree abut trying a new therapist. Therapists are sort of like hair stylist. Sometimes you have to try a few before you find one you like. Once you find a good one, you hope they never move to another city or retire.

    3. Nashira

      Some therapists suck. Or they’re just a really really bad fit for you. I’m on my third in a year and hope I’ve finally found someone who can help. It sucks but sometimes you have to try several people before you find one whose personality and methods work for you. It’s a bit the name of the game, I guess, and doing internal work to find out whether you need a neutral wise person to talk to, or a systemic therapy like CBT or DBT, or what.

      Mentioning hating being hugged in the first session can help tho. As does treating the first session like you’re interviewing then for a job. Then if they still try to hug you or ramble on about chakras when you’re into science-based medicine, you know they’re not good for you, and you don’t waste time.

    4. JMW

      I have found in my life that periods of discontent have 2 primary causes:
      1) There is a gap between what I am experiencing and what I expect. I can either adjust my experiences (learn something new, go volunteer, get some exercise) or change my expectations.
      2) I am going through a life transition, moving from one chapter to the next. Things feel like they are finishing, but what comes next is not yet evident. This takes patience, and sometimes if I get really low it takes a bit of therapy. Reading, journaling, and drawing are really helpful for me in these periods.

      Maybe something in this would work for you too. Best wishes.

    5. Cristina in England

      Maybe let yourself grieve for the things that haven’t worked out the way you want. One example (that I am totally making up, this might not apply to you!) might be if you are disappointed with your own parents, like that they will never be the mature emotionally stable people you needed, to let yourself grieve and be sad that you did not have the secure upbringing you should have. I think that a gratitude practice is indeed useful, but also, don’t try to talk yourself out of whatever is causing the feelings in the first place. Also, sometimes I tell myself that melancholy is just part of the human condition, and try to go with it.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Great insight here. Grief can be a big player in settings like this. It is a loss, you don’t have the life you expected, OP. It’s sounds weird to say this- but take the time to cry. We have tears for a reason, tears help us cope. There have been times where I have sat down and just balled my eyes out. Oddly, the next day was a tiny bit better. No, nothing else had changed, I was just a tiny bit stronger or a tiny bit clearer in some way. You might find it helpful to read about grief-all the different causes of grief, the symptoms of grief, what the grieving process looks like (it can include anger) and self-care during grief. Not a waste of time, it’s supportive information that you can use over and over again in life.

    6. Terra

      Happify has a fair number of free “tracks” that involve various activities like guided meditation, games, writing exercises. It may be something to try for awhile at least to see what, if anything, helps most and possibly read some of the science articles they have about emotional issues and being happy.

    7. Mango

      I’ve taken a nihilistic tinted approach to life. Existence isn’t fair or kind. Life is meaningless. ( but I can assign value to something). Nothing turns out as expected. Everything that matters to me will eventually be gone, so a person better value things while they are there. End with acceptance.

      This entire worldview may not be useful for you! Many appologies.

    8. Not So NewReader

      I have two suggestions. One is to think about what you CAN do right now. Making a list of things we cannot do gets to be crippling and it can kill us on the inside. Try to think of things that you can do right now. Small things count- so don’t skate by the small things.

      And this suggestion may or may not be doable but for your consideration here goes- try helping someone else with a problem they are having. Even small helps here and there count. I am reading what you are saying here as you have lost your power, your autonomy over you life. Sometimes we can take back our power by helping someone else. This makes no sense on the surface, but maybe give it a shot and see where that puts you.

  19. Not Karen

    More a complaint than a question, but if you have any advice I would appreciate it.

    I’m becoming really frustrated with housing prices in my area. I’m trying to lower my expenses as much as possible in order to pay down my student loans and it’s difficult when base living costs are so much. My rent is 25% of my (gross) income, which is apparently considered middle-of-the-road, not low, but that’s what a 1-bedroom costs here. A single professional should be able to afford a 1-bedroom apartment! (For the record, no, I can’t live in shared housing due to a medical condition.)

    We’re in a college town, too, so I really have no idea how all the college students can afford their rent.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I wish I had some advice. Our one-bedroom is 28% of our gross combined income (me + spouse), and it’s tough!

      I’m assuming in terms of your town being a college town that the college either owns houses and rents them out to students at a lower cost, or the students are piling in (4 to a 2-bedroom, for example).

    2. fposte

      In my college town, buying is often much cheaper than renting, because renting is based on cramming ’em in. However, I think 25% is pretty common for buying or renting, and in some markets it’s on the low side for early career professionals. If you can’t lower costs by sharing space, I think your options are likely limited to smaller space or less desirable condition/location.

      Sorry; I think you’re right that housing is one of the best areas to restrict spending in if you’re trying to cut down, but it can be tough to do.

    3. Stephanie

      We’re in a college town, too, so I really have no idea how all the college students can afford their rent.

      Loans, parents, a part-time (or full-time even) job, or doubling up in rooms. A friend of a friend went to NYU and I was like “Man…how did you live in Manhattan as a college student?” She was like “It was hard.”

      Now is it a college town that’s part of a large metro area? In my area, living immediately around the big flagship school is very expensive, despite the area overall being pretty affordable. If that’s the case, you could try moving further away from the demand.

      1. Not Karen

        I wouldn’t say large, no. I live near the edge of town already. It’s strange – it’s like there are only smaller, crappier apartments downtown and only fancier apartments on the outskirts, and they’re the same price. I am considering moving out of town, which can be cheaper, but I work downtown so there are such factors to consider.

    4. INTP

      No help, but commiseration. I am a few months out of grad school and living with my parents (well, right now my grandparents because my parents are waiting for a house purchase to go through) because of this. I make enough money right now to support myself in an apartment, but NOT to live in non-miserable conditions and save any significant amount of money, which is what I want to be doing right now (so I can buy a condo, ultimately). I’ve even looked at other cities, but to find a rental place that is really liveable – and I don’t mean fancy, but non-smoking (I have asthma), safe, reasonably maintained, and with neighbors that are quiet and professional – it’s never cheap. If the city is cheaper, there’s just more assumption that people that want quiet, pleasant housing will live in houses or suburbs.

    5. YaH

      Wow- I’m completely envious! My rent for my 1 bedroom apartment is 38% of my takehome pay, and then of course I have student loans, credit card payments, and a car loan. I have maybe a couple hundred bucks each month to pay for food, toiletries, gas, etc.

      I’ve looked into moving, but I’m already paying about $500 under market value and there is literally nothing cheaper that won’t add an hour each way to my commute.

      As a public school employee, I don’t have a chance in heck of ever getting out of debt at this rate. :(

      1. Not Karen

        I’m sorry to hear that’s it’s so rough for you but I can definitely understand! Like I said, I also have student loans, and when I first graduated I also had credit card debt and a car loan. If you’re a teacher in the US and have federal student loans, you are eligible for forgiveness.

    6. BAS

      I pay 50% of my take-home pay for a studio apartment. That doesn’t cover any utilities other than sewer/water/trash. It is pretty miserable, but I don’t do well with roommates and there isn’t much available that is cheaper where I live.

  20. Mimmy

    I have two questions, both about specific friends of mine. Info is intentionally vague to protect privacy.

    Friend 1: Met her in one of my online classes last year and have gotten together with her in person a few times. Absolutely lovely woman who shares a lot of my views about our field of interest. However, she is a single mom to a child with autism and other disabilities. On top of that, she recently started a full-time position at her current place of employment. As a result, she is feeling very overwhelmed. My issue is that I think it’s clouding her perceptions about the classes in our graduate program. She’s pretty much been the only classmate I’ve become close with; thus, her opinions about the classes is coloring my perceptions too. I’m really trying to avoid letting that happen – there’s a class I really want to take in the spring. She’s taking it now and HATES it. This morning, I reached out to a woman in her class that I knew from a previous class to get her take. She seems to see the class a bit more favorably.

    Would it be crossing a line to suggest that everything else going on might be affecting how much she enjoys her classes? She even vehemently dislikes the administrators of our program, where I’ve been wanting to give them the benefit of the doubt. Many people like this program, and I’d hate to allow my friend’s views to cause me to pass up potential opportunities.

    Friend 2: We were best friends in college, to the point of practically being tied at the hip. About 1.5 years after we graduated, she came down with a near-fatal illness. Nearly 20 years later, she still has residual disabilities. Unfortunately, I’m one of the few people outside of her cuckoo family that she’s comfortable talking with. She often calls me and tells me the same stories nearly every time. I’ve encouraged her to explore social activities, but her work schedule (afternoon / evening) prevents it.

    Sometimes when she calls, I ignore it because I just don’t feel like having the same conversation yet again. On the one hand, I know talking with this friend is the “right thing to do” so that she doesn’t feel lonely and I’ve known her for so long. But…I don’t enjoy it. Probably because I don’t know how to help her–she’s brushed off all my suggestions over the years, so I just listen, but it’s frustrating. It’s rarely a two-sided conversation; it’s often just her running commentary on work or her family.

    Any insights or suggestions on either of these? I feel like a horrible person by having these feelings, especially with Friend 2. But navigating friendships isn’t exactly my forte, even after 40+ years, lol.

    1. fposte

      On friend 1: it depends. It sounds like your main concern is you feel like she’s pulling you down about the program. If so, it’s worth considering ways for you to change your response or exposure rather than changing her; you’re the first stop here.

      I think if you like hanging out with her it can be worth having a discussion about this rather than just cutting back the time you spend with her, but I think also it’s important for you to recognize it could be a program that legitimately isn’t doing it for her and wouldn’t if she had all the time in the world. The problem isn’t that she has a slanted view, it’s that her view, whether justifiable or not, is something that is making this program less satisfying for you. So maybe a “Jane, I know you’ve had some dissatisfactions with the program, and a lot of them I really don’t share; can we try spending more time talking about non-program stuff since we’re not on the same page?”

      On #2: you don’t owe her, and you’re certainly not responsible for fixing her. It’s fine not to answer the phone sometime no matter who it is. But maybe it’s worth bringing it up that you’ve fallen into this habit, especially if I’m correctly understanding that it’s all a monologue from her and you never talk about what you’re doing. “Jane 2, I love catching up with you, but it’s felt kind of one-sided the last few times. I’ve got some cool classes I’d like to talk to you about, and I could use some insights on a friend situation. Up for doing some listening?”

    2. Mephyle

      On Friend 2: Consider being Venusian to her. (I’m referring to the so-called womanly trait of listening and empathizing without trying to fix things the way men supposedly do.) She may be brushing off all your suggestions and complaining about the same things every time because she’s not looking to you for solutions, but for a listener. If she keeps calling you, maybe she’s doing it because she keeps getting what she needs from you. If you change your expectations away from thinking that she will change, maybe you can get satisfaction from knowing that you are helping her just by listening even if it is the same thing every time. If you are willing to keep on doing it, that is.

    3. Language Lover

      I don’t have a recommendation for Friend #2.

      As for Friend #1, I do think it’d be a bit out of line, or at least counterproductive, to point out that her feelings might be marred by other things going on her life. Her experience is her experience and she should be able to own it.

      However, you are not under any obligation to own her perceptions or opinions. You should make your own judgments, especially if you find you’re not agreeing with hers for whatever the reasons are that you disagree. For instance, it might be the other stressors in her life that make her not have much patience with your program. Or it could be something as simple as expectations. I remember people complaining about my grad school program which I enjoyed. It confused me at first until I realized it was simply about differing expectations. They expected things that I thought were unrealistic or I appreciated challenges they didn’t.

    4. Christy

      Honestly, I would fade out both friends. They don’t sound like they are very good friends to you. Sorry to be blunt about it but really, what are you getting out of their friendships, other than not feeling guilty for “abandoning” (my word, not yours) two people in difficult life circumstances?

    5. Student

      On friend 1: Please don’t tell her that her opinions or feelings are “wrong”. You can disagree with her – and voice that disagreement – without acting like you know what she thinks better than she does.

      Just because she’s unhappy with the study program, or specific classes,or administrators, or her other obligations, doesn’t mean you should make major educational choices based on her unhappiness. Be an adult. Take her opinion as one piece of the puzzle to decide whether a class is worth taking. In the end, it comes down to whether you think you will learn something of value to you by taking a class. And, last time I checked, most classes have a grace period where you can drop them for a full refund if they stink immediately – so the consequences of signing up for a “bad” class should be pretty low.

      On friend 2: You don’t actually like her. The friendship died already; it’s time to bury it, grieve it if necessary, and move forward. Fade out of her life. No matter what it feels like, you are not her only social outlet. She either has other people to talk to, or she will find some. She’ll be fine, you have nothing to feel guilty about.

    6. FD

      #1- You don’t want to convince her she’s wrong, you just want to go into it without bias. I’d just say something like this. “Jane, I know you hated the class, but I’m going to be taking it, and I want to go into it with an open mind. Would you mind if we didn’t talk about it anymore? Thanks.”

      #2- This is really tricky. I think you need to reframe your expectations first of all. This is a person who wants you for support; this isn’t going to be a mutual friendship where you both support each other. Then, you need to decide, are you OK with that? There’s no right or wrong answer. Personally, my litmus test is that I know I can only have a few people like that at a time, so I restrict it to people I feel I can help. Help can me help them sort out a situation, or help can mean that I feel that my support helps them to feel substantially better. I have moved away from people where I felt we were just rehashing old stuff, without getting anywhere–people who I felt needed a therapist more than a friend.

      However, if you do decide it’s too much, I believe you should talk with her to set boundaries. It doesn’t sound like she’s been a creeper or done other behaviors that merit a full cut off with no explanation. There are a few things you could say.

      “Miranda, I know you’re going through a hard time, and I know it might never get better. I also understand that you feel very lonely. However, right now, I feel like you need more support than I’m able to give alone. Going forward, I need to [limit our calls to twice a month] / [step away for a while to regain my emotional balance] / [break things off so I can focus on other areas].”

    7. Not So NewReader

      It could be that it’s time to look for friends who are more similar to you and what you are doing. In other words, look for peers/equals. I see that you are giving these two friends lots of support. Do they offer supportive things to you? Friendship is a two way street. The support goes back and forth.

      While you could keep the friends you have, maybe by adding people who have goals more in line with your goals would be more beneficial to you. In short, these current friends cannot give you want you need, find more sources of encouragement and offer those people encouragement also.

      This is kind of strange to say, but the people in my life who offer encouragement are not always the people I am closest with. Yeah, sometimes my good friends and family say supportive things, but I am finding that people who are not as close are sometimes better sources of encouragement.

  21. Meh?

    I’m not really sure how to explain it but I’m just feeling really…meh lately. It isn’t that I’m not feeling emotions, I am, but I just feel run down. Not physically but mentally and emotionally. I get up, I go to work, I come home and within an hour or so I am exhausted and in bed. When I am at work or out with friends everything seems fine, but as soon as I’m home it is like I’m in a giant cloud of…meh.

    I’m not sure what I’m looking for here. But I have a hard time expressing this to the people in my life since they all seem to have such huge, scary things going on. I feel like I can’t complain since nothing is going wrong for me, exactly.

    1. fposte

      Mentioned it to a doctor? (See, upthread doc? You are valued!) It could be dysthymia/mild depression, or thyroid issues, or, or, or. Have a check. You deserve to have more enjoyment out of life than you’re getting.

      1. Meh?

        I did mention it in my checkup last week. I was told, and I quote, “what do you think you should feel – this is life!”

        So…that was not helpful. Unfortunately, a new doctor would mean at least a month before I could get in to be seen.

        1. misspiggy

          WHAAT?? Ahem. I was going to say, ask for a Vitamin D test – low levels could cause your issues, and if you’re in the Northern hemisphere this is about when problems would start to kick in. Also anaemia.

          1. blackcat

            +1

            I have both of these problems. I now pop vitamin D like candy (in my doctor comment above, I mentioned I have access to medical journals. So I read up A LOT on this. Moral of the story is that as long as you take fewer than 10,000iu/day, the only thing in vitamin D pills that can hurt you are the inactive ingredients).

            It makes a world of difference in my mood/motivation/ability to do stuff.

            1. Rose of Cimarron

              Not quite true; it can contribute to kidney stones since it shifts your calcium balance.

    2. Cristina in England

      One of my best friends struggles with this constantly. She even treats her hobbies like check boxes on a to-do list. They are obligations, not sources of enjoyment. I don’t know how to help, but you are definitely not alone in this.

    3. Terra

      Happify! I recommended it up above and it sounds like it might help you too, especially since it has a fair number of things designed to figure out how you feel, why you feel that way, and how to fix it. Since a lot of tracks are free if it doesn’t work for you then you haven’t really lost anything. Plus, it can be helpful to schedule a time to do things to make yourself feel better if you do have a medical issue that is contributing to this.

    4. littlemoose

      Are you me? Seriously, I’ve been feeling really exhausted and kind of unmotivated/indifferent lately. I do have an appointment with my doc soon, where I plan to request labs to check thyroid, B12, etc, to check some common physical causes. I wish I had better advice for you. Mostly I just wanted to commiserate. You’re not the only one pondering bedtime at 8 pm, I promise.

    5. Christy

      1. It’s worth going to a new doctor. What the heck? It’s totally inappropriate to dismiss your concerns like that.
      2. Do you exercise? My therapist basically made me start exercising to help my anxiety and really and truly, it’s a game changer. There is nothing else I can do that so singularly helps me feel better (emotionally and physically) and more energized.
      3. Do you eat healthy foods? This is the #2 thing that helps me feel less meh.
      4. I would seek out a therapist. It took me three tries to find one I liked but she was instrumental in helping me manage my anxiety.

    6. matcha123

      That’s how I feel. It’s been especially bad these past few years.
      Everyday is just: wake up, go to work, come home/pick up…and then I’m on the internet until 2am…

      I try to fight it off with exercise (which I enjoy) or listening to music. But, I don’t know…

    7. FD

      There are a few things to consider.

      1) This could be depression. People who have depression sometimes find that they can function in situations where they know what’s expected, but they hit a wall when they’re at home and don’t have anything to distract themselves. People think that depression means being sad, but it more often just means feeling numb or distant, unable to engage in things. Depression doesn’t have to be set off by anything bad happening or about to happen–it’s mostly a brain chemical imbalance, so it can happen without any apparent cause.

      2) Are you an introvert in a job that demands a lot of human interaction? If so, you might not be recharging your emotional batteries enough with alone time. If that’s the case, are there ways to get yourself some additional alone time? Maybe eat lunch somewhere quiet, or set aside some weekend time for just you?

      3) Are you sensitive to the reduced daylight at this time of year? If so, could you try getting a full spectrum light and seeing if that helps at all?

      1. Meh?

        I guess I never really considered depression because I’m not sad. I mean, I get sad but at normal things for normal periods of time. And I am happy, angry, content, etc. But I guess it would sort of fit. I just don’t feel ‘right’ if that makes sense.

        I am most certainly not an introvert. I am an extrovert to my core. In fact, I once took a second job working at a fast food place for the sole purpose of getting more social interaction in my day (my day job had me alone all day barely interacting with anyone – it was the worst thing ever for me). My current job has me in an office full of people who I interact with throughout the day both professionally and socially.

        Thanks, everyone, for the thoughts. It is nice to hear support in my thoughts that this doesn’t have to be normal.

  22. Doomed to be Alone..?

    Ugh, sorry for this one…

    So, I have a lot of trouble meeting men, for various reasons. I work weird hours, I’m pretty shy and a bit of a homebody, and am tall (which I’ve been told can be intimidating to some?), among other things. So, I’ve been single for a really long time. I’m at the point where I’m both pretty picky about who I go out with but really ready to find someone as well. I finally found a guy who I thought might be “the one”. He’s is such a good match on paper, is really great to me, seems to truly like me, and I like talking to him and spending time with him. Thing is, I’m not feeling any chemistry on the physical end :/

    I have had some casual relationships where there was that chemistry, so I know it’s possible. Thing is, I knew those weren’t really going anywhere, so maybe since this one might be, it’s me being nervous/afraid of commitment/psyching myself out? How can I tell if it’s a defense mechanism or if there’s really nothing there? How long should I give it before it becomes not fair to this guy (who I feel is attracted to me that way)? I’m also terrified that if it is that there’s nothing really there, I’ll go back to not being able to meet anyone and be alone for years and years again… *sigh*

    1. Terra

      Sometimes chemistry isn’t the be all and end all of a relationship but it sounds like you want it or are concerned about it at least. I’d say try talking to the guy, possibly instead of saying that you don’t feel any chemistry say you haven’t felt it yet or are unsure of it since you don’t want to make it sound completely impossible. Depending on how he reacts consider taking some of the pressure off yourself. This could mean continuing to date for awhile longer to see if you get more comfortable, attempting some more intimate contact to see if it sparks anything, or possibly going on less formal “dates” so you can relax more with him.

      If you reach a point where you’re sure it’s never going to happen I think you definitely need to tell him that and let him decide if he’d be willing to continue the relationship (if that’s what you want). It’s not fair to let something stand on (implied) false pretenses.

    2. misspiggy

      If you’ve got the chance to get physically close to him (e.g. sitting close, maybe a hug), and you’re not feeling it at all, I’d say listen to your body and regretfully move on.

      It might be worth reviewing what physical characteristics the people you have been attracted to had, and try to filter for some of those in your dating searches. In my case, I thought I liked tall, dark and slim, but what I actually go for turns out to be broad-shouldered, shortish and preferably ginger.

      1. Sourire

        We’ve actually gotten beyond the point of being physically close/hugging. At that point, I did think I was attracted. It was when we got to kissing that I realized I wasn’t feeling it.

        I’m not sure which extreme I’m at. Was I so desperate to be in a relationship that I was just willing there to be chemistry/attraction up until the point where I really couldn’t deny it wasn’t there… or, am I just getting scared now that it’s getting “real”.

        1. Christy

          As someone who always got scared when it was getting real, there was ALWAYS also chemistry there. If you’re not feeling it, it’s not because you’re psyching yourself out. It’s because there’s no chemistry.

          My best friend, bless her heart, has just started seeing someone she’s really excited about. Like really excited about the lifelong possibility of it. If she were going to be psyched out by anyone, it would be this. And she’s not. There’s insane chemistry. So really I think you’re best off moving on, because if there’s not chemistry, there’s not gonna be.

        2. Lionness

          Was it that there was no chemistry or was it that you didn’t like what he was doing? I’ve dated guys where I thought there was no chemistry but it turned out we just weren’t connecting sexually. We mixed things up and in some cases there was chemistry…and in some cases there still wasn’t.

          You deserve to find someone that is both right on paper and right to your lizard brain. Don’t sell yourself short. The right person is out there for you.

      2. Sourire

        Ha, forgot to change my name back to my anonymous one for the title, oh well. This is the original asker (Doomed)

    3. katamia

      Ugh, I struggle with something similar. :( I’ve also been single for a very long time now, and the men I’m meeting these days are just…not men I’m attracted to in any way, shape, or form (and, honestly, I’m not particularly picky–there are a lot of different physical types I’m attracted to), so I haven’t felt any kind of physical chemistry with them either. Personality-wise, yeah, we get along, but I seem to attract/have a lot in common with the kind of men who have beards–full-on Viking beards. And, sorry, but I’m really, really not attracted to bearded men.

      It feels like a stupid thing to reject someone over (I’m also a homebody and will typically reject someone after one date if I’m not attracted to them because I don’t want to waste time or energy on someone I know I’ll never be attracted to). I hate doing it because I really have been compatible personality-wise with some of them and it feels crappy when people do it to me (not that I’m some hideous troll or anything, but no one is going to be attractive to literally every other person on the planet), but at the same time, I don’t feel like “I want someone without a beard” is a particularly unreasonable standard, either, lol.

      I haven’t even tried to date over the past few months because life has been weird, but it should be evening out soon, so I’ve been thinking a lot about attraction/physical chemistry recently in preparation for giving it another shot. For your situation, I like the idea of talking to him, and I like Terra’s wording suggestion.

      1. Dan

        Don’t feel guilty about it. I’ve got my “things I’m attracted to” list, and I’m not really embarrassed about it. You’re attracted to what you’re attracted to. The way I look at it, is it’s not fair to my SO if they lack a feature on my “must have list” or have something that drives me bonkers. I want someone who wants to be with me for who I am, and not wishing I am or have something different. Likewise, if I’m curled up on the couch with my SO, I want to feel like I’m with the greatest thing ever, not wishing that person had some other feature.

    4. Dan

      IMHO, it’s only not fair to the other party if you’re in an exclusive relationship and aren’t feeling it anymore. At that point, you should let him cut his losses and move on. If you’re aren’t exclusive, then IMHO you can date him as long as you want while you’re figuring it out. BTW, you’re only exclusive (again IMHO) if you’ve had “the talk.”

      My advice to you is “don’t settle.” Marriage is a beast (I don’t mean that in a negative way) but if you get into the wrong relationship, it can really mess you up. You only want to make that commitment when you’re “sure” you don’t want to be dating other people. Early on, that commitment can be an exclusive relationship, but later, it’s marriage.

      TBH, I think chemistry is either there or it’s not. I also went out with a girl who was great on paper, but the chemistry, well… I think if you have to ask yourself if you’re attracted to someone, you probably aren’t. Even if you want to be.

      I’ve got a casual “friend” who I have chemistry with, and I’ve decided that I’m only going to get serious with someone with whom I have a similar level of chemistry, if not more.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Dan, your last paragraph is dead on. I read a cool article that explained at length that it is through our friendships we learn about having a relationship with an SO. Our training ground is found in our relationships with our friends.

        Doomed, I see you have been thinking about this and thinking about it- your mind is running all over while you consider this, that and the next thing. Why not just look at your friends and the qualities that you admire in them. That would be a starting point for thinking about what is important to you and what is not important to you. It might also help to calm your weary mind- I know when my thinking gets like this I can exhaust myself pretty fast.

        Start by looking at the older friendships in your life. What has helped those friendships to last? What do you admire about these people? Then move to the newer friendships and consider them in the same manner. Dan’s example here is a great example for how friendships help guide us.

    5. Mike C.

      Don’t be afraid on online dating. I know it’s generally worse for women because of all the creeps out there, but I was one of those that didn’t date much and that’s how I met my wife.

    6. Sourire/Doomed

      I know it’s late but wanted to say thank you for all the replies!

      Lionness – maybe that’s it. I’m used to (and like) men who are more assertive/aggressive than he seems to be, but maybe that’s something we can work on.

      Dan – we haven’t had “the talk”, nor would I have expected to at the point we’re at, but I very strongly suspect that not only would he not see anyone else but he very much wouldn’t want me to either. Which is fine, as I stated above, it’s not like I even have that option anyway. But it does make me more worried about the fair to him/should I let him know sooner rather than later aspect.

      Mike C – I did try online dating. I didn’t have much luck, but I only tried match, so maybe I could try some other sites? I just really wasn’t impressed with the caliber of messages I was getting. It wasn’t so much that they were creepy, just a lot of what felt like very non-personalized messages. As if the guy would just send the same “Hey, how was your weekend?” to every woman on the site hoping for a bite. I made sure my profile was full of some details that would make easy conversion starters and even threw in an icebreaker type question in case they really had no idea what to say, and maybe 1/20 emails bothered to say anything original. Went on a couple dates, and the ones that went well got annoyed with my weird job schedule after a week or two. And I had been very upfront about in the schedule in my profile to avoid just that. I got very frustrated with it but I may have to try again.

      Hopefully I’ll have some kind of good update next week, but again, thank you guys! I love this site

  23. Looking for advice

    My boyfriend has been quite depressed for about 3 months, although I think it’s been a gradual decline over the last few years. Last weekend he didn’t come to an important birthday party for one of my family members and this is the second major thing he’s missed in the last 3 months.

    The thing is, before all this, he often didn’t come to things that involved my friends and family, and I just put up with turning up by myself. I was often really embarrassed by this and, looking back, I shouldn’t have put up with it, especially when there was no good reason for it.

    Now that there is a good reason for it (i.e. depression), I can’t help resenting all the other times he didn’t come along to things just because he didn’t want to. I don’t think he has the compassion to understand how it made me feel when everyone would ask me where he was or why he wasn’t there and I’d have to say he was sick or doing something else that night. It’s so bad that at the last two things he missed, people didn’t even bother to ask me where he was that night, and a few of my friends (ones I don’t catch up with as often) just assumed I was single…

    Which leads me to the point of this post: When he said he wasn’t able to come to the party last weekend, I understood; he’s not in good shape and I can’t even begin to imagine how he’s feeling right now with the depression. However, I did expect him to say sorry for not being able to come. I did not want him to feel bad or guilty, but I wanted him to acknowledge that he couldn’t be there and that he couldn’t be by my side that night (I likened it to if I had a physical illness that prevented me from going to a similar type of family member’s party – I would be sorry that I couldn’t go and that he had to go by himself, but I wouldn’t feel guilty because it would be beyond my control). Maybe sorry’s not the right word, but I can’t think of a better one. I guess I was just looking for acknowledgement and sympathy.

    My question is: Are my expectations off base? I have no idea how I should be handling this situation. Any insight or advice is much appreciated.

    1. Cristina in England

      If it is important to you, it is important to you, and those feelings are valid. You may be better off with a partner who does that sort of thing for you, if it is that big a deal.

      My husband and I do not have an arrangement like that. He hates going to dinner parties or family events (his or mine!) and this is not something he can be talked into. It’s annoying but for me it isn’t a dealbreaker. Sometimes I would rather go alone and not worry if he was having a terrible time. I guess what I am tryin gto say is you should maybe try to separate it from his depression and just reassess what you really want out of a partner. Whatever you decide to include on that list is perfectly valid.

      1. Looking for advice

        Thanks for the advice. It’s weird because before all this, it wasn’t a dealbreaker, just a frustration. But as soon as the depression hit and there was a very valid reason for not being able to go to things, it’s like I could see all the past events more clearly, and I suddenly felt very hurt that he had not come along when he had been fine.

        1. Can't Think Of A More Clever Anon Name Today

          Depression can often appear as “flakiness” or disinterest. Part of his not wanting to go to things in the past may be personality but it could very well have been low-grade depression (as you said this may have been something he’s been dealing with for a long time) that he and you didn’t realize, etc. It’s really hard for our s/o’s friends and loved ones to understand how things work inside when you are dealing with something like mental health issues, especially when you don’t understand or are unaware of them yourself until you go through a really tough episode.

    2. knitchic79

      I feel for you. My hubby is bipolar and it can make social obligations tough for him. I can see both sides.
      Tough as it is, maybe look at all those other times that he didn’t show up as also caused by the depression. It doesn’t excuse it…when we are in relationships social stuff comes with it. He should absolutely make more of an effort. But if you think of it yourself as a manifestation of a larger mental health issue it might make it easier to let go of your hurt.
      Also sit down with him and calmly tell him how your see this depression affecting him, as well as you and your relationship. He may need you to help him get the care he needs. If he agrees to see someone try to go with him at least once if he’s willing. It was a big help to my husband’s therapist to hear things from my per pectin when planning a care regimen.
      If he refuses to see this as something important, then unfortunately you need to decide if this relationship is one you can continue.
      Good luck, I’ll be thinking of you guys.

      1. Looking for advice

        Thanks knitchic79. At this stage, he is refusing to seek professional help, and there is little I can do to change that. I think that’s why it hurts – because he doesn’t do anything to get better. I know that’s a symptom of the depression, but it’s hard for me to accept him not coming to things if he doesn’t seem to want to improve.

        1. knitchic79

          Oh hun, that’s hard. :( The times before my husband got care were very hard. If your employer has an EAP take advantage, maybe they can help you find someone who’s been through your side and can help you cope. It does get better, don’t forget to take care of you.

        2. misspiggy

          That is hard. It sounds like he’s not going to change for a while, and even if he really wanted to, these issues are not always easy to fix when they’ve been going on a while. You don’t have to stay with anyone just because behaviour you find unacceptable can be traced to a health issue. It’s either acceptable to you or it isn’t, and once you’ve voiced that it, will be possible to see whether he can change it to a point you feel comfortable with.

          My lifelong-depressed partner goes through hell to attend social events, both because he knows its important to me and because he wants to interact with people despite how tough it is. So when he does have to duck out it’s not a problem for me. But everyone is different.

        3. Natalie

          There’s a Captain Awkward question that I think can be helpful to think about here: if nothing changes, how long will you be okay with this? 6 months, 2 years, 10 years?

          1. Looking for advice

            It’s hard to put a time limit on it. We’ve been together for 8 years so it’s not something I am willing to walk away from easily. But as per others’ comments, he needs to show that he at least wants to get better and participate more in my life. I need to decide how long I’m willing to wait for that to happen. Is it a symptom of the depression? I feel like he’s choosing the easy option all the time – not leaving the house of he doesn’t have to… etc.

            Thanks all for your comments. Going back to see my psychologist soon but until then I appreciate the support from this community.

            1. Lionness

              This isn’t a popular statement, but it is one I feel must be said:

              Sometimes when a partner develops a mental illness and refuses to seek help, you have to consider whether or not this is fundamentally still the same person who used to be your partner.

              That may sound harsh, and perhaps you will consider it and say that yes, he is still fundamentally the same. But if you consider it and decide he isn’t – because of his refusal to seek treatment – feel no guilt about walking away.

              I watched a dear friend suffer for 3 years while her formally smart, kind, generous and social husband descended into utter chaos at the hands of schizophrenia. The worst part was his refusal (even in lucid times) to seek any treatment whatsoever. I don’t sit quietly anymore.

    3. Dan

      I was married to someone with mental health issues, and it wasn’t fun. This is something to get a handle on (both his issues, but also how you feel about them) before your relationship progresses any further.

      You need/want what you need/want to be happy in a relationship. You shouldn’t apologize for it. For example (a real one, not a fictitious one) my ex didn’t feel like working much. We lived in a high COL area, where a dual-income household is almost a must. Yes, there are couples where one spouse doesn’t work, and things are a-ok. But I’m not that couple, and it was hard as hell on me with my ex not working. I didn’t feel like paying her student loans if she didn’t feel like working (they’ve since defaulted.) Point is, I need/want what I need/want, and what works for other couples is pretty much of no concern to me.

      Same goes for you. But take my comments on the overall mental health issues seriously, they’re a real beast and can drag you down too.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I can be very empathetic when a person is having difficulty. But when the difficulty goes on and on and they refuse to help themselves I start running out of empathy. (Note- I am not really fussy about what kind of help they chose, I just feel that they should start doing something and start finding out what will help them.)

      It’s almost like he does not apologize because he does not see how his actions impact you. So the lack of apology further exasperates your frustration. Not only is he not taking care of himself, he’s not even noticing his lack of participation in your life.
      Why not ask him what he is willing to do to help himself? Have him pick something that he will actually stick with and do. Sadly, you can’t do it for him. Lord knows, there have been so many times in my life where I have just wished I could do something for people and they’d be better off in some way. But that is not how it works.

  24. Tamsin

    Not one but TWO different friends on Facebook — people I haven’t seen in person in years — posted Halloween photos of themselves in full-on stereotypical Native American warpaint, feathers, and in one instance, “sexy Pocahontas” dress. One of them works with students on a college campus (this seems so ripe for blowing up on this person if those photos ever go public).

    I mean, whatever. I just, in this day and age my jaw hit the ground. These are educated people.

          1. Lionness

            No, no, no. THEY aren’t the Cherokee Princess. Their Great Grandmother was a Cherokee Princess.

    1. Mando Diao

      People sometimes give themselves a “pass” if they’re dressing up as a recognizable and specific character and not a generic “sexy Cherokee/geisha/etc.”

      I think it’s idiotic, but I don’t have the energy for that kind of debate :/

  25. knitchic79

    Ok all this came up earlier in the week in response to another thead…worst date stories.
    Mine was, odd I guess is the best word. I met this lovely sounding guy online. We agreed to meet for lunch, when I for there he says he has a present for me. He pulls out a box from VS. I don’t know why, other than morbid curiosity, but I opened the box. Inside…a half dozen or so pairs of panties. Not frilly ones either. Standard cotton, everyday wear panties. One of the few times I’ve been at a complete loss for words.
    Anyone else have a good one?

    1. Shell

      My date was three hours late! The date itself (yes, I still went on the date…long story) was supremely awkward.

      We did not go for a second date.

      1. knitchic79

        Omg, I’m only four in and I’m glad to be out of the dating scene! Thanks fposte, I’ll be highly unproductive this weekend! Hehehe

    2. Eva

      It’s not too bad, but on the second date with a guy, I saw that he had a LARGE tattoo of an ex-girlfriend’s name all the way up his forearm. I thought it was weird and would be super awkward if things went any further with us. Fortunately nothing did go further because he told me that he was getting back together with her and that was the end of the date.

    3. A Dispatcher

      Ewwww!

      I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t had any terrifying first date stories, but a friend of a friend had a Victoria’s Secret story too! They met up at the local mall to walk around, grab some food, etc. She had to do some shopping so she’d figured she could do it after the date ended. He was immediately clingy and didn’t want to leave and decided to come along shopping with her, including into VS (mind you, I question her as well in this story). He picked things out, paid for them for her, and then got very angry when he wasn’t invited back to her place, presumably to see her in them. Yikes…

      1. Artemesia

        Ok — I’m not of the ‘you paid for the date you get some’ school of thought but how could anyone not predict that outcome when they let a casual date pay for their underwear purchases. Seriously.

    4. Elizabeth West

      Worst date ever.

      A guy asked me to go to one of those honky-tonk bars and a friend’s party with him and a couple of his friends. (This was long ago, when I lived in SmallTown as an adult.). He was okay, so I said sure. He picked me up in a Jeep and we drove the honky-tonk. It was WAY out in the middle of Bumblef*ck TinyTown Nowhere. I literally had no idea where the hell I was.

      I’m not a fan of country music, but the crowd wasn’t too obnoxious. We hung out there for a while, then left and went to the party (at the house of someone I didn’t know, again in the middle of nowhere). Date got VERY drunk, basically ignored me, and no one else seemed interested in talking to me. He then insisted on driving me home. This was before cell phones were ubiquitous, I had no idea where I was, and I really just wanted to get out of there.

      Picture yourself sitting in a Jeep, riding on a curving, pitch-black country road, with a driver who cannot stay in his lane and still drives at least the speed limit. At any time, a car could come around the bend, or a deer could jump out in front of you. It’s a standard transmission, which you can’t drive, and anyway, he won’t let you. Imagine you are doing this for at least forty minutes. Feel the terror. Say silently to every major deity, saint, angel, and minor demigod you ever heard of that if they get you out of this, you will never get in a car with anyone that drunk again as long as you live.

      We made it back to my apartment in one piece (thank you, deity, saints, angels, and minor demigods). I was worried he’d crash on the way home–by that time I knew I wouldn’t go out with him again, but I didn’t want him to die or anything. I offered him the sofa, but he declined and went home. He survived but I never went out with or saw him again.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Definitely a come to Jesus moment. Kind of makes you rethink how you handle life, right?
        My version was tamer. I was out with a friend, we met HER friends who in turn met some guys. (I should have seen the problem building but I didn’t.) We all piled into one of the guys’ cars. We were out driving around, it seemed pointless to me, but my friends seemed to be okay with it. We were sitting at a traffic light and one of the guys said “I know. Let’s take these girls into the woods and rape them.”

        NEVER. EVER. EVER. AGAIN.
        Yeah. I was talking to Jesus and I was not very religious.

        Somehow we all got back to our cars and I got home safe and sound. And wiser.
        Now I see news articles about young women and I guess I know a little bit about how this stuff happens. It could have been me.

    5. AnotherAlison

      I had some bad dates with my husband. I met him right after high school, and some of our first dates were with a friend of his on the guy’s ski boat. The friend was about 10 years older, nerdy and weird. NBD, he had a boat and it was fun. . .until my husband got in an accident (kind of a long explanation) and split his head open. We had to get the boat to the dock, call 911, wait for the ambulance to come to the middle of nowhere, etc. Then this weird friend I’ve met twice drove me an hour to the hospital. We had to wait forever for my date to get stiches on his head, but he was fine. This was maybe our 3rd date. It wouldn’t seem so weird now, but then, I wasn’t even 18 yet, and really didn’t know my husband or his friend. This was pre-cellphone, so I was stuck there until my husband/date could drive me home.

    6. GOG11

      I went on a date with a guy and as we were texting leading up to the date (or maybe on the date?) I said I wasn’t interested in anything but the date/I wasn’t going to sleep with him (it came up somehow, I didn’t just throw that out there out of nowhere). We went to his place to watch a movie and he kept trying to make things progress and finally it came out that my honesty/frankness was interpreted as not wanting to be seen as a “slut.” I was torn between feeling badly that he’d only dated women who didn’t feel comfortable being honest about sex and being pissed that he bought into the idea that a woman wanting sex is inappropriate/bad. At some point, he went on a rant about “blue balls” and the unjustness of the discomfort he’d have to suffer the rest of the evening. Sorry I wasn’t misleading you, I guess…? Needless to say, there was no second date.

      1. Dan

        You went to his place on the first date??? There’s just too much room for miscommunication/hurt feelings for that move that early in a relationship.

        1. Vorthys

          Are you seriously suggesting that manchild had good reason for being mad that she was up front about not wanting to have sex with him? She told him explicitly.

          1. Dan

            Nope. But I seriously believe that prior to the conclusion of a first date, one has no idea if man child respects boundaries, understands that no really means no (not just try harder), is the type who tells you what you want to hear to get you into a vulnerable position, etc.

            Any man worth his salt won’t be offended if you don’t walk into his place on a first date. I don’t invite women over to my place on the first date for precisely that reason. So little to gain, and so much to go wrong.

            1. Vorthys

              You may wish to work on your clarity, because it’s legitimately not clear what you’re on about here. If you’re taking about safety as it seems from some of your other comments, I could possibly see where you might be coming from despite the unhelpful approach, but it’s legitimately hard to tell.

              At this point, I’m just going to let this go because I can’t tell if you’re really trying to discuss in good faith.

        2. GOG11

          I don’t think there’s a lot of room for miscommunication if you outright discuss and agree to what is going to happen (watching a movie). I was honest, and he wasn’t because he assumed I wasn’t being honest. So, if it could be considered a miscommunication, I’d say it was all on him.

          1. Dan

            I’m not saying, suggesting, or otherwise implying that you misled him. What I am saying is that you don’t know him all that well, and have no idea if he actually means what he says.

            1. catsAreCool

              I think Dan may be talking about safety precautions, such as locking your car is good, but if you forget and someone steals from your car, the thief is to blame.

          1. Dan

            Yes, really. We can argue about ideals on the internet all we want, but the reality is if I can protect myself from being a victim, I will. There’s all sorts of advice out on the internet about going to public places with easy escapes on first dates, so I’m not the first one to come up with the crazy notion.

    7. The Non-Date Date

      I was once the bad date. I still maintain it was not my fault but rather a misunderstanding… lol

      I knew a guy through mutual friends and he was invited to a party I was throwing. He was unable to make it and expressed via text that he was sorry he couldn’t go and to let him know the next time something like that came up. Long story short we end up meeting for dinner. I didn’t really think anything of that as I am really into food and go out for meals with friends, including those of the opposite gender, all the time. I’m also, if it isn’t clear by now, terrible at picking up on when a guy is flirting/interested. Great friendly conversation, the check comes and I grab my wallet to split the bill. The following exchange ensues:

      “Oh no, let me get that”

      “No, no, it’s fine, I’d like to split it”

      “I’m an old fashioned kind of guy, I’d really rather”

      “Old fashioned…? What do you mean, it’s not like this is a date…”

      *his facial expression turning into this weird mix of confusion, disappointment and lord knows what else*

      *my eyes widening in horror as I realize I’ve been on a date this whole time without realizing it*

      It was more than a little awkward to say the least. I am pretty sure the waitress was still in earshot for all of this and I’m sure had a good laugh of it.

    8. Alston

      An okcupid date showed up late, was weird, and later tried to lure me into his van with bubbles. I did not get in the van ir take him up on the offer of a second date.

      1. Audiophile

        Um wow. I’ve had my fair share of weird dates. This still goes down as the weirdest.

        I posted on CL, a nice guy named Edwin replied (not his real name). We emailed and spoke on the phone for several weeks, if I remember correctly. I think it was about one to two months before we met, but we’d had some great discussions. We agree to meet in the city, and make a day of it.

        I call him when I get off the train and he tells me he can see me and waves, I walk up to him and he introduces me to his friend Charlie (not his real name).They say the just ran into each other. Edwin says he wants coffee and wants to find a coffee cart….mid-afternoon on a Saturday. He accepts that it’s not going to happen and he settles on Starbucks. We start walking and I quickly notice Charlie is keeping pace. I figure he’s going to a different subway station or something. Oh how I wish that was true.

        We get our Starbucks and Edwin suggests we go to the park to drink it At the park, sitting at a table with these two doofuses, Charlie announces he’s high, after consulting with Edwin about whether he should tell me. He then asks if I want to see a movie with the two of them. Um, no.

        I should have and could have bailed at any point, but I had very little confidence in my ability to do so.

        Instead, I take them to a comic book store. And on the way there I call a friend who lives in Brooklyn, looking for the quickest exit. Friend is out of town, but says she can call me back. I tell the two doofuses that I might have to bail because a friend is having an emergency. Edwin asks if I’m just looking to escape and I should have yelled “yes, this is the worse date of my life!!” Instead, I said no, that it was a real emergency. We get to the comic book store, where Charlie proceeds to disappear every so often only to reemerge and announces he’s tired and wants to go home. I again corner my date about why Charlie is with us and he really has no explanation. I finally bail, several hours after this horror show began. My date offered to walk me back, but I declined and told him he was free to hang with Charlie.

        tl;dr: Went on a date who brought his high as a kite friend, didn’t bail for several hours.

    9. Artemesia

      Wow — probably like Elvis with a weird cotton underpants fetish. Frillies would have been inappropriate and bad enough but cotton underpants as a gift is firmly in the weirdo zone.

        1. knitchic79

          Artemesia, yeah almost two decades later and it’s still one of the weirdest things that has ever happened to me.

    10. Schnapps

      Meet a guy for a date. I was going through a Trotskyist phase and spotted a buttery soft, black leather 3/4 length coat. I Jon him at the table in the restaurant, he takes a look at my coat and says, “I’m vegan. Your coat is offensive to me.” He gets up and leaves. Never heard from him again.

      Instead, I ordered a margarita and a steak.

    11. Merry and Bright

      This makes me smile in retrospect. It was a second date and the guy had told me about a great curry restaurant near his flat. I met him at the tube station and we walked there. It was on the corner of the street and the place was covered in scaffolding. At first I just thought it was being redecorated. Then I saw a hoarding round the corner saying something like “2 weeks to go – XXX’s new curry house grand opening.” So this great restaurant wasn’t even open for business yet. Weirder still, my date wasn’t even bothered. He just shrugged and said “I suppose some things just aren’t meant to be! Take care then” and left me to get the tube back.

    12. Mando Diao

      This past weekend I went out with a new guy. While he was driving me home, he said, “Do you want to listen to conservative talk radio?”

      No.
      NO.
      #no

    13. organic notes

      I don’t know why but I attract a lot of weird and bizarre guys, so I have been on my fair share of bad dates. The worst one, by far, was with a guy I had already gone out with several times. You’d think you’d be safe by that point, but do NOT ever count on that! People can go from 0 to 100 real quick.

      The story is quite long, so I’ll spare you the details and try my best to keep this short! After going on 5-6 dates, this guy asked me to go out with him to the bar because he was new in town and hadn’t been out to many places yet. We started our night at a karaoke bar and everything was fine until I got up to go to the bathroom and caught him making out with someone’s MOM in a dark corner. You would think that things could not possibly get worse after something like that, right? WRONG! Shortly afterward, he was making out with the daughter, out in the open, right at the bar we were sitting at!

      In the end, he left me stranded on the streets and spent the remainder of his night with the daughter. I found her hiding in the bathroom, when I went to his place the next morning to collect my purse and keys.

    14. NacSacJack

      I finally score a date with this guy who’s still pining for his ex-bf (Red flag). I arrange to pick him up and to go to this posh restaurant I’ve always wanted to go but never wanted to go by myself. We sit down, open the very short menu, and it is then he tells me he is vegetarian. I look down the 4-6 item menu and point out they have macaroni and cheese. He is lactose-intolerant. Worse date of my life. I was new to dating too and was like, ummm how many guys in this town are vegetarian cause I aint.

  26. Excel Millennial

    Sometimes I feel like the only person who does not enjoy exercise and doesn’t get anything out of it. I bought a bike in April and actually rode it almost every day this summer. It’s still reasonably warm (or at least not outright cold) here but I realize that will be short-lived. But for me it doesn’t do anything? I pay just enough attention not to die, kind of like when I’m driving, I just zone out (lol I know this is not safe), and once I get to the trail the miles just disappear because I don’t care about them and there is usually no one else on trail so I don’t even have to attention.

    What are some winter exercises I can do? I was thinking I could get a gym membership to a gym near my house that I used to go to last winter. Or a bike trainer? Vocal lessons? I’ve been thinking about vocal lessons for a long time as I can kind of sing but not really well, but singing isn’t technically exercise, although perhaps the only physical thing that would actually hold my attention for more than 30 seconds. BTW I don’t have an attention span problem with mentally/intellectually stimulating stuff. But if it’s purely physical, I just can’t make myself care.

    1. Cristina in England

      Do you listen to anything when you exercise? You could have a podcast or something that you ONLY listen to while exercising, so you have something to look forward to.

      1. Excel Millennial

        Perhaps the only thing less safe than zoning out as I do is zoning out while essentially shutting off an entire sense to the environment, so no, I don’t listen to anything. I would at the gym though.

        1. K.

          Yes, as a cyclist, I am glad you don’t listen to anything when you ride. I never do; I need to pay attention. I was hit by a car (I’m fine) because the driver was NOT paying attention, so I feel like I need to be vigilant.

    2. Lo

      So I am the same exact way with exercise. My attention span is horrifyingly short. I have no idea how to solve this. I think watching a tv show or listening to a book/podcast may work well, I am in the midst of trying those.

      Re: winter exercise. If you love your bike, buy a stationary bike stand for it. It’s a things that attaches to the wheels so it stands up, and is usable indoors. My mom has one and uses it in the winter.

    3. Cruciatus

      All I do is walk, but I do know my anxiety has gone down since I started purposely doing it (with a daily step goal). My body feels off if I don’t do it now. But I don’t wake up going “YAY, EXERCISE!” In fact, as winter gets closer I have to talk myself into walking on weekend mornings because I know it’s easier to just spend an hour doing it than trying to play catch up throughout the day. In the winter I get on the crappy treadmill in the basement, but I make the time go by by watching something I wanted to catch up on. Last winter it was Masters of Sex, Outlander, Downton Abbey. Gave me a little something to look forward to.

      If you seem to reasonably enjoy biking, aren’t there stands you can use to keep riding your bike inside? I’m sure it’s not the same (but neither is a treadmill). But I set up the TV, do it for an hour, and move on. You don’t have to go outside in the cold, it’s just a matter of heading to the room it’s in. Maybe something like that would work for you?

    4. the gold digger

      I get nothing out of exercise. I do it only because

      1. I am vain
      2. I want to be able to get out of a chair by myself when I am old
      3. I feel awful when I don’t exercise

      I force myself to do it. I listen to podcasts while I run or while I do weights to something on youtube. (We have a roku box – did I say that right? – so I can get youtube on our TV. Marry an engineer if you want to have things work in your house is my advice. :) ) But I hate exercising. Hate it.

      1. Excel Millennial

        In my case I actually feel better when I don’t exercise because it seems to zap the remaining 1% of physical energy I have when I get home from work. But yeah, it’s the ongoing strength into old age that concerns me. I just hook my laptop up to my TV via HDMI, I don’t even have cable or roku or the google stick or any of that stuff. As it is my TV basically collects dust.

      2. nep

        You say you get nothing out of exercise — Do you mean, anything positive in the doing of it?
        Because from your list, you do get something out of it: ability to get out of the chair when old, feeling better for having done it…
        I get what you and others mean about no liking to exercise. I’m sure for many people who work out, they don’t come to it with a feeling of ‘Yay, exercise’. They know the benefit they’re getting and for that they’re willing to be uncomfortable for a bit.

        1. the gold digger

          Oh yeah! You are right. I get nothing immediate out of it, I guess. That is, I do not enjoy the process at all and really, I distrust people who tell me they like it.

          1. nep

            Similar to writing (when I wrote more) — don’t like doing it, love having done it.
            (Though for many of my workouts, I do enjoy it while doing it.)

    5. Not Karen

      I feel you. I find exercise that isn’t also “something else” really boring. The only thing I like is kickboxing, which is what I would consider “something else besides just exercise,” and I listen to music at the same time. Maybe martial arts would be more interesting for you?

        1. Trixie

          I’d also looking at a local boxing gym that also offers kickboxing, that’s on my bucket list to try. I’ve heard great things about their group workouts. Also keep an eye out for groupons at different places to mix it up.

      1. Noah

        +1 to this. I HATE going to the gym, especially for weight training or treadmill time. I LOVE hockey and trail running.

      1. nep

        I am not a huge fan of Jillian Michaels but I did 30-day Shred and the structure — the daily ‘appointment’ — really helped. It got me out of a real funk. Not saying there’s anything magical in this particular workout — just finding something that becomes familiar and a habit can be good starting out.

        1. nep

          (I always went for a ‘speedwalk’ or run after the Shred workout. Eventually I planned out my own circuits and continued, doing the workout then out for a walk or run.)

    6. Natalie

      If you like outdoor exercise there are all kinds of winter sports – skating or skiing if you know how or would learn, or snowshoeing if you just want to walk, but harder.

      1. OriginalEmma

        I learned how to cross country ski as an adult. It was hilarious to watch me learn but it really is quite fun!

    7. Emily

      I enjoy team sports for exercise because even if I’m feeling lazy the day of a game, I feel like I have to play. And usually once I’m out on the field (my main sport right now is ultimate frisbee), I end up enjoying myself. I don’t know if you have much interest in sports, but if you do, it might be something to think about as far as motivating yourself to exercise.

    8. matcha123

      I love exercising, but I don’t think I do “typical” exercises. I love to move, so I always look for time to move: get up to stretch during work, do three minutes of spontaneous stretching or sit-ups while watching tv, walk rather than take transportation.
      I go to dance classes and have fun dancing to great music. When I do go to the gym, I’m only there for 30 or 45 minutes (though, I tell myself it’s an hour). I bring my mp3 player and listen to songs, do some weights, do some treadmill. You don’t have to run (I hate running) and you don’t have to cycle in a gym (I’m not a fan, either).

      1. Excel Millennial

        Oh, I’d definitely do weight training – that’s what I did last winter, for about an hour (or slightly more) 3-4 times a week. Thanks. I think that’s the best option for me, I’m pretty sure I’ll stick with it.

  27. Jubilance

    I’d love some advice on a situation with my younger sister. 13 years ago, she suffered a near-drowning and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Most of her brain damage was in her occipital lobe, so she’s legally blind now, though she can “see”. She also deals with some muscle issues that cause her to walk with a pronounced limp. Basically, my sister looks disabled and I think it scares people off from getting to know her. She’s now in her early 20’s and terribly lonely. She’s taken a few community college classes and she’s active in her church, but neither avenue has helped her make friends. Any suggestions? I worry about her a lot because she’s so starved for friends, she basically just spends time with family members. I know there are places like adult day care centers, or day centers for people with autism or Down’s syndrome, but do those places also offer services for folks who have other disabilities or who aren’t elderly?

    Thanks for the help/suggestions/advice.

    1. the gold digger

      I have no advice for you – I just want to say that my heart hurts for your sister.

      I do have a question – are there adaptive technologies where she could participate online? I don’t have a lot of friends here – I moved here a few years ago and it is hard to make friends at this age – so a lot of my social interaction (and it works for me, because I am an introvert) is online. If I couldn’t read and participate in the comments here (and write my blog), I would be very lonely, too.

      1. Jubilance

        She does have adaptive technology, including a lot of software for her computer. For whatever reason, she’s not really a computer person. I’m not sure if she’s just not interested, or if the software she has is too complicated for her. I’m going home for Thanksgiving so this is one of the things that I can talk to her about. Thanks for the suggestion.

    2. Terra

      If you think the problem is her looks (which it shouldn’t be but people) possibly look into something online? Or something that has an online and offline component so she can possibly start forming relationships online and then transition them to offline after a friendly relationship has been established which may help her skip over the initially reaction to her looks. Also I’ve noticed that smaller communities tend to be more accepting of people with disabilities so if she has any hobbies, especially uncommon ones, looking into groups based around that activity might have more luck.

      As far as the autism/down’s syndrome groups I think if you called them and explained the situation they’d probably be willing to help and they might have better ideas than I do. If nothing else she could potentially volunteer with the group as a way to be included. However, I hate to say this and know I don’t mean it disrespectfully, if she has full cognitive capabilities than hanging out with a group where not everyone does may bore her.

    3. Coffee Ninja

      Contact your area’s department of social services. The adult day programs around here are available to people with TBI. Even if yours aren’t, they should be able to point you in the right direction.

    4. Stephanie

      My sister’s moderately autistic and goes to a day program. It varies program to program–some just take any adult with developmental issues, some focus specifically on autism or Down’s Syndrome or whatever. Only issue is that sometimes if they take everyone, you get the spectrum of people from those with relatively minor disabilities* like your sister to those with severe disabilities who need lots of help. It might make it hard to meet people.

      Coincidentally enough, I volunteer at my state’s braille and talking book library (I don’t think we’re in the same state or I’d pass along a link) and they’ll have events for patrons and look for volunteers. Maybe you could find something like that? Or just something through a local blindness org?

      *Not to make it sound like I’m minimizing her disability.

      1. Treena

        I was going to suggest connecting with a disability rights organization to volunteer, or even just to see what they have in terms of available groups/activities. I know that a lot of deaf people have a lot of trouble until they realize there’s a really extensive Deaf community that offers a lot of support and socialization. I’m not sure if it’s the same with blind folks, but worth checking out =)

    5. Trixie

      I’m wondering if there are some volunteer activities she could participate in. Either something using her sight as is or something geared towards non-sighted.

    6. Sunshine Brite

      MN has specialized services and social opportunities for the blind. Adult Day Center time is available for people of all disabilities, although some have specialty populations. There’s also a Brain Injury alliance and a society here. I’d also think about looking into companion services or some sort of PCA or homemaker to do activities she picks on her schedule to maintain the control more. Maybe online or peer groups in the area. Google, any area resource line, or county service intake should be able to point you and her in a direction she might be interested in.

    7. ginger ale for everyone

      If she is good with audio books, do you think she might like a book club? A lot of public libraries have them and maybe she could join one and let people get to know her through book discussion?

    8. AnonAcademic

      I used to tutor students with various disabilities. I had one student who was going blind but was very popular and others who were near recluses with little social contact. The same advice I’d give applies to any shy/awkward/uncomfortable in their own skin – people read the “vibe” you give off. Maybe your sister could take a public speaking course or some other way to build her confidence? Having a visible disability does not have to be a social death sentence.

    9. Mando Diao

      Does she have plans to enroll in a four-year college eventually? Community colleges aren’t really set up to encourage human connections.

    10. StudentA

      I know you were not asking specifically about dating, but I just did a search on google for “dating site for people with brain injury” and several good results came up. Have you tried googling that? She might enjoy a little romance.

    11. oldfashionedlovesong

      Hi Jubilance, I’m replying two days late so I doubt you’ll see this– so perhaps next time I see a post from you I’ll write this to you again.

      I used to volunteer with a California-based group called “New Directions for people with disabilities” that organizes group travel opportunities for people with any and every kind of physical and developmental disability. They do trips all over the US and even international trips once or twice a year. It’s not particularly cheap but there are limited scholarships available, the support provided to travelers is fantastic and carefully adapted to each traveler’s needs, and there’s such a range of ages and ability levels in the groups that I’m sure your sister would find people she can connect with. They arrange the groups so that people with very minor impairments have a great deal of autonomy from their travel aides, and then people who need 1:1 support can have that as well. Their mission is to give people with disabilities the same opportunity to have fun and explore their communities as everyone else, and I think they do an amazing job of that.

      There are organizations similar to this in other states as well, for example in Pennsylvania there’s one called The Grand Tour, and I know New Directions welcomes travelers from other states (they just have to pay the added airfare to CA– I have gone on several trips with a traveler from Montana!) I highly suggest researching whether there’s a group like this operating in your state or a nearby state. Good luck!

    12. Jubilance

      Thank you so much to everyone for their suggestions! I have a lot of resources to follow-up on, I greatly appreciate you guys giving me a headstart and some advice! :-)

    13. OriginalEmma

      Does your sister like tabletop gaming? They can be very inclusive environments. You typically find them at video game/comic book/gaming stores. She might also check out Meetup to see if there are any groups with interests similar to hers.

  28. Trixie

    Coming into November feeling strong. Back on the healthier side with smoothies this week, packed with greens, a bit of banana for sweetness, berries. Also more sardines which I love with mashed avocado on toasted bread. So filling and healthy. Snacking on walnuts and bitter dark chocolate.

    Also feeling so motivated with the progress on my credit card debt. Not that life doesn’t stop when you had debt but it’s so much easier to plan ahead when the load lifted. Feeling very grateful I have the extra income coming in to tackle it.

      1. Trixie

        I’ve paid off my debts two other times and it’s wonderful. I don’t midn carrying debts if I’m able save a little at the same time. Right now, it’s all about the balance. Plus it’s jsut nice to be able to afford a few things here and there. new workout clothes, winter layers, toiletries.

  29. Luna

    My cat got caught in a rainstorm today and was very soggy and unhappy when he came home! So we’re looking for a cat house for him for outside so he can shelter if we’re not there to let him in. I was on my laptop so didn’t see him at the door and only realised he was there when he started to headbutt the glass. No we don’t have a cat flap currently, we are getting one but a cat house is a cheaper solution (we have glass doors and cat flaps in glass doors need to be done by a glazing company).

    Problem is, he’s huge. He’s got Maine Coon in him somewhere, I’m sure, because he’s quite a bit bigger than all the other cats round here. So I’m looking for a big cat house. That doesn’t cost the earth! Amazon, you are my only hope.

    1. Jill of All Trades

      Since he’s a big cat have you looked at smaller dog houses? They’re less of a niche product so may cost less.

    2. Trixie

      You might look at plans on Catiospaces.com, DIY cat enclosures. But a prebuilt dog house sounds easiest.

    3. Artemesia

      Does it have to look good? e.g. will it be visible to passersby or neighbors? If it can be in a hidden spot, then you could do a do it yourself from a plastic tote. Might even leave the top clamped on and just cut a hole in the side and that way the top would be a floor that would keep ground dampness away. For something temporary until you have the cat flap this would work and of course you can take it apart and hose it down to clean it.

      1. Allison Mary

        Second this. In fact, if you’re on Pinterest at all, you can search for “DIY feral cat shelters” and that brings up a TON of not-fancy-but-very-cheap-and-effective results (you could probably just Google it, too).

        I know your cat isn’t feral, but I have been volunteering for a not-for-profit organization that advocates TNR (trap/neuter/return) for feral cats – anyway, I learned through them that building cheap DIY shelters for feral cats in the winter is totally a Thing, and there are tons of guides out there on how to make your own. It may not be pretty, but it would probably be really effective for your cat, as well as affordable.

        Also, another random and fun thing to search for? Catios. The aforementioned TNR organization advocates keeping pet cats indoors whenever possible – and of course there are lots of cats that aren’t willing to sacrifice their outdoor time without going crazy. So they suggest catios as an alternative – and there are some really cool designs out there, especially on Pinterest.

        I love this kind of stuff. I’m totally a cat lady. >.<

        1. Luna

          Where we live is quite ‘posh’ so it would have to look nice – seriously Pinterest will be my downfall, there are some amazing cat houses on there.

          I’m not bad with a hammer so I might try and make my own. Failing that we’ve found some lovely kennels we might buy. Cat seemed to approve as well, he was ‘helping’ me scroll through my iPad this morning…

  30. Coffee Ninja

    I need help finding a top for my office’s holiday party! It’s at a pretty nice hotel but we’re also a casual bunch – last year I wore a dressy top & nice jeans. I’ve already checked Macy’s, Dillard’s, JC Penney’s, and Nordstrom and I don’t see anything I like. Where else can I look?

    1. Stephanie

      If you don’t mind ordering online, try ModCloth. I’ve also had the best luck with local consignment shops.

      1. Liz in a Library

        I second Modcloth. Wide rang of sizes, cute styles, easy browsing (with lots of real life pictures), and their return policy is awesome. I buy 90% of my clothes there.

    2. FutureLibrarian

      Dress Barn, Lord & Taylor, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft, White House Black Market, Express…haha. I have had to buy a lot of new stuff lately!

      1. Arjay

        Ooh, I got a cute top at Dress Barn last year for our holiday lunch. Just simple, sleeveless, V-neck, but emerald green and sparkly!

  31. KitCroupier

    I’m running in my first race ever tomorrow, the Hot Chocolate 15k in Chicago and I’m terrified. That’s farther than I’ve run by about a mile, but my real problem is just anxiety about doing something I’ve never done before. I don’t know what to expect.

    So. So. Scared. :(

    (But I’ve already signed up for the Shamrock Shuffle next spring so…)

    1. Stephanie

      You’ll be fine! The energy at the event will get your adrenaline going and you’ll probably end up doing better than expected. Just don’t start out too fast and you’ll be fine. (And there is no shame in walking.) Just try to stay to the right if you’re walking and don’t blast the music too loud so you can hear if someone is about to run into you.

      I would get there early just so you can figure out where bag check is and get your bearings (especially if they’re doing pens or corrals). There will probably be a ton of people there, so that might be initially disorienting, but the crowd’ll disperse once the race starts.

      I’m debating whether to do the Hot Chocolate run when it comes here next month.

    2. nep

      Bravo you for taking this on.
      Being anxious is normal. But stepping out of one’s comfort zone almost invariably yields big rewards.
      If you’ve already run nearly that distance, you should be more than fine.
      Whatever you end up achieving distance- or time-wise is secondary to the fact that you’re putting yourself out there and doing this.
      All the best and let us know how it goes.

      1. KitCroupier

        I did it! Finished the 15k in exactly 1:30:00 which was around a 9:50 mile.

        I was nervous as heck, my toes were frozen for the first mile (I run in Vibram Five Fingers with socks) and I had to dodge around slower runners, but it was so awesome to finish it!

    3. CheeryO

      How did it go? I remember being terrified going into my first race (an 8K). It’s an intimidating environment, especially if the distance isn’t something you’ve comfortably covered before. I’ve done probably 50+ races since that first one, and I still get nerves here and there, but it’s generally more of an excited nervous.

  32. Soupspoon McGee

    My four-year-old nephew was just diagnosed with apraxia (his brain knows what he wants to say, but the he can’t coordinate the physical mechanics of speech). His speech has been delayed quite a bit, so we’ve known something was off, but now we have a name for it. He understands speech just fine.

    My sister lives in an area with a shortage of speech therapists, though, so even though they qualify for services, they may not be able to get them for months.

    I know very little about apraxia or treatments, so I’m hoping some of y’all can help me out. Would sign language help?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      It might. Research says that sign language uses the motor speech area (Broca’s area) that is used for verbalizing, but it can’t hurt to try to use that part of the brain in different ways, since they probably don’t know exactly what is causing the issue. But there would be no substitute for a speech therapist, who can spot which movements are causing difficulty and have ideas about coping mechanisms and exercises to work on them.

    2. fposte

      I know that stroke patients with speech difficulties often can sing, and I just looked and found that there’s definitely work with apraxic kids and singing–maybe that would be something to explore.

    3. pony tailed wonder

      Ronda Rousey had that as a child. If you google Rousey and apraxia you can find some articles on her experience with it.

    4. Irishgal

      Hi

      My (now 7) year old nephew has this; was diagnosed after a lot of pushing at 4. Apraxia is now considered part of the neuropsychology spectrum of disorders that include dispraxia, dyscalculia, autism, ADHD, dyslexia etc. It is generally considered that most people on the spectrum with predominantly present with one but will have aspects of the others (there are over a 100 aspects and usually at least 20-30 will be in common across all aspects). It is also a language processing disorder not just a speech one …. so it’s not just about saying the words… it’s about finding and constructing the sequence and the language rules. We have spent the last few years working on speech sounds (consonants etc) and now the focus is on language e.g. past, present, future etc. How things came before today and can come after today. It’s opened up a whole new world for us. Try thinking of it as trying to teach an alien about language; not just a human about another language (a human who already has an understanding of language rules from their language or origin).

      My newphew has no imaginative play and mild physical dyspraxia (issues with fine motor skills, can cycle a bike a run but if he has to do it fast his “feet get more tired than his brain” as he calls it, has some sensory processing issues (loud noises, crowds, seams in clothes etc, halloween is a nightmare for him). We have found as his speech has improved his ability to deal with other aspects has also improved, mainly likely because he is more able to explain things to us. He is in mainstream school but has regular speech and occupational therapy to help him and his teachers help him keep up with his peers as the more basic skills (remembering routine, where he put his bag, how to put on clothes etc) take up so much more of his “working memory” than others.

      It is generally thought that speech support (like Makaton) is better than speech replacement language like ASL/BSL. We were also advised never to make a “thing” of when he spoke or didn’t as that just ramps up anxiety for speech delay kids or (e.g. say that again Tom,,,,Jerry come here,,, Tom said something…. show Jerry Tom…). My nephew used to call me YaYa as he couldn’t say my name ,,, and then one day he could…. and we realised that in his head he was always saying my name and it was just that one day his physiology around speech enabled the syllables be said.

      There’s a kid of Facebook “Mikey’s Wish – Verbal Dyspraxia Awareness” you might find it helpful to follow his page.

    1. Elizabeth West

      Best: The Back Pain of Doom is slowly getting better. Despite the fact that I could neither jump nor spin today, we finished choreographing my Christmas program. Placement is good, speed is good, and we have plenty of time to gussy it up. Now to make a dress and lose ten pounds so I can fit in it, LOL.

      Worst: I am stuck stuck stuck on Secret Book and NaNoWriMo, and I can’t even think or get inside my character’s head at all. Plus, another friend (the one who moved to England, rawr) got married today (sigh). I am happy for her, really, but I am just sick of this.

      1. the gold digger

        Now to make a dress and lose ten pounds so I can fit in it, LOL.

        I am going to a college reunion next weekend and was bemoaning on facebook a few months ago that I had to lose weight. Other people from my class chimed in and we made a pact that none of us would diet – instead, we would just buy clothes that fit us now.

        There are some advantages to being of a certain age. :)

        PS Big hug. Hang in there!

    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      Best: My dad’s physical therapy is going very well; he was walking with a cane and doing dozens of steps up and down during therapy this week, and he had his first piece of solid (non-pureed) food in six months, a (well-cooked) piece of fish.

      Worst: my daughter has a stomach bug. Nothing makes you feel more helpless than watching your kid feel bad and not being able to do anything.

    3. knitchic79

      Best: My friend at work made me an amazing cheesecake for my birthday…regular cheesecake with pecan pie topping. So good, worth the extra time I’ll have to spend on the eliptical lol.

      Worst: The creeping crud I caught is hanging on with a vengeance. Going to make some hot tea and put some vapo-rub on.

    4. Shell

      I’m on a week of staycation, and my coworkers were missing me before I even left! (I got a lot of comments like “what am I going to do?!” and “let’s chain you to your desk.” XD)

      During this staycation, I bought nice things for myself, I’m cleaning house, I just finished screaming at the WCS Starcraft Finals at Blizzcon (my heart rate and blood pressure both went up 20 points, no joke). Legacy of the Void drops on November 10 and I will be gaming my little fangirl heart out.

      Tomorrow, I rewatch videos of all the matches I missed. Life is good.

      Worst: nothing to report!

    5. Ruffingit

      Best: Celebrating mom’s birthday tonight. So happy we’re able to do that with her for another year.

      Worst: Job situation. Really tired of it.

    6. Mimmy

      BEST: Despite not feeling great earlier in the day, I went to my an alumni reception last night where I got my MSW. I made a ton of connections. I’m usually really awkward at these events, so I’m really proud of myself.

      WORST: Watching my skeletal state council get even smaller while we wait for appointments to be processed. Some of them have waited well over a year. Government bureaucracy at its finest! :/

    7. SaraV

      Worst: They’re closing the Target in my town at the end of January. Boooooo!!!!!!

      Best: There isn’t a whole lot of best. I actually got a cherry in my Cherry Coke from Sonic tonight.

      1. SL #2

        I live in an area where there are not a lot of Sonics, so when I go somewhere that has one nearby, it is a Big Deal to me. My friend from the Midwest teased me so much for that once because I was so excited about Sonic while he was excited about the Rubio’s (West Coast fish tacos!) across the street.

    8. SL #2

      Best: I got to see a band live that I haven’t seen since 2010!

      Worst: I HAVE A COLD AGAIN. I’ve never gotten sick twice in the span of a month, but it’s happened. Thank god I had a long weekend this weekend so I just took Nyquil on Thursday night and slept most of Friday.

      1. Ruffingit

        That happened to me around May. I had bronchitis twice in about six weeks. It sucked. Hope you feel better ASAP.

    9. Christy

      This was a week of highs and lows.

      Best: My best friend dumped her on-off girlfriend of ten years on Tuesday and started dating someone who literally I think will be her future wife (and I’ve thought that even while she was dating her ex) on Friday.

      Worst: I was a pit of anxiety about quitting the board I was on and so I was totally on edge all week and my car battery died and Midas tried to sucker me into unneeded work and there were work-work delays so I couldn’t do much.

    10. Windchime

      Best: I got to have dinner with both of my kids last night, and it looks like my parents will be coming for Thanksgiving. I’m excited to have them stay at my house.

      Worst: I’m bored with my job.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        Best – Got a free flu injection at work. Also, it was Remembrance Sunday today, and officially I start thinking about Christmas afterwards.

        Worse – My cold has returned which might be connected to the free flu injection.

    11. Nervous Accountant

      Best – got my blood test results…. after a family intervention about 6 weeks ago, I got serious about taking control of my health. I’ve been diabetic for many years but didn’t control it. Went through spurts of trying and then giving up quickly. Long story short, my A1c went from 10.5ish (around that) down to 8.2. The doctor said that he was very pleased at the results, and if I keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll be in the target range to conceive safely (reaching and maintaining 6.5 for 2-3 months). My husband was happy and my parents were thrilled and my doctor/nurse friends thought that was fantastic.

      Also, I finally drove on the highway with myfamily in tow, start to finish. Before this,the only time I drove on the highway was with an instructor, and once just to see and got off at the next exit and went home local. Both my parents and my husband are backseat drivers (even though mymom doesnt drive) so everyone was giving their input. Hubby and I are going on a road trip in a few weeks so I was desperate to get some experience and comfort on the highway.

      Worst – none really, except maybe a little disappointment at the blood results. I should be happier and feel more accomplished and proud like everyone else is…..but I don’t. Which leads me to psychoanalyze myself and overthink everything. Also, cried at my desk the other day, and then got my period. After a tumultuous 2 months with my health, I forgot that maybeI was PMS-ing. (I usually weep and cry than get angry or mean).

    12. Jen RO

      Worst: Ugh, where do I start, it’s been a week of suck. Many of my friends are having medical trouble (one friend’s baby was diagnosed with cancer, another friend’s dealing with infertility, another acquaintance’s mother is in treatment after breast cancer), every time I refresh Facebook it seems like there’s a new death from last week’s club fire, someone on my team left on Friday, and I’m feeling generally cranky and not in the mood to even talk to my boyfriend. I am really, really looking forward to something nice happening to someone.

      Best: On the bright side, my friend’s baby is getting surgery next week, my other friend’s husband is also getting surgery which hopefully will help on the fertility front, and I had a lovely evening out with the quitting coworker and the rest of the team.

      (And thanks for all the crush-related advice last week – it helped and the butterflies are mostly gone!)

    13. Elkay

      Best: I got to have a lie in both days this weekend.

      Worst: I have an overwhelming state of meh and my other half is being less than helpful.

      I ran a (social) group meeting today and feel like I totally missed the mark in my organisation of it.

  33. Ruth (UK)

    Argh, unexplained ongoing back pain! I guess back pain is a fairly common thing people suffer from but I feel I have a lot of back pain considering I am only 26. I can’t think of any reason I should have it.

    I’m a skinny person so there should be no additional strain coming from weight. I’m also in good shape fitness-wise for my age. I used to be very into sports and even though I’m not so sporty any more, I am still pretty fit and active – cycling is my main form of transport, and I regularly take part in activities like dance, camping, etc and occasional recreational sports like football in the park, swimming etc.

    Low back and hip pain comes on when I am lying down. The most comfortable position is on my back with a pillow under my knees, but it is still bad then. It wakes me up in the night and I need to get up and walk about. I get almost no low back pain in the day – only at night.

    Upper back, shoulder blade and shoulder pain comes on during the day but mostly goes away when lying down. It can get pretty severe and also then give me a bad headache.

    This evening was the first time I actually altered my plans due entirely to my back pain. I was in a pub with friends and decided to leave and come home early because I could no longer manage with my upper back pain while sitting on a wooden chair – I needed to come home and be able to lie down. This is the first time I have left something early / made a practical change to my plans due to managing back pain. And I feel like my pain has been gradually getting worse over the last few years.

    Maybe I injured it at some point?? I used to play a lot of rugby… :(

    1. fposte

      Ouch, Ruth. No fun.

      Obviously doctors are a place to go, but I might also consider looking into massage therapy–you could even check yourself out for trigger points, which are the sort of thing a rugby experience would leave you with and that you could help yourself with pretty easily (tennis ball and a floor or wall). I also wonder if you might have shortened chest muscles, which are pretty common in the active as well as the inactive, and which can pull like hell on the upper back–dig around for “upper cross syndrome” and see if you can find some info that makes sense to you. Certainly doing some chest muscle stretches would be a low-impact thing to explore.

    2. Jillociraptor

      Do you have a mostly sedentary job? I’ve heard from a lot of people in their mid-20s who developed back and shoulder pain when they started a desk job.

      Might be good to see your doctor just to get it checked out. Hope you’re feeling better soon! It’s tough to have pain interrupting your sleep!

      1. Ruth (UK)

        Yes I do have a sedentary job. Until 2 years ago, I had only worked in retail / fast food jobs which was a lot of walking/running about and never sitting down. Now I have a desk job and sit down almost all day, so that might not be helping. On the other hand, I did start getting back pain prior to working in a desk-job so I don’t think it’s just that. It’s true it’s worse now but I also feel it’s been getting gradually worse over the last few years in general.

        I might try getting one of those back supporty thingies you put on chairs…

    3. Shell

      I would see a doctor to rule out old injuries or slipped disc and some such. Past that, like fposte says, I highly recommend massage therapy. Shortened/tense muscles (hip flexors, IT band, lower back, neck, rotator cuff, etc.) can give me total hell on bad days even though by most objective metrics I’m healthy. Deep tissue massage can hurt like hell, but combine a good treatment and a hot bath and you’d be surprised at the difference it can make. Even the basic stuff you can do yourself (tennis/golf ball with wall or floor) can make a lot of difference.

    4. misspiggy

      Have a look into the Beighton test for joint hypermobility. In any case, strengthening your core through Pilates etc may be a good idea.

    5. NDQ

      How’s your posture? I sit at my desk and have to remind myself continuously to correct the posture or my upper back will be sore.

      NDQ

      1. Ruth (UK)

        My posture is probably not great to be honest. I try not to slouch too much etc but it’s hard to keep track of all the time

        1. Kate in Scotland

          If you can get an ergonomic assessment at work it might help – I had terrible back pain and a proper chair plus a footrest has made an enormous difference. I also had the type of headache I think you’re describing plus bad neck and shoulders, and physio helped a great deal. But with the pain you’ve described you really need to get a doctor to look at it, just in case.

          1. Shell

            Ooh, seconding this as well. I’m not very picky about my chair because I don’t lean back on it (I generally have pretty good posture and don’t use the chair to support my back), but my table absolutely has to be the correct height relative to my elbows/hands when I type, and my feet absolutely have to be on the ground. If my elbows have to slant upwards to type my shoulders will kill me within a day or two; if my feet are off the ground my back will hate me equally fast. The height of your monitor relative to your eyes makes a huge difference in the comfort of my neck/shoulders too.

            For me, a keyboard tray has made all the difference–it drops my keyboard/mouse by a few inches so I can lower my chair and have my feet on the ground. I prop up my monitor with some catalogues.

            If there is no one at your workplace that does ergonomic assessments, you can look up the basics on the internet. It makes a huge difference for me.

    6. Hellanon

      How long has it been since you bought a new mattress? Those ads on TV aren’t kidding: the right mattress can make a lot of difference, especially if it’s your hips/lower back feeling the strain. Might be worth looking into, in any case…

      1. Ruth (UK)

        Fairly recently actually cause I moved house a few months ago and went from a double to a single bed. I’ve slept on various mattresses over the last few years and haven’t worked out what sort of one is best for me…

    7. CrazyCatLady

      I was having chronic lower back and hip pain and I started getting weekly massages (some places will give you a deal if you go regularly). It helped so much! Also I don’t know if this remotely applies to you but I just got a breast reduction and while I expected neck, shoulder and upper back pain to improve, I was very surprised that my hips and lower back improved as well.

    8. Saucy Minx

      Have you tried yoga, Ruth? Find a class either for beginners or for people w/ bad backs or injuries to work around. Very helpful.

      For low back pain or sciatica, a rocking chair is quite helpful in releasing muscles in spasm.

      Physiotherapy works, too, but much of it is based on yoga, & yoga is cheaper & needs no prescription.

    9. MegKnits

      I’m in the same boat. Slightly older but all of a sudden back pain out of nowhere. I went to a physiotherapist and he thinks I have a slipped disc. So doesn’t matter how old you are (I’m 27) you can still have back issues. I’m doing a combination of lower back stretches (basically the cobra yoga pose, but only halfway up) and rest.
      I blame my job for pain this month (mostly sitting in a cube with a side of lifting heavy IT equipment hence the back issues).
      I would go to a doctor, but if you have coverage, definitely look at physio or chiro.

  34. F.

    I want to thank the people who suggested the Reddit “A Bra that Fits” in the conversation about wearing a bra to work a few days ago. I went to the site, measured myself, plugged in the numbers to the size calculator and was amazed at the suggested bra size. Today, I went to Macy’s and bought a very comfortable Wacoal brand bra in my “new ” size! It fits like a bra is supposed to, with no gaping or spillage. It’s even an underwire, which have always been torture devices for me in the past. The saleslady first said that there was no way I could be that size, but when I tried it on under a fairly tight t-shirt and came out of the dressing room, both salesladies agreed that it looked great on me! Then I told them which bra it was and which size. They were amazed. Not going to mention actual sizes here, but I went down two band sizes and up three cup sizes, besides paying attention to the particular style for the various other characteristics of my breasts. I am going to wear this one for a few days to make sure it is as comfortable as it seems and then go online and order a couple more. They aren’t cheap (US$55), but it is well worth the money to finally have a bra that fits!

    1. Trixie

      Big fan of Wacoal, and have seen them on sale at the departments which is when I’ll stock up. Very well made and will last for quite a while if properly care for. (Handwash, air dry.)

      1. National Geographic Woman

        15% off coupon for Macy’s starts today. (no affiliation, just a happy customer)

    2. Jean

      Because I learned about Bare Necessities from this site (Barenecessities [dot] com) I want to repay the favor. They’re not dirt-cheap* but it’s cheaper and more convenient than running around a department store (including Kohl’s) hoping that they have the right combination of color & size in stock. Also, I got to shop very late at night while sitting in my PJs.

      * The bra I favor was 17.99 last year and 19.99 this year. The basic, non-express shipping service this past June was $5.00. It’s not inconsequential but it’s not stratospheric either.

    3. Anony-turtle in a half shell!

      This is exactly what happened to me (except I bought mine online, since stores near me don’t carry my new size) when I discovered the Reddit stuff via Epbot.com a couple of years ago. I went down four inches in the band and up six cups sizes, and I was sure the bras I purchased wouldn’t fit. When I pulled them out, I just stared at them for a long time, because…no way was that fitting! But it did, and it was the most comfortable bra I’d ever had in my entire life. I’ve since become a huge fan of Elomi, and I wear that brand almost exclusively.

      I also want to piggy-back on this related post to the bra conversation earlier and thank whoever mentioned the BreastNest on there. I decided to go for it even though I technically have a bigger cup size than they say they fit. Mine arrived today, and I haven’t taken it off since I tried it on. (I know, I know…I need to wash it, but this thing is so darn comfortable!) I’m debating getting a second one already, because I have been really wanting something comfortable to wear around the house, and this thing is perfect to wear under my shirt while at home. THANK YOU!

    4. Cristina in England

      I had this same experience! I was fitted for a bra at John Lewis (department store) and went down 6 inches in band size and up 4 cup sizes. My biggest frustration is with bra companies that tell women to “Add 4 inches” to their under-bust measurement for no discernable reason. I need a list of bra companies that size “true to measurement” and those that add 4 meaningless inches. Panache, FFIW, is the former. Emma Jane Maternity bras are the latter.

    5. skyline

      Yay! I had a similar epiphany on bra sizing last year. Learning how the sizes worked and the clues that indicate when a bra is no longer fitting has really helped me find better options. Also, going to Nordstrom’s. Also, once you have a size and brand that works for you, you can trawl the discount sites and sale coupons to get better deals.

  35. Noah

    So, just broke up with my boyfriend. We’ve been together for about a year, but the last few months its just been easier to be together than break up I think. He never wanted to leave the house, ever, but would get irritated when I would go out with friends or do something on my own. Tonight I asked him what he wanted to do, he said nothing. A friend texted me later asking if I could cover for him in a hockey league game and I said yes. When I told boyfriend he was super mad and I basically told him it was over and this wasn’t working out.

    The weird part is I’m relieved if anything, no upset at all. I feel all cold and heartless.

    1. Elizabeth West

      You’re not cold and heartless. What you did was best for both of you. It wasn’t working out; now you can both move on and either find people who are more compatible with you, or enjoy doing your own thing.

    2. danr

      You are not ‘cold and heartless’. You are getting out from under a controlling person. Get back out into the world and connect with folks.

    3. Ruffingit

      You did the right thing. It’s better for both of you to move on so you can each find what you’re looking for. Maybe he’s the homebody type and that’s fine, nothing wrong with that, but then he needs to find someone who is compatible with that. Same for you, you need to find someone compatible for you.

      Although it feels cold and heartless, it’s actually an act of kindness.

    4. Artemesia

      The only person you have to please in a breakup is yourself. You never owe continuing a relationship to a boyfriend, ever. Of course you want to be kind but you never owe continuing a relationship to a boyfriend ever. With a husband (and imagine having this guy forever and ever amen) you do owe a pause and an attempt to make it work I think — but even there ultimately you do what is right for you. Breaking up is hard to do, but it is almost always the right thing to do when you think it is.

    5. Merry and Bright

      You aren’t cold and heartless. Thinking you might be just shows you are a caring person. Feeling relieved shows you made the right decision.

    6. NacSacJack

      Break ups are hard, but if your lifestyles aren’t compatible and neither of you are comfortable leading independent lives from each other, then it’s not a good fit. Better to find out now than invest 10 or so years into the relationship trying to change that person. Men never change. :( and :) . You were under no obligation to stay home if he didn’t want to do anything. What he didnt like was that you were leading that independent life. Were you living together? That’s why it was easier to stay together than break up.

  36. Cobalt

    Do any of you cat owners have a leather couch? We’re looking for a new sofa and want to make sure the one we get is not going to get shredded by our cat.

    1. knitchic79

      Are your cats vertical scratchers or horizontal? I have a suede sofa and since my kitty is more of a horizontal scratcher I haven’t had a problem. The key is to offer plenty of “yes” scratch places so when/if you do have to redirect you have somewhere to plop your cat.

      1. Cobalt

        She is definitely a vertical scratcher. She seems to scratch more for attention than anything else. Wwe have a scratching post next to our current (fabric) couch, but she will still scratch our couch if she feels she’s being ignored.

    2. GOG11

      My boyfriend’s leather ottoman/coffee table is in a pretty sorry state due to my one cat running laps around it…on his side…using his claws to propel himself around and around… They do make tape you can line the edges with that protects the material. We didn’t discover it until after he’d shredded quite a bit of it, so I’m not sure how well it works. I have gotten the cats to leave certain spots alone by placing scratching posts/boards in areas where they are normally tempted to scratch.

      1. Cobalt

        Yeah, the inadvertent scratching is mostly what I’m afraid of. We’ve trained her out of scratching the furniture for the most part. I’ll look into the tape, thanks!

      2. Former Diet Coke Addict

        Yep, that’s exactly what happened with our leather couch and two cats. They’re really wonderful about only scratching where they’re supposed to scratch, which is great! But they’re young, active cats, so they’ve scratched the couch inadvertently launching themselves on and off of it and playing.

        1. Sharon in NZ

          Same here. We adopted two brothers at a year old. They are very active and playful and while they don’t use our leather sofa as an actual scratching post, it is still covered in scratches from them playing on it and leaping off it. It was pretty much brand new when we got them. Leather couches and cats are a bad mix lol.

    3. AnotherAlison

      No cats, but my puppy scratched up my leather furniture. She ripped the lining from underneath and scratched the wood feet. The ottoman is scratched on top from the other dog. Sooo, I guess I’m just weighing in to say animals can damage furniture, can’t confirm if it’s entertaining to cats. My furniture is 13 yrs though.

    4. Perse's Mom

      You’re basically looking for deterrents. Double sided tape, reversed nubby plastic runners, there are some sprays that may be unpleasant enough to keep kitty away.

      That said, add another scratching post, one in a different material (some cats like cardboard, some like carpet, some like sisal rope, etc), so you’ve got one on each side of the couch – this is the ‘no excuse’ approach. Probably be prepared to not leave kitty alone with the couch until you feel she’s doing okay while you’re there (plastic cover? heavy blanket? tarp?).

      If she scratches for attention, give her heaps of positive attention when she’s scratching in the right places. If she likes laser pointers or plays fetch or anything, you can use that to distract her or redirect her from the couch to the scratching posts and follow up with praise. You may want to see how well she does with all of this before you invest in a nice leather couch, though. Some cats are very resistant to being retrained.

      1. Perse's Mom

        I meant the plastic cover, heavy blanket, tarp suggestions as things to throw over the couch if kitty can’t be kept away from the couch while you’re out. >_> Not suggestions for what to throw over the cat. :)

    5. Artemesia

      A cat who scratches furniture will destroy a leather couch quickly. We adopted a cat that had been declawed in front; it enjoyed digging into the leather couch with its back legs. And leather shows damage more quickly than cloth upholstery and the damage is more unfixable.

    6. Cobalt

      These are all good suggestions, thanks!

      We do have a nice scratching post next to our current couch that she goes to most of the time…but not always, and that wouldn’t help with the inadvertent scratches while playing/jumping. Sounds like fabric of some sort will be our best bet.

  37. nep

    We’ve got a cat, and a leather couch. While he’s shredded corners of fabric chairs and couches, he’s not damaged the leather. I’ve never seen him lean on it as if to scratch or even approach it.

    1. nep

      So often happens when commenting on the post that’s in last position — obviously that was in response to Cobalt.

  38. Ask a Manager Post author

    Next car-buying question: Do I want the extended warranty for a new Honda? The car comes with a three-year dealer warranty. For an additional $1600, I can extend it by extra four years (so $400/year). It covers all labor and parts on repairs for anything other than wear and tear. I’m used to thinking I should never buy extended warranties for other products; are cars different?

    1. Cruciatus

      I remember Consumers saying it isn’t worth it, especially for Hondas and Subarus. Let me see if I can find the link…

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        This. Self-insuring is a better deal. Will you be able to pay for a major repair if it occurs? If so, go ahead and play the odds, and skip the extended warranty. There’s a reason that retailers and car salesmen pitch them so hard: in the long run they’re a huge money maker for corporations, and a horrible deal for the consumer.

    2. GOG11

      My boyfriend never buys warranties on anything, but he did take advantage of the warranty offered by the dealer when he bought his most recent car. With previous cars, he did nearly all his own work, but he decided to go for it with this car. He said he only ever needed to use the warranty once and he’s pretty so-so about having it.

    3. Cobalt

      One probem I’ve found with car warranties is that if you don’t get your oil changed at the dealership and get the “recommended” maintenance right on time, it voids the warranty. So keep that in mind when you consider your personal car habits.

      1. Noah

        Big +1 to this. You have to change the oil and keep up with all recommended maintenance AND keep the documentation of it. I was happy for the extended warranty on my Jeep when it needed major transmission work but it still barely reached the cost of the insurance. It was also a pain to pull out all of the paperwork for maintenance and send it in to prove it wasn’t because I neglected it. They will look for any loophole to try and get out of paying for a major expense.

        I did not buy an extended warranty with my Mazda. I would rather just keep the $1500 in a savings account collecting interest.

    4. Girasol

      If it has a factory problem it will turn up long before three years are out. After that you’re probably better off just depending on its Hondaness and skipping additional warrantee.

    5. Hellanon

      Not worth it. I bought the warranty when I bought my Honda new in 2001 and later got a govt-mandated refund after they settled a class action lawsuit related to ripping people off… Better choice would be to find a good local mechanic (not the dealership!). The joy of a Honda is that by the time stuff starts needing replacement, you’ll be a) out of warranty and/or b) it’ll be maintenance-type stuff not covered by warranties.

  39. Need Dating Advice

    So I’ve never really been in a very long relationship and I recently started going on dates with this guy (I don’t know if I should say we’re “dating” yet?) I have a few questions:

    1. Is it a red flag if a supposedly straight guy talks a lot about LGBT issues (.e., Caitlyn Jenner, gay marriage) on date as a hot topic?

    2. He’s brought up marriage and children already (he’s almost 40 with no children)…we’ve been on about 4 dates…is that normal? The context he brings it up is usually, my coworker this or my parents have been married a long time so I know about that, etc. I dunno if he’s bringing it up to see where I’m at as a sort of game (like to say what he thinks I want to hear) or to see where I’m at because he’s looking for a wife….? Thoughts?

    (Helpful note: we haven’t done anything physical at all yet)
    3. Should I make myself available to him all the time or should I play into the whole “chase me” thing by not answering his texts/calls ALL the time? I dunno—I thought the chase wasn’t necessary because we both like each other but it’s also beginning stages and I read somewhere that if you make yourself too available, a guy knows you don’t have other options and…that’s not good?

    4. Maybe I’m old fashioned but do we, at some point, have a “are we going steady” talk? Basically, I’ve only been seeing him but I don’t know if he’s only seeing me and I want to monogamous relationship. Does that just come natural…or is there some sort of ….talk???

    ANY feedback would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      1) I hope not, because LGBT issues are very important to me, too. If you are against LGBT rights, then I guess it is a red flag, otherwise are you hinting that you have a feeling that he might be gay but hasn’t admitted to himself yet? If that’s the case, do you have other reasons to think that might be true? That by itself just means he’s liberal and not insecure about his identity.

      2) He’s talking about people that are close to him. I hate to generalize by gender, but in my experience guys overwhelmingly don’t try to hint at things or play games. In fact, we’re usually quite bad at it, and don’t pick up on clues. But that might not apply to this particular guy, so if you think he’s probing, go ahead and start talking about yourself in that context, if you feel like this might be going somewhere.

      3) Please don’t do either. Don’t play games, but don’t upend your life because he might call either. If you play “hard to get”, he will very likely think you’re not interested (see “picking up on clues” above), and will move on. If your life revolves around his every text, then he might get weirded out that you’re so serious after so short of a time. Please go about your life as you did before him, but try to fit him in as you like. In fact, if you don’t have much going on and really can see him on a moment’s notice without a problem, sure, then go ahead, but if you ditch your sister’s wedding because he wanted to stay home and watch Netflix, that might feel like a lot of pressure. :)

      4) This is more of a personal choice, but I feel that when you’re thinking about becoming physically intimate, that’s when you should clarify your expectations about how much of a priority you are to each other, which includes monogamy or lack thereof. Some people want that when they start having a more physical relationship, some people are willing to keep seeing multiple people until one of them feels more important than all the others, and some never believe that they should have to limit their love to please other people. You’ll have that talk eventually, and it might never be natural, but at some point it will feel more important or urgent to clarify, and at that point I hope you and he will be comfortable talking about that kind of stuff.

      Best of luck!

      1. Need Dating Advice

        I don’t have any bias, I just wondered why on every single date he brought it up extensively and nothing else was brought up like “my father/cousin/brother is gay/bi/transgender so this is important to me”. I thought maybe he was feeling me out to see if I’d be ok dating a guy who is bi (he’s never said he was bi but I thought that may be the purpose). Thanks!

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          Ah, “every single date he brought it up extensively” is a lot more telling than “a lot”. Yes, he probably has some personal stake in it for it to be such an important issue to him, but you should find out eventually why that is as you get to know him. And if you don’t find out, then that tells you something, too (that he’s not sharing things with you that have a big impact on his life).

    2. Cruciatus

      1–Maybe he’s talking about these things because gay rights are very important to him but doesn’t know how you feel about them? Could be it’s a deal breaker if you don’t have similar views. 2 could be the same thing as you thought.
      3–Just how often is he calling/texting? I would say, no, don’t be available all the time. Live your life! Go out with friends. Hang out by yourself. Whatever you like to do. I’m not saying ignore him, but you’ve got stuff to do (and hopefully he does too)! For me it’s not about the guy knowing you don’t have other options (seems kind of degrading to put it that way, putting too much on whether the guy likes you, not whether you also like the guy). It’s more that you are a person with your own life and, if you really like him, sure he should fit into the puzzle, but he shouldn’t be the only piece in that puzzle.
      4–I think having a talk is normal. DTR–defining the relationship. It’s definitely a thing and it’s good to know where both people stand. I think there could be a point in the conversation it could be most natural, but that it would also be OK to bring it up just by asking, especially if the relationship will become physical. I’d definitely want to know where I stood with someone. Some people might not need to do this, but I would.

      1. Need Dating Advice

        2. I guess I asked this question because lately I’ve found myself in a ridiculous girly mode, checking my phone to see if he called/text and I’m not normally like this….but I like him a lot, so I didn’t want to give off the impression that I’m desperate or something

    3. NicoleK

      1. LGBT issues have been a hot topic in the last couple of years. It may not mean anything.
      2. Based on your examples, it seems like he’s just making conversation. You may be overthinking this.
      3. No games.
      4. Don’t assume that it’s an exclusive relationship. Ask.

    4. Noah

      1) I think LGBT topics are just popular discussion right now because society’s thoughts on them are changing. Sure he could also be bi, pan, gay, or whatever, but I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion.

      2) I find myself talking about my niece and nephew or my younger brother or sister when other people bring up children. If he’s 40, then he’s probably used to that being a topic of discussion at work or with friends who are parents.

      3) Please don’t play games but don’t feel like you have to run to the phone and respond within minutes either. People don’t and shouldn’t have their phone attached to them 100% of the time. It is ok to miss calls or texts but it is also ok to answer them.

      4) It is normal to discuss at some point what the relationship is to each of you. If you want a monogamous relationship you should say so.

    5. AnonForToday

      I do the talking a lot about lgbtq+ topics around new people before I come out to them, but it’s just as likely he has a really close gay friend/trans family member/etc and he’s trying to discern whether you’ll be cool with that, or that he’s just making conversation. He could also be bi or pan or some sexuality that doesn’t preclude being with women… If he’s closeted I doubt he’d be talking about it at all.

      1. Treena

        Yep, if he’s secretly in the closet, he would ignore the topic completely (or be a raging homophobe). I was coming to say he has an LGBT family member or good friend who is so important to him that if you’re not on board, he has no problem moving on. Or, he’s just into social justice and/or it’s a coincidence that he sees you after reading an LGBT-themed article. I wouldn’t worry at all about #1.

        2- It could be super innocent and he just has a lot of parents in his life, so talking about kids feels normal. Or, he’s almost 40 and wants kids and is seeing how you feel about them. Next time he tells a story about a kid, just ask! “Have you thought about whether or not you want kids? I was wondering because you tell such cute stories about kids!” /whatever feels appropriate in context. Is this something important to you? If it is, even more reason to bring it up.

        3. Another vote for the no-games. Just treat contact with him the same as anyone else, no more, no less.

        4- Monogamous relationships do not come naturally at all! Well, I guess they can, but I wouldn’t rely on nature if it mattered to me! Soo many opportunities for miscommunication. It seems like you don’t want to get physical unless you’re in a monogamous relationship, and if that’s true, realize that’s not standard for a lot of people (depending on geography, actually). Much more common is having a talk about wanting to be in a monogamous relationship, as in that’s what we’re both looking for, but we’re not quite there yet. I’m a fan of super straightforward- “This might be a bit soon to bring up, but I’m definitely a date-one-person at a time type, and I wanted to ask if you were too. No pressure, just information gathering. And then do what you want with the info.

      2. Need Dating Advice

        I have a coworker who is gay but dating a girl and all he talks about is LGBT and posts about this on his FB…I don’t think his gf knows (obviously), but we think he feels less guilty about using this woman as his beard because he is indirectly telling her the real deal and she doesn’t seem to care. So I think maybe some closeted men might not talk about it…and some men do…especially those that may be seeking a woman who doesn’t mind his closeted lifestyle…there are those women out there.

        1. Treena

          But are you sure he’s actually gay? Has he said the words? Could he be bi, or some other identity that allows him to date a woman and also be attracted to men?

    6. Dan

      2. Is what exactly normal? At some point, you need to have some big-picture talks about where you are on a bunch of issues. I don’t want to get into an exclusive relationship with you just to find out that you want kids within a year. I don’t see any issue talking about it early on in the relationship. We can have the greatest chemistry ever, but if you want kids within 12 months, it’s a no-go and I need to know that as early as possible.

      3. Just be yourself. My phone is on my charger and I don’t hear my texts go off, sometimes I’m out with friends, and sometimes I just plain don’t feel like chatting. Anybody who can’t handle that, well, we’re not going to work out well.

      4. IMHO? Oh hell yeah there’s a talk. Assuming we’re exclusive when we haven’t agreed to that explicitly will lead to hurt feelings if you think we are and later learn we’re not. And I’m going to wonder WTF is going on, because we never had the talk, and I assumed you’re seeing other people too.

      1. Need Dating Advice

        At some point yes, but on every single date from the first one to the most current pushing a certain topic…I dunno…which is why I asked on here whether that’s normal

    7. the gold digger

      1. No. It is a current event.

      2. Don’t know if it’s normal, but at that age, you don’t want to waste time. My husband and I met when we were 40 and within six weeks, he told me he loved me and wanted to get married. (We didn’t actually marry for several years because we are not stupid.) But qualifying someone – yeah – if you want to get married and do or do not want children, you find out right away how the other person feels.

      3. Don’t play games. You are too mature for that. Do what feels right and makes you happy. It is OK to talk to someone every day! When you are with the right one, it really does become very easy and you think, “Oh! Yeah – all those bad relationships before? They just weren’t the right guy!”

      4. I would have this discussion before getting naked.

    8. Emily

      1. I would see it as a red flag if he were saying problematic things about LGBT issues, but not if he were just talking about them/voicing support.

      3. Playing games is bad. You don’t have to drop everything to answer him right away, but you also shouldn’t avoid talking to him just because you want him to want you more. Just talk to him when you want to talk to him.

      4. I don’t have personal experience with this (my first and only relationship was exclusive from the start), but I would say yes, you should talk about it. If, at some point, you want to be monogamous and aren’t sure if he does, you should bring it up so that you’re both on the same page. Communication is always good!

    9. Mephyle

      #3 Why playing games isn’t effective: do you want to be with a guy who is with you because you manipulated him into it, or because you like each other?

      The “logic” of what you read somewhere is for people who see relationships as a manipulative game, and to my way of thinking it just isn’t logical. If you make yourself too available (wrong #1 – why “too” available? just make yourself as available as you want to be), a guy knows you don’t have other options (wrongs #2 and #3 – why should being very available mean you don’t have other options? Maybe it just means you’re into him. And even if it did mean you didn’t have other options, what would that mean? That you only want a guy who thinks you are with him because you don’t have any other options? Or you want a guy who thinks you’re with him because you have other options and he’s you’re last pick? The whole game thing just has me totally confused – I’m afraid I’m too logical for it.)

    10. Lindsay J

      Honestly it seems to me like you’re way overthinking this.

      1. He’s probably just making conversation about current events and/or wants to see if you’re on the same page as him as far as gay rights etc go.
      2. He’s making conversation. If he were joking about “when we get married” or something I would think he were testing but it seems like he’s literally just talking about people who happen to be married.
      3. No games. If you are available and feel like answering his texts, do that. If you aren’t/don’t then don’t.
      4. Yeah, you have to talk about it at some point. It doesn’t have to be a huge deal sit down talk but you do want to ensure you’re on the same page rather than assuming.

  40. Kristen

    I know there’s been discussion before regarding plagiarism and Alison’s work. Have you ever found it while researching something else on the internet? Are you tempted to point it out to those involved? For example, I just found plagiarism in these two articles while researching getting back into exercise after a break. Here: http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/back-shape-after-exercise-long-time-4448.html and here: http://www.dangerouslyfit.com.au/videos/get-back-into-shape/

    I’m wondering who did the plagiarizing. Some words were changed in an attempt to avoid plagiarism or the appearance of plagiarism. My guess is the Demand Media writer was the plagiarizer. I’m only guessing, but I think she polished up the other article.

    I apologize for my nerdiness. It turns out not only do I avoid exercise, I also avoid reading about exercise.

  41. Kristen

    Does anyone having any experience and/or tips on creating wills and trusts (i.e., estate planning)? I’m still single, but will be getting married in the next year or so. I’m not sure if I’ll create one now and revise it after I get married or just wait and do one when I get married. We have no children yet, but we plan to in the next few years. I have a bit of savings which is why I’m thinking about it now. I would like to minimize the use of a lawyer where I can.

    1. Noah

      Suze Orman’s Will & Trust Kit. Several years ago she gave out a free promo code on her tv show for it and I used it then. There’s a revocable trust, will, financial power of attorney, and a durable power of attorney for healthcare. It is a bit cheesy but there’s audio guidance as it walks you through completing the various forms by both Suze and some attorney. They explain the various parts and what the options mean.

      Like I said, when I completed them it was free, that was several years ago though. However, I was able to login just a few minutes ago and it looks like I can still make changes and update the forms. I’ll see if I can find a link and comment below.

      1. Rubyrose

        Thank you so much! I’ve been needing something like this. Just got on and did what I can do at this point.

    2. Elkay

      When we set up our wills there was the ability to put a fair amount of wriggle room in for future events (e.g. my siblings don’t have kids but my will is written in such a way that I don’t need to re-do my will if they do have kids). I’d advise going and seeing a lawyer just because this is their day to day, ours took less than an hour to do and cost us £150 for both wills (if it was just one it would have cost £85). I recently read that not getting a will done by a lawyer is the worst saving you’ll ever make.

      Also, everyone get wills, don’t leave your family having to pay a lawyer £xxxx to sort out your estate.

      1. Florida

        Agree about the lawyer. Your state might have certain estate laws that you don’t know about. It’s worth it to hire an expert.

    3. the gold digger

      Use a lawyer. It is well worth $500 to have a professional do this. I had my own before I got married – just wrote something out and had a notary at work witness it – but when I got married, my husband and I went to a lawyer. It is a lot more complicated than I thought it would be.

      Good on you for even thinking about this. My husband’s ex-wife died without a will and his stepdaughters are still dealing with it. Even worse, I have discovered several co-workers and friends who have minor children who do not have wills. PEOPLE! YOU HAVE MINOR CHILDREN! YOU NEED TO NAME A GUARDIAN!

      (And get life insurance before you have kids. Get it now, while you are healthy and can get it. Buy term. It’s cheap.)

  42. When It All Comes Out

    Throughout my life I have extreme difficulties talking to my family about what happened during my everyday life. For example, there might be incidents that happened at my workplace, but when my parents asked me how was my day at work, I can’t bring myself to tell the events in my workplace.

    Part of my fear came from my expectation that my family will go “why did you let this happen!” or “how could you not think of that!” or “why didn’t you do [a/b/c] at that time” and other surprising reactions. That might have happened once in my early childhood when I did confess about something to them. My parents also had some irritable reactions to my sibling at times when they made petty mistakes.

    Another part of my fear came from the fact that I am the least experience in everyday life situations compared to the rest of my family. The rest of my family seemed to able handle themselves better, and I feel uncomfortable revealing my incompetent self.

    I am still withholding all my everyday happenings from them. And I think there might be a time when everything/the truth will come to light, much to the shock of my family. I am wondering if there is a way to prepare for this “when it all comes out” issue when it happens.

    1. fposte

      This sounds somewhat like the old error of comparing your insides to other people’s outsides–the rest of your family is likely not feeling tons more competent than you, but you’re only seeing the front they put up. I’m also wondering if you may have been the youngest, or the youngest of your gender, and if you got stuck in a model where everybody else was always older and more competent without noticing that it stopped mattering once all the kids were adults.

      I also think you may believe there’s a normal level of inclusion, and there’s not. Lots of people don’t give their parents details about what happens at work, or in their social lives. And that’s okay–sometimes even advisable–but it sounds to me like you’re feeling like your family doesn’t know you, and that you’re afraid that if you changed that they’d be disappointed in what they knew. I think being known can be really valuable, and one reason that it’s valuable is because you know people see those weaknesses in you and still care for you and think well of you. I think probably your family does do that, and that they know you’re human and scared just like they are. But maybe you could test the waters a little and see how it goes. “I screwed up today and I was embarrassed.” “I learned something after working really hard, and I’m proud of myself.” Float a tiny bit of truth and see if your family pond treats it well.

      1. Graciosa

        I echo this, and would add that you can coach your family and friends on what you need from them. Figure out what reactions you fear, and plan how to respond.

        For example, if you’re afraid of announcing an accomplishment and having it negatively compared to someone else’s, plan to preface your news with “I have something to share that I’m really excited about, and I hope you’ll be as happy about it as I am!” This is your cue to your family about what reaction you want.

        If you don’t get it, responses might include: “I’m sorry you perceive it that way – I was really proud of this and I had hoped you would be wiling to share my happiness with me,” or “Why would you say that?” [Extreme cases].

        If you fear being berated or criticized after reporting something negative, you could say, “I already feel terrible about this, and I was hoping for your support,” or “Yes, I can think of other ways I could have handled it now that it’s over, but I did the best I could at the time it happened – I was hoping for your sympathy and understanding.”

        We all teach people how to treat us with every interaction. It is not possible to *make* someone change their behavior, but you can certainly encourage it – and you can learn to enforce boundaries when necessary. I strongly recommend this approach – unlike avoidance, it has a chance of resulting in real familial intimacy and genuine support.

        Best wishes –

    2. Not So NewReader

      Your last paragraph- are you in trouble somehow?

      Who are you looking for a way to prepare? yourself? or them?

      I am concerned that you may need help with something and you are afraid to tell them. Sometimes our families do not give us the kind of support we need. If you think about your setting, you might realize that they don’t know how to support you in the way you need them to support you. OTH, sometimes families just fall down on certain topics, but not on every topic.
      It’s okay to look for friends/neighbors/non-immediate family for support/advice. Is there someone around you that you can talk to, if you need to talk?

    3. Mando Diao

      I don’t always talk about mundane things with my mother because she’s the sort of person who follows up every little statement with a million questions. If I’m going to spend 20 minutes explaining the entire family trees and “how I know them” and educational histories of everyone I mention, I’d like it to be a worthwhile story that is interesting in the telling.

  43. Asking Phobia

    I am finding myself afraid to ask questions in a graduate course that I am taking. I am currently taking a course that it is really difficult for me. I find myself not too familiar with the fundamental knowledge required on this course even though I have taken the prerequisite equivalent at the undergraduate level.

    I find the discussions and assignment explanations in class for very hard to go along. When I did ask questions, it is hard for me to comprehend the explanation of my professor and classmates because they might refer to concepts that I have forgotten or not heard of.

    My professor had structured the course it that the only way we can get explanations for assignments if through asking it in class (i.e. there will be no solution print outs after assignments are done). She has encouraged the class to ask questions.

    But every time she said “are there any questions?” I am not sure if I should go and ask it. What if I can’t understand the explanation? What if I revealed that I do not know a fundamental concept?

    I am feeling a bit mortified everyday as I take the course. I also recently did an assignment in a extremely crappy way, but I have no choice but to submit it that way by the latest deadline because I just do not understand how to do the assignment well. I do not want to drop the course, because I still wanted to get as much experience as I can on the course material. Is there some helpful things I should do at this point as I continue to take this course?

    1. fposte

      I’m guessing there’s no TA or that would have been mentioned. I would meet with the professor during her office hours to talk about this; I’d also see if there are departmental supports that would be relevant (workshops, student groups, etc.). If it were just that you were uncomfortable asking questions in class, that would be one thing; it sounds like you feel like you’re not up to speed in the course generally and that asking would not only not help but make things worse.

      I don’t know how much work you’ve handed in yet, but a professor would much rather talk to a struggling student earlier than later. If she’s seen your work, she’ll have a much better idea of whether you’ve got an impostor syndrome–type participation block or whether you’re swimming in deep water, and she’s likely to have different suggestions depending on which it seems to be.

      1. So Very Anonymous

        Second this. A good professor will (should!) understand that some people are comfortable with asking questions in class and others would rather ask privately. When I’m teaching, I find those kinds of questions useful, in that they let me know to talk more about X if I know someone is struggling — if you are struggling, others are likely to be, too.

      2. Asking Phobia

        I am kind of worried that she will be upset after she reviewed that particular bad assignment that I have done.

        It was crappy to the point that it looked like it was done by a person who have no idea what the major program is all about.

        The way I did the assignment is due to my procrastination and my poor study habits at studying my major over the years.

        There is a lot I need to work on in my studies. But I just feel kind of bad for having submitted such a badly done assignment.

        1. Dr. Doll

          If she is any kind of decent *person*, let alone professor, she will be glad that you took the initiative to come and talk about the bad assignment and get some help in general. It will also help if you can think about some things that you want to try — come in with at least a rough draft plan to proceed, in other words.

          Don’t feel bad for trying and failing. You can feel bad if you don’t try to fix the problems that you’ve identified! :-)

          (Now, if the professor is one of those who is of the opinion that anyone who doesn’t get it immediately does not belong in [program], then SHE is the problem, not you. And unfortunately you won’t be able to solve that one.)

          1. So Very Anonymous

            If the second case is true, then I’d suggest talking with your advisor or another professor in the program who might be more helpful.

    2. LizB

      Can you email your professor your questions? I’m thinking if you can get her to answer in writing, you’ll have a chance to look up any concepts she references that you don’t remember, which may help your understanding.

      1. Asking Phobia

        I have tried that and many times I still have trouble learning the concepts she reference to. Thank you for the advice.

      2. Talvi

        Coming from the TA side of things, it really depends on what the question is. A lot of the time, we prefer not to answer involved questions via email. Is it something that I can answer in 1-3 sentences? Go ahead and ask. But if it’s something that involves more explanation, I’ll probably end up telling you to set up a meeting with me – I want to be able to check with you that you understand as I explain, so that I can rephrase things and explain in a different way if the first way doesn’t work for you.

        Unless your professor is a jerk, she won’t mind scheduling multiple meetings with you, if that is what you need.

    3. Graciosa

      I like fposte’s suggestion of talking to the professor and asking for advice. You might also consider (if the deadline hasn’t passed and it’s possible for you) whether it might make sense to switch to auditing the class for the rest of the term while planning to retake it next term. This may take some of the pressure off you regarding your performance so you can refocus on learning as much of the material as you can.

      I know there are many reasons why this may not be workable for you, but sometimes removing the anxiety (How am I ever going to learn this before end of term?) can help as much as getting the chance to review all the material in order a second time.

      Good luck.

    4. katamia

      It sounds like your undergraduate course and other prior coursework didn’t prepare you as well as they could/should have. I know your question is specifically about asking, but this seems like an issue that goes beyond just asking. I don’t know what your schedule looks like, but it sounds like you could really benefit from a tutor (depending on the subject, your school may have some). I’d also try to make sure that when you’re in class, you try very hard to get the name of the concept, even if you’re not sure what the concept is, and then look up the concept later online or in books. There are also some websites and online communities where people can go to ask questions about the material from their classes, although without knowing what you’re studying I can’t really recommend any particular ones. A website might be good because you can go over previous answers when you need to and you don’t have to catch everything “in the moment” as the professor is speaking.

      1. Asking Phobia

        A online community would be a good idea. I want to look for one where the subject is business/finance/accounting. Is there an online study community for that?

        1. Not So NewReader

          No recommendations but plenty of sympathy.

          I had a finance course that I just could not wrap my mind around. Like you are saying the concepts… ugh….
          I went to talk to the prof and she said that I was actually understanding the concepts. UH, what? I stayed in the class, it was hard. It never got easier. I was so relieved when it was over. I did not get that great a grade, but the prof said my understanding was better than what my grade showed. Okay, whatever.

          I did try to get myself a couple “baby” books on finance, because the text was not helpful. I would look up concepts in the intro books, then go back to my text. It was an extra step,but I sunk so much time into that course a little more was not that much. It was a long semester.

          Try looking around to see how other people are fairing. Maybe you can build a study group with one or two others. Maybe you will find that everyone is having a time of it also. In my class, it took a while for me to figure out that not everyone was getting it. In the end, during the final a lot of people just copied off of each other’s papers. Yeah. I was so happy when that was over.

    5. Ultraviolet

      I had a similar situation once, where despite taking the undergrad prerequisite I just didn’t feel as fluent in the subject matter as I should have in the graduate class. One thing that helped me was tracking down an undergrad-level textbook that was a little more advanced than the one my undergrad class had used. It helped bridge the gap.

      I found that book by asking a friend who found the graduate class easy which textbook her undergraduate class had used. You could also find syllabi online from the relevant course at strong undergrad programs and see which texts they used. Even if you don’t find one that’s actually more advanced, sometimes reading a different presentation of it helps.

      1. Ultraviolet

        Also, if the undergrad prereq is being taught at your school this term, maybe the professor would let you sit in on the lectures. That could really help.

        (Technically you would probably be required to register to audit that course if you wanted to do this. At my program, most professors would have no problem with a grad student just sitting in and listening without registering. I have a sense that it would be poor form to ask a lot of questions or use the professor’s office hours if you’re unregistered, but I can’t point to any evidence.)

  44. Noelle

    Does anyone have a narcissistic personality disorder parent? I’m the daughter of a NPD parent and I am trying to move forward with my life, but I am afraid things will end badly. I also want to mend relationships with my friends and keep my dad involved moving forward.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      I don’t, but I had a grandmother that was probably BPD/NPD, and my father, aunt, and uncle all have varying levels of dysfunction because of it. I highly recommend reading/sharing on /r/raisedbynarcissists (add www dot reddit dot com before that), it really helps when dealing with this sort of thing. First, you can learn about different coping mechanisms, it’s always good to have more tools in your toolbox, and it is also therapeutic to be able to share with or listen to people who get it.

    2. Dan

      My mom is certainly self-centered even if she may not meet the criteria for a full-on NPD diagnosis.

      My mom and dad are still married (and live together.) My relationship with my dad is fine, my mother couldn’t be more strained. It’s strained because I moved forward with my life, and my mother wasn’t ready. That was 19 years ago, and we’ve barely talked since.

      You haven’t really said enough to give advice on though. Is your dad your NPD parent? Where do your friends come into this?

    3. Mando Diao

      My dad most likely has NPD (my mom’s therapist offered this as a suggestion based on her stories, but no diagnosis has ever been given). I found that the only way I can have a relationship with him is if I opt into codependency. This is not someone who will ever meet me in the middle.

  45. schnapps

    Talk podcasts to me, people. I have an hour and bit each way commute and have found that listening to podcasts rather than the radio leaves me in a much better mood. I need more podcasts though. On my current rotation:

    The Black Tapes (on hiatus)
    Tanis
    Serial (can’t they start the next season, already?)
    Truth & Justice (formerly, Serial Dynasty)
    Undisclosed: The State vs. Adnan Syed
    Lore
    Limetown
    Missing Maura Murray

    Backups (in case I run out of stuff): Sword & Scale, Our Fake History, All Things Awful with Adam & Alex, You’ve Got It All Wrong.

    What do you listen to?

    What do you listen to?

    1. Natalie

      99% Invisible: each episode is about the design considerations of something – ballots, military food, and central casting are the three most recent

      Probably half of NPR’s nation line up – OTM, Fresh Air, Backstory, Marketplace and Planet Money, the World, Wait Wait, etc etc

      The Memory Palace: short American history vignettes. (This and 99% Invisible part of a great podcast network, Radiotopia)

      Slate’s parenting podcast (Mom and Dad are fighting) is super engaging and I don’t even have kids yet.

      If you like people ripping bad movies, both The Flop House and How Did This Get Made? are great.

    2. Stephanie

      Podcasts get me through my long commute, too.

      Mortified
      Risk! (It’s like a bluer, less polished version of This American Life, so be warned.)
      NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour
      Death, Sex, and Money
      Reply All
      Criminal

    3. Perse's Mom

      Interesting Educational Stuff:
      Stuff You Missed in History Class
      Stuff You Should Know
      Intelligence Squared (debates)

      Humor:
      Thrilling Adventure Hour
      Dead Authors Podcast
      Superego

      Story-telling:
      PodCastle (fantasy)
      EscapePod (sci-fi)
      DrabbleCast (shorter stories, often very odd but usually hilarious – the blurb for the second story is “Not your average fairy-tale about an obese squirrel and a unicorn with back acne.”)
      PseudoPod (horror)
      Knifepoint Horror
      The NoSleep Podcast

      And the rest of it is mainly nerd stuff. Gaming, skepticism, Tolkien.

    4. Kristen

      American Public Media’s “The Story” is a former NPR program. Although, it’s no longer on, there are many stories you can download from their website. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s basically about pretty ordinary people with an interesting story to tell. I find it very relaxing.

    5. Sara

      Stuff Mom Never Told You, Radiolab, Sawbones, Worst Bestsellers, PostBourgie, BackStory (which I actually think was recommended to me here!).

    6. YWD

      NPR: Pop Culture Happy Hour, Ask me Another, Fresh Air, Planet Money

      Extra Hot Great – in addition to a weekly podcast about TV they do daily mini topics and have spinoff about Beverly Hills 90210 called Again With This

      The Boss Show

    7. Al Lo

      Gilmore Guys, Nerdist, Up Yours Downstairs, Alohomora (chapter by chapter Harry Potter series re-read), Mugglenet Academia. History Chicks, although I haven’t listened to them in a while because their audio quality and producing isn’t great, and it was bugging me.

    8. BRR

      I love RuPaul’s What’s the Tee.

      NPR has a site for user recommended podcasts (link to follow in a reply).

        1. schnapps

          Oooh, thanks! I never really have time to sift itunes and googling “podcasts” is a bad idea. I like how they categorize them.

          And thanks everyone for your suggestions. I’ve added many of them to the player on my phone now

    9. Mephyle

      Radiolab
      TWIP (This Week in Parasitism – especially the first 30 or so episodes – it changed the way I see the world)
      Ideas (CBC)
      In Our Time (BBC)
      A History of the World in 100 Objects (BBC and British Museum) – this was a limited series of 100 15-minute podcasts; I’ve already listened to it at least four times.

    10. Cath in Canada

      Because you like Black Tapes / Tanis / Limetown, I’d suggest The Message, The Night Blogger, and The Shadowvane podcast. I’m also just starting Sayer, The Leviathan Chronicles, and We’re Alive, which I haven’t really formed a strong opinion of yet, but seem promising. I’m also quite enchanted by To The Manor Borne By Robots, in which a Beast, Destroyer of Worlds must be appeased by bed-time stories, which are interspersed with a time-travel body-swap story about trying to defeat the Beast.

      1. schnapps

        Confession: Before I figured out The Black Tapes wasn’t real, I nearly stopped listening after the episode “The Unsound” because I was terrified I may have done myself in :)

    11. Lulubell

      You Must Remember This -narrative storytelling about Hollywood in the 20th century. Addicted. I also listen to Marc Maron, Nerdist, Alec Baldwin, and Andrea Owens/Your Kick-Ass Life. (In addition to Serial and Undisclosed.)

    12. OriginalEmma

      Star Talk Radio (Neil DeGrasse Tyson interviews all sorts of celebrities across all sorts of subjects)

      Car Pool (Robert Llewellyn [Kryton from Red Dwarf]) picks up celebrities across all sorts of subjects from the airport or train station and interviews them before dropping them off. This podcast pre-dated Jerry Seinfield’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee by quite a few years.

  46. Stephanie

    Heh, I feel gross asking this. Is there a way for me to work out and then shower later without smelling? I have this awkward amount of time between a class group meeting and work. It’s a great amount of time to go run at a nearby park. But it’s too far for me to go home and shower (and also in the opposite direction). If I brought all new clothes (underwear included) and had some baby wipes, could that tide me over?

    (Not wedded to this plan, btw.)

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      That could work. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to cool off before changing and wiping otherwise you will sweat through your new clothes.

    2. Schnapps

      Maybe just clean shirt, underthings, baby wipes and deodorant? I’m assuming you have separate running gear from the clothes you’d normally wear.

    3. BuildMeUp

      I second the other suggestions (clean clothes/wipes/deodorant/lotion or something else lightly scented), plus dry shampoo!

    4. Ultraviolet

      Do you have a work friend who would be willing to tell you if you stank? If so you could tell them you’re going to try this for a week and you really want them to tell you if it’s not working. (Yes, I know that it’s a bad plan in general to assume something is okay if no one tells you it’s bothering them. But I have definitely had work friends I could make this arrangement with.)

  47. Diluted_TortoiseShell

    Anyone got experience dealing with neighbors whose dog terrorize your indoor cats? I live on the ground level and one of my neighbors keeps letter her dog come up to my window and bark at my cats. The first time I though “honest mistake” but she did it again today.

    1. BuildMeUp

      The next time you see her, I would just say in a friendly tone that while it seems fun to let your pets “say hi,” your cats are actually really scared of dogs and having a dog bark at them makes them anxious. Hopefully if you frame it in that way, she’ll stop!

      If that doesn’t work, can you put something in front of the window that makes it so the dog can’t get right up next to it? You could also try some sort of dog repellant – there are sprays, or google “natural dog repellents” – the articles that come up will probably be about keeping dogs away from your garden or yard, but there should still be some options that work. I think there’s also an option that emits a high-pitched sound, but that might also bother your cats.

    2. Perse's Mom

      Does she have control of him and is allowing him to be obnoxious? Or is she letting him wander around outside unattended and be obnoxious?

      You can try talking to her about it. If she has control of him, she can solve the problem by not walking him past your window. “This may seem trivial, but my cats aren’t used to dogs and Fido’s barking, particularly so close to the window, is really putting a lot of stress on them. Would you mind walking Fido in the other direction?”

      If she lets him roam around, you can still say something to her, but if she’s not willing to do anything about it, your options are more limited and you may be better off (sadly) preventing your cats from being in the window when the dog is known to be outside rather than what amounts to picking a fight with your neighbor. You may be able to call whatever agency functions as animal control in your area and ask about your options in case of the latter, though – particularly if he seems blatantly aggressive and is not being controlled by his owner (who may be violating local leash laws in that situation).

      Also, if this is a rental situation – like you both live in the same apartment complex if not the same building, check your pet addendum or call the leasing office to see if there are rules about pets outside being under control of their owner at all times, expected behavior, etc.

    3. Chorizo

      I’ve been the neighbor with the dog who terrorized my neighbor’s indoor cats. They approached me about it and I was extremely apologetic and have worked with my dog to ignore the cats as we walk back to our apartment.

    4. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      Thanks all! She does have control of the dog – she is typically talking on the phone and not paying attention to fido on the leash. The first time she let her dog bark at my cats for a couple of minutes and then moved him away, the second time he started barking, she stayed there for a bit, and then I stood up (you can see me easily when my shades are up, and she walked away before I got to the window). I think next time I see her I will approach the window proactively so if she stops by I can say something immediately.

      Thanks all!

  48. fposte

    More art: I’d mentioned some of the places I like to look at art, and now I’m looking at a couple of other venues. They’re both *way* overstuffed, which is hard for a completist like me, so you have to kind of core sample. But saatchiart.com has a wide variety of international artists starting at $100 (at least for the paintings) and you can get prints of many of the images for less. Then today I stumbled onto dailypaintworks.com, and I’m finding some really lovely little things, including quite a few in the under-$20 range.

    It doesn’t seem to matter what price range I’m looking it, the process is “blech, blech, blech, OMG I want it.”

  49. Michelle

    My company uses the system where we pay for our business travel and then our company reimburses us a few weeks after the fact. I know the overall ickiness of this has been discussed here, but it is not changing at my company.

    My question is: I am struggling to keep the two seperate for budgeting purposes. Right now I have a seperate credit card I put my work expenses on, but they it is paid from the same checking account as my other credit cards. Any one have tips on how to easily figure out how much to easily budget with the comingled expenses.

    1. misspiggy

      A spreadsheet would help you identify how much of your funds are free after work expenses. But you shouldn’t have to be making difficult budget choices. At the risk of going off the no-work theme, I would not pay the work portion of my card bill until I was reimbursed, and then charge the late fees/interest to work with my next expenses claim. If they won’t cover that, and won’t offer expense advances to people whom they aren’t paying well enough to easily absorb prepayment, I would look elsewhere for a job.

      1. Jill of All Trades

        I wouldn’t do that since it could affect her credit score. I totally agree that employees should not have to cover expenses up front, but this plan could backfire on Michelle.

        Until your company changes (unlikely but stranger things have happened) or you find a new job, you may be able to use the budgeting tools from Mint (free to use but a little heavy on the ads). You can link your accounts, set up alerts based on due dates and how close you are on your budgets, and set and track goals.

        Alternatively, would it be possible to push back on the amount of travel because you have to front the money?

    2. AnotherFed

      There are a bunch of apps for keeping track of travel expenses – have you checked out any of them? There are some decent free ones, and the paid ones often have other features like keeping track of flights, hotels, etc. for you. Some of them can be linked with a credit card and import all charges to that card automatically. Since you’re using it for your budgeting purposes rather than billing the right client, you won’t even need to handle the hassle of trying to sort out charges once they are on there.

      Here’s an article that compares some of the better apps: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/7-best-apps-for-tracking-business-expenses/

  50. Ruth (UK)

    So, this week I am planning to make a complaint to get a refund and be That Customer.

    I’ve actually never made a proper complaint about anything before… I’ve made the “um… I’ve been here [x] minutes now, I think it’s possible my order may have got lost?” (it had) and also “Oh, I think this has scanned with the wrong price, the price tag says [x] but I could have read it wrong…” (I had been right) type things.

    But I am genuinely pissed off at a company and am after a full refund (of around £80) on a monthly season ticket for transport in my city. Basically, the service has been delayed and cancelled so many times in the last 3 weeks that it’s a little unreal. I’ve been late to work by varying degrees now like 6+ times in the last 3 weeks. Because the train before the one I take is an hour and a half earlier than mine, and to a location with not much else there, I am unable to ‘just take an earlier’ train etc to get there. I’d then arrive an entire hour and 40mins early (which would also be taking the 05:40 service to be there for 06:20 when need to arrive at 08:00) and have nowhere to hangout but the outside of the (locked and not yet open) building. It’s also been delayed getting me home almost every day, one time leaving me stranded on the station (that has no waiting room, toilet, or indoor area of any kind) for 1.5hours until the next (also delayed) train arrived, and several times for more than 30 minutes. (I don’t really have any other transport options for work. side note: my boss is understanding).

    I’ve actually been able to consult a friend of mine who is an ex-employee of the company and also has dealt with a lot of complaints which is very lucky. She advises me I possibly (but might not) get a full refund but should at least get half. She also advises that I act very persistent and obviously angry without being rude/abusive, make the complaint over the phone, and just refuse to let it drop (again without getting rude/abusive/insulting/etc), and also that a manager would be needed to approve my refund. She also advises for me to be explicit in what I want – specifically a full refund of the total amount of the ticket (not just ‘a refund’ where I will more likely get less).

    Having also worked in various customer facing jobs / retail etc I believe her advice to be good and also know what that type of customer looks like from the outside: demanding enough to get what they want, but genuinely upset/wronged enough that you actually want to make it better. (rude/abusive ones just make you want to hang up on them or find a reason to refuse, or give them the minimum you can get away with). I’d also be happy for it to be in rail vouchers since I’d need to use them anyway…

    I am pretty nervous about making the complaint still…

    1. Not So NewReader

      In the US we have the Better Business Bureau or the Attorney General’s Office where we can file a complaint. If I am truly dissatisfied, I have said that I would go to one of these places with my complaint. I have only done this when the situation is way out of hand and the company is refusing to deal. I guess what I am saying is, if they refuse to deal know what your next step will be. Knowing your next step can really help to build confidence and a feeling of being on solid ground.

    2. Cristina in England

      We hate our local transport partnership, total sympathy. I hope you get your money back, you deserve it. You might also contact your local MP or councillor to complain.

    3. Carrie in Scotland

      I would also look at the National Rail Conditions of Carriage and the company’s Passenger’s Charter.
      There is a link I found about tickets and what you might get refunded (see below). Different companies have slightly different policies, I understand that Virgin will now do an automatic refund called ‘delay repay’.

      Good luck!

    4. Mando Diao

      The worst that can happen is they tell you no.

      I’m occasionally that person who asks for a refund or sends a meal back to the kitchen, but I’m always kind to the server/customer service person, and I NEVER act impatient. If you’re nice and give them time to fix the problem, they will.

    5. catsAreCool

      Try to be nice to the person you complain to but tell that person that this issue from the company is making you very angry. Explain that you know that it’s not the answerer’s fault.

  51. AvonLady Barksdale

    I finally got off my butt and took a trip to NYC for the weekend to see my friends. I am so tired (I can never sleep in, even if I go to bed super late) but I feel so happy and refreshed. I didn’t realize how much I needed this re-charge.

    Today is dim sum, then spice shopping, then trying to coordinate a quick meet-up with my favorite cousin, who is also in town, then home. Hopefully there will be Shake Shack or a bagel somewhere in there too.

    1. Jill of All Trades

      Yay! I know you’ve been missing NY and your friends and I’m so glad you made the trip. Enjoy your bagel!

  52. Carmen Sandiego JD

    I sent an email to two folks because I’m pretty sure there was a payroll error. Even after taxes and accounting for a 401k, my paycheck should be *higher* than for the previous role I had–my current salary’s 10-15% higher than my previous salary. Instead, it’s lower.

    This verges into the topic of finances–when you challenge someone’s calculations/accounting, how do you go about it, and do you tend to be successful?

    This can apply anywhere–at stores, work, banks, etc. If you think you were overcharged, or payroll made an error, do you tend to get a good response rate if you bring it up asap? Or do people brush you off?

    It’s been on my mind which is stressing me out which in turn is making my stress-induced hand eczema worse. SIIIGH.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD

        It’s actually direct deposit, no paystub. I just started this job though and maybe their system’s different. At OldJob, I got direct deposit but there was always an online paystub notification via work email.

        I sent the 2 folks an email about it yesterday, still waiting. One of them is very…interesting–Person #1 looks young for her age and takes *extreme offense* at the mere thought she ever made a mistake and tends to blame others. (People have noticed this about her, and she is not fun to negotiate with).

        ….UGH. Not looking fwd to tomorrow.

        1. Just me, Vee

          The FLSA doesn’t require employees to be provided with pay statements, but the laws vary by state. What state are you in?

        2. Observer

          Lots of places still provide pay stubs, even when its direct deposit. Check with your payroll people to see if that’s possible.

        3. The Cosmic Avenger

          Sorry, when I commented below I must not have reloaded, and missed these other comments.

          For someone like the person you described, I find it helps a lot to ask for their assistance/guidance rather than try to pose it as if they made a mistake. Something like “I’m used to looking over my gross pay with a list of deductions for tax planning purposes. Can you show me how I can get that information?” Asking for their help appeals to their vanity and sense of power rather than prodding their point of insecurity (their competence).

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      Well, I tend to do the calculations very thoroughly, and so I would just present it as “see, [X] is my gross salary per paycheck, which works out to a salary of [X*24], which is lower than what I’m supposed to be getting”.

      I’m not sure why you’re not sure. You should be able to ignore the deductions and determine whether your gross pay is higher or lower. If it’s lower, then you’re not being paid what you were told. If the gross pay is correct, then make a list of your current deductions and a list of the deductions from your previous role, then match them up. That should help you to visualize either new deductions or which ones are higher.

    2. BRR

      I always bring it up ASAP and usually do it in the form of a question. My dog got his teeth cleaned and they accidentally threw in a charge for castrating him. So I looked it over when I got it and asked “What’s this charge for?” Which I think goes over better than “this is wrong” or “you made an error.” Or I was charged for an extra day when I boarded my dog once and I said, “I’m not quite sure this is right, can you break down the billing for me?”

      In your situation I would ask for a paystub.

    3. K.

      My previous employer messed up my severance – payroll didn’t process it at all at first, which I called them on: “I was supposed to receive $X today, what happened?” Then they processed it incorrectly so I received far less than I was supposed to. I broke things down very specifically and referenced previous conversations/emails. I CC’ed the head of HR on all correspondence, followed up via phone, and just didn’t let the matter drop. I kept my tone neutral and referred to data points of amounts and dates. I ultimately got it resolved – I got the full amount to which I was entitled and they processed it immediately after they realized I was right.

      The key there was having tangible proof – the amount I was entitled to vs. the amounts received, and laying it out as matter-of-factly as possible. Also persistence.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD

        Update:
        I received a (broken malfunctioning) paystub hyperlink from the company. Then I called the payroll (outsourced) company itself, did online research, troubleshooting, and found the correct hyperlink (and helped a few coworkers out in the process b/c they all had the broken hyperlink (the company handbook hadn’t been updated).

        Seems like all the calculations were right, just that my 401k contribution was deceptively high.
        I redid the 401k paperwork, so I’ll have my 401k but also have a boost in take-home pay.

    4. Student

      You might need to tweak your tax withholding, or it’s possible your insurance costs are much higher. If you’ve switched marital status between now and your last job, that can impact your tax withholding quite a bit.

      If it’s your first paycheck and you came in part way through the pay period, it might be pro-rated for that this time around.

      No matter what the cause, they should be able to explain it to you or give you paperwork documenting where all your money went.

  53. hermit crab

    I’m writing the last few thank-you notes from my wedding and I feel all warm and fuzzy inside! In other warm-and-fuzzy news, if you want to read some (mostly) heartwarming stories about celebrities being nice to restaurant staff, check out yesterday’s Behind Closed Ovens post on Jezebel (and be sure to read the comments).

    I hope everyone is having a good Sunday!

  54. alex

    Are any charities good?

    The United Way comments have me down. Really, really are any charities good to donate to, where my contribution is actually helping people/animals/the world?

    Thank you.

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      I donated to United Way and was very happy with it. I was able to specify which charity they had found that my money went to and I know it happened becasue I got to see the money in action and I got a heartfelt personalized letter from the charity itself.

      Just do some research about what’s important to you: donated to cause ratio, executive pay, etc and make your choice.

      Some people really care that $0.99 of their $1.00 go to “the cause” but I don’t. I understand, for example, that paying a salary of an office admin, instead of relying on volunteers, might result in that $0.50 saving two puppies where as that $0.99 going to the cause, if not done so efficiently, could result in no puppies saved.

      It’s really up to you. I don’t know if I helped but there you go. : )

    2. BRR

      Lots are. I recently started at an international aid charity and am so happy to help raise money for what they’re doing. The issue people have with United Way is that they feel strong armed by their employer to donate. And as Diluted_TortoiseShell mentions, it’s important to recognize that the charity still has business needs.

    3. hermit crab

      There are lots and lots of good organizations out there! I personally donate to my city’s food bank, Planned Parenthood, and a local nature/conservation organization, partially because I have seen them all in action and I know they are doing good work. Like the others have said, just do a little research about what is important to you, and don’t let people’s bad experiences with office charity campaigns discourage you!

    4. Apollo Warbucks

      There’s a pretty good Ted talk about why our view in charity giving is so wrong. I’ll post a link below.

    5. Sara

      We donated to our local NPR affiliate this year – not exactly what you’re looking for, maybe, but given how much free entertainment and information we get from NPR, it was probably about time we gave them some money! I’m also planning to donate to Planned Parenthood and the after school program that most of my students attend in the afternoons.

    6. Treena

      Definitely! Just try to remember that there are issues in every organization, and there probably isn’t a perfect one. And on the other hand, there are definitely better and worse ones, and doing a bit of research will help you figure out which ones you want to support.

      But it sounds like you’re having trouble even identifying which ones to evaluate. I try to find relatively small charities that are doing niche work in the issues I care about. I like a few.
      The Innocence Project–they appeal cases when new DNA technology is available for use as evidence–they’re literally freeing wrongfully convicted people from long/life sentences!
      Heifer International–they give people geographically-appropriately animals that will provide products and babies and help stabilize the community
      Local domestic violence shelter–obvious reasons!
      Instead of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (national governing body) I donate to an affiliate, either the local one, or one in an affected area (Texas, Mississipi, etc.)
      If you want to support abortion access, I actually recommend an abortion fund. PP is great, and they definitely provide the service, but it’s true that it’s only 3% of what they do! If you donate to a fund, people call when they can’t afford the procedure and then the medical provider gets the money. It’s the best solution I’ve seen so far.

      The other thing not a lot of people know is that you can earmark your money for a specific thing, either a program you like, or materials, etc. I don’t recommend it all the time because it’s a huuge pain in the butt for the finance dept, but it’s a good solution if you wouldn’t donate otherwise.

    7. Mando Diao

      I find discussions about charities to be really disjointed. On one hand, people who work for non-profits tend to feel underpaid. On the other hand, donors get incensed when too much money is spent on employee salaries. Kind of like how people talk about wanting to be doctors for the high pay, but then dislike paying their medical bills.

    8. misspiggy

      Medicines Sans Frontieres are pretty efficient and work in areas that many others don’t go to (no personal affiliation).

  55. Laid Back Stepmom

    Fashion question! I am wearing a just-above-the-knee dress to my stepdaughter’s wedding. It’s gonna be chilly. Would it be okay to wear nude but slightly shimmery hose with peep-toe shoes? Or will this expose me, and stepdaughter by association, to scorn and contumely?

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      I think it really depends on your family, your relationship with your step-daughter, the x-husband and x-wife relationship … etc. If there is any drama there at all, weddings multiply it by like 10,000 so if you are hoping to avoid that dress down.

      My sister wore a gorgeous shimmery dress, huge high heels, and wore make-up and jewelry to my wedding even though I wore no make up and very sparse jewelry. One person made one hateful comment about her trying to “outshine” the bride within earshot and I shut it down pretty quick. “Well I think my sister looks gorgeous and it means the world to me that she cares enough about my wedding to go all out. Just because I’m the rustic type doesn’t mean I expect anyone else to be.”

      And that was that but I also have the “peacemaker” ability in my family in a way that no one else does. So shrug.

      1. Victoria, Please

        No worries on that! Dress has been bride-approved. I’m just wondering how big a fashion disaster it is to have covered toes in peep toe shoes.

        1. Victoria, Please

          Ha, and now I’ve outed myself! :-) yes, I’m the laid back stepmom. And my stepdaughter has really appreciated the laid-back-ness and low-pressure support.

        2. danr

          Everyone should be looking at the bride and groom… Don’t bring it up and no one will notice.

          dan

        3. the gold digger

          Just make sure you get the kind of hose that don’t have a reinforced toe. Then you won’t be able to see. Sure, the hose won’t make it through the night, but this is a special occasion!

          1. fposte

            I at first read this comment as if you were suggesting the reinforcement meant she could no longer see out of the peep-toes.

        4. CheeryO

          Technically it’s a no-no, but I highly doubt anyone would notice or care. I have some super fashion-conscious, judgy relatives, and it’s a stretch to imagine them gossiping about the step-mother-of-the-bride’s peep toes and hose. It’s not like you’re wearing a white dress or stripper heels or anything that would draw attention.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict

      For starters, I would not worry or think twice about it, especially if it’s chilly.

      But if you’re very concerned, toeless pantyhose exists! Usually it has a squeezy bit around the toe or a little loop of fabric that goes around the big toe to keep things anchored in place.

    3. Mando Diao

      That sounds fine! The shimmer sounds cute.

      Tights and leggings are having a moment. It’s pretty easy to find tights or leggings with lacey or floral patterns. You probably won’t be the only person there having some fun with it.

      1. mander

        I see loads of Very Fashionable People in London wearing tights with open-toed shoes. Granted they are usually opaque but I have seen sheer versions. As long as you’re not wearing 70s style “suntan” with reinforced toes I don’t think anyone will notice or care.

  56. Stephanie

    Has anyone been to Big Bend National Park? My friend and I were thinking of going there and Marfa in early spring. How many days would you recommend in the park?

    1. the gold digger

      I went years ago with some Rice friends. We camped (with an infant – I do not recommend that) and stayed in the cabins as well. It’s gorgeous. Watch out for snakes.

      Go to the observatory, as well.

      RE Marfa – when we were there, it was not trendy yet, but I think there are now good restaurants there.

  57. Nervous Accountant

    So I posted upthread about my progress with my health issues. Initially, I was super pleased, but it wore off very quickly (think minutes or hours), even though everyone else around me was happy for me. So I started thinking of whenever anything good happens, why I feel this way. I’m uncovering this pattern where once I achieve a goal, the happiness of achieving it wears off VERY quickly. I’m disappointed that I dont’ feel as happy as I *should* or *thought* I would.

    For example, when I got my drivers license; after years of trying and trying, I finally passed (took me a few more months to get 100% comfortable in local driving afterwards). When I was hired in my first full time position, after years of putting up with crappy jobs and bosses and coworkers….I thought I would cry tears of happiness when I was hired. When I obtained my professional license…I was hinging all my career hopes on it…passed and was excited…these were all great things that I felt I would NEVER achieve.

    I don’t know if I”m just not being thankful enough? Or it’s a subconscious way to keep myself on track? There’s a little voice that says “no big deal. You can do better.” That voice never says “Good job Nervous!” W/ the most recent example….my rationale is that it is VERY easy to undo 6 weeks of work in less than half the time. If I just keep my drivers license and don’t drdive, I won’t be a driver. If I don’t keep studying and working hard, I’ll losemy license and my job, etc etc.

    Anyone ever felt like this? Am I overthinking?

    1. Not So NewReader

      There is always another mountain to climb. There is always that next thing to be working on.
      It’s easy to focus on what is missing and not pay any attention to what has been accomplished so far.
      Adding to the mix, if you wait for that little voice to tell you “good job” you will be holding your hand on your butt forever. So what to do here is YOU tell the little voice, “I did a GOOD fn JOB!” ;)

      I would guess that most of us do not congratulate ourselves often enough. And most of us focus on what is missing from our lives and not what we have. This does lead to discontentment. Yeah, we do have sometimes sit down and make lists of things we are grateful for- I think that is just human nature that we have to force ourselves to do this. We tend to dwell on the negative sometimes.

      This all comes under the heading of self-talk, the way we talk to ourselves. When negative thoughts jump into our brains, we have to counter with, “No, wait. That is not entirely true, and here is why______.” A good rule of thumb is if you would never say it to a friend you should not be saying it to yourself, either.

      In your driver’s license example- that is true. Keep using your license, keep developing yourself as a driver. We have to keep feeding our skills, keep developing them. Nothing wrong with developing ourselves, matter of fact, it’s pretty healthy.

      Applying the little voice to all of this could go something like this for you.
      Little voice: “This is no big deal, you can do better.”
      You: This IS a big deal. I have done very well. And I will continue to develop these new skills I now have. (See the balance? This blends the past with the present and future.)

      It’s actually pretty healthy to have something inside of us nudging us onward and upward. We are supposed to have some of that. Running at the same time, we can deliberately set aside time once in a while to inventory what we are grateful for having accomplished already. That is a healthy thing to do also.

    2. nep

      Another good reminder that it’s not great when one’s ‘happiness’ or contentment always depends on external forces / external events. When you find a deep peace that’s just there because it’s there and you’re you and that’s more than enough, you might not be on such a roller coaster.

  58. LBK

    What’s your favorite dinner recipe? I have a set standards I tend to make a lot and I’m getting bored of them (tacos; pasta and sauce; a tomato, basil & sausage dish I made up; mushroom risotto; chicken parm/piccata). Especially as we go into winter when I tend to cook more, I’m hoping to mix up the routine a little. I made these last night and they were absolutely delicious: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/simple-perfect-enchiladas/

    I’ll eat just about anything and I’m a fairly good chef, so I welcome any and all ideas!

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict

      Our winter usuals: Tourtiere (Quebecois meat pie with spices), chili, beef stew, bean soup with vinegar, Budget Bytes’ tortilla soup, pork tenderloin with a spice rub roasted for 30 minutes, beef Stroganoff, broccoli-and-cheddar quiche, meatloaf, spaghetti and meatballs, roasted chicken, “basic” pork chops (dredged in bread crumbs, pan-fried, baked in oven for 12 minuets), and tacos. Swap with a number of side dishes (usually frozen veggies, because winter) and mix-and-match.

      Tonight is tourtiere. Last night was Costco stuffed peppers. Tomorrow will be either leftovers or spicy pork tenderloin, depending on how ambitious I feel.

      1. LBK

        Ooo, I’ve never heard of tourtiere before but it sounds delicious! I love savory pastries, will have to try that one out. I was perusing Budget Bytes a few weeks ago and a bunch of things caught my eye, thank you for the reminder to go back there for ideas before my next grocery store trip.

      1. LBK

        Mmm, those look great. I bet I could even cheat and throw them in the crockpot before work so they’re ready when I get home. Thanks!

    2. Amber Rose

      For winter, my one pot beef stew is my preferred, it warms you right up.

      Brown a pound of ground beef. Add chopped carrots, onions and potatoes, and a half a cup to a cup of water. Simmer on medium until the veggies are soft. Add two cans of beans (I like the Kraft maple flavored ones for sweetness), a half cup of BBQ sauce and optionally, top with shredded cheese.

      Use soft rolls to soak up the sauce. So good.

      1. LBK

        Oh yes, beef stew will definitely come back into the rotation once it’s colder out. I actually just made some a couple weeks ago since chuck was on sale. It’s such a nostalgic meal for me since it was one of my favorite things my mom used to make growing up (and the leftovers freeze well for a nice cozy dinner on days I don’t feel like cooking).