weekend free-for-all – December 12-13, 2015

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

Book Recommendation of the Week: Straight Man, by Richard Russo. I’m currently halfway through this darkly hilarious tale of academic politics and quite amused.

And here is Eve trying to attack some water.

{ 739 comments… read them below }

    1. LeRainDrop*

      Oh my, Eve is so adorable! Just watch out if she learns how to turn on the water all by herself. One of mine did that while I was out of town and then moved the faucet over to be above the counter top instead of the sink — result = flooding and over $10,000 repairs! Since then, I turn off my water main every single time that I leave the house. When I’m home, that same guy turns on the kitchen sink to drink so frequently and his sister now drinks from it, too. Smart and cute, but not smart enough to turn the faucet off when they’re done!

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I wish we could train ours to turn on the water! One of them (Chewie, short for Chewbacca) absolutely refuses to drink out of a bowl like a peon. He drinks only the freshest running water. That means my poor husband can’t sleep in on weekends because the cat will stand on him and screech in his ear until he gets up and turns on the bathroom sink. Chewie used to sit in the tub and drink, but we just moved to a place that only has showers, so now he’s taken to wedging himself into the bathroom sink and drinking.

        We tried a pet fountain, but the poor cat is terrified of any type of noise, so he was afraid of the bubbling sound.

        1. Lee Ann*

          I’ve got a Pioneer Pet fountain – the water flows down the top section instead of splashing through the air, so it’s practically silent.

          1. Jen RO*

            Mine is a Cat Mate, but it works the same as yours. It does make a bit of noise, but not bubbling, you can just hear the motor. One of my cats never drank from a bowl, but he uses his fountain and (mostly) stopped bugging us to turn on the sink.

            1. LeRainDrop*

              Right after my kitchen sink flooding incident, I bought the Drinkwell Platinum Pet Fountain. My cats have really liked it for five years, but more recently have been obsessed with the kitchen sink again anyway. I think they just like the super-fresh, super-cold water — plus they’re divas.

  1. Rebecca 2*

    Damn you, Alison… After your post on the Blck Friday open thread I became obsessed with Matteo bedding. Ordered a duvet and 2 shams at 1 am on cyber Monday. What a deal! This is healthy, right?

  2. Kyrielle*

    What’s your favorite winter holiday tradition?

    Mine is our Christmas-Eve tradition. Everyone gets to open a present containing a new pair of pajamas, already freshly-laundered, so they can wear them that night. I think this year I may take a cue from a friend who does something similar but adds a book – maybe next year I’ll do a family gift of a new movie and popcorn, but honestly I think I like the book idea better. :)

    1. fposte*

      Oh, that is original and delightful! I like the idea of adding a book or other details, but really, the pajamas are wonderful in their own right.

    2. Liza*

      I am actually failing to think of any favorite traditions, but I really like your pajama tradition! I may suggest it to my family. (Also the book addition, because we’d all go for that.)

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      My former boyfriend’s family did the one present opening at midnight thing, it was only a small one but I really liked it.

      My own family’s tradition when I was growing up was less that and more everyone has to be up, washed, dressed and had breakfast before we could go anywhere near the presents – sometimes it was noon before that happened (my dad always got up late).

      1. Liz in a Library*

        We used to do the one small gift on Christmas Eve thing too. Looking back, it was probably to keep us kids calm because my dad would often work night shift on Christmas Eve and not be back until 10-11 on Christmas Day. Opening a gift in the afternoon the day before would keep us from wheedling our mom about Santa before he got in. :D

      2. :)*

        We always opened presents after church! We lived on a farm, so my parents were in the barn before church, so it was easier and we could all be together. We did get to open our stockings before church. My mom is really good at stockings.

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      Christmas goose. Goose is not easy to find on restaurant menus, but a few NYC restaurants do offer it for Christmas dinner. I kept telling my husband that one year we should just stay in the city for the holidays instead of visiting the fam, but he won’t hear of it. So I’ve started roasting a goose for Christmas Eve — we have too many people on xmas day to even think about a bird that size. But it works great for the night before when it’s just my parents, my brother/SIL/niece, and my husband and me.

      1. Girasol*

        Solstice bonfire! Okay, it’s really the safest time to burn the brushpile anyway, but with marshmallows and hot dogs it’s an annual event.

      2. Anna the Accounting Student*

        This isn’t a family thing, but I sometimes tell people that I open presents on New Year’s. There’s a historical precedent (it was apparently a thing in Renaissance England, for example, if all those Tudor/Elizabethan biographies are to be believed). And it gives people a chance to take advantage of the after-Christmas sales.

    5. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Tradition: baking cookies (chocolate, pb, snickerdoodles) while watching Xmas and Harry Potter movies at high volume with a bunch of carrots to chomp on nearby (I’m kinda a health nut and I make cookies as presents to others)

    6. Rena*

      My fiance’s family does Christmas Eve pajamas! I was really excited when I was included in the pajama gifting, it’s pretty much the best thing.

      A few years ago, his grandma decided that they were all probably too old for pajamas and tried to discontinue the tradition … there was almost a revolt!

    7. LeRainDrop*

      Yes, pajamas and a book was my family’s Christmas Eve tradition growing up, and we loved it! After we opened them, we got changed and then reconvened to read Twas the Night Before Christmas. A major part of this memory, though, was that our dad insisted on video-recording us as we opened the gifts and as we read the book. He always wanted the perfect frame, so we had to wait while he moved the couch back, set up the tripod, had us get in place in front of the Christmas tree, and then adjusted whatever in the world camera settings for longer than we really had the patience for. LOL!

    8. Doriana Gray*

      Eating Chinese and watching The Godfather. I can’t wait to get my one-year-old niece in on the act.

    9. Anonsie*

      Not a tradition I currently participate in, but I’ve been reading about the now-forgotten Victorian tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas. This was apparently once as common as Christmas trees and yule logs, but now mostly just survives in that line about scary ghost stories in “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” and, of course, in “A Christmas Carol.”

      Seriously, people used to gather around a roaring fire after a delicious meal on Christmas Eve and tell ghost stories! It sounds like such a glorious mixture of cozy and spooky to me. I’d love to see this tradition brought back, and I’m thinking about making it a part of my own holiday traditions going forward.

    10. Meg Murry*

      Yes, in my family we always went to my Grandmother’s house for Christmas Eve, and when we came home we were allowed to open one present – and my mother always highly encouraged us to open a specific present. It was almost always a book or sometimes an activity book like word searches and puzzles. Then we were allowed to stay up as late as we wanted in our rooms with the new book and only our reading lamp on – I would often read the majority of that new book that night. It was my parents way of trying to get us to sleep in at least a little (it didn’t often work).

      We also were given a set time we were allowed to go downstairs after (often something like 6 am) and a different time we were allowed to wake my parents (I’m guessing 7 am, but not sure). When we went downstairs before my parents we were allowed to open only our stockings – which often contained another new book or quiet activity.

    11. Elkay*

      We both have a half day on Christmas Eve and when we get home we watch The Muppet Christmas Carol and get take out pizza for dinner. We also make Christmas cookies together in the lead up to Christmas.

    12. Aurora Leigh*

      Candle lit Christmas Eve evening service at my Grandma’s church. So beautiful when they turn down the lights and then everyone lights each others candles!

    13. QualityControlFreak*

      That sounds wonderfully cozy! My extended family meets Christmas Eve at Eldest Uncle’s house for a giant potluck and presents for the kids. Everyone seems to enjoy that.

  3. Felix*

    I’m looking for some new blog/online reading suggestions. I do a lot of reading on my phone during my commute and (besides AAM) am finding my favourites a little stagnant.

    Also exploring Reddit so, good sub-Reddit suggestions would also be appreciated!

    Some of my interests: news, personal finance, fashion/beauty, literature, graphic design, fitness…

    1. Nethwen*

      I like The Art of Manliness. There’s a good variety of topics and the comments tend to be respectful even in disagreement.

      Not exactly “literature,” but I Work at a Public Library is hilarious and I think anyone who works with the public could relate to many of the stories.

      1. OutlawedArts&Letters*

        AoM has been pushing some pretty annoyingly condescending articles, lately. The first one that comes to mind basically stated that if you have body image issues and are not comfortable being nude around others in a locker room, etc. that you are not a “real” man/adult.

        They do have good stuff related to grooming, style, and such topics.

    2. Fleur*

      I don’t tend to go to reddit for insight, and its defaults/news are pretty terrible, but there’s a lot of good, funny time-wasters if you’re into them:
      /r/aww – cute animals
      /r/shittyrobots – mocking robots
      /r/itsaunixsystem – mocking TV depiction of technology
      /r/wheredidthesodago – mocking infomercials
      /r/oddlysatisfying – misc. animation that is oddly satisfying to watch
      /r/nosleep – if you’re into creative writing, this is a sub for horror stories.

      And for fitness, there is /r/Fitness. Arnold Scharzenegger occasionally visits there.

        1. Anna the Accounting Student*

          /r/blep and /r/blop are good, too. They feature animals — cats and dogs, respectively — sticking out their tongues.

          There’s also /r/jellybeantoes and the less active /r/toebeans.

      1. katamia*

        If /r/nosleep is something that would be up OP’s alley, /r/letsnotmeet is a similar sub for creepy stories that are supposedly true.

      2. Perse's Mom*

        If that’s the same No Sleep I’m thinking of, they also have an audio podcast that’s really quite good.

    3. GOG11*

      I enjoy…
      – 27bslash6 dot com – basically, a graphic designer trolls people in epically hilarious ways
      – Adulting Blog* (adultingblog dot com) – manners, budgeting stuff, life hacks, things I feel I should know but never learned
      – Vivienne Files* (theviviennefiles dot com) – fashion mainly focusing on color and various versions of capsule-type wardrobes
      – It’s Like They Know Us (itsliketheyknowus dot tumblr dot com) – hilarious captions for stock photos of unrealistic parenting situations
      – On Reddit*, the “I’m a Search and Rescue Officer for the U.S. Forest Service” series and the “Spire in the Woods” series, both of which are in No Sleep I believe.

      *discovered because of AAM reader recommendations.

      1. Goliath Gary Willikers*

        The Spire in the Woods series was really solid. Usually I’m of the opinion that shorter is always better where creepypasta is concerned, but that’s one piece that really benefited from a more slow-paced, character-driven telling.

    4. Sunflower*

      STFUParents is fantastic. She hasn’t posted anything recently(she also does weekly columns for Mommyish that are similar and equally hilarious) but reading through the old posts is worth it

    5. Felix*

      Thanks everyone! These are amazing suggestions! I’m looking forward to exploring all these sites. :)

    6. FitLady*

      I also like the xxfitness subreddit, more so than r/fitness, so check that out!

      R/nosleep can have some great scary stories

      R/writing prompts is another good subreddit where people post writing prompts and other users post stories that answer the prompts

      TalesFromRetail is another subreddit whose name describes exactly what it is about. If you have ever done retail or food service you will definitely relate to the stories

      I also love tvtropes.org which describes tropes and themes that appear in media (books, TV, etc) On their home page they have an explanation that’s better than mine. If you love literature I think you will really like it! It doesn’t show up well on mobile, so try exploring on a computer.

      1. Stitch*

        For personal finance:

        Mr Money Mustache (if you haven’t already gone through it… it’s not as regularly updated these days because he’s pretty much covered everything but he’s THE gateway blog to Financial Independence. Depending on your particular goals, you may then find other blogs helpful – the forums have a lot of bloggers in it!)
        madFIentist (for the practical, useful side of financial independence: how to plan, manage taxes, etc.)
        Joshua Kennon’s blog (if you like the investing/economics side of personal finance)

        1. NDQ*

          I love and live these blogs. I only work so that I can fund my investments. Every work day and paycheck is one big step toward my exit plan. It’s a great way to spend free time by diving into the one area that will determine how you live and on whose terms.


  4. LizB*

    I’m having 12 people over for a Chanukah dinner party tonight. I have seven pounds of potatoes to turn into latkes, a decent-sized brisket I cooked in my slow cooker overnight, and ingredients for a cucumber salad to help counteract some of the greasiness… currently putting together a playlist of background music, then I’ll pick up the apartment a bit, then the cooking begins. Woohoo!

      1. LizB*

        7pm, but you’ll have to bring your own chair — we barely have enough seats for the people who are already coming! I’m going to be using my rolling desk chair. :)

      1. Liza*

        It might not help you make latkes better, but have you seen the Maccabeats’ new video “Latke Recipe”? It is an actual latke recipe, put to the tune of “Shut Up And Dance.” (They’re the ones who did “Candlelight,” another song about Hannukah, a couple years ago. I love their music, they seem to sing so joyfully!)


    1. MT*

      Oh, please tell me what you use for a playlist?

      I love Hanukkah music in small doses, but the automated services (Pandora, Google Play) haven’t really caught up on our holidays. I can find twenty awesome hipster Christmas stations at will, yet every Hanukkah playlist inevitably turns into “the Joy of Klezmer” on repeat.

      1. LizB*

        There are a few decent 8tracks stations out there if you have the time to look for them (I always find them and forget to bookmark them, so I can’t give you links). Honestly, though, I have a bunch of iTunes credit from random things, and every year I buy a couple more albums to use for my playlist, so I’ve got a pretty nice collection now. This year, I included some Maccabeats, Erran Baron Cohen’s “Songs in the Key of Hanukkah,” piano instrumentals by Jon Simon and Robin Spielberg, and The LeeVees’ “Hanukkah Rocks”. Nothing klezmery, and a decent amount of variety — lots of covers of the expected traditional songs, but also some original stuff.

  5. Legalchef*

    For those of you who entertain, how do you determine how much food to have?

    We are having people over tonight and I’m pretty sure I am making way too much food:
    Blue cheese stuff apricots
    Latkes and apple sauce
    Veggies and dip
    Lentil/tomato/feta dip with pita chips
    Cucumber rounds with smoked salmon
    Cheese platter
    2 types of homemade pizza
    I also have 2 Frozen appetizers I picked up from trader joes

    I made 2 types of cookies, mini cupcakes, and have brownies in the oven.

    I figure I can see how things are going before putting the appetizers from TJs in the oven.

    This is for 13 people (assuming no one brings any randos). This group can eat and usually loves the stuff I make. Is this a crazy amount?

    1. danr*

      Yes… you can keep the frozen appetizers frozen. I assume you have some desserts, so give folks some time to digest dinner before dessert.

      1. Legalchef*

        Thanks. I’m always able to figure out food amounts when it’s a sit-down dinner, but when it’s just apps/snacks I never can figure it out!

        1. the gold digger*

          Joy of Cooking says, “Before a dinner party, two or three hors d’oeuvre of the lighter variety….For a cocktail party without dinner to follow, five or six hors etc, including some more substantial food. For a reception party that will take the place of dinner, serve six to eight hors etc with lots of variety and with heartier kinds added. As a general rule, figure two pieces per person of each kind of hors etc at any type of party. (These guidelines do not include dips, which may always be included.)”

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I always focused on my main dish and then considered other things as the fill-ins around it. How many pizzas do you have total? Do you remember how many pizzas they ate in the past (if you served them pizza)?
      I think you have plenty of variety, though. If someone walks away hungry it’s their own fault.

      1. Legalchef*

        I’m making 2 pizzas – one pesto/sundried tomato, one butternut squash/caramelized onions/roasted mushroom. I have a third pizza dough so I could make another if I needed to. But it’s not so much a main course as an additional snacky thing.

        The most annoying thing that I just realized is that our fridge holds a shockingly little amount of food for its size, and we would usually put drinks outside to get cold but it’s currently 67* in NYC so that isn’t going to work!!

        1. Legalchef*

          (The second most annoying thing is the fact that I have the dining table spotlessly clean and set with my platters and bowls and my husband keeps dumping misc things on it that don’t need to be there!)

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Aargh – my family does the same. I’ll have a spotless table clearly set for an occasion, of which they are all aware, and someone will always walk by and deposit their wallet or keys or random school paperwork there. *exasperated sigh*

        2. danr*

          Can you run out and get a bag of ice and set up an ice bucket. A cooler would work or even a couple of buckets.

    3. Valar M.*

      I think thats actually pretty reasonable. I like to offer my guests variety – and for 13 it sounds like you’ll have a decent amount of food and variety.

    4. Alma*

      Is this a mingle and nosh party, or a sit down and eat at one time kind of thing?

      If it is mingle and nosh, you could make two platters (instead of one) of some of the items that tend to get messy when folks graze over them. Like the dip (which sounds amazing!), the cheese platter, the latkes, etc. The food then is fresh and attractive over the 2 hours while people mingle. Good idea with the frozen appetizers.

      This works for beverages, too – have a separate stash of ice, a clean pitcher for eggnog (or whatever you’re serving), and swap the whole thing out instead of pouring more into a drippy, sticky pitcher.

      People tend to eat more when it is finger food over several hours. If it is sit-down, people will try a little of everything and usually eat less of the main protein.

      1. Legalchef*

        It’s mingle and nosh, which is why I feel like I need more options!

        If you have a trader joes near you the lentil dip is really easy – a package of their pre-cooked lentils, rinsed and drained, a container of bruschetta, and a container of crumbled feta. I’m going to toss fresh basil in there later.

    5. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I always make enough for a small army, but I only make what the family will eat and what freezes or transitions well. I’d rather have too much food than not enough; and I love a good variety. I once saw an apartment therapy article that recommended only having 5 things at a party and increasing quantities as needed. That just seems crazy to me.

    6. Athena C*

      So, ha, I actually do this, because I do party planning (I really should make it into a business). For a mid-afternoon party, plan for at least ten bites per person, because it’s in between meals, so people are going to be grazing.

      For actual dinner, what you’ve got will be more than enough. I usually double the amount of bites. So what you’ve got will be more than enough.

      I realise this is too late, but still! You’ll be good.

      1. Athena C*

        -reads the comments- Oh, this is a snacky party. Yes. I always plan on at least 10 bites a person. My mom has an annual Christmas party, and she usually has 30-40 people. One year, she ended up making 9 and a half dozen cookies, and we were like “everyone gets 9 cookies and a meatball! Okay, that’s your ten bites!” We had cookies for a month.

  6. fposte*

    Any potters or ceramicists here? I would like some education, but not learn how to *make* pots. I want to learn as somebody who really likes pottery about glazes and styles from different countries, and preferably some information about how you can tell when somebody has done that glaze really well and what tends to be more an amateur tendency. Book, website, whatever is fine. I’ve been looking at Amazon and the aficionado stuff is all very specific collector-focused stuff, like here’s what to look for in Fenton or Rosewood or whatever. I’m looking more for information that allows me to look at current crafts and say “Oh, that’s the Japanese thingy shape but they’ve used the whosy-whatsis glaze, which is ambitious.” There are a few guides for potters that look like they might include that, but I’m hoping somebody who knows more might be able to point me to specific ones that they know would be helpful.

    Right now I know what I like but I don’t have words or history for it, and those for me are a big part of the fun. If it helps any, I really like Scandinavian and Japanese styles.

    1. Rana*

      Unfortunately, most of the ceramics books I have on hand are exactly the kind you’re not wanting – the sort of guide/inspiration for potters wanting to adapt those techniques to their own work. Ditto for ceramics magazines. That said, some options – first, the ceramic books in the library tend to be divided among the practical, the ones for collectors, and the ones in art history. The latter are going to give you the pretty pictures and the cultural context; the second, as you note, are going to give you the technical terms and some identification skills; the first will give a sense of how difficult the techniques are. I’d start with the art history books, and browse the shelves there a bit.

      Have you heard of the new British reality show, The Great Pottery Showdown? It is in the style of the Great British Bake-Off (also excellent, as is the sewing one), and it is really nice in terms of conveying the difficulty of the skills needed, etc.

      1. fposte*

        Oh oh oh! I had not heard of The Great Pottery Showdown and it sounds like it would be brilliant for what I’m looking for. Where are you getting it? It doesn’t seem to have slipped onto YouTube, which is my first stop.

        And I hadn’t thought of magazines, which are an excellent idea as well. Thanks for the tips.

        1. fposte*

          It looks like it’s The Great Pottery Throwdown (geddit?) in the UK, but it’s still not YouTube available.

            1. fposte*

              Rana, you may have changed my life on two fronts. Tunnelbear is great, and I am *besotted* with the Pottery Throwdown. Weepy Vic Tayback with the slant-roof hair! Sara Cox growing marginally less annoying than usual! Three women with J names!

              I’m only on episode 2, so don’t tell me what happens.

              1. Marzipan*

                I don’t think it would be a spoiler to say that Keith continues to be moved to tears by pottery on pretty much a weekly basis…

                1. Rana*

                  Keith is pretty awesome.

                  What I love about the show is that it clearly “gets” potters. My experience is that we’re/they’re an interesting and odd lot. You get the creative weirdness aspect of most studio artists, but then you combine it with earthiness (literally!) and a sort of mild fatalism that comes from knowing that even if you do everything perfect, there are always aspects that are out of your control… and that even the most perfect piece can still be dropped and broken. (You can see some of that when you compare how the bakers handle delicate work under intense time pressure, with the potters. All the shaky hands in BakeOff? Not an issue in ThrowDown. Though simple hand strength might also be a factor.)

      2. Marzipan*

        I was going to suggest the Pottery Throw Down, too – I loved it! Like the Bake Off, but with clay instead of custard years…

        1. Marzipan*

          Or even custard tarts! All the episodes of the Throw Down are up on BBC iPlayer at the moment if you can convince it you’re in the UK – but the first one expires on Thursday.

    2. katamia*

      The Freer and Sackler have made a lot of their old publications available for free. I skimmed some of the titles, and they have at least one thing on Japanese ceramics as well as probably some other titles on other types of ceramics/pots. (They’re broken up by region, and I didn’t check all the regions.)


      1. fposte*

        *Wow*. That is an amazing resource. Really, anybody who likes any art should have a look. Thanks for posting it.

        1. katamia*

          Yeah! I follow them on Tumblr (studied Asian art in college, and the Freer and Sackler have always been my favorite Smithsonian museums), and I was SO excited when they first posted it.

  7. Random Reader*

    It’s been a rough weekend so far- I broke up with my boyfriend last night. I realized that as much as I cared about him, I didn’t see marriage and kids as a future with him. Snuggling with my cats on the couch and watching Netflix all weekend :-(

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Just because it’s the right thing doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt you too. Chilling out and getting cat snuggles sounds like a good way to starting the healing process (& chocolate). *hugs*

  8. literateliz*

    Another stationery question after last week’s fountain pen thread :) Are any of you into the whole planner decorating trend? (I’ll post a link in a response for those who don’t know what I’m talking about) I just found out about this a few weeks ago and I’m kind of obsessed, lol. I’ve been wanting to get more organized and also indulging my girly side, so it’s basically perfect.

    I have a brand new Erin Condren Lifeplanner sitting in its box on my mail table… I’m forcing myself to do at least an hour or two of freelance work today before I open it up. I also went kind of crazy buying stickers and washi tape.

    1. Samantha*

      How was your Erin Condren buying experience? I’ve heard several stories of really long wait times or books missing pages, and it made me hesitant to order. I just purchased one for next year from Plum Paper Designs on Etsy and I’m pretty pleased with it, although I don’t think there are as many customization options as with EC.

      1. literateliz*

        Well, I just opened it and no missing pages as far as I can tell! It did take its sweet time getting here but that was FedEx’s fault, not EC’s. (Seriously, there is no reason for a package going from LA to San Francisco to go through Ohio, Missouri, New Mexico, and Arizona.) The Plum Paper planners look cute!

    2. asteramella*

      I use stickers, different ink colors, highlighters, etc with my planner, but I don’t go too overboard on it… You probably wouldn’t call my planner pretty. It’s more “functional, but with cat stickers.” I don’t really get washi tape… It’s cute but it would just take up paper real estate that I need for writing lists on!

      I always use a Moleskine large 1-year weekly horizontal because it’s thin and small enough to fit in my bag.

    3. dangitmegan*

      I just got a Webster’s Pages planner for next year. I ordered a bunch of stickers, and it came with some washi tape, but I’m not sure how far I’ll go with it. I feel like it might be a rabbit hole for me.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        What color did you get? I want an A5 kit in Sky, but they are sold out everywhere I’ve looked. Amazon had the A6 size, but that is too small for me.

    4. Rosa*

      I bought so many planner stickers last month, I’m not letting myself buy anymore into after the new year. I don’t have an eclp but I enjoy following the planner instagram accounts.

    5. Athena C*

      That was me last year! So much washi tape, and I never used it. Ah, well. I will say that the planner was a lifesaver. I really loved it, and I’m trying to find the money to get one for next year.

    6. Ruffingit*

      OMG, I did not need to see this today. It only reminds me of how much I want an EC planner and to purchase the Washi tape I’ve had bookmarked forever. I love planners. It’s awesome to meet people who still use the paper planners rather than the phone or whatever. I love writing things down, it feels more concrete and real to me than putting it in my phone.

  9. Felix*

    Alison, I was thinking about a comment thread from last weekend about how people stay current on comments (searching tools etc.). I had an idea that may help? When you publish posts with multiple letter writers, could you also automatically post corresponding comments? For example, the comments would just contain the title of each letter and a sentence asking all comments related to that letter to be posted under that comment thread.

    Then, if people wanted to comment on, or read the comments on “OP 2: my boss is obsessed with Frozen” they would just look at that comment thread.

    Just a thought!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s an interesting idea! It might be more structure than I actually want — I’m okay with the comments being fairly free-wheeling within some basic boundaries (stick to the topics and don’t be rude). It also would require me to be available to set it up every time a post published, right away, which I couldn’t realistically do (they’re set to auto-publish at specific times through the day regardless of whether I’m at the computer or not). But I really appreciate hearing ideas like this! (And keep them coming — many of people’s favorite things here have come from other people’s ideas, like open threads, which were suggested by commenters, and updates, which were suggested by a friend.)

      1. Felix*

        Always happy to share ideas! I wasn’t sure how time intensive this would be for you.

        I have to say, one of my favourite things about this blog is how responsive you are! I was a lurker for about a year, but your engagement with the community encouraged me to get more involved in commenting. Thanks for running such a wonderful blog!

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I think the only workable way to keep the comments separate in WordPress would be to separate the multiple entries into separate posts, but maybe they could still all be published at the same time and numbered.

        1. Anonn*

          Although I see the upside of this, I have to say, no, please don’t! I read the morning post on my commute and have it preloaded, since I can’t access the Internet during my commute. 5 different posts would mean I’d need to just stay on the homepage and not see any comments.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That has ramifications for the archives though (would make them much, much more crowded). And I actually like the short answer format — it lets me answers questions that on their own probably wouldn’t be “post-worthy”!

      3. Ruffingit*

        I would really love an edit button so I can correct spelling mistakes or delete a post that is under the wrong thread, etc.

  10. Liza*

    I jumped the gun and posted this yesterday, and someone kindly reminded me that yesterday was the work-related open thread (which I had been too excited to notice):

    I published a knitting pattern on Ravelry! It’s my first one, and I’m really proud of myself for doing it. I am stoked that 47 people have already downloaded it, and I can’t wait to see other people’s pictures after they knit it. OTOH, it does use 2-3 different yarns so depending on what someone has left over in their stash, it might be a while before anyone does knit it…

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Oh that is cool! My friend sells her designs on the internet. When she started she wasn’t sure how much of a response she would get. Sure enough, orders came trickling in. Really fun stuff.

    2. literateliz*

      Yay! How exciting. I’m a knitter who’s done some reasonably complex projects (a few sweaters, once attempted to make mittens) but I still can barely read a knitting pattern, let alone create one, haha. Go you!

      1. Liza*

        Thanks! I am excited. It’s about the third time I’ve made up a pattern, but the first time I’ve thought of sharing one. (And I’ve only ever done one sweater and that was with bulky yarn, so go you for sweaters!)

    3. CheeryO*

      Oh hey, I’ve been wanting to make some fingerless mittens! I have everything I’d need for these; maybe I’ll see if I can give it a whirl. :)

      1. Liza*

        CheeryO: I hope you do! If you do I’d love to see pictures. (I’d also welcome comments if you find the pattern difficult to read, or anything.)

    4. Hypnotist Collector*

      Well done! I just started knitting again after several years’ break — yesterday I was knitting in the coffee shop and the tire place while getting my snow tires on, and I had forgotten how people gravitate and want to talk about knitting. I had two great conversations. It was a nice way to spend a Saturday morning.

  11. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    I’m worried about my pet beta fish. It’s been chewing its tail (whenever I’m gone/while I’m sleeping at night). I feed it regularly and change the water once a week fully, and mid-week 50% new water added (all with beta conditioner added properly).

    I’ve given it a small hideaway hole, it has greenery, yet it insists on chomping its tail. It currently has a 2 mm by 1 cm piece of its tail missing. It’s swimming fine and is perky as ever, but err.. Any ideas to prevent it? :/

    1. Canadian Natasha*

      Hi from a fellow betta owner! Are you sure he’s eating the tail? My twin tail betta (Waverley) briefly had an issue with fin rot which looked almost exactly like you describe. Usually it just means water changes/cleaning need to be more frequent (unless it’s a very severe case). Or if the hidey hole or greenery has pointy bits, he could be catching his tail on it.
      If you’ve seen him nibbling on his tail and already know for sure it’s that, please disregard!
      My Waverley will never win any awards for betta smarts (he’s all looks and no brains) but he hasn’t tried eating his own tail yet so I’m afraid I don’t have advice for the nibbling. :(

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Thanks for the input. The odd part is, I’ve never actually seen him eat his own tail, but I’ve seen him attack his reflection, and he tends to swim in a way that he could loop around and touch his tail at times.

        The way I find out is I come back, a part of his tail’s missing, and a couple days later it….*erm*…is excreted, if you know what I mean :S

        1. Canadian Natasha*

          Ok, well that does sound like he really is chomping on himself. :( Attacking his reflection is pretty normal (he probably thinks it’s a rival betta) but I haven’t heard of the tail eating before. Probably not related but how much/ often do you feed him and what sort of food? I’m just wondering if it could be some kind of weird nutrient deficiency behaviour.

          1. Canadian Natasha*

            That or stress? Again, just checking off any possibilities but if his tank is too reflective or there’s a mirror surface and he’s attacking the reflection more than daily (or if it’s too small- should be 3 litres at least) it could be a nervous behaviour.

    2. Uyulala*

      What size tank is he in and what sort of fun/interest is available for him in there? Most bettas like room to swim and entertainment of some kind. If yours attacks the tank, I think he has energy to burn and may be bored.

      Putting him in at least a 10 gallon with a filter may help if he is currently in one of those tiny so-called “betta tanks” that many fish stores offer. You just need to watch and make sure that there are areas of calmer water where he can go to if he wants. Many bettas (mine included) love to play in the water currents. They can swim against the current for an adventure and then swim with the current to get to go really fast. I even saw a funny video on YouTube of a betta that would actually jump up in the filter he had and then ride it out again, but I couldn’t find that now when I looked.

      If he might want tank-mates, a couple cory catfish are good choices. They swim at the bottom and are non-aggressive and they don’t look at all like a betta, so he shouldn’t feel threatened.

  12. Nethwen*

    This is my husband and my first Christmas and we aren’t visiting family; we want to start our own traditions. Any suggestions beyond Chinese and movies? Hiking won’t work because it’s too cold and he only goes because he loves me, so I try to make it as pleasant as possible for him. I thought about having a drop-in party on Christmas afternoon, but didn’t want it to seem like the childless couple was trying to take people way from their family events. Thoughts?

    1. Connie-Lynne*

      If you have specific friends (say, 2 – 3) who you know also don’t have family or other plans, why not invite them over for the afternoon? “I was thinking about maybe hosting a friends-Christmas this year and wondered if you had plans; would you be interested?” That’ll let you find out whether folks will come without having to commit up-front to party planning if it turns out to be only one or two people.

    2. fposte*

      Oh, I’ll be interested to see the responses to this. Would a nice walk–just 30-60 minutes around the neighborhood, or in a nearby park–be a substitute for a hike that would be okay for both of you? What about a drop-in party on the 26th, when people might be glad for an excuse to get out of the house? Is there a treat–bottle of wine, chocolate, show on Netflix–that you can plan for and then ceremonially unleash on the day?

    3. Connie-Lynne*

      My husband and I did a solo Christmas one year, it was great, we just went away to a B&B in the middle of nowhere. Some of the things we did you could probably do without leaving town:
      * Wander around the neighborhood just to see what’s there.
      * Book Christmas Dinner (and Christmas Eve!) in a fancy local restaurant.
      * Play boardgames all afternoon.
      * Build legos.
      * Watch a classic movie, one that isn’t going to ambush you with sadness or horror.
      * Take a nap together, just because it’s vacation and you’re tired.
      * Drive to whichever neighborhood in your town goes all-out with the lights and decorations, bring a flask or a thermos, and wander around ooh-ing and aaah-ing (or snarking, whatever your deal is).

    4. LizB*

      Would you be interested in volunteering? In my area, there are tons of organizations that look for volunteers on Christmas to serve meals, give out gifts, visit hospital patients or seniors in care homes, and other similar tasks. It could be a nice part of a tradition, if it’s something you’re interested in.

      1. Nethwen*

        I know people volunteer at the holidays, but unless it is something I do year-round, it feels hypocritical or like it is more for my benefit than because I care about the people I am supposed to be helping. Anyone been on the receiving end of one-off, holiday volunteering who could comment on if it is appreciated or mostly just produces snark, resentment, or eye-rolls?

        1. FutureLibrarian*

          I worked in the non-profit world and have been a volunteer.

          Volunteers, no matter whether they come once a week or once every 2 years, are always needed and welcomed. If an organization gives you the side eye for only showing up on the holidays, they’re jerks and I suggest you call somewhere else that will be more appreciative of your time. You could just as easily send a check at the holidays, but instead, you gave up time with family, friends, or your couch to give to others.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Yep. There _are_ organizations that need a long term commitment and one-offs aren’t that helpful, but in that case they should post it on their web site so no one volunteers. And I would guess lots of organizations might NEED extra helpers this time of year, as demand for their services goes up as the holiday crunch (budget, stress, everything) gets to more people.

        2. LizB*

          I definitely see what you’re saying, but lots of organizations need one-off help around the holidays because some of their year-round volunteers may be out of town or taking the week off. I’ve done both long-term and one-time volunteer gigs, and I have never had an organization or recipient give me flack for not coming in more often. As long as you’re respectful and do your work well, your help will be appreciated just as much as someone who shows up every week.

    5. TootsNYC*

      What about something you do together–something pegged only to Christmas, but a bit elaborate.

      Like, make and decorate a gingerbread house. Not before–on the day. So, a little bit of fussing before (picking a design, getting ingredients, etc.; maybe even baking the gingerbread, or mixing it up so it’s ready to roll).

      Or some other sort of project, but not one that feels like work/chore!

      And napping together is very romantic.

    6. StudentPilot*

      My husband and I haven’t spent a Christmas with family for…well the three years we’ve been together (and an extra two years for me on my own) – we travel. Cuba, Guatemala, Panama, Botswana this year! You could be a tourist in your own city over the holidays – do a free tour, museum, go for a walk in a touristy neighbourhood.

    7. CoffeeLover*

      My family has never really celebrated Christmas (I’m from a country where new years is the bigger deal and that’s when all the celebrating happens). I grew up in Canada and really enjoyed the non-celebratory holiday we would have. A typical Christmas day includes being lazy in bed until noon, watching Xmas movies, playing cards and catching a movie at the theater (which is busier than you would think on xmas but still not packed).

    8. danr*

      You can borrow ours: Make a nice sit down dinner with wine (if you drink). Get a nice dessert too. Then watch movies. You can also go out to eat on Christmas Eve. We used to do that before going to my wife’s parents for Christmas Day dinner. It made the evening very relaxed. If you go out for Chinese, everyone will ask how your Hannukah was. :)=

    9. Four on the way*

      One year at Christmas time I was standing in the check out line at the grocery store and a young couple came up to me and said, “for Christmas this year we want to help other people as our gifts to each other. Would it be OK if you bought your grocery’s for you?” Is was stunned. It was such a cool thing for them to do. You might want to try doing some really cool service things together.

      1. Alma*

        I have been very pleasantly surprised by pulling up to get my latte at Stbx and having the window person tell me the car in front of me paid for my caffeine infusion. My next stop was the pharmacy drive thru, and I realized hmmm, that’s not likely to happen here…

  13. _ism_*

    I’ve had a terrible year and a worse week.

    Quit my toxic job in October, found a new one through networking, but got fired after two weeks because my autism symptoms apparently got the better of me and I hadn’t disclosed at the new job yet.

    Then I had to file restraining order against my abusive mother and have cut off contact with the family in the area who enable her. It’s a long story, check out reddit’s RaisedByNarcissists.

    I had to borrow rent money and the transfer went through too late so my rent check bounced and I got an eviction notice from my landlord. My boyfriend said I could come stay with him and we’re supposed to figure out how to move all my stuff out of the house by Wednesday when the landlord is coming with a police officer. I am so sore I can’t even help move. I am going to have to throw away most of my possessions and furniture because they aren’t worth selling and we have nowhere to put my stuff now that I’m stuck in the floor of a gross bachelor house.

    On my way to move some boxes to his house, I swerved to miss a deer on a country highway in the middle of the night. I swerved off the road, spun backwards, and my car flipped over three times and landed upside down in a deep ditch. I was trapped upside down in my seatbelt for about 10 minutes while the airbags deflated.

    Somehow I twisted my body in a variety of ways to get myself out of the seatbelt and push the car doors open with my legs and escaped, and then had to wait THREE hours in the freezing cold for another motorist to notice the accident and call for help. I had been crawling around in the wreckage looking for my phone and was covered in blood.

    But I didn’t notice the pain until AFTER I refused to go to to the hospital :( I don’t have health insurance anymore and apparently Obamacare thinks I can afford $300 a month with zero income. I have severe intercostal muscle strain, which means my ribs are so screwed up that I can barely breathe. It hurts to get up and down and twist, too. I’m holed up in my boyfriend’s house on his single-sized floor mattress because that’s all he has.

    It’s a 2 bedroom house where two other guys live as well, and one of them also just decided to bring his girlfriend to stay on as a freeloader too and it’s just miserable. I can’t go anywhere or do anything.

    I have nothing left. No job, no house, no car, ONE friend, and I owe everybody money :(

    1. fposte*

      I’m so sorry, _ism_. That is a rough, rough time. I hope things improve for you soon; I think even being able to breathe without pain will be a big boost right there, so fingers crossed for a speedy recovery.

    2. Rana*

      Oh, gosh, that sounds rough and terrible! I’m afraid I can’t offer much beyond sympathy, but here’s a gentle, virtual hug for you. I hope 2016 is better for you.

    3. misspiggy*

      That’s awful, I’m so sorry. If you can get cold things like ice in a bag or frozen peas to put on your torso, that should help. I hope you’re able to rest and that you get some better support soon.

    4. Doriana Gray*

      Dang – this is rough. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I really hope 2016 brings better things for you. Try not to lose hope.

    5. K.*

      I’m so sorry. This has been a bad year for me too, although not as bad as yours. (I’m not trying to insult you – just trying to keep my own sense of perspective.) Re: Obamacare, you can change plans outside of open enrollment if you have a life change like a job loss or divorce that leaves you without coverage. Just something to keep in mind if you need to change your plan – I was laid off in spring, called the hotline, and had them walk me through what to do. You may be able to qualify for assistance. Just something to keep in mind. I hope things get better for you soon.

    6. Dan*

      That all sucks. Are the cops seriously coming over one missed rent check? Usually there’s a whole court process your landlord has to go through before they can lock you out. That doesn’t happen in a week. See if legal aid can help, even if it’s just a consultation.

      1. _ism_*

        I had been late with November’s rent, and by the time that payment bounced, it was December and I owed for December as well. She had warned me that if I didn’t pay November’s plus late fees she’d evict me on Dec 15 and is now sticking to that plus charging me full December rent.

        1. Dan*

          Really talk to someone familiar with the laws where you are. In all likelihood, if the cops show up without a court order, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot they can do. Which makes me wonder if they will actually show up next week as threatened.

          You most likely don’t have to move until the court orders you to do so. Please understand that, and double check it to make sure. Don’t believe what your landlord says about the legal stuff. She wants money one way or the other and will say what she needs to in order to get that. Land lord tenant laws are designed to protect both parties (most of the time) so use them to your advantage.

          1. A Dispatcher*

            This! I certainly can’t speak to everywhere, but where I live the police do not get involved* in this stuff at all until not only has a court ruled, but actually served an eviction warrant. There is a whole process a landlord has to go through before truly being able to evict someone, and it usually takes months. Depending on where you live, your lease may also require a written demand of rent payment in which case they need to give that to you and allow you 3 days to make payment before they can even start eviction proceedings with the court, though it sounds like you are past that point already but would be good to know for the future.

            You also need to look into laws in your area regarding your rights while still living there (ie: even if you’re in the process of eviction, they can’t cut off your essential services like heat/hot water/etc). Of course, should you be looking to rent again, being truly evicted is going to be a huge barrier for you when it comes to future rental applications so you’d need to keep that in mind.

            *The police of course will get involved in something like an active argument/fight/etc that result from a landlord tenant dispute, they just aren’t going to enforce the landlord making someone move out without paperwork.

        2. Ruffingit*

          That sucks! I totally get people needing to be paid their rent, but if I had a reasonable tenant who was having some money problems, I’d try to work things out. If for no other reason than simply because it’s the right thing to do when otherwise responsible people hit tough times.

    7. Jean*

      _ism_, I’m sending sympathy and hugs. As others have said, this is horrible.

      Can you take the weekend to soothe your aching muscles and mourn the loss of your own household and many of its contents? Surely gritting your teeth and being cheerful can wait until Monday.

      Maybe when you feel better you can tame some parts of the public areas of the gross bachelor house and put your stamp on them? I don’t mean this in the sense of “that’s your job, because your boyfriend brought you to live here” but in the sense of “maybe it will make you feel better to have a cleaner kitchen sink…and maybe it will lift everyone else’s spirits also?” (No, it’s not fair that everyone else is casual to the point of being slovenly about cleaning up after themselves but, well, sometimes we find ourselves in these situations. In the long run, we can hope to move on, or to re-train our housemates. In the short run, if somebody doesn’t keep shoveling everybody will be buried in the mess. Anyway, sorry to hijack this thread onto housekeeping.)

      I will send some positive vibes into the universe on your behalf.
      Good on you for cutting off contact from your family, even though it stinks to have to take that step. Sometimes you just have to set limits to the destructive behavior of other people.

      1. _ism_*

        Yes, I already talked to BF about my feelings about the situation. I was invited to stay indefinitely when I got evicted, but that was before the accident. My plan was to immediately start compulsively cleaning up after two slovenly 30somethings and a teenage boy, because I’m unemployed and a neat freak.

        Now I’m injured too bad to be much use to anybody. My boyfriend is having to help me out of bed (which is on the floor) and help me not fall in the shower! I said when I feel better I’m going to start cleaning, it’s the least I can do when I’m able bodied and freeloading.

        He is in a unique situation, he’s kind of a pushover and he is letting his disabled high school buddy & son stay here free. The boy stays on the living room couch and the father just invited some random girl from the internet to live here, and my boyfriend is not freaking out about the situation nearly as much as I am. I hate asking for help and being dependent on others so it was a hard conversation to have with boyfriend, but he seems like he wants to keep supporting his friend, AND me, but can’t say where the “line” is for the housing situation becoming untenable.

        He’s talking about building a temporary wall in the den and making that into our bedroom so we can fit my bed from my house and he can have an office (he is a software developer who works from home). I’m trying to suss out whether he is able and willing to get a bigger home if all these people are going to continue to live under his roof but I hate it because I can’t even pay any rent myself.

        1. Ruffingit*

          To be fair, girlfriend is entirely different than random internet chick who was invited to live there. Sounds like boyfriend needs to draw some kind of line if for no other reason to ensure the safety of YOU and his friend/friend’s son. Random people who are hardly known by any of the occupants showing up to freeload is a recipe for trouble. This is very different from you because you’re a known quantity if you will. You didn’t just meet one of these guys and move in.

        2. Violetta*

          Wait why is is buddy who is living there rent-free inviting OTHER people to come live there?? That is so far over the line he’s lost sight of it all together!

    8. LaSharron*

      I’m so sorry to hear that. Maybe with the medical, your hospital might offer financial assistance or charity care programs. I really hope your year ends well at least.

      1. blackcat*

        Not to be a downer, but I’ve severely hurt my intercostal muscles before (+1 cracked rib), and all a doctor offered was pain meds, and/or a back brace that may or may not have helped anything. I refused the brace because it didn’t have room for boobs! As if men are the only folks who get hurt.

        Like most sprains and strains, you just need to avoid re-stressing the muscles as much as possible and wait. I’ve had a lot of injuries, but the rib injury was THE WORST in terms of the combination of time of recovery and impact on my life while healing (having it hurt to breathe sucks way more than general pain). It was 6ish weeks before I was really back to normal, and I was a healthy 15 year old at the time. Alternating heat and ice seemed to help. I made a nest out of pillows to sleep on so that I couldn’t roll over in my sleep. This prevented me from waking up in severe pain.

        So _ism_ probably made the right choice–if she’d gone to the hospital she might have ended up with minimal assistance and a great big bill.

        You have my sympathies _ism_. I second what other folks have said about the fact that you probably aren’t evicted *yet.* The cops can’t get involved until there’s been an actual judgement. That does depend on your state (eg, CA and NY evictions can take forever, but I hear there are some states where it takes like a week). Good luck.

    9. NicoleK*

      Not sure which you state you reside in….Typically a job loss will open a special enrollment. You may also be eligible for Medicaid.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      This so sucks, I am so sorry, _ism_ . Not very helpful, but know that I am sending good vibes your way and prayers that things turn the corner and improve very soon. Meanwhile, be kind to you. Crap comes in clusters and I have no idea why. We don’t cause these clusters, they just seem to happen. Go easy on yourself and be a good friend to you.

      Keep us posted on how you are doing.

    11. LCL*

      I’m sorry for what you are going through. Maybe there is some government relief or private charity you can go to for assistance? Do you qualify for food stamps/SNAP? If you have Internet access where you are staying, you can look for places that help. If not, start by calling the Salvation Army.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I have no advice and other commenters have provided some good resources to check out, so I will leave you with a *BIG HUG* and some good vibes. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Please let us know how you are doing.

    13. _ism_*

      Thanks everyone for the supportive thoughts. I’m still healing at boyfriend’s place and figuring out how to move out of my house before Wednesday.

    14. Treena*

      I’m so sorry for all of this happening on top of everything else–it would knock anyone down. I agree with Jean to take the time to mourn and heal a bit, but one thing you can try is to call 211 if your area has it. It’s a social services hotline and they can connect you with all your local resources. You can work with one person who will do research for you and give you options instead of doing a lot of the legwork on your own. They can point you to legal aid (for rent/eviction issues), free or low-cost medical care, and even things like places to get free food or other things as you need them. Good luck x

  14. Sparkly Librarian*

    Today is a party prep day! I made lumpia shanghai filling and rolled about 80 lumpia last night and have the remaining 120 to make today. I think my wife will fry those in advance and we will reheat them in the oven tomorrow. And latkes can’t happen until tomorrow just before the party… but I can peel potatoes and put them in a pot under water. The bathroom needs cleaning (and new holiday handtowels), and there is too much stuff in the living room/foyer. Thursday night’s storm took out 2 panes of glass on our front porch and the fabric cover to our patio shade thing, so there’s some cleanup to do outside. Other than that we’re in good shape, though! The floors were mopped (not by me) earlier this week, and the kitchen was deep-cleaned before the mass cooking started, so it’ll just need a touchup. Fudge is all made and packaged; popcorn balls batch #2 will happen today. Tree is up, lights are up, ceramic village figurines are up (old family tradition new to me this year), menorah has been brightly burning all week. Just have to wrap a couple White Elephant gifts for the party we’re attending tonight, and eat more fudge.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        It is the season for eating fried foods! I finally wrote down the lumpia recipe after half-assing it most years from what I remembered from my nana.

          1. Sparkly Librarian*

            I have a couple packages of wrappers left over, so I might make some more to bring to brunch at Jeska and Brad’s.

          2. Sophia in the DMV*

            My fave combination! Though can’t eat fresh lumpia bc I’m allergic to nuts. I love pancit with crab, yum!!

  15. Gene*

    My turn for a health-related post. A week ago Thursday, I started getting flashes in the peripheral vision of my left eye. Since I saw what my boss went through with a detached retina, and my ophthalmologist had told me I have some thinning at the edges of my retinas (common with severe myopia), I went to see him immediately.

    Good news, no change in my retinas. Not so good news, the vitreous is detaching and tugging on my retina, fairly common as one ages and the flashes will probably be with me at some level for the rest of my life. They told me to come back if a flash doesn’t go away, I get a shadow in my vision, or if I get a shower of floaters.

    Come Tuesday, I start getting what I can best describe as a swath of gauze moving across my field of vision. Back to the ophthalmologist. Another round of dilation and bright lights. Good news, still no change in my retinas. Not so good news, the vitreous is now pretty much completely free, and what I’m seeing is a floater in the front part of my eye that’s out of focus. This will definitely be around the rest of my life. Same provision for a repeat visit.

    The flashes are random, mostly when I turn my head quickly. The floater crosses my field of vision every time I move my eye, so it’s really annoying. But my correction didn’t change and these things are pretty benign. So it could be worse.

    1. fposte*

      Oof. I’m glad it’s not a detaching retina and I’m glad you’re nipping into the ophthalmologist at speed when you’re getting these symptoms just in case. I’m awash in floaters and am getting some odd peripheral occurrences (I begin to think a lot of ghost reports are just down to aging eyes and weird peripheral illusions). It is kind of interesting to train yourself to read them as noise and not signal.

      P.S. Is ophthalmologist perhaps the most difficult world to spell correctly? It has so many trap spots.

    2. Camellia*

      You need to find another eye doctor immediately. I went through this with one doctor and my left eye. Watch and wait was all we cold don he said. Once the vitrious detaches like that it’s almost inevitable that the retina will ultimately detach. Mine did and I had surgery to repair the retina with a silicone oil drop then the surgery to remove the oil drop then the lens replacement and cataract removal as result of the surgery and finally YAG. The result was near blindness in that eye.

      Then I moved to another state and another eye doctor. When he examined my other eye he noted the finding of the retina around the edges immediately sent me to have presentative laser surgery to seal down the edges of the retina. It was a 10 minute in-office procedure. A year later when I suffered vitreous detachment in the right eye the retina stayed in place due to that preventitive surgery. A year later the debris from the vitrious is still there but the retina is still attached with no signs of thinning.

      So I beg you to search for either another eye doctor or, even better, a retina specialist. There could be help for you like there was for me.

  16. Anon4This*

    Hi guys,

    I have a really odd question. I’m asking it everywhere I can because I am hoping someone will know something.

    I am in the midst of a massive family history project. During this, I was talking to my grandfather about his service in the US Air Force between 1960-1964. He was a refueler on Andrews AFB. Separately, both he and my grandmother mentioned these trips he would have to go on with almost no notice to take fuel somewhere. He would fly for more than 10 hours to deliver barrels of what he was told was fuel. After each trip he would be given a purple thick substance to soak in for more than a week. This was supposed to help the dry, scaly skin he and the other guys got after each trip.

    Any idea what the heck was going on? Obviously this was early days just before ground troops in Vietnam and there was heavy chemical testing going on but has anyone studied this timeframe and does anyone have any idea what that purple stuff might have been or what they would have been delivering…and where?

    1. Valar M.*

      Dry scaly skin? Sounds like contact eczema. Its possible that whatever they were being exposed to was causing some sort of allergic reaction and the purple thick substance was to help alleviate the eczema and the allergen. That sounds like standard treatment for that (without knowing what the purple substance is). Agent Orange was also known to cause a variety of skin problems – and perhaps inhalation exposure in even a limited amount could cause problems? I would start there and see if you can find anything.

      Flying 10 hours to deliver fuel doesn’t make sens. Refueling sources are typically closer than that for military operations. Did he say what direction he was flying in? If he saw the horizon at all?

      1. Anon4This*

        I agree that flying 10+ hours to delivery fuel makes no sense. That was my first thought. He said they took off in the middle of the night and there weren’t windows to see out of where he sat. They didn’t even get off the plane when it landed.

        I thought about Agent Orange, perhaps to a testing site or something. But I was curious if anyone knew of anything different that was going on.

    2. Clever Name*

      Did he mention the name of the operation? If you have some more specific info, you may be able to do a FOIA request.

      1. Anon4This*

        I thought about an FOIA request but he said it was never called anything and was treated as regular duty work.

        You’ve all given me some good ideas on where to start though, thanks!

    3. CAA*

      The purple stuff could have been potassium permanganate. It’s definitely purple, and you soak in it to help heal the types of skin ailments you’re describing. It’s a powder that you dissolve in water, but I guess they could have made a syrup out of it, maybe mixed with some other therapeutic agent as well.

    4. Alma*

      You might be able to find others who are familiar with the project on a military history or ancestry site. You could also make a Freedom of Information Act request for particulars.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Working backwards, can you find a group from the Vietnam era that might be interested in helping you?
      Also check out lawsuits about Agent Orange because you might find clues there. This one is easier because plenty of law firms put tons of information right online.

  17. bassclefchick*

    Second season of Serial is FINALLY starting! POSSIBLE SPOILERS so please proceed with caution!!!

    So, what do you think about the subject? I remember hearing about the guy, but I never really paid attention to the story as it was happening. I have a feeling that any one in the military (or their families) will have VERY strong feelings about this season.

    I think this will be a very interesting season. What do you think?

    1. Come On Eileen*

      I loved the first season sosomuch that I pretty much expect to be let down this season. That sounds a bit pessimistic, I realize, but the subject matter just doesn’t sound as appealing to me as Season 1.

      1. K.*

        So far, having listened to the first episode, I’m not as intrigued as I was by last season. It’s just one episode in so that may change, but I’m not gripped yet.

    2. Jubilance*

      I’m on the fence. I loved season 1 because it was an unknown story and the possibility of getting a maybe innocent guy out of prison. When I heard the subject for season 2, I wasn’t excited given all the news coverage – what else could Serial uncover?

      I listened to episode 1 this morning and I was…surprised? This might be better than I expected. I’m going to give it a go until I get bored or it’s over, whichever comes first.

      1. bassclefchick*

        I agree! I think the reason I liked season 1 so much was because I had never heard of the case. I wasn’t going in with my mind already made up. This season has the potential to be a very political story line. No matter what the producers try and do, it’s going to piss off someone. Now I just have to decide if I want to listen as they come out or wait until the season is done and binge on the whole thing! LOL

    3. Audiophile*

      I’m listening now. It took quite a bit of searching for me to find it.

      I remember the coverage quite a bit, my mom is a big Fox News viewer, but I didn’t do much reading or viewing beyond that.

    4. The IT Manager*

      I’m disappointed. An article about season 2 said that there really isn’t any disagreement about what happened – everyone (including Bergdahl) says he did desert. The article also mentions what Sarah didn’t understand before how badly his unit members were impacted and affected by his decision to desert, but that’s something I do 100% understand so I’m disappointed because I don’t think this season will be as interesting. I knew season 1 was non-fiction so I wasn’t expecting the case to be wrapped up with a neat bow, but I was coming back each week on the off chance that there would be a big break in the case.

      I must even admit after one episode I know more than I did before (although his version could be a story to make him look less culpable albeit stupid), but this dude is a deserter. It’s very probable that American soldiers who would have survived their tour in Afghanistan were killed during the search for him. He is surprisingly articulate for a complete and utter moron so I hope Serial doesn’t sway public opinion in favor of him because he deserves to spend some time in Leavenworth for what he did.

      Side note: Sarah said something about Bergdahl feeling like his unit leadership was problematic and dangerous “since Basic Training.” Maybe she misspoke, but Bergdahl would not have been in the same unit / with the same people for basic training so that’s already something that can’t be true but tends to make Bergdahl sound more sympathetic to civilian ears.

      1. Stephanie*

        I’m willing to wait the season out (I mean, I drive a ton as it is and podcasts make good driving material) and I didn’t know the details. But ITA. Dude totally is a deserter. I can get being dissatisfied with leadership and wondering about the point of being over there (as innumerable people have questioned the War in Afghanistan), but I just don’t quite get how he didn’t realize there were lots of other avenues to voice his discontent or that that plan would have worked perfectly.

    5. KAZ2Y5*

      I never heard the first season, but have listened to the first show of the second season and I am really enjoying it. I knew the general story but wasn’t as familiar with it as I should have been. I will say that if what he said were his reasons for leaving his post were true, I think he is as dumb as a box of rocks. As he was talking about his planning, and the things that he ended up changing I was thinking “Really?” I was reminded of people who will try to drive over a flooded road, get swept away and are shocked that they couldn’t make it.

  18. Joie*

    I went out for happy hour last night and drank three beers. I haven’t drank alcohol in months!!! Now I am paying for it :_(

    You’d think three beers in 3-4 hours is okay especially because I was drinking water too. Any ideas on how to get rid of this horrible hangover?

    Woke at 6:30 and had electrolytes, a banana, plenty of water, two advils, chicken broth. Nothing helped.

    1. Valar M.*

      Greasy food? Thats my go-to. I would just keep drinking water. It may just take time to flush it out of your system.

    2. Sunflower*

      Poop! Seriously its the best way to get that stuff out of your system.

      – Go for a walk- this saved me last week
      – Try to sleep if you can
      – Caffeine

      Doesn’t sound like you would do this but don’t try drinking again. I’ve done it and it usually just creates a worse hangover the next day.

    3. Stephanie*

      Light exercise–I used to go swimming when I had bad hangovers and it helped. I second Sunflower’s suggestion of pooping. I don’t know the science exactly, but anything that helps flush your system (so maybe exercise helps sweat it out) works.

    4. Allison Mary*

      Ohh, I totally feel your pain. I went to a holiday party last night, and apparently drank way more wine than I was aware of – woke up around 5 AM this morning feeling nauseous and awful (I haven’t done that in a LONG time). I’ve been up ever since.

      I’ve been drinking sparkling mineral water with a bit of ginger powder and stevia mixed in – like a homemade ginger soda. That seems to help. I also just had a very greasy breakfast (courtesy of the BEST boyfriend ever, who’s been up with me since 5 AM) – fried eggs, bacon, and a yam/onion hash type of thing.

      The rest of it is probably just exhaustion – and if you had trouble sleeping like I did, the only other thing you might try is taking a nap later today. :(

      Hope you feel better soon!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Sorry, but you’ll just have to tough it out. The only thing that gets rid of a hangover is time. And do drink lots of water–that will help with the dehydration (which is one of the things that gives you the headache).

    6. Whoops*

      I would never have guessed it, but at least for me, the Revive flavor of VitaminWater works EXACTLY as advertised after a hangover. It’s magical. I can’t recommend it enough.

  19. Valar M.*

    This is a job/life mix question – and I felt it leaned more towards the relationship side so I waited to post it until today. I hope that’s okay. How do those of you with SO/Spouses/etc. make decisions about whose career to put first? Would you ever consider living apart? Have you? Did your relationship/marriage suffer for it? It’s come up several times now for my spouse and I, and I anticipate it will come up again. I’d love to hear others thoughts.

    1. Chriama*

      From what I’ve observed of my parents, you take turns. Also, only 1 person can have a super-demanding job. My mom works 10-12 hour days but she also works for herself and is flexible so she can get the kids to school in the mornings. My dad’s job is more easygoing and he can take vacation days when the kids are off school. Now that I’m back in the city and have a reasonably flexible job I can chip in as well (there’s a huge gap between me and my youngest siblings, I’m the oldest). But my dad worked crappy jobs for years while my mom was in school, both parents did crappy jobs while I was really young, and my dad had to go back to school to switch careers because it would take too long to recertify as an immigrant and he’d gave to go far away to take the courses. Now my mom’s career is definitely above my dad’s but he gets weekends and evenings free. One thing is once they settled on a city we stayed. No moving to chase down a better position or education. It’s a relatively big city but I think there were definitely some missed opportunities, but they also had 2 kids by the time they emigrated and that was as much a consideration as their respective careers.

      So bottom line of my story? One person’s career will probably not reach as high as the other’s, and it will take them much longer to get to a senior-ish place in their career. And at a certain point, because of kids or otherwise, you’ll probably want to establish a home base and focus on jobs in the area even of they aren’t dream jobs or growth is a little more limited. Also, fewer kids is easier, but if you’re going to have lots then space them out so the older kids raise the younger ones (jk!… sort of)

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Well, as with any relationship question, It Depends.

      My husband is career military. Before we ever got married we decided (together) that we would put his career first. Together. That means that his career will be the priority for us, since it brings in the bulk of the household income, and because it’s going to require a lot of moving around for us and general upheaval. To a large extent, being his wife is my “career,” if you will–when he is away for a month or six months or a year at a time, I’m the one handling everything at home and I’m probably going to be coordinating the sale of our house and a move in the spring while he’s away.

      There are couples who live apart, but it’s not something I personally wanted to do. We decided (together!) that his career would come first, and I am probably not going to be able to hold down a very demanding or time-sucking job on top of his job, at least not until he reaches retirement age. But I really, truly cannot stress enough that we came to this decision together, as a unit–neither one of us imposed their wishes on the other. I feel like if resentment starts filtering in, or one person feels their hand is forced, it will be extremely difficult, no matter if you’re living together or living apart. Living apart brings its own new set of challenges, not good or bad, just different.

      1. the gold digger*

        I was about to say something about the military – my dad was career military, which meant there were no options for my mom. We were overseas and the civilian jobs on base were usually reserved (by treaty) for nationals. There were no jobs for her to have.

        I don’t think my mom really liked having such a subordinate role – she had been her class valedictorian and had a full scholarship to the U of Wisconsin and could have run an army. The official military wife role (back then) was to be a member of the Officers Wives Club and to otherwise support the husband.

        I moved for my husband, but only because I was tricked – he was in an apartment where the heat was included in the rent, so he could crank up the thermostat as much as he wanted, there was an attached, heated garage, and someone else did the shoveling. Now we are in a 1928 house and I am cold all the time. I want a do-over.

    3. Irish goodbye*

      My husband moved back to his home town 2 years ago to take aa better job and to live with his elderly widowed father who is in poor health. It has improved our relationship from terrible to meh. At least things have improved.

        1. Jean*

          Dan, would you mind giving more details? I’m not asking for myself (honest!) but for an acquaintance who seems miserably stuck in an unhappy marriage.

          1. Dan*

            If you can agree on how to split the assets, you can do what’s called an uncontested divorce. My legal fees and court fees were under $500. Better that than a soul sucking marriage.

            1. QualityControlFreak*

              I don’t remember what I paid for the package of forms (DIY divorce kit) as this was back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I think I got it at the local book store. We had already divided up our meager assets and had no kids, so it was easy to complete a few forms, get the signatures, file the paperwork and show up in court on the day. I don’t remember the filing fee or court costs but I was basically broke at the time and it was not a hardship for me.

              1. Liza*

                Minnesota has a form you can download from some official website or other that sounds similar to the DIY divorce kit QualityControlFreak bought. I don’t remember whether one can use that form if one has kids. We dropped off the form together and paid the court fee, which I think was $450 (about nine times as much as registering the marriage certificate had cost, if I remember!)

          2. Not So NewReader*

            A couple that are friends of mine, sat down together and talked through all the details who gets which asset, who pays which loan, child support, etc. I assume they found something online to use as an example for proper wording and formatting. Then they brought it to a court and the court approved it. I guess there are baselines to follow such as $X per child. They were above the baselines, in other words the amounts were higher than what the court would say to do. So the divorce agreement was approved.

          3. the gold digger*

            If you do your own divorce and one of you will be paying alimony, may I suggest that you check to see if your state has statutes about alimony.

            My husband divorced his first wife in California. They went to a mediator, who gave them no legal advice at all. Unfortunately, my husband did not think that perhaps he should talk to a lawyer or even google alimony and ended up paying twice the alimony required by California law. He should have done his research and he should have listened to his best friend – a lawyer – and consulted a lawyer.

    4. Anon for this*

      I’ve been thinking about this recently myself. My SO and I started dating when we lived far enough apart that we could only see each other every few months. After a while I moved to where he was; we continued not to live in the same house, but we saw each other one or more times every week, which was great! But after a few years his job ended and the best option seemed to be another job even farther away, so now we’re long distance again. In a way it was less stressful for us than it would be for a lot of couples in this situation because we already knew that we could make long distance work, but I do really miss getting to see him so often.

      I don’t know what’s next for us, though. He has said that he might be able to move back here in a few years, but I think he also does like the area where he lives now; in a few years when he’d be able to move back, I don’t know if he’ll want to. I’ve already moved once to be with him, and I am determined not to follow him around the country–I feel like that would be doing the traditional women’s role too much and putting my career second. I think it’s his turn to move to where I am!

      I do wonder how our situation would be different if we were married. We’re both committed to our relationship, but we’re also both divorced and shy of getting married again. Would I be more willing to follow him? Would he have chosen a less-good job that let him stay here? Would I worry less about keeping my own career strong if I didn’t feel a need to be financially self sufficient, or would I still feel uncomfortable about it on feminist principles?

      TL;DR: We did choose living apart and I am interestedly reading other replies to your question.

      1. Dan*

        When you are married and function as a unit, you make decisions to improve the totality of the situation. When you aren’t married, the math is completely different. For example, you have to support to households which costs more than supporting one. If you were married and cohabbing, one of you could take a lesser paying job and both come out ahead, assuming you don’t get divorced.

        But, I really have to wonder: when you say that it’s his turn to move to you, and you’re not budging, what does “we’re both committed to the relationship” really mean? The reality is, married or not, people are in comitted relationships until they’re not.

        1. Anon for this*

          In response to your second paragraph: I am aware of the contradiction, yeah. To put it another way, I am most of all committed to being a person I can feel good about being, and I’m committed to the relationship to the extent that it doesn’t conflict with that. (And if the relationship makes me a person I don’t feel good about being, then that’s a problem in its own right.)

        2. Valar M.*

          What do you define as the totality of the situation? It’s hard I think because there are tangibles like – how much total money will we earn? And then intangibles like – will I like living there? Will I find work? And hybrids like – how will this change the dynamics of our relationship? how will this change our mutual earning potential 10 years down the road?

          1. Dan*

            All of it. Marriage is a huge sacrifice, and its not worth entering into unless you’re coming out ahead in the end. “Ahead” can be defined however one wants to.

            When one does not have a committed partner, one presumably makes choices in their own best interests, which is typically living where one wants to live and maximizing their salary potential and 401k balance.

            Granted, so many of these things are hard to plan for, but it makes no sense to get married if you don’t think you’ll be better off in the long run.

            In my line of work, it’s called decision making under uncertainty.

            1. KD*

              Well put. Unless you live in a romance novel, love is not enough to get you through sickness and health etcetera. The way I saw the world (and thusly made decisions) when I was dating my husband is much different from how I view the world now that we have a joint bank account and are saving for our retirement. I don’t make life decisions for myself any more. We discuss and come agreements on what is best for our family in the long run. (Though I’m finding a lot of people distingish between “married couple” and “family” as if not having kids yet precludes us from planning for their future)

    5. chilled coyote*

      My first husband worked out of town for most of or relationship, and at a certain point, it became clear to me that he was never going to be happy living at home, wherever that was. It was a contributing factor to the divorce.

      In my new marriage, we are committed to living in the area we are now, and we work together to support each other’s careers. Right now I’m making the majority of the money, so my job usually takes precedence when there are conflicts. I think it would be the other way around if he were bringing the majority of the bacon, and life would be really different. I like working together to figure out the best thing for the family overall, and we both are careful not to let ego get in the way. The team matters more than the individual, and we all do better.

    6. hermit crab*

      Long-distance marriage here! I live on the east coast and my husband lives in the midwest. We met during undergrad about 10 years ago, but we’ve only lived in the same city as each other for about a year of our approx. 5-year relationship. We decided to just go for it and get married last year for a variety of reasons, though we knew we wouldn’t be able to live together for a while yet. He’s an academic and I’m not, but I’m more secure in my career than he is and neither of us wants me to give that up to be his trailing spouse. He’s actually planning to move to my city later this year, but that’s a strategic career decision for him too.

      Ultimately, I think you have to optimize what’s best for the two of you as a unit, while making sure that neither of you is starts feeling resentful. And that’s hard!

      Also, we don’t have kids — I’m sure that would completely change things.

      1. Valar M.*

        That’s awesome. Did friends and family support you guys through all of that? Every time we’ve seriously considered it, people have gotten a little up in arms. I wouldn’t ultimately make my decision on that, but I can’t say it doesn’t make me think twice.

        1. hermit crab*

          I was actually really surprised by how supportive everyone was/is! It seems like every time I describe our situation to someone (which I ended up doing a LOT around the time of the wedding) another story comes out of the woodwork about how someone’s parents/in-laws/friends/etc. lived apart for a while. I think the combination of the economy (forcing people to look farther afield for jobs) plus technology is making our situation more common these days. But I’ve also heard a surprising number of awesome stories about previous generations, too.

          1. Perpetua*

            My parents have lived apart more than they have together, over the course of their soon-to-be-31-years-old marriage, due to the nature of my dad’s job and their decision not to have me and mom uprooting our lives every couple of years. It has been really hard at times (especially for me as a kid), and it meant that my mom did much of my upbringing on her own, but it worked for them and they have a pretty great relationship.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            My parents lived apart, too, for a few years. My father worked in western NYS and my mother and I lived in the same town as her family in Connecticut. This was the early 60s, travel took a lot longer. Major roads that we have now had not been built then.(It was a bear of a commute.) It was not my father’s desire to spend his whole career living this way, so their setting was temporary — for a few years. My father came home on weekends. From a kid’s perspective, it was less than ideal. But my parents made it work. They talked on the phone regularly and actually sent each other love letters. That was kind of cute. They remained married until my mother’s death and my father never remarried.

            One thing I would point out here is that in my story, my mother was the anchor, the base station so to speak. I tend to believe that if both spouses are focused on their careers it will take extra effort/planning to maintain the relationship and keep it alive. In my own marriage I found that at least one person has to make sure the bills are paid, the house gets necessary repairs and aging family members get the help they need. It’s really important that this be talked through and that one person does not feel that “everything” is just dumped on them. One couple I know, were both focused on their careers. When they found themselves arguing over cleaning the house, etc, they realized that they needed to find a new plan for handling that rather than slinging words at each other. They hired a house cleaner because (in their words) their relationship was more important to them than arguing over who “should” clean the house.
            It’s all trade-offs. In order to have X, you must give up Y.

    7. NicoleK*

      I’m the primary wage earner so my career has been first. DH graduates this week from college. His industry is a niche industry so we may be putting his career first when he finds a job as I should be able to secure a job anywhere in the country with my degree.

    8. Mando Diao*

      It doesn’t always have to be about income. The person who enjoys their job more should be able to argue that their job could be the priority. Plus, making it about money has a way of almost always prioritizing the man’s career (for all of the BS reasons that men end up making more money than women do).

      1. Jen*

        My husband and I are both high earners and bring in about the same amount. I make a slight bit more but it is very bonus dependent and his is not.

        We share priority. Our lifestyle is such that we would, with planning, live on either one of our incomes alone. My job would likely be the one to give because i have more options: I can do consulting on the side, have a very strong network, and have 10+ years experience in my role/industry. We moved for DH’s job, but because it didn’t impact mine (I was able to work remotely).

        What has happened is that I’ve found myself unwilling to look for new opportunities even though I’m not wild about my current job. It pays well and is extremely flexible, and they value me. If my husband’s career weren’t somethings needed to work around, I’d be somewhere else by now.

    9. Christy*

      Basically, we trade off, and we wouldn’t live apart. Honestly, with our careers, we probably won’t need to.

      I work for the government, and I earn about 1.25x my fiancée’s salary, and with my planned raise next year I’ll earn 1.5x her salary. I can do my job anywhere in the US–officially, there’s about 80 different cities I could work in, though it’s probably possible I could work in about 200 more. So she can look for jobs in any of those 80 major cities, and I can follow her. That’s us putting her career first, even though I outearn her.

      There’s a chance that my career will bring me back to DC eventually, so she’d move back too and find a job here (we’d probably live apart temporarily while I resettle here), and that would be my career coming first.

      For the time being, she commutes 90 minutes each way to further her career, and I’ve taken on the brunt of the housework/cooking, so her career is definitely also taking priority now. Odds are, it always will, even though I outearn her. That feels a little strange to say but I lucked into a relatively high earning, work-life-balanced career, so it works out.

    10. OP1*

      My husband and I have been married for almost 5 years and we’ve lived together for maybe a year of that. He’s military and my career is geographically linked to an area he’s not stationed in. I’ve always taken work in my area and left with the understanding that when it got too hard, he’d be honest and tell me that he needed me to come home. The thing is, he’s never had a choice to put my career first. He’s never even had a choice to put me first. So we decided I would do what I had to do for my own stuff while he was stuck at his station. He’s a very supportive man and we have extremely, extremely strong and open communication in our marriage. The living apart thing is about to come to a close early next year, and we couldn’t be more excited, but I think we’re a very strong couple because of the choices we’ve made over the last few years. We both have really strong careers now and we’ve gone through a lot – the future doesn’t seem so scary. I don’t know who you two are as a couple, but open conversations and understanding during these sort of conversations are what you need. It takes a ton of compromise from both of you and constant work, but I always found it to be worth it.

    11. KD*

      First and foremost my husband a I make all of our life decisions together. We sit down and talk through the alternatives when a new challenge presents itself and make the best decision we can for our family in the long run. (Ok most of the time we stand in the kitchen and cook while make life plans but the concept is the same)

      We put my career first to move cross country for a job that enable us to move closer to our parents when we are ready to have kids or will offer me many more opportunities in the future if I chose to take my experience and change companies. That said because of our chosen career fields I will likely always make more money which factored into the decision to move for my career quite heavily. He also has more job opportunities in our new local though the job market has been quite competitive for his field and has been rough since he left most of his professional network in our old city. (References abound but no one knows any one in the field in our new local)

      And yes we would live apart if it were the right move for our family. However in hypotheticals we have discussed that 2 years is the limit. If the opportunity will separate us for more than 2 years we’ll have to pass on it. In the nearly 6 years we have been together we have spent over a year of it apart (months at a time but several occurances) and while our relationship is solid enough to handle the distance we didn’t get married to lead separate lives but build one together.

      From my observation distance and time apart does one of two things “makes the heart grow fonder” (aka strengthens your bond) or “heals all wounds” (aka shows you how much better your life can be without your significant other in it). Obviously the current state of ones relationship influences things but I think living apart amplifies the good and bad in a relationship. If I had to make a generalized rule from my observations of my generation (currently in our mid 20s to mid 30s) if you don’t like your spouse at least 80% of the time distance will break you. If you like your spouse less than 60% of the time you should have never gotten married in the first place. And if you like your spouse more then 90% of the time, go forth and conquer the world knowing your spouse will have your back no matter how bad the blunder. Mind you this assumes that both parties fall inside of these percentages and love each other even when they don’t like each other.

    12. blackcat*

      It seems like a lot of the responses from folks who’ve lived apart are either military or in academia… I’ll add my name to the list of academics who’ve lived apart.

      On the plus side, in academia, it’s pretty common to live apart from spouses. A good number of people do it *with kids,* which I can’t imagine. Once kids are in the picture, either my husband or I will make compromises as needed. Right now, we’re sort of in a holding position while he’s in a post doc and I am mid-way through my PhD. I still need to be in grad school city, and he works ~150 miles away. He comes home most weekends (he works crazy hours mid week to be home by dinner on Fridays). It helps that we have a “home”–when he took the job, we kept the bigger house and got him a super cheap tiny efficiency near his job. But overall, it sucks. I’m lonely a lot in a house too big for one person. The cat treats him as an invader now. It’s been bad for our marriage. I think we’re adjusting. It helps that neither of us are totally wedded to staying in academia (his work is transferable to various industries; I taught high school before and can do that again). It also helps that we’ve got an end date to living apart. Once we go on the job market at the same time, we’ll likely make an irreversible decision to prioritize one career over the other. Because living a part for any longer than we absolutely have to is really not worth it. I often feel like I’m getting too old for this (and I’m not even 30 yet!).

    13. mander*

      My husband and I have been doing something like this for a while. For us there was no question, really, because his career is progressing well and I’ve been struggling to find work. So when he got offered a good job on the other end of the country, he went and got himself a small flat while I mostly stayed in our house.

      Now we’re in the process of moving to the new location and finding a better place, but we’re still a bit hampered by my lack of a steady income. We don’t have kids or anything, so we only have to take care of each other, which makes things easier. We talk a lot on Skype when we’re apart and that helps. Altogether I’d say in some ways it makes our relationship stronger, because he’s always *really* happy to see me when I’ve been away for a while!

  20. CoffeeLover*

    Cat owners I need your help! My kitten has been getting diahhrea on and off since I got her 2 months ago in varying severity. My vet gave her deforming medicine and has since told me to wait it out until she builds the bacteria in her digestive system. Is there anything I can do in the meantime? I’ve read online that when she gets acute diahhrea I should take away her food and just give her water so she can work through it (for a day or two). Is that right? I’m a little worried today because she got diahhrea again but it seems to be more severe than before, although she seems to have plenty of energy and doesn’t seem to be in pain. I’m planning to take her to the vet again, but I’m not sure what to do at this point. :(

    1. BabyAttorney*

      Pinch the back of Kitten’s neck. If it snaps back in place or returns really quickly, don’t worry much yet. If there is some delay, try to get Kitten to eat some wet food. Dehydration is the biggest thing to worry about with loose stools, and the speed at which the skin responds to being pinched will indicate whether that is a problem.

      I would not take food away from a kitten. First off, cats are susceptible to a condition called fatty lipdosis, where their body tried to metavolize stored fat for fuel. If it does too much of that, it can overtax the body and cause organ failure. Second, kittens are like bavies and really need their fuel to grow, more so than adult cats.

      If Kitten is not dehydrated, don’t worry much unless the loose stool is black, bloody, or every time she goes for several days in a row. If that is the case at any time, then you’ll want to go back to the vet for IV fluids and likely a stool sample test. The last one will eventually cause dehydration, so Kitty will need OV fluids. But if its just once or twice every couple of days and otherwise the stools are okay in between, I would hust wait it out a bit longer.

      (Also don’t change between food brands/types quickly or frequently. That can cause a loose stool as well.)


    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Don’t take away her food — maybe that’s helpful for older cats, but I can’t imagine that’s good for a kitten. Definitely don’t do it without your vet’s okay, at least! I’d just wait it out and keep giving her the same type of food consistently (this isn’t the time for variety). And I second all of BabyAttorney’s excellent advice too.

    3. Perse's Mom*

      Don’t take her food away. Keep clean, fresh water available at all times, along with wet (canned) food. If she likes what you’re feeding her, stay on that. Diarrhea in and of itself isn’t a huge threat, so long as her appetite is keeping up with the fluid loss. If her appetite starts to drop and/or she starts to turn lethargic while the diarrhea continues, she should really go back to the vet. Not to be alarmist, but if kittens go south, they go south fast.

      There are a number of things that can cause diarrhea – intestinal parasites are only one of them, and chances are good the vet didn’t treat for every possible curable* cause. If she didn’t have a fecal test done last time, ask your vet if you can drop a sample off for that – there are a number of parasites and bacteria that can be found that way. Also keep an eye on her butt. They can get kind of sore or swollen in the back end if the diarrhea is particularly bad.

      *worms or bacteria like giardia and coccidia are curable. However, something like IBD is manageable, but not curable.

    4. Today's anon*

      The vet told me to give me elderly cat Smart Water when my she was slightly dehydrated. My cat seems to really like it, although it is a bit expensive.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Smart water is a great idea. The runs are causing the kitten to lose minerals and Smart Water will replace those minerals. If her muscles ache, (no real way to know if the muscles ache) this will help her feel better, too.
        A good idea for humans suffering from the same problem, too.

    5. CA Admin*

      Have you tried animal probiotics? It can help with diarrhea. Also adding canned pumpkin can help with upset stomach and runny stool.

  21. Leeza*

    I loved all of Richard Russo’s books. They’re all set in quirky towns filled with quirky characters. Empire Falls is my favorite.

    1. Tennessee*

      Which would be best to read first? Empire Falls or something else? I’ve been looking for something new and this looks interesting.

  22. bassclefchick*

    Speaking of SPOILERS….let’s discuss them! Will be speaking about DOWNTON ABBEY (DA), GAME OF THRONES (GoT), and DOCTOR WHO (DW)…SPOILERS WILL BE HERE, PROCEED WITH CAUTION!!!

    OK, now that I have the warnings out of the way….A few weeks ago, someone posted that they saw the current episode of Doctor Who, it made them cry and they had started to like a certain character. Lots of people got mad at her for posting a “spoiler” without warning that there would be a spoiler.

    So, what I want to discuss is..what do you consider a “spoiler”?! All she said was “this episode made me cry and I’m starting to like this character”. I had already seen the episode, so I didn’t think that was so much of a spoiler. Plenty of Doctor Who episodes have made me cry (I’m looking at YOU space whale episode, and second OOD episode). And there have also been episodes that have made me like a character more. But it didn’t go into plot details, so I don’t think it was a spoiler.

    Now, if you want spoilers, it’s not like she said “OMG Matthew Crawley died”! Or “HOLY CRAP, who killed Joffrey Lannister”?! THOSE were spoilers at the time. Personally, I didn’t even start watching DA until season 4. So, what happened to Matthew was already established and spoiled everywhere. I went in knowing what was going to happen to him and that’s on me. Same with GoT. I just binged the whole thing…..after season 5 already aired. So the Red Wedding and Joffrey’s death were all over the internet.

    I guess the point of this whole long mess is…I thought the responses to the original thread were a bit harsh. I mean, Rosebud is a sled and Darth is Luke’s father! There. I spoiled those for you. However, Citizen Kane has been out for 75 years and Empire Strikes Back has been out for a good 30 years, so it’s not really a spoiler anymore. But I promise I STILL won’t tell you the big twist in Sixth Sense!!!


    1. anonanonanon*

      Honestly, I think people are WAY too sensitive about spoilers. I really dislike the people who consider a brief “I really enjoyed the episode” to be a spoiler and I think they need to get over themselves. At this point, you can’t even talk about anything without someone yelling at you for ruining it for them. Like ffs, how does me saying I did or didn’t like something ruin it for someone else? IT’S SO IRRITATING and it actually has made me hate talking about movies or tv or books with people.

      I usually give it a week for a new TV episode and a few weeks for current movies. Anything that’s been out for over a year is fair game. Of course, if I know someone is watching something for the first time I’m not going to spoil them, but I’m not going to police my conversation on the off chance that they haven’t watched a movie or TV show from 5 years ago. I kept my mouth shut when Game of Thrones was started airing since I’d read the books and knew what would happen (even though, honestly, nothing was that surprising in the books since GRRM is awful with foreshadowing and symbolism and every death was hinted at beforehand), but it is really annoying when you’re having a conversation with Person B and Person C, who is not part of the conversation and just some coworker or stranger, tells you to stop talking because of spoilers.

      There are certain things I’ve been spoiled for that are still amazing the first time I watch them, because sometimes it’s the journey to get there rather than the event that’s been spoiled. Though, I do know a few people who actually haven’t been spoiled about Star Wars prior to watching it for the first time.

      Tl;DR: sometimes people need to chill.

    2. Anon the Great and Powerful*

      I was talking about the show Narcos with somebody and mentioned that the real-life Pablo Escobar was dead. Apparently that’s a spoiler even though it happened nearly 25 years ago. I didn’t know you could spoil history but what do I know, I’m just a big meany.

      1. Perse's Mom*

        The next time you see this person, you should be very sad and when they ask what’s wrong, tearfully inform them: “Snape killed Dumbledore!”

    3. could be anyone*

      I agree people need to chill. I have no problems personally with spoilers. And I mean true spoilers, details not just general statements. But I’ve been known to read the last chapters of books by the time I’m half way through them. As anonanonanon said sometimes it’s the journey not the destination.

    4. Claire (Scotland)*

      I’m a total spoilerphobe and I go out of my way to avoid spoilers wherever possible. I don’t yell at people who spoil things, I just block them as much as possible (and avoid them where not). But spoilers do ruin things for me so I find them extremely frustrating. If people are upfront about the fact that they like/share spoilers so I can avoid them, that’s great.

      Mood spoilers do not bother me as much as plot spoilers but in certain cases, such as the one you cite, they do give enough info that I would certainly prefer to avoid them.

      1. Liza*

        I’m spoiler-averse too; possibly because someone accidentally spoiled Ender’s Game for me before I read it. (He was trying not to, actually, but he said just enough that I guessed the end.) I mean, I agree that reading a book is about the feeling of reading the whole thing, not about finding out what happens at the very end… but sometimes a big part of the feeling is the joy of figuring things out on your own as you come across hints in the book. (Or movie, etc.)

        1. bassclefchick*

          For me, it kind of depends on the spoiler. I’ve been trying VERY hard to stay away from Downton Spoilers because we have 3 weeks in the US until the final season airs and I don’t want to know! Lucky UK viewers! I really don’t think we can avoid any spoilers anymore, because some little detail will always slip. But I don’t think it’s anything to get that upset about. I agree it’s about the journey and not the destination. Even though I knew the major spoilers going in to GoT, I still enjoyed watching the show from the beginning.

        2. Liane*

          Heck the MOVIE Ender’s Game spoiled the NOVEL Ender’s Game. Because Movie shows from the beginning something about Ender that Novel doesn’t tel you until the very end.

    5. Carrie in Scotland*

      I’m currently watching some Scandi-noir which has already been shown in Sweden/Denmark (where it’s based). I read a post episode blog and some of the commenters who’ve seen the whole series post about “wait til you get further into the series, it gets so much better/darker/you’ll find about more about x”. I’m on the fence if these are spoiler-y or not but some people really take offence to them.

      1. Elkay*

        I haven’t watched any of this series of The Bridge yet, I was away the week after it started so didn’t want to start and then forget what happened, I’m avoiding The Guardian TV pages until I catch up.

        It’s frustrating that people often forget the internet is international and other countries get shows later. The UK is dreadful for holding back series. I think we got the last series of The Big C about 18 months after it aired in the US, we’ve only just got Nurse Jackie season 7 and Parks and Recreation has been a nightmare.

    6. Mando Diao*

      It’s generally assumed that you wait a week before assuming that all fans have watched a new episode of something, especially when you’re talking about a show with a cult following. It wasn’t cool to talk plainly about a character death roughly 12 hours after the episode aired.

      1. Allison Mary*

        (Doctor Who spoilers!)

        This was about how I felt about it. I had known in advance that Jenna Louise-Coleman was leaving the show this season, and I had heard from a few online articles that they were actually going to kill her off – which hasn’t really been done with a companion since the 2005 reboot started. BUT – I didn’t know when this was going to happen, and I guessed that it would be at the end of the season.

        So when a poster commented about Doctor Who and about being really sad, and having really liked Clara – I guarantee you, any bona fide Whovian would’ve taken that comment to indicate that Clara had died on that night’s episode. And I believe several of us did. I hadn’t watched the episode yet, and was disappointed to learn via the interwebs that Clara’s death was happening three whole episodes earlier than I thought. I would’ve preferred to have been surprised with that by watching the show directly.

        So – that was my experience. Not the end of the world, but I would’ve preferred that that commenter had posted spoiler warnings. :)

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t care if someone tells me how a plot lands. It’s just a show or a book, that’s all it is. I can still watch the show or read the book and find how the story unfolds quite interesting, even if I know the ending.

      Years ago, there was a movie that had issued a demand that no one could tell other people what the movie was about or how it ended. I thought it was a promotional gimmick. Fortunately, no one saw the wisdom in this marketing technique so it never caught on. However, at that time, I was visiting friends, very intelligent friends, and I asked what the movie was about. oh boy. I got an earful of “we can’t tell you, you have to go see it”. REALLY? These very intelligent folk bought into the marketing technique hook, line and sinker. They let the marketing people tell them how to behave! After seeing this, I really stopped caring about the movie. I never did see it. I can’t even remember the name of the movie.
      That was an extreme example of “spoilers”.

      Writing or film producing is a craft. There is more to it than how the story lands. Watching the writer unpack the story line or watching a film director find unique ways to create a scene can be very enjoyable. It’s a glimpse into someone’s mind and what they think of to do in order to convey the story they wish to show us. How persuasive, how thorough are they? That is what intrigues me.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I only consider it a spoiler if you say something that either directly tells me what happened, like “OMG I can’t believe they killed off Bob!” or is hint-y enough so I can figure it out. Just saying “That episode–I cried so much!” means nothing because I have no idea why you cried. I really dislike spoilers, because when I watch something, I want to experience it as it comes, without knowing what’s going to happen, especially if it’s the second half of a continued episode.

      Doctor Who seems to be going back to the serial formula now. I cut the cord, so I have to watch that and The Walking Dead on Amazon the day after they air. I can’t read any UK news or blog sites (Yahoo, Metro) until I’ve watched it on Sunday–Metro is especially bad about posting things like “HOW BOB’S DEATH WILL AFFECT THE DOCTOR.” And I had to unlike Once Upon a Time on Facebook because they did these really obvious hint-y posts. >:(

      As far as time passing, if it’s been a week, I expect you to have seen it already. For films, I’ll give it a month or make sure I ask before I talk about it with someone, since I know it’s hard to find time to get to the cinema sometimes.

  23. StudentPilot*

    Never mind that I travel a lot, I can never make up my mind what to pack. I’m leaving in a week and a half, and I feel like I’m considering half my wardrobe. What breakdown of skirts/dresses/pants should I pack for a 16 day trip to a summer climate? (Southern Africa) I feel like one dress, two skirts, a pair of zip pants and a pair of yoga capris is too much.

    1. fposte*

      Huh. I don’t think of myself as a heavy packer, but I sure wouldn’t feel like I had to cut that list down–that’s three wears per item, more or less. How many tops are along with that?

      1. StudentPilot*

        Three tanks and two tshirts, plus a long sleeved shirt. It’s what I brought for a 5-week trip to East Africa, which makes me feel like I need to pare down. We also have free laundry for the last 4 days.

        1. fposte*

          Is this an ideological challenge or a space need? You could maybe take one or two tanks instead of three, but is the space gain worth the effort? Being able to do laundry for free is great, but that’s still twelve summery days to get through without washing.

    2. Stephanie*

      I think I heard this on here, but I tried the principle of more tops than bottoms and it always worked for me.

      1. Alma*

        Me too (because food always lands on my shirt). Are your yoga capris like leggings? If they are I don’t think I’d eliminate them – and do you have a huge sarong-type colorful scarf that you could make into a skirt (over the tights) or a shoulder wrap, or to cover the food spot on the top?

        1. StudentPilot*

          The yoga capris are legging-ish – they’ll double as pj’s in the few communal washrooms places we’ll be. I’m bringing a sarong as a cover up/towel (always bring your towel! ) item. Maybe I’ll drop a skirt in favour of an extra shirt…that sounds like a good idea. (Considering I live in one pair of jeans for 2-3 weeks…)

    3. JPixel*

      I’d drop the dress or one skirt and possibly add another top. The benefit to keeping the skirt would be more outfit combinations with your tops. Is the dress casual or are you anticipating needing a nicer outfit? Enjoy your trip!

      1. StudentPilot*

        We may end up in a nicer place for dinner about half-way through, so the dress would be nice for that. Plus, it’s a long dress – so for a day that may be a bit cooler, it would cover my legs, kind of in-between a skirt and pants covering. I think I will drop a skirt. I’ll pack a dark coloured one that won’t show dirt.

        1. Sara*

          In the places you’re going, you don’t need to worry as much about covering your legs as a woman. I’m not saying you should pack all your hot pants, but skirts/dresses/shorts at knee length are okay.

    4. Trill*

      I am in Southern Africa right now!!
      I recommend packing light. I have way to many clothes, but I’ve been here for almost two months and was in Europe beforehand without a chance to repack. I have three pairs of shorts (one I bought here cause two wasn’t enough for a month and a half of camping in Africa!), one skirt, one pair of capris, one pair of hiking pants and one pair of jeans. Way too much! But that said I have worn them all. It probably depends where you are going and what you are doing. If you’re just staying in cities or nicer places you probably don’t need so much. If you’re camping you will get dirty!
      Care to share where in Southern Africa you’re headed? I’m almost done my trip now but I’ve been through Namibia, Botswana, Zambia (just Livingstone), Zimbabwe, Swaziland, and a good chuck of South Africa (including Joburg, Durban, Cape town, garden route, etc.) if you want any tips!

      1. StudentPilot*

        We’re starting in Jo’burg, up through Botswana to Vic Falls, then over to Zimbabwe for about a week. I would love some tips! Specifically – we’re camping for a week – how has the temperatures been at night? Do I need a sweater, or will a heavier weight long sleeve shirt suffice?

        How are the washrooms? Should I pack t.p? (I needed it in Tanzania and Ethiopia a few years ago)

        Mozzies – is it a bad bug year? I’m trying to decide how much bug spray to bring! Oh, and weather – it’s supposed to be the rainy season, but we’ve heard there’s a drought – has it rained much while you’ve been there? Or look like it’s supposed to?

        Thank you soooooo much!

        1. Sara*

          Don’t pack TP, but buy a roll when you get there. Availability is always iffy once you actually get to the bathroom, even in tourist areas.

          I’m not sure whether you’re likely to encounter rain (in Namibia, where I used to live, it didn’t usually rain reliably until January), but bring a poncho or raincoat just in case. Depending on what the weather’s been like in Zambia, you might need it at Vic Falls.

          1. StudentPilot*

            This is really good advice – I’m used to travelling to places where the ‘paper’ part of ‘toilet paper’ is very true, so bringing it was better than buying it. I’ll save myself some packing space then, thanks! I have a raincoat that packs up small that I’m planning to bring.

            1. Sara*

              I hear you on that! I found it helpful to stash TP in a Ziploc bag so that I didn’t have to carry the roll with me all the time, plus it’s better protection from moisture.

        2. Trill*

          Agreed that its always good to have some TP with you, but I don’t think you need to bring it from home, just get some over here. Otherwise washrooms vary. Some are really nice. But if you camp in the Okavango delta the toilets are just a hole and a shovel.

          Temperature is those parts were warm for me. A light sweater or a long sleeve should be fine. It was colder near the coast, but it doesn’t sound like you’ll be near the ocean.

          I didn’t find mozzies too bad. One or two camps they were out but other places I didn’t notice any. Good to wear bug spray in the evenings though.

          I didn’t get much rain in those places, but that was about a month ago when the dry season was ending and the rainy season was just starting. We did get a big storm in Swaziland so I guess be prepared for rain. Vic falls was completely dry on the Zambia side when I was there which was kind of cool to see. Low water is also good for Devil’s pool and white water rafting if you’re into that kind of thing.

      2. Sara*

        Where did you go in Namibia? I lived there for three years, mostly right outside of Rehoboth and a year in Mariental!

        1. Trill*

          I went to the orange river, fish river canyon, sesriem canyon, dune 45, deadvlei/sossusvlei, swakopmund, spitzkoppe, twyfelfontein, etosha, and windhoek. All camping except swakopmud and windhoek. I loved Namibia, it’s such a beautiful country! But way too hot.

          1. Sara*

            Wow, well done! I never made it down to the Orange River area (no connections in Oranjemund), but Deadvlei and Sossusvlei was my absolute favorite vacation I took while living there. Well, that and Sawkopmund – it was nice to experience the opposite of village life every once in a while. I’ve been gone from Namibia for a little more than three years now (crazy to think I’ve now been back in the U.S. for as long as I was there!) and I am desperate to go back. Just…not in the summer, haha. (Although I thought the wet heat in Malawi and Zambia was much worse!)

    5. Sara*

      Watch out for baboons at Vic Falls, they will walk right up to you and steal anything they think is food. (I saw a troop steal a bag of fried chicken from a guy waiting in line to buy a ticket once!) If you’re going to stay in Livingstone, definitely try out some of the restaurants at the open market by the bus station, you can get great deals (much better than the places that cater to tourists) on amazing food. I always stayed at Jollyboys, but the Royal Livingstone (which is down by the entrance to the park) admits non-guests to their bar, which has a really nice river view. Good place for a sundowner (but maybe just one, it’s pricey!).

      1. StudentPilot*

        I saw that same thing happen in the Serengeti – a baboon went after a can of Pringles! We have accommodations booked already, but the advice about Royal Livingstone is great – we’ll check it out one night while we’re there.

    6. Blue_eyes*

      Check out the website The Vivienne Files. She has lots of ideas and examples of how to pack for various lengths of trip and make sure that all your clothes “go” together so that you can make lots of different outfits with them.

  24. College Career Counselor*

    +1 on Alison’s recommendation of Straight Man. Although it’s over the top, it’s uncomfortably close to academic reality in many places. I was reminded of how close last night after having attended a holiday cocktail party with LOTS of faculty.

    Drama + Shenanigans + Distance = Hilarity

    1. Lore*

      It’s one of those books that I’ve acquired many copies of because I keep loaning it out and never getting it back–I think I’ve lost it in two separate breakups!

  25. Chriama*

    How do people maintain relationships with old friends when working full time jobs? I’m a 20 something in my first professional job with people who are several years older than me, and married. I went to university across the country but moved back home and am currently living with my parents. It seems like I’m in a very different life stage from the people around me, and it’s kind of lonely. I have a couple friends in the city but it’s hard to get together. My one friend works in food service and is trying to decide what to go to university for. The other is still in university and has a really heavy courseload. We’ll text from time to time and one of us will say something like ‘we should really get together soon!’ and then the other will be like ‘yeah!’ And then nothing happens. How do people keep in touch? Do I invite them over to my house to watch tv? Do we each drive 15 mins across the city to meet at a coffee shop? Do I go to their houses for dinner? High school and university were so much easier because we saw each other all the time and could grab lunch after classes or go to the mall after school and just window shop. I don’t want every time we meet to be like a big event or cost money, but when we have different schedules and live in different places I don’t know how to integrate casual socialization into my relationships. I also need to meet more people my own age but that’s a different problem. Thoughts?

    1. Turtle Candle*

      The biggest shift IME is that you have to actually plan things in advance. Like, in college, you could just bump into each other and grab coffee or lunch, or round up a group for dinner, or just decide after class that you want to go shopping or whatever. At most it’d be a day-of or day-before kind of plan, like “hey I feel like going to the beach tomorrow, wanna come?” or “I’m going to see [movie] tonight, wanna come?”

      When you’re working you have to start planning more in advance. The things you do don’t necessarily have to change, but yeah, you have to email or text or something and say, “Want to get dinner tomorrow?” or “Want to go to a movie this weekend?” And since peoples’ schedules tend to be more rigid, you usually have to do it a bit more in advance–not the day before but 3-5 days before. It also helps a ton to suggest something specific. It’s really common to do the “hey want to get lunch?” “sure!” [radio silence as you both wait for the other person to make a suggestion] [and then nothing happens].

      It feels really, really awkward at first to have to always say “Hey, want to come over for dinner on Tuesday? I’m making spaghetti,” and then they reply, and if it’s a yes you say, “Great! Come over around 7?” Or whatever. Or “Hey I’m going to catch [movie] on Saturday, wanna come?” and they reply, and you say “Cool, 2pm matinee or 7pm?”

      It’s not as casual as it was in college and it’s not going to be as casual as it was in college because your schedules are probably not as flexible. And yeah, it feels really odd and stilted at first. But gradually it becomes less odd and stilted.

      (It doesn’t have to always be spendy stuff either. It can be cheap-o dinner at your house–I had a lot of ‘spaghetti marinara dinners’ when I was newly out of college where I invited a bunch of friends, because spaghetti marinara is relatively cheap to make at home–or you can have sandwiches in the park or watch TV or play board games or something. Just because the method of invitation necessarily has to be a bit more planned/formal doesn’t mean that the activity does.)

      1. Valar M.*

        This. I now plan everything in advance… usually 2 weeks to a month. It’s the only way to make sure everyone is in town, available, and we can make firm plans. I miss the days when we could just say “Hey! Tomorrow lets run off here!” but its just how things are as you get older.

    2. StudentPilot*

      What I do is give specifics – “we should hang out! How’s next week? I’m free M/W/TH, how about you?” One friend and I live on opposite sides of our city, so we meet half way because that works best. Another friend lives in the area that my husband work in, so we meet there (and I don’t have to take the bus home).

    3. fposte*

      Absolutely yes on issuing invitations and suggestions for specific times and activities. You can’t rely on the currents just to bring you together any more, as you’re realizing. The things you suggest–coffee, dinner, TV watching–all sound great; if people can’t spend any money at all, you can go for a walk, or go window-shopping, or look for free events in your area. If your friend group is in the same position as you, they may also not have figured out the need to issue invitations, so I’d say go ahead and be the leader here.

      At least in my life, what you’re contemplating is how socialization works; I don’t do any impulse socializing except when I’m at work conferences. Some people do drinks with colleagues after work, of course, which I think is an extension of that school/university socialization pattern; it still doesn’t get you time with friends you don’t work with, though, so I say take the lead and say “I really miss seeing you–want to come over Saturday and we’ll order pizza and watch Netflix?” or whatever you think you guys would enjoy. (And don’t take it personally if they can’t make it, at least the first time and especially when they’re also still figuring out that these things have to be scheduled.)

      1. Turtle Candle*

        This is what I was trying to say, only way less wordy!

        Also, yes to the relative lack of ‘impulse socializing.’ A few years ago in a prior job I actually did have several work-friends with whom I would get dinner or drinks after work, and even so it generally required at least a little bit of advance planning, because people didn’t necessarily all get off at the same time, needed some warning so they could make childcare arrangements, had an after-work appointment, etc.

        Like you, all my impulse socializing is at work conferences these days, and I think that’s because everyone is on roughly the same schedule for once (and generally other commitments like appointments, grocery shopping, childcare, getting home to feed the dog, etc., have already been planned around just to get to the conference in the first place). Otherwise even work socializing requires at least a little planning.

    4. Liza*

      Thanks, Chriama, you reminded me to email a friend I haven’t seen in a couple months because I’ve been busy with school!

    5. NicoleK*

      As I have gotten older, I’ve found that I needed to make time. Needed to be more intentional about getting together and following through. With some friends, get togethers typically means lunch. With former coworkers, it is lunch during the workday. With closer friends, it’s typically catching a movie or spending time at their houses.

    6. Chriama*

      Thank you everyone for your responses! I just texted on of my friends and she noted that she’s been feeling disconnected too. We are making plans (with actual dates & times!) as I type this. I guess it just really needed to connect that you have to schedule life around your relationships and not expect them to spontaneously happen. It’s tough for sure but not as much as I think I made it in my head. Thanks for the perspective!

  26. katamia*

    I’ve been thinking of getting my hair colored professionally (I’ve done it myself out of a box before, but it’s a huge pain, my hair is long enough to need two boxes, and I’m not very good at it and always miss spots, so I want a professional). How can you tell if someone is good? Any red flags to look out for? Also, how much detail do you need to give them about what color you want? Is it okay to say something like “I want it this dark and I want it to match my skin tone,” or do I really need to know which specific dye shade I want (I have no idea other than “darker but not black,” and I don’t really have the color sense to know what would look good on me)? Should I bring pictures?

    1. Colette*

      Most stylists will have a book of swatches, so you can point and say “that one”. Good ones will tell you if it won’t suit you, or if it will be difficult with your hair, or whatever.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      I’ve found most of my stylists through Yelp. Usually people will also post what their hair is like when they review, so look for people who have similar hair to yours and see what their experience is like.

      You can describe what you want to your stylist and ask for their input (though honestly, I’ve never gotten super helpful feedback from a stylist). They should give you a swatch book that shows the colors of dye they have–it’s like the little curls of hair they have in the hair dye aisle. The only time I didn’t get what I wanted was from a stylist that didn’t have a swatch and just mixed the dye from my description. If you can bring pictures of what you want, that’s really helpful for making sure you’re on the same page, too, but ideally they’ll match you to a swatch, which comes with a little recipe for them to follow to create the right color dye.

      Also, if you don’t like what they’ve done, they really should fix it for free.


    3. CollegeAdmin*

      See if the salon/stylist has a website, Facebook, or Instagram and check the quality of the work they post. Don’t just see if the hair color looks good, see if it looks good on the person whose head it’s attached to. The former will tell you how their coloring skills are; the latter will tell you if they have the vision to know what might look good on you.

      I recommend bringing photos with you – I actually created a Pinterest board and pulled it up on my phone. My stylist was able to point out the similarities (and differences!) between them. Between the board and a color sample book, we picked out an awesome shade.

    4. Alma*

      I think I’d schedule a consultation with them, to see what they suggest and how they respond to what you ask. The listening to you is very important – but I’ve also learned that they are the professionals with how colors lay down on what you have on your head.

      Are there some friends who you think have great color and haircuts? Ask them. Every hairdresser I’ve ever had came from asking (sometimes complete strangers) “I really love your haircut – who does your hair?”

      Make a list of what appealed to you about that person’s cut/color – or someone on TV – and tear pics out of magazines. Explain what is important to you about the pictures. The shine? the highlights? the “more red” or whatever. If they are good they’ll be very honest about what will work with your hair and the current color.

      And ask about upkeep – if you have colored your own hair before, you know where you’re going to “show” first.

      Once, I asked a woman who is a very well known colorist/stylist in town that I knew her rates were more than I could afford – would she recommend someone to me (in one of the several salons they had in town) who wasn’t as expensive, but who she thought would be a good match to me. She did, and I’ve been extremely happy with her for 11 years.

      Good luck!!

      1. katamia*


        Unfortunately, my friends who color their hair all do their own (and would probably think I’d be silly to even consider paying someone to do it, argh), and unless their hair color was bright blue or something, I’d be a little hesitant to approach someone and ask who does their hair–how do you tell if they just dye it a different shade of brown or something? :P

    5. Sunflower*

      I like finding stylists through friends. If there’s someone who gets their hair colored and you like it, I would ask who does it and go to them. That’s the most reliable IMO.

      I would also look at Yelp- a lot of people posts pictures. Also most salons and stylists have Instagram accounts. I always use Pintrest and pin to a board that I pull up when I get in the chair. Don’t get too scared if someone writes on there that they had to go back and get the color fixed. Sometimes miscommunication happens and if the stylist fixed the color, then I wouldn’t hold it against them too much.

      Make sure your stylist gives you a proper consultation. She should be asking you questions- if you show her a picture and she just says ‘ok’ and goes to work, run for the hills. As far as color goes, don’t worry about knowing the exact shade. I ALWAYS bring pictures, it’s the best way to ensure you are on the same page. The stylist should be able to figure out what exact color to use and if the color you’re looking for is unrealistic or wouldn’t be good on you(most can tell if you need an ash or warm shade). As a first timer, I would ask her a lot of questions as well and make sure she seems knowledgeable.

    6. Stephanie*

      So you have to be ok talking to strangers to do this. If I don’t have a stylist and see someone with hair I like, I just ask where they go. It’s mostly worked. I second everyone that a good one will know the right dye and right color.

      1. katamia*


        How would I tell whether or not they actually dye their hair, though? You can (I assume) be great at cutting hair but not so good at coloring, right?

        1. the gold digger*

          There are not a lot of natural blondes in their 30s. :) I was super blonde as a kid, but now (under the coloring) am a mousy brown. Look for beautiful perfect blonde on an older woman – it’s probably a dye job.

          1. katamia*

            Ah, good point. I’m sort of dark blonde/light brown naturally and blonde would go horribly with my skin tone, so it never occurred to me to look at blondes because I’d be going darker, lol.

    7. Winter is Coming*

      I’ve had great luck with Aveda salons. Bring a picture of the color you want if at all possible.

    8. Edacious*

      All I tell my stylist is if I want my hair darker or lighter and make it look good and that’s it. Right now it’s a deep chestnut with copper overtones and a dash of red. I used to do swatches, but the colour of the swatch does not guarantee your new colour will suit you. A great stylist will tell you if the colour you want is bad for you. Check out the Facebook pages of where you want to for reviews. Ask the salon which person does great colouring. Expect to spend about 3 hours for a cut and colour.

      1. Clever Name*

        I go to a higher end salon and I’ve seen the same stylist for 8 years. She’s never brought out swatches for me to look at. I tell her what I want and she does her thing. My hair always looks great (strangers do ask me who does my hair).

        1. Sunflower*

          Yeah I have never seen hair swatches! I can see how they would be helpful but how a color looks on you has so much to do with other characteristics of your hair and your skin color/tones.

  27. Mimmy*

    Why yes, having your home office remodeled while working on two papers that are due before Christmas–one on Monday–was a brilliant idea. NOT!! Right now my computer and furniture is in the bedroom – luckily it fits, but this room isn’t as bright as the computer room. What were we thinking??!

    The only reason I’m here and not working on said papers is because I have to get ready to head into NYC tonight – we are seeing Jim Gaffigan, the comedian. We’ve had these tickets for months, otherwise I would’ve begged off to work on school. Should be fun though!

  28. Mimmy*


    I went to a doctor this week for a minor neck issue, and the TV they had in the reception area was up pretty loud–loud enough to where it was a little difficult for me to hear the receptionist call my name. Others didn’t seem to have an issue, but I have a slight hearing impairment. But it made me think of the recent work-related AAM post about loud talk radio in the reception area. At least in this instance it was just the morning news (CNN maybe? one of those stations), but still, not very pleasant, imo.

    1. Liza*

      My office building’s landlord recently put a TV in the lobby and I dislike it! It’s always on a news channel so it’s usually talking about one disaster or another. Unlike the coworker someone recently wrote in about, I do not want to be thinking about those when I’m heading in to work!

    2. Anon the Great and Powerful*

      My doctor keeps the TV in her reception area muted, with subtitles on. I think that’s ideal. Easy to ignore if it’s tuned to something awful, and easy to follow in a loud room if you want to watch.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I see TVs on in so many stores. It makes me laugh. It’s an electronic babysitter so customers have something to do while they stand in line waiting and waiting and waiting for service. Of course, most of the employees hate the constant news and it makes it harder to hear each other and hear their customers.

  29. costume teapot*

    Over Thanksgiving I ranted a bit about my cohab stonewalling me. Had a few comments so I wanted to post back.

    Thanks for listening, first off, and caring. Big hugs.

    Mostly I was frustrated about the need to talk about money and budgeting, which are one of the last topics he gets frosty about. He used to be like that all the time, but has grown up a LOT and now really only does about money (and sometimes weight loss.)

    We have been together for twelve years, so its something we work a lot on. I am not innocent here either–I am blunt and can be abrasive, so when I want to talk about these things, it can come across as scolding or being critical or talking down on him. That doesn’t help either. So its an ongoing thing we work on.

    As for the budget convo, it has come up a few times tangentally so we are both finally on board with the need to chat. I need to come up with a better way to not bulldoze him in the conversation, and he needs to not feel like he is “in trouble.” Its an ongoing thing.

    Also someone mentioned cohabbing being VERY difficult. To that, I say that marriage is too. And so are roommates. So I would rather live with my life partner (even if we havent put a ring on it yet–but really after 12 years neither of us are going anywhere) than hate my life alone in a crappy overpriced efficiency or hate my life with crappy roommates elsewhere in the city. He deals well with a lot of my neuroses, so I have to appreciate that too. =)

    1. Alma*

      Schedule a “house meeting” at least once a month. Be aware of including thank you’s and good job’s in the conversation as well as other items for discussion.

    2. Judith*

      We have similar issues, although it is the DH who generally initiates the difficult money conversations. Our solution was for him to announce that “we have a meeting with the family accountant” . Can’t tell you why, but naming the (mythical) family accountant as the instigator of the difficult conversation helped immensely in taking the blame/defensiveness/talking down/being childish dynamic off the table. It’s still (after 20+ years) a more difficult conversation than most AND it’s no longer a personal attack. YMMV!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is why some couples go to a third party. They end up agreeing that they will use the advice of an outsider to gain ground on their situation. It seems to level the playing field in some way.

  30. danr*

    Alison, I really like the addition of the blue lines next to the new since the last time postings. For me it’s the answer to keeping up with the open threads and the daily posts that take off with posting. Now I can just scroll down and stop when I get to a blue line.
    Plus, I’m still off adblock and the ads aren’t downloading forever. Wonderful, if you can keep them under control. And, yes, I do look at them.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I love the blue lines, I just wish they did not all go away once I hit the submit button. I do really love the blue lines, though.

  31. Stephanie*

    Borderline work-related. Do you guys book airfare and then ask for leave of wait for the approval and then book? I was planning to head out of town next month, but need to get the airfare booked soon. We’re in our busy time at work, so my boss just kind of was like “Uh, that should probably work. We’ll talk more first of the year.”

    So should I just go ahead and book? Do any of the airlines have decent change fee policies if I need to rebook? (I’m pretty certain my boss will ok it, he’s just too frazzled right now to think a month in advance.)

    Also…I feel sheepish that my friends are covering this. I initially backed out just because I wasn’t getting as much overtime at work as expected (and some other expenses came up) and three of them are just like “We’ll just get it.” Trying to balance the sheepishness with gratitude (and not beating myself too much about not being a better situation financially).

    1. misspiggy*

      I don’t think you should book without clear approval, which you don’t yet have. It’s not good enough for your boss not to give you a clear yes or no. Ask him again, and say that if you don’t get a clear a clear no by close of play that day, you are going to assume it’s a yes and will book tickets, which will be nonrefundable.

    2. Jean*

      Can you book on Southwest Airlines? Unlike others, they don’t charge you if you have to change your plans. (They don’t give you a refund, either. Your money stays in what I call The Bank of Southwest Airlines. If you don’t rebook and complete your travel within a year from the date of your original purchase, they get to keep your money.)

      1. Valar M.*

        Was about to say the same – I have my gripes about Southwest, but I keep flying them because of policies like this one.

    3. anonanonanon*

      I usually put in my days for approval and then book airfare, though I bought tickets last month to a show in NYC for Sept 2016 without putting in for approval first, so now I’m nervous that I’ll end up not getting the time off. But Sept 2016 is so far away and our time off system doesn’t let us request days that far in the future.

      I’d run it by your boss again to get a firm yes or no before you book. Though, I’d check on the airlines booking policies. Some let you buy insurance that waives any fees associated with rebooking (there are some where they include work as a legitimate reason to rebook, though I can’t think of which airlines those are off the top of my head).

    4. Miki*

      We used to be able to just let them know when are we taking time off. In late October that changed and we have to get approval first. So Dec 2 I requested vacation time for late August-mid September and got it next day. (I felt weird asking so far ahead, but apparently they love when people do it that early). The very same day I bought the plane ticket.

      Oh, and heads up for everyone traveling to Europe this summer even in late August (off peak season): every airline I looked: United, Lufthansa, Austrian airlines was over $1700 and I finally found Turkish Airlines for $950!!! And you get 2 free bags included in the price (I usually have to pay for the second bag $100)

      1. Dan*

        Airfare can be a chicken and mouse game. This far out, airlines are looking to see if people are willing to pay the higher prices. If not, they’ll load the cheaper fares as they deem necessary.

        Flying Turkish through Istanbul to europe is a hell of a lot of extra flying, especially if you’re in coach. From the east coast, you’re doubling your flying time compared to a non stop.

        1. fposte*

          Speaking of which, aren’t you about to head out for your Asia trip? Have a wonderful time, and tell us traveler’s tales!

        2. Yoshi*

          I just flew to Istanbul on turkish airlines, and it was seriously one of the nicest airlines I’ve ever flown. Very high quality, the meal was great, the plane was new and in great condition, good in flight entertainment, etc. And I don’t think you have to fly through Istanbul, it seems like a lot of the flights go from the US, have a layover somewhere in western europe, and then head over to Istanbul. I recommend!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This–I was able to announce what I was doing beforehand, like months beforehand, and nobody batted an eye. But because I was going for three weeks (last autumn), I brought it up well in advance and asked if that length of time would be a problem, since I didn’t know with this job. The second trip, I said “I’m going, I’ll work while gone,” and then all we had to do was arrange a laptop I could take overseas.

        I NEVER booked without checking at Exjob, because of unreasonable people. But my current job isn’t like that. Or so I hope; my boss is leaving soon–waaah! :'(

    5. Dan*

      Jean is right, southwest is the only airline with a decent change fee. Every one else will charge you $200.

      For big trips, I book mine a year in advance, but I use miles. Nice thing is that if something happens, for $200 I get my miles back. Things do happen – one time I got laid off (new job let me take the trip though) and another I got divorced. I did cough up the $200 for that one.

      I’m OK with this strategy for big international trips, but for domestic coach trips? Oh hell no. Sometimes the change fee is more than the cost of the ticket, and in no case is it completely refundable.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Everyone else gives great advice on the airfare thing, so I’ll just add this– I know you feel sheepish, and it does you credit (you’re not a moocher), but if your friends are reasonable grown-ups, they are covering you because they want your company. You have nothing to beat yourself up about. Don’t be overly grateful– as in, don’t be obsequious, just be… you. Bring cookies or something if you feel like you want to thank them. Be flexible. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy being with your friends. Remember that they want you there. I often wish I was in a better financial position so I could pay for a girlfriend or two to go away with me for a weekend. I also have one friend in particular who paid for just about everything we did together (just the two of us) for a year because he made bank and I didn’t and he wanted me around. I “paid him back” by being an awesome wingwoman, a great guest at networking functions, and his co-hostess for more than a few house parties.

      When the time comes for the trip, HAVE FUN. :)

      1. Dan*

        I’ve only ever paid for one girlfriend at a time to go with me. Two sounds like a recipe for trouble, I’m not even sure how I’d pitch that.

    7. the gold digger*

      I am fortunate that I have almost always had jobs where I inform my boss I am taking vacation instead of asking for permission. We booked our July 2016 vacation in July 2015 and might be taking a quick trip in January. (No, I did not want to own a timeshare, but as long as we have it – Primo is supposed to be giving it to his stepdaughters, to whom it rightfully belongs, but they have not been clamoring to take it on and he has been busy with dealing with his parents’ crap – then we might as well go to Hawaii.)

    8. Sunflower*

      I’ve said this too many times before but I am a big proponent of booking about 3 weeks in advance(if you’re traveling domestic) so you have a little bit of time.

      Southwest is the only airline with a decent change policy. Everywhere else will charge you $150-200 to change. Airlines will allow you to cancel a flight within 24 hours of booking with a full refund(as long as it’s more than 7 days before the departure date). So if you happen to see a great deal, you could book it and then tell your boss you found a good deal and want to book it. If he says no, you can cancel without losing anything. Some places will also let you pay to hold prices for a week or so(I think United) so that might be something worth looking into

  32. Rubyrose*

    I know Alison is doing some much needed experimentation with various ads/methodologies. And I know you are being most respectful by doing this during the December downtime.
    But I gotta say – I’m on a laptop, using Mozilla. Scrolling is almost non-existent. Response time s**ks. I can’t take this any longer today. Will try again Monday.

    1. danr*

      Use adblocking. It won’t get better if you don’t or take more expensive measures. I’m on a laptop and I added full memory and now a new router. The router was incidental, but the difference with the router is amazing and so far I’ve turned off the adblock.

    2. Valar M.*

      Use an ad blocker. I had to do it for awhile a couple of months ago, otherwise the site wouldn’t work for me at all.

  33. K.*

    Depression update: definitely still depressed but feeling a little better this week. One of my best friends checks on me regularly. I’m going to a get-together so I’ll be around people (that friend is hosting it), which is good. I also just treated myself to new running shoes – I can’t really afford them but my old ones were hurting me, so I decided getting rid of the pain is worth the money. (Plus the shoes – and everything in the store – were on sale.) The guy at the store was incredibly helpful and friendly, so that made me feel better. I’ve started saying “I’m not doing so great” when people I’m close to ask; it’s hard for me not to default to “Everything is fine!” but people are always either sympathetic or offer some kind of help, or both. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but I’ve decided to start some kind of therapy in the new year, even if I have to borrow money to do it, and I’ve been looking outside my field at “survival jobs” just to get me some income and get me out of my apartment (I don’t like my apartment – I’d been planning to move when I lost my job).

    Christmas is going to be very hard; this has been largely a year of loss and I know I’m going to feel it more then, and there are some family issues that are going to come up. Plus I’ll be stressed about money. But I also know enough to know that I need some help, and am promising myself that I’m going to get it. I think that’s a good step.

    1. Haleth*

      Sorry to hear things are so tough for you :( But deciding to get help is definitely a good step. I have no idea where you live of course but where I am my doctor was able to refer me for 4 therapy sessions for free, so you just pay the one gp appointment, so hopefully you can find something like that? Sending positive thoughts your way!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like you are making some great choices in spite of all the goings-on. That is huge. It’s tough to make great choices when so many things in life need attention and need some type of fixing.
      I tend to go toward things that get the money issues under control first. Nothing like money worries to keep us awake at night and if we don’t sleep more misery sets in.
      Therapy is another good one, because it’s an investment in ourselves. It’s a deliberate resolve that says, “Hey, I am worth something to ME. So I am going to do this.”
      I hold on to a piece of advice my wise friend gave me, when the going gets tough that is THE time to invest in ourselves and our surroundings. This does not mean go buy an expensive home. It means taking a look at what we are doing and considering which well-thought out changes we want to make.
      Good vibes heading your way.

      1. K.*

        Thank you all for the kind words. It does feel like basically everything in my life needs fixing, which can be really overwhelming, so I’m trying to break things into smaller, more manageable pieces, and also keep things in perspective. I’m physically healthy, which isn’t something everyone can say even in my own family, so I try to remember what a blessing that is. I’ve always made room in my life for exercise but now it’s essential – the endorphins help me. I have been thinking that therapy will help me feel less … stuck, and also help me process all the losses I’ve had this year. I’ve been in therapy before, though not for a long time.

        I know ALL about “if we don’t sleep more misery sets in” – I’ve battled insomnia on and off my entire adult life, and it’s always worse under stress. I have an Ambien prescription that I take when I’ve had a few bad nights in a row (last week was rough, sleep-wise) and that helps.

  34. the sugar plum fairy*

    Ideas where to buy a cheap wedding dress?

    It’s been a life-changing week for me. I bought a house on Monday and Thursday, I got engaged! :) The budget for our wedding is low (would like to keep it around $2500 or less). I don’t want to spend a ton of money on a dress – any ideas? I’m thinking about buying something at an online store but I’m a little nervous. We are planning an April wedding. I’m pretty busty and short (5’2″), and I don’t like strapless dresses at all. I would love a knee length or tea length. Any ideas?

    1. the sugar plum fairy*

      I’m totally open to non-traditional options or ideas as well, as long as it’s white or cream colored. :)

    2. Stephanie*

      You could buy things labeled as bridesmaid dresses. My friend got hers off Craigslist (the seller ended up calling off her wedding). Friend bought it and just got it altered to fit her.

      Honestly, though, I would just go to stores you like and look for a white/cream dress that you like. If you’re not wedded (heh) to the idea of the big, fancy formal gown, you could find a dress you like for far less. My friend’s sister got a white, lacy dress from Free People for a fraction of what a wedding dress would have cost.

    3. GOG11*

      Mod Cloth has some dresses that are that length and are $50-200, some of which may even work for other events. I’ll post a link in another comment.

        1. Stephanie*

          Is it weird that I want some of these, despite not being in a wedding? I look really good in white. :)

          1. GOG11*

            Depending on the weather/climate and your new years plans, I feel like some of these could work for a party or get together… just saying.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        I was going to say ModCloth. They have some gorgeous dresses you could wear for a low budget (but chic) wedding, the sugar plum fairy. Congrats!

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      If you’re looking to buy something online, be sure you have a local seamstress who can make some alterations, and you’ll be golden. If there’s a David’s Bridal near you, they have a budget line with dresses frequently under $100, most of which are knee-length and almost none are strapless. If you order one online and have a seamstress who can make some little fixes if you want them (maybe nip in the waist or adjust the straps), presto!

      I would really avoid buying a knockoff cheapo dress from ebay–usually they are coming from Chinese factories with questionable or nonexistent labour standards, and what’s more, they’re almost always low-quality and will look it. You’ll be better off looking in person at department stores and boutiques. Stores that do prom and/or formal gowns will usually have a selection of short and inexpensive dresses, but department stores are usually a good bet! Bhldn dot com has a fairly robust sale section, with a changing variety of short dresses that go between $100 and $3-400 as well.

      Lots and lots of bridesmaid dresses are available in white and ivory as well, and are usually far far far less expensive than a bridal gown and many are short.

      And congratulations!

    5. Jean*

      Thrift stores or consignment stores may happen to have something that you like. Their stock is totally random, though.

      If you’re handy with a sewing machine, or know a good tailor, that might be an option.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Seconding the consignment stores. You can get some nice stuff at a reasonable price. My cousin has a bridal consignment shop. She has a FB page for it. You might try FB to see if you can find something near you.

        Congrats on your house and engagement!

    6. Sparkly Librarian*

      Congratulations on your engagement. I got my (tea-length, white cotton eyelet, halter) wedding dress online at unique-vintage dot com, for $130. It ended up being the only one I tried on, but it fit well and I had the straps altered slightly by a friend. I took a look at the website, and they don’t offer that style anymore, but they do have a bunch of styles that are mid-length and not strapless, in white and in colors.

      1. MeToo*

        I was just about to suggest the same thing. It sounds like we had the same wedding dress. I got lots of complements and no one could believe I’d spent so little. I just dressed it up with a sash and cute shoes and necklace. It was perfect.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          I had eyelet on the brain for ages, but it was so hard to find! The enormous fluffy petticoat I ordered from Etsy was almost as much… and totally worth it. :)

    7. Haleth*

      Congratulations! I don’t know much about where to get wedding dresses, but I think tea length sounds lovely! Also, not sure what season you’re getting married but I think 3/4 sleeves look amazing and super classy.

    8. Liane*

      Try the discount/sale racks at bridal shops. That’s where I got mine 24 years ago. These are discontinued, sample gowns, or have some slight damage. Mine had a pull or run in the chiffon; it was so minor that I had to search for it when I knew where it was on the train. But I got a $500 gown for $50. Note that alterations are expensive–the ones on mine almost doubled the price. I made my own hat. An inexpensive straw hat decorated with white flowers and tulle.
      Although I don’t know much about it, you can also rent wedding dresses, just like you can men’s formalwear

      1. Aussie Academic*

        Congratulations! I’m going to second trying discount racks/ stores. I went to a “seconds” bridal store and was so impressed at both the stock and prices. I bought my wedding dress for $350, which was 10% of its original price, as it was one a bride had ordered and then changed her mind about. But still in perfect condition. A lot of the dresses were there for that reason (so not really seconds). I just loved my dress and got something far more beautiful than I would have wanted to spend at a regular full-price store.

    9. Christy*

      My knee-length white/cream dress options (I have two!) were around $150 and both from Nordstrom! Highly recommended, especially for their return policy.

    10. Curlicue*

      My daughter bought hers at a bridal consignment store. The price was a fraction of retail and they had a great selection.

    11. Edacious*

      I bought my wedding dress from a mall. No fittings or alterations required. Try looking for evening gowns and they can come in lots of different colours and avoid the wedding only stores.

    12. Mando Diao*

      kiteandbutterfly (dot) com has some really pretty bohemian-style dresses. They did one for BHLDN a while back, and that one’s still available for around $600.

      nataya (dot) com is great if you want to dress up like Downton on your wedding day.

      Check out BHLDN just to see what’s available – if you see something you like, you can try to visit one of their stores to try it on. Their prices have gone up recently though, and the styles aren’t as quirky as they used to be.

    13. Blue_eyes*

      There are a number of websites where brides re-sell their wedding dresses. You get an almost new dress for much less than the retail price. I found my wedding dress on one of those listing sites and ended up buying it from a vendor called The Last-Minute Bride that sells sample dresses. My dress had been a sample dress and I paid about 60% of what it would have cost to buy it new. Everyone else’s suggestions here are great as well.

      Are you committed to having a white dress? Party dresses are usually way less expensive than wedding dresses and come in just about any color that you could want.

    14. blackcat*

      One strategy is that a lot of (really lovely) bridesmaid dresses can be ordered in white/ivory/cream. They are MUCH cheaper than wedding dresses and as someone who does not really *do* fashion, I can’t tell the difference.

      I got a clearance (wedding) dress online from JCrew (for like $300), and it was cheap and easy to have the waist taken in and 18 inches (LOL) of fabric hemmed off the bottom. I am both busty and short, too, and my one big dress rule was I had to be able to wear a regular bra under it. I ordered a dress big enough to fit the boobs, figuring everything else could be taken in if needed. If you get a non-poofy dress without many layers, hemming it to make it short-person friendly is not hard.

      Another place to look, if you’re willing to have a short dress, is Nordstrom’s “little white dress” section online. If you order to a store, you may be able to get them to do any alterations for you for not much $$.

    15. Trixie*

      This isnt’ specific to the dress but the idea of modest wedding budget. Courthouse wedding! Great story at link below.

    16. bangsnotfringe*

      I bought a white dress of SnobSwap (tags on), not necessarily a wedding dress. I tried the same brand on in a store and hoped the dress would fit and it did without alterations. Start looking now and I’m sure you’ll find something wonderful.

  35. Ann Furthermore*

    Any cross stitchers here? I’d like to make something for my stepdaughter who will be graduating from high school in May.

    I’d love to give her something with what I think is the best quote from, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss: “So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact, and remember that life’s a great balancing act.” And I’d like to have a couple images from the book too.

    I’ve found a couple of sites where you can create your own pattern, but only with the ability to upload images and not add words. And I found another site where you can do custom text, but not add pictures, plus it looks like single thread stitching.

    What’s the best way to create my own design and make it into a cross-stitch pattern?

    1. Anon1234*

      I don’t know any computer programs offhand, but you could always try sketching on graph paper. You’ll have to do the related math, but it’s not too hard.

    2. Elkay*

      My mom used to draw everything onto graph paper then cut it out and put each piece on a bigger sheet of graph paper so she could move the design around until she was happy. If you want to make a cross-stitcher angry hurtle into the table she’s got her unsecured design on in your roller skates, I swear the pieces didn’t move that much but she disagreed.

    3. LizB*

      What a great idea for a present! That’s so lovely.

      I haven’t found a free pattern creator that does both images and text, so I tend to cobble my designs together by hand; I’ll use online tools like the ones you’ve found to turn individual pieces of my design into patterns, print them out, then transfer everything onto one piece of cross stitch graph paper by hand. It’s kind of tedious, but it lets me have a ton of control over how things look and where they’re placed. I’ll reply to this comment with links to my favorite text pattern generator and the site I get my cross-stitch graph paper from.

      I have to say, also, as someone who’s cross-stitched a lot of text-heavy designs, that quote is likely going to take a lot of work to stitch. If graduation is in May, you should probably start making your pattern now!

        1. Elsajeni*

          Hey, thanks for those links! I’m also planning a custom-designed cross-stitch project for the near future (my weightlifting club’s logo and the motto “Bless These Gains”, as a gift for my coach) and I’ve been wondering where to even start — the graph paper in particular will be super useful.

  36. That Is Not A Mouse*

    In the comments to the open thread a couple days back quite a few people posted about their experiences with self harm, so I’m hoping to get some help with my situation. I used to self harm when i was in high school (stopped 7-8 years ago). Mostly I wear short sleeves now and don’t really bother about it too much and am not really concerned with new people I meet finding out. The thing is, my parents still don’t know I used to do this… I have just always worn long sleeves around them. I want to tell them, as I normally never hide things from them. I know they will be supportive but they will be disappointed and upset, and I hate to do that.

    So my question: has anyone else had experience telling loved ones something like this? How did you do it? What worked/didn’t? And on the other side, has anyone had a loved one tell them that they used to self harm? Is there anything that should be said/avoided in the conversation? Is it better to just not tell them at all?

    1. Selfharm*

      What might surprise you about this is that your parents may already know or have suspected it. What is going to be very helpful to you in this conversation is that you stopped several years ago so that may alleviate some of their worry about it. Going into it from a matter of fact stance is the best way to handle it in my view. A possible script is I want you to know about this because I hate hiding things from you. Show them the scars and then say something about why you felt the need to do it, that it wasn’t their fault and that you haven’t done it for years and you just wanted them to know about it. Answer any questions and then move forward.

      This needs to be a part of the story of your life and not a focal point as it likely was when you were doing it. Don’t let your parents or anyone else define you with this. It was a negative coping skill that you made use of years ago. You’re better now. You’re being honest about it and you can move forward. And FTR, I know how difficult self-harm is from a personal perspective. Been there and I congratulate you for moving forward!!

      1. That Is Not A Mouse*

        Thanks! I really like that way of looking at/phrasing it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did suspect actually. But yeah I do like the matter of fact way of saying it you suggest (it fits as that’s how we generally tackle emotional stuff anyway) so thanks heaps :)

    2. Observer*

      One thing to realize is that they may have a hard time treating this like something in the past. To them it’s fresh and new and in the present.

      Also, two questions that will almost certainly come up: Why did you do this / is it their fault? Why didn’t you tell them then / why now?

      Think about the answers before you tell them.

      1. That Is Not A Mouse*

        Yeah, that’s a good point, that’s definitely something I need to think about/plan out some answers to, thanks!

    3. Anon for this*

      I don’t know your family and I did not self-harm in this way but I had an eating disorder and basically my mother does not believe me and to this day she disputes it and minimizes it. I think this really disrupts her idea of the perfect family she has, where no one is allowed to be human, even in the past. She does not do it in a mean way but it makes having a real conversation difficult because this disorder was so central to my life for so many years. So I guess I am saying sometimes people don’t react the way we want or expect them to, and it can be painful.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OP, the best you can do is tell your parents you love them. We don’t get to control others’ emotions. Every individual has sole responsibility for their emotions. The most we can do is insist on logic and reason. So key talking points would be that you love them, it’s over now and so on. Focus on facts.

        My family insisted I had X problem when I actually had Y problem. Eventually I got help with Y. It was a real eye-opener to see how disconnected my family was from the real issue. In an odd way it made me stronger. I had to become more in tune with what was going on with me, because I was pretty much sorting the whole thing out on my own.

  37. Stargazer*

    For those who are or were married, what did you find the most difficult about the first year of marriage?

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      It might not be particularly helpful, but to record the data point: Nothing, really. Our first year of marriage (and the two years since) have been the same as the two years before when we were living together. Occasional changes in our circumstances (like when we bought a house, or when she was hit by a car) have been difficult, but it has really had very little to do with our marital status.

      1. JPixel*

        Yea, same here. I’d say we were more relaxed after the wedding itself and we definitely feel closer and happier. There were no major bumps in the road or surprises. There have been moments of stress/difficulty but none of them had to do with being married and in all cases made me happy to have a partner (whether that means a spouse, significant other, or really great friend – not limited to marriage).

      2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Same. We had already been living together–I’d say the first year of living together was the most difficult. But the first year of marriage wasn’t particularly difficult. It was the stressors within it (buying a house, family issues) that were difficult. But those stressors were easier as a unit than they would have been individually.

    2. Camellia*

      I already owned a house so he moved in. I had bought the house on my own, painted and decorated it, and I had no idea how territorial I was! If he suggested changing something, no matter how small, I would get very defensive. I didn’t realize I was doing it until he pointed it out and it took a lot of work to get over it.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Good for you for working on this. My ex-husband did this and it was one of the many reasons he’s an ex. I’m glad you were able to work on it and move forward.

    3. OfficePrincess*

      We lived together for about two years before we got married, so we had already gotten used to each other. A significant chunk of the first year (mind you we’ve only been married a year and a half now) was spent with me adjusting to my new name and the identity adjustment overall. I 100% wanted to change it to share it with the man I loved instead of the one who abandoned me, but there was a mental shift that took some getting used to. It was also a challenge from the “this is it” perspective. We were already functioning and making decisions as a unit, but it suddenly felt more real and for a little while almost felt restrictive. I was a bit of a crankypants and am amazed at how he put up with me.

      1. misspiggy*

        Ha, the one problem I had after getting married was the unexpected amount of hassle I got for not changing my name – particularly from him. Still a sore point five years on…

        1. KD*

          Part of me wishes I didn’t change my name. Because that has been a persistent nightmare. First you have to go through all the social security office BS to then make a giant list of everything your name is tied to and send paper work to each and every one of them only to find that a year and a half later you still carry two IDs (maiden and married) because you keep finding thing you haven’t managed to change. Like the bank account in another state that is attached to your longest open credit card (with the best rate of all your cards even though current you is way more financially stable and responsible that 18 year old you was). Oh where the credit union its with requires you to show up in person to make the name change. Not looking forward to wasting time and money on that trip.

          1. Elkay*

            I changed mine twice, once when we got married and again when I decided I actually missed my old name so I double barrelled it. Still not sure the second change was a sensible one.

    4. Dan*

      Finding out that my spouse had no idea how to manage a real income, aka mine which pushes six figures, when she pretty much never worked in her life.

      “You make six figures, why do you care what I spend?” Was said about six months before we separated.

      1. fposte*

        I think the screech that made me utter may have been so high pitched it would only have been audible to dogs.

        Have the money talk before the legal binding, people. Things may not feel like they’ve changed to you, but they’ve changed to the courts.

        1. Dan*

          To this day, I’m not sure what talk I should have actually had. When we got together, we were finishing school and in a transition period, so lots of things were quite theoretical. She got pretty good at telling me what I wanted to hear (aka promising something down the line) to get what she wanted in the immediate future.

          Yeah there are some real mental health issues going on here, which I suppose is a topic for a later thread ;)

          1. fposte*

            When things are as disordered as that, you may not be able to protect yourself. But I figured it was as good a time as any for that PSA.

    5. A Non*

      We didn’t live together before being married, so the hardest part for me was figuring out communication about day-to-day stuff. There were some areas where we were perfectly in sync without having to discuss it, and others where we were really, really not. Seven years later that still happens sometimes – we have different assumptions about how we’re going to do X thing, and then get concerned/offended/upset when the spouse does something that doesn’t mesh with that. We’ve gotten a lot better at figuring out when that’s happening and discussing it.

    6. Nethwen*

      I’ve been married nine months and we did not live together beforehand and both had lived alone for years. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how easy the transition has been. We both went in believing neither was perfect and expecting to have disagreements, so that probably helped.

      I think the little things were the hardest. Like he runs the water the entire time he does the dishes and all I can hear are dollars running down the drain or I had to tell him time and again to call me if he would be later than normal because otherwise I worry. My advice is to look for the good (he volunteers to wash dishes and helps people fix their cars instead of leaving them unable to get to work the next day). Say something nice/give a compliment every day.

      1. Nethwen*

        I take it back. There was an unexpected, perplexing change. In some things, I don’t respond to him as my husband the same as I did to him as my boyfriend or to others. For example, I don’t like to hug more than a quick in and out. Ask family and friends and they’ll say I don’t like to be touched. Then I get married, and now all I want to do is hang on him like a limpet. I’ve never touched someone so much in my life and I don’t understand why I’m compelled to now. It is these sorts of changes that leave me confused and sometimes feeling unmoored.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oh, I love this topic. I feel like people don’t talk about it enough; what you hear in popular culture is mainly about how happy you’re supposed to be as newlyweds, which then makes you really worry that something is wrong if you struggle with parts.

      I found the first year of marriage really hard. We had moved in together about six months earlier, and navigating the first year of that was hard too. Part of it was that I’d lived alone for so long (and I loooooovved living alone), and it was hard to adjust to having someone else around all the time and figure out how to navigate togetherness vs. separateness, especially as someone with a very high need for alone time. (Weirdly, I’ve now flip flopped and I don’t like it when he goes out of town now, which is a change I never anticipated.) We needed time to get our daily rhythms to mesh well.

      But the bigger issue for me was probably that I came to understand permanence in a different way — I looked at all the weaknesses in our relationship and in each other through a different lens, a “wait, we’re locked into this forever?” way. It changes the stakes in a pretty scary way. I’m also uber practical and not particularly romantic, so my tendency was always to be analyzing and thinking “was this a mistake?” … which didn’t really help things.

      Things got a lot easier after the first year.

      1. Sara*

        I’m not married, but I live with my boyfriend of 3.5 years, and I completely agree about the switch from “Ugh, he’s always here!” to “Ugh, do you have to go on that trip?” I lived alone for most of six years before we moved in together (since my senior year of college), and when we started living together he was unemployed and new to our city, so he was ALWAYS home and it drove me a little bonkers. His first trip without me was pretty great for me, not going to lie. But now I get sad when he goes away for more than a day.

        1. OfficePrincess*

          Yup. After. The first few months of living together I went from loving having the place to myself to being totally bummed by it. The first day is great – I can sprawl all over the bed and watch whatever I want, but then it gets lonely and really makes me appreciate all the stuff he does around the apartment.

    8. Overeducated and underemployed*

      The first year was easy and fun for me, it only got hard when we started going through life transitions, trying to negotiate kids and moves and two careers three years in. It is still tough.

    9. OP1*

      Ignore the name, it’s mine for the day lol

      Re: my comment up the thread, we lived apart a lot, so that could have been the hardest part of the first year. But actually, it was putting everything we’d theoretically believed about planning, budgets, etc. into practice with everything combined. I’m overly strict and he’s not strict enough. It was really really opposite when we were first married but we worked on it and came to a common ground after a lot of hard work. It was kind of like all the little things that were fine as single people realistically built up to a big problem and we spent most of the first year working on compromised and then implementing those agreements.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      To me the hardest part of the first year of marriage was managing other people’s demands and expectations.

      I felt that he did not do enough and he felt I did too much. We should have talked about that more and set boundaries. We were both pretty good when it came to money, we talked through things and that went well. BUT, we never thought about doing a budget for how we would spend our time. Not everything that happens to family can be rated as a five alarm fire, some of the things you have to just let go. So we had too many five alarm fires from people who could not say thank you or show thank you. It was a few years before we started insisting on self-sufficiency. Should have started insisting much sooner.

    11. AnotherAlison*

      My first year of marriage was a complete life change. We moved in together in our own place with our infant son in a different town, I transferred universities, and of course we were now legally yoked to each other. The most difficult for us was that we were broke and my husband was immature and wanted to enjoy his hobbies. He bought a dirt bike the first year and a Nova the next. It took about 10 years to get him to stop buying things without my agreement. We really didn’t have vastly different financial ideals, so that probably saved us. It was just when it came to expensive toys that were just for him where we fought. And partying. We had some good ones on that, too. Don’t get married when you are 19 and you should be fine. ; )

  38. Ruffingit*

    We’ve now been in a hotel for a week. Yesterday, I had a heated exchange with the property manager culminating in her asking why I’m such a nasty person. I then proceeded to inform her how I became that way and why she’s to blame. I have no idea when we’ll be able to actually live in the house we’re renting. I am HOPING it will be this coming week. But I don’t know. I’m just really depressed at this point. I don’t want any advice about what to do since I’m doing everything I need to, I’m just looking for some sympathy, kind words, a hug. I’m just so done with all of this.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      *hugs* I really hope you get it sorted soon. And your property manager sounds like a biatch.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Thank you, she really is! It’s amazing to me that she’s trying to act as though it’s a huge surprise that basic things in the house don’t work. Basic as in the law requires that you have them. She never bothered to go and check and ensure they were in working order before renting the house.

    2. Shell*

      I hope you responded with something along the lines like “why are you so incompetent at your job?”

      Ugh. This sounds awful. Hugs and sympathies.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Thanks! It got pretty ugly, but it was necessary. I essentially did tell her she sucks at her job. She’s been trying to defend this nonsense and I’m just over it.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Thank you fposte!! Me too, in fact I said that very thing to a friend of mine the other day. If I was still working at the old job, I would really have gone over the edge at this point.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Confession: I am a nasty person. I expect people to do their jobs. All I got is a fist bump in solidarity for a fellow “nasty person”. Rock on.

    4. Mimmy*

      First of all, you are FAR from a nasty person!!! However, you’ve just been through crap with work and now this…you have every right to be angry. I hope things are settled soon.

      Also: ((((hugs)))))

      1. Ruffingit*

        Thank you! I didn’t take her nasty person crack to heart because I was in fact quite nasty, but it was well deserved on her end.

    5. FutureLibrarian*

      LOTS of sympathy, and hugs, and good vibes coming your way, friend. This is just awful :( I am so sad that you’re having to deal with this, especially during the holidays. Hopefully this will be resolved ASAP.

  39. StillHealing*

    I’m counting down the days until the final court hearing for the divorce. The papers have been signed by both parties. I’m just waiting for them to arrive in the mail before filing them with the court. I didn’t think divorcing the cheater would take me nearly an entire year! We had come to an agreement before he moved back east but as soon as he arrived there, he stopped paying and didn’t honor any of the things he’d agreed on. He’s unhappy where he is so he decided to take it out on me by being an uncooperative jerk. That is, until I told him either we come to an agreement or we will go through a trial in January. He didn’t want to go to trial. I will end up with thousands more than our first agreement because he’s agreed to pay for a longer period of time.

    This countdown is giving me back some energy! It’s motivating me to get more organized and come up with a plan to 1. Move 2. Get rid of the remaining items soon to be ex left behind.

    I’ll be a happy single lady for Christmas!

    1. GOG11*

      Congratulations on getting this far in the process and on being almost done. You sound like you’re doing better than you were in some of your earlier posts, and I’m glad things are looking up for you. Best of luck as you finish up the process. It seems like you’ll have somewhat of a fresh start soon and I hope all goes well.

      1. StillHealing*

        Thank you! Yes, I’m doing much better. I think a fresh start for the New Year will do both me and my son good. There are still sections of the apartment we don’t use because that was my husband’s side, chair, bookshelf, etc. No one has used husband’s recliner since he moved out so it makes no sense to keep it.

    2. F.*

      Congratulations! My first husband dragged out the divorce for 4-1/2 years and thousands of dollars. His stated aim was to leave me penniless, homeless and living on a steam grate. I got just enough out of the settlement to pay the attorney. Guess who is now happily married again and who is all alone and still a miserable son of a bitch!

      1. StillHealing*

        Thank you. 4 1/2 years and all that money down the drain! I’m so sorry. Congratulations on your happy marriage.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      As I started reading, I thought “this has been like a year or so…” then you said it’s been almost a year. Long haul. But you sound better, like you are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I am so happy for you. Fresh beginnings, just in time for Christmas, may your (you and son) holidays be bright and full of hope.

  40. GoingAnonymous4This*

    My dad told me what he wants for Christmas is my sibling and I to get a meal together. We haven’t exactly spoken in several years and have just co-existed in the same house over the past couple of years (I moved out recently due to work). My dad wants me to initiate asking my sibling to grab a meal.

    I’m not opposed to this idea — I’d actually like to have a great relationship with my sibling, but seeing as I’m the one who initiated the bare-minimum contact that has been the norm for several years…how do I go about this? I have no idea where to start.

    1. fposte*

      Email or text, if you’re not comfortable with a call. “Dad would like you and I to have dinner together again, and I think it’s a nice idea. Would you be game for Saturday at Place I Know You Like Okay?”

      You don’t need to turn it into a long thing–just make the query.

  41. Shell*

    My knee is doing a lot better after another week of babying; I can walk down stairs now! It still twinges every other step on said stairs, but at least I don’t have to crab-walk down. Probably gonna give it the rest of the month before I trust it though.

    Re: my yoga whine last week… I actually found a studio (rather far away…) that has classes as 12-week sessions. Most studios I’ve heard of lets you buy multi-class passes but each class is individual; there’s no learning outcome expected after 6 weeks or whatever. No student roster; whoever gets there first gets there first. This studio is tailored to one type of yoga, has classes set up as 12-week blocks, has class levels (1, 2, 3, mixed classes, etc.) and has a student roster (in the sense that since you book 12 weeks, you see the same people for all 12 weeks). And it’s Iyengar yoga, which is supposedly the most precise style of beginner yoga ever. And the price per class is actually equal or cheaper to the 10-punch passes of most studios! It’s…far, but at least there are Sunday classes in the afternoon so I have time to roll out of bed.

    I will probably still buy the intro pass to my local, very close, fancy-schmancy studio that has individual classes and the sauna and free tea lounge, just to get a taste for other yoga styles (and the sauna, not gonna lie). But the instructor focus from a 12-week session sounds a lot more appealing than individual classes where you learn by copying and repetition alone. I’m excited!

    Also, has anyone here tried Iyengar yoga before? What do you think of it? It’s uncommon here; in my neck of the woods there are about two studios (one of which is the one I mentioned) specializing in it; larger studios have lots of styles but never Iygengar. Specialized studios often specialize in hot. I’ve never even seen Iyengar mentioned on the more popular studios’ schedules (probably because it requires so many props)…

    1. fposte*

      I don’t have a particular yoga discipline, but I like the books of Judith Ross Lasater, who studies Iyengar, and Miriam Austin, who is Iyengar-inspired. I also think it’s one of the most humane yoga approaches because of its emphasis on adaptation.

      1. Shell*

        Heh, given my propensity for joint injuries, adaptation is a very, very good thing.

        I just realized this studio has a free 2-hour intro class once a month. And the next intro class is early January. This is sounding better and better by the minute!

    2. Trixie*

      Someone certified in Iyengar yoga has had solid training in alignment and positioning. Rather than flow yoga (vinyasa) you’ll be holding poses longer. This link is pretty good description/sample of what I’ve seen:

        1. Shell*

          Oh, I didn’t even think to look up style comparisons on Youtube. Thank you! That helps a lot.

          A bunch of Youtube surfing later, I’m really liking the idea. I’ve tried doing yoga via apps/videos, a single Bikram class, and about six Yin classes. The apps/videos went too fast a pace for me to copy the poses (and I always felt like my posture must be off), Bikram had zero modifications for a total newbie like me, and Yin was slow enough but was mostly stretches and not challenging. This feels like what I want!

          I just looked up that studio’s instructors. The most junior ones have at least 7 years of experience as a practitioner of Iyengar, and the senior ones upwards of 30 (!!!) years as a practitioner and 20-25 as a teacher. All of them are certified. So I’m feeling pretty excited now… :D

    3. Judith*

      I love Iyengar yoga! The use of props and the ability to adapt asanas to match your body instead of assuming everything works ideally … yes!! Have tried several other styles and always always go back to Iyengar!

  42. Dynese*

    Happy weekend everyone! I’m due for a vacation next year, yay! I would like to go somewhere, except I can’t narrow down any ideas. Does anyone have a place that safe enough for a single female travelling solo? I’m fine with pretty much any culture and climate.

    1. Sinjin*

      Seasoned solo female traveler here! Lots of suggestions: Prague, London, Tokyo, Budapest, Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, Berlin, Hong Kong … just to name a handful. I prefer big city stays with moral rural day trips, so I tend to plan my trips as such. My personal favorites are also more expensive – London and Tokyo – but there are ways to do both on a budget. Traveling solo ROCKS. Enjoy your adventure!

    2. Graciosa*

      I’ll echo Sinjin’s recommendations, and suggest you also consider slightly smaller cities in regions that interest you. For example, in addition to London, I also enjoyed Oxford, Dover, Bath, and Brighton (also Cardiff if you’ll allow me to switch countries!). I really appreciate seeing a little more of a country than the obvious tourist locations in the capital city, and communities a little outside the main city center can provide more opportunities to interact with the residents while lowering your expenses for food and lodging.

      Think about the experience you want (strolling around in vibrant green countryside= Ireland or the Lake District; gorgeous beaches = Greek or Pacific Islands, Caribbean, etc.) and pick something that resonates.

      When you go, make sure to bring your willingness to appreciate the unexpected. :-)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Cardiff is awesome, and it’s smaller so everybody is way more randomly friendly than in London. Just a warning–they don’t have a travel card for the buses (this is a thing they really need to do but I’m not counting on it), so you’ll need exact change. Plus, there are lots of day trips from there and Wales is BEAUTIFUL. You will fall in love with it.

        If you’re into ghosty stuff, I highly recommend the Llandaff or Cardiff Castle ghost walks. If you do the Llandaff Ghost Walk, try to get one with John Hutch as your guide. He’s awesome–he tells the stories extremely well. Lots of standing and walking, but very creepy and fun!

    3. katamia*

      I just got back from Taiwan (living there for a few months, not vacationing), and I never felt unsafe as a 20-something woman in Taipei, not even when I’d leave my apartment in the middle of the night.

      1. Sinjin*

        Anthony Bordain did an episode of his show “The Layover” from Taipei (streamable on Netflix). I’ve never been there, but the night markets looked incredible!

        1. katamia*

          They vary in quality. I lived near/in one when I first got to Taipei, but it was (IMO) a pretty crappy one, with a lot of clothing stores and such (which I don’t care about/am not the least bit interested in looking at) rather than food. Still had some food, but not as much as others did. Some of the other ones are much better, though.

    4. Trill*

      Solo female traveller here who has been on the road for the past 4 and a half months.
      If you’re open to a group tour, I highly recommend joining an overland tour in Africa! They mostly attract solo travellers and the amount that you see and do is great and the groups can be so much fun! I did 6 weeks in southern Africa with Gadventures, but Acacia and Intrepid are supposed to be good too.
      I also really enjoyed Turkey although a friend joined me for most of my time there. Vienna and Budapest were both amazing and easy/safe solo. Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria were more difficult language wise but were safe. Ireland was really great. Costa Rica and Peru are popular as well.

    5. nep*

      Your question reminds me of a lovely book, that I always liked to delve into when preparing for or on a solo trip — Turkestan Solo by Ella Maillart.
      Keep us posted on where you decide to go.

      1. nep*

        Corrected: Your question reminds me of a lovely book that I like to delve into when preparing for or on a solo trip — Turkestan Solo by Ella Maillart.
        Keep us posted on where you decide to go.

      1. Sara*

        Namibia too! Lots to see, and lots of friendly people (tourists and locals). It’s becoming a much more popular destination, but it’s not yet at the point where there are tourist hassles or tourist traps. (Low crime, very little corruption, and you’re not going to get smacked with “foreigner prices” outside of Windhoek.)

    6. A Dispatcher*

      If you’re looking for somewhere a little closer to home (though no idea where you live I suppose, lol) I’ve loved Quebec City/Montreal and that area as a solo. When I don’t have it in my budget for an overseas trip, it’s pretty much the closest I can get to Europe without the airfare.

      And good to know someone that has gone on a GA trip Trill, I always look at them but have never actually taken the plunge, a bit because I haven’t actually met someone who has done one.

      1. Anna the Accounting Student*

        I was actually about to suggest Montreal as well. I went in the autumn and took Amtrak up from NYC, so the scenery was lovely. (Hint: sit on the left both ways. You’ll get the Hudson Valley views on the way up. On the way down you’ll have Lake Champlain, and the sunset glare would be sufficient to ruin the views on the southern end of the trip.)

        Montreal was the only fully-solo trip I’ve been able to take, so I don’t know if this holds up elsewhere, but instead of a big hotel, find a nice B&B: someplace to sleep and leave your stuff safely for the day, but that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

    7. Not Karen*

      I’m of the opinion that if a place isn’t safe enough for a single female traveling solo, it’s not safe enough for anyone in any circumstance.

    8. the gold digger*

      I traveled alone overland all the way from Chile to Texas. (I flew from Quito to Panama because there is not really an overland route at that part.) I have traveled alone all over Europe. I would feel pretty comfortable going almost anywhere that is not at war. Just use the same rules you would use at home – be careful in dodgy neighborhoods and being out after dark.

    9. Sunflower*

      I like Adventurous Kate’s blog if you’re looking for ideas. I agree with Not Karen that if it’s not safe for a solo female traveler, it’s not safe for anyone.

  43. M.*

    Judging by the huge deposit on back pay from Social Security, I am officially back on Disability. Lesson that I learned? I know me. Just because the pro’s and everyone else says I’m well enough to do XYZ, does not mean that I’m actually well enough to do XYZ.

    Also started drinking smoothies. Wow. I actually feel good. Now to try to keep up with this.

  44. Wondering*

    About 7 years ago, I learned of the existence of Asperger Syndrome. As I learned more about it, I found a lot of things familiar such as very strong aversions to certain sensory things, quite a lot of difficulty interpreting social things, manually learning/processing things that others seem to just get naturally especially relating to people or recognizing emotions (I usually have to think of the most similar situation I may have been in and then think about how I felt and then imagine that the other person may be feeling that way, but I rarely actually feel anything throughout the process). For a lot of things that are supposed to be fluid and automatic, I go through the processes mechanically. On their own, some of the things I do or experience can just be chalked up to awkwardness and others are symptoms of other conditions I’ve been diagnosed with (anxiety, ADHD). Also, several friends of mine who are parents of children with Asperger Syndrome have told me that they wouldn’t be surprised if I were somewhere on the spectrum.

    I am wondering if anyone has any experience with seeking out a diagnosis. Is it worth it? On the one hand, I’m in my mid-twenties and have made it through college and function well in my job, but on the other, getting diagnosed with ADHD was life changing for me. It opened the door to ways of managing and coping that I never would have gotten on my own.

    1. Dan*

      A lot of times, I feel like mental health diagnoses are pointless. I’m not disparaging the profession, btw. Because it’s not as if a diagnosis gets you a pill or surgery. Label or not, the underlying behavior is still there.

      Only you can decide if it makes sense for you.

      1. Liza*

        Huh. I disagree–I found my diagnosis of depression very helpful because it gave me a framework to understand what I was seeing in myself, and a way to explain myself to others. The underlying condition is still there, yes, but knowing how to deal with it–which often comes with the label–can be hugely helpful.

        It was similar when I was diagnosed with IBS. What I knew beforehand was that I was having certain difficulties in the bathroom. The diagnosis gave me was strategies for dealing with it, and also a more genteel way to explain it to others. :-)

        1. Dan*

          Say he doesn’t have aspergers, then what? BTW, aspergers was removed from the DSM V.

          Fwiw, “a lot of times” doesn’t mean always. Some diagnoses are beneficial.

          1. Wondering*

            I guess I didn’t see it as “yes, you have this” or “no, you don’t have this.” When I was diagnosed with ADHD, I had no idea what I had. I talked with a psychiatrist about what I was struggling with and I walked away with what Liza described (“a framework to understand what I was seeing in myself, and a way to explain myself to others. The underlying condition is still there, yes, but knowing how to deal with it–which often comes with the label–can be hugely helpful.”) I assume the conversation/visit would work in a similar way.

            If I don’t have Asperger Syndrome, or its DSM V equivalent, there still may be steps I can take to address the difficulties I’m having. If I didn’t know about Asperger Syndrome, I’d have just assumed I’m awkward and bad at certain things and that I’m just an isolated person, but knowing such things exist, and that there may be a structured set of steps I could take to compensate, I am using it as a starting point I guess.

            1. Ruffingit*

              My personal feeling is that just because something was removed from the DSM-V doesn’t mean it’s non-existent. As a person who works in the mental health field, I think Aspergers absolutely exists. Diagnoses is helpful in the sense of being able to understand it for one’s self or explain it to others as some of the posters here have already stated.

        2. Hlyssande*

          I’ve also found diagnosis to be helpful – to have a label for the thing, to KNOW what’s going on and why and what you can do about it. Knowing is better than not knowing.

          It was a relief for me to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety because I suddenly had words for what was going on and was able to find more tools to cope.

        3. hermit crab*

          I totally agree. I’m glad got a mental health diagnosis because helped me move the question from “why can’t I just deal with my life like everyone else” to “how can I best manage these symptoms.” Like you say, it’s much like receiving any kind of medical diagnosis — for example, a few years ago I got a diagnosis that put my bizarre nausea attacks into a recognized medical category that I could research and learn about, and things suddenly felt much more manageable. I feel the same way about my mental health diagnosis.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I disagree. I was ecstatic to finally get a diagnosis–from a neuropsychiatrist–for dyscalculia (math LD). I knew it was there, but now I can explain it to people and actually have a word to give them that they can look up and understand it better. No, you can’t teach me a year’s worth of algebra in an hour; I don’t have a basis for it. No, you really don’t want me doing your books because of this and this and this symptom, which is googleable and exists. It’s not just all in my head, and I’m not lazy or a math-hater and I do not have a math phobia.

        Some symptoms of it are these–my notes in italics. This is only a basic list (source ldonline.org/article/13709/):

        –Good at speaking, reading, and writing, but slow to develop counting and math problem-solving skills
        –Good memory for printed words, but difficulty reading numbers, or recalling numbers in sequence (phone numbers; my six-digit extension at work)
        –Good with general math concepts, but frustrated when specific computation and organization skills need to be used (not good with any)
        –Trouble with the concept of time-chronically late, difficulty remembering schedules, trouble with approximating how long something will take (this last one, OMG)
        –Poor sense of direction, easily disoriented and easily confused by changes in routine (I’m actually okay at directions; can remember where stuff is if I actually go there and visual cues don’t change much)
        –Poor long term memory of concepts-can do math functions one day, but is unable to repeat them the next day (THIS THIS OMG YES)
        –Poor mental math ability-trouble estimating grocery costs or counting days until vacation
        –Difficulty playing strategy games like chess, bridge or role-playing video games (I have trouble with puzzles in video games so I use a guide the first time through)
        –Difficulty keeping score when playing board and card games (or bowling)

        Teachers didn’t know this and they got frustrated with me because I could read so well; they didn’t understand and thought I was lazy and were mean because of it. The not retaining math concepts was the worst one. It literally took me years to learn to figure percentages (I need a calculator). I’m clumsy also and have trouble with fine motor skills. It took me ages to learn to braid hair, blow a gum bubble, and whistle. Despite a tutor in high school suspecting an LD, there was no real help available, and I didn’t begin to realize there might be a continuing problem until I got to music school and could not learn key signatures, even after four years of repeated drilling.

        Now that I know for sure these things are part of the LD, I don’t worry so much about the things I can’t do. I know I’m not stupid, I’m not abnormal, and I’m not crazy or delusional (other people’s words). I know what my limitations are and what I need assistance with, and what I can do on my own. :)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This so describes someone in my life and this person was brilliant about other things. The contrast was stark- like night and day. He could talk circles around most people regarding X or Y, but figure out something with math? Forget it. Like you are saying, it did not fit with the rest of what he had in place.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            The one thing I regret most about this is that if I could do math, I would have been some kind of scientist. But that’s out. I can still enjoy reading about science, which I do. :)

    2. Graciosa*

      I think there might be some positives associated with getting a diagnosis.

      First, a professional who has done an assessment may be able to direct you to resources or provide additional information that will be useful to you in the future. You don’t know what you don’t know.

      Second, if you ever need an accommodation at work, already having a professional diagnosis may help you. Again, I don’t know what you might encounter or need (whether in an ADA or FMLA situation) and again, that’s why you should ask a professional. Hearing “If you ever need X or Y, let me know” can be eye opening if it never occurred to you that those were possibilities. Also, the fact that you’re functioning well at work at the moment does not mean that this won’t change in the future, or that you couldn’t function even better now with the right help or information.

      I tend to be biased toward getting information and planning for “just in case” scenarios, so that’s definitely coloring my perspective and may not be a factor for you – best wishes whatever you decide.

      1. Shell*

        Yeah, this. In the internet age we can find so much information online about any topic, but professionals are professionals. Sometimes (often) they tell you things that you already know through internet searches, but I’d rather hear repeated information than take the chance that I may miss something.

        Also, if you need accommodation at work, the doctor’s diagnosis holds a lot more weight than self-diagnosis, for better or worse.

    3. anon for now*

      It can be helpful to get a diagnosis. I was diagnosed earlier this year with ADHD (inattentive) and prescribed medication, which I found very helpful (both the diagnosis/understanding that it’s not just me being bad at certain things and the medication). Like Liza said, it can give you a framework to understand how you work better. It can also help you find strategies to improve things you want to improve on. I don’t know a whole lot about ADD because, being good at school, I was never tested for it or anything as a child and it never occurred to me until quite recently that it was even a possibility, but it’s given me a way to look for things that help me more than just generic “Make a checklist to stay organized” stuff, which never seemed to work for me, and also given me permission to go a little easier on myself with the “Why the heck can’t you just do this stuff like everyone else?” thoughts.

      1. Wondering*

        My diagnosis seems similar to yours. I was good at school and my ADHD went unnoticed. I am glad you were able to find better strategies that work for you as a result of your diagnosis.

    4. Chriama*

      Re: getting a diagnosis. I think humans have an inherent need to name things. Labelling them makes them make sense. You’ve been diagnosed with other things, and knowing the diagnosis has helped you come up with strategies to help you live your life in a way that works for you. I do think it’s possible to skip the diagnosis step and just talk to a counsellor or therapist about the thought patterns and behaviours you want to change — and in terms of self-acceptanceI think there’s something to be said for just acknowledging who you are and not needing an official diagnosis to let you think your issues are legitimate — but if having the framework makes it easier for you to understand, plan or act then you should definitely do it. I guess bottom line is it’s your mental health and seeking out assistance from a professional is pretty much always a good idea.

      1. Wondering*

        This is a good idea. Thank you. I would definitely like to work on learning what to do in certain situations so I don’t just freeze up. I have been accused of being a robot more times than I’d like and I would like to get better at social things.

    5. Mando Diao*

      A good way to pre-diagnose aspergers is to determine how well you understand figurative language. Are you able to tell when someone is being sarcastic? Can you usually tell when someone is joking, even if they’re keeping a straight face? Do you generally understand metaphors and the like? Has an English instructor ever commented that your writing wasn’t fluid or was too mechanical?

      It’s common for people to throw around the word “aspergers” when the person in question is maybe just a weirdo or a loner or has social difficulties for other reasons.

      1. Wondering*

        When I was a child, I would sort of ruin silly or simple jokes because “but cats don’t do that” or “but that isn’t how that works.” As I got older, I recognized the pattern and that things are funny because they are not what we expect or because they are ridiculous. I still struggle with sarcasm sometimes, but a lot of people use a certain tone like, they still speak and are using words but they sound different. If people use that tone, I know they are probably using sarcasm. I like to use sarcasm myself actually. It’s sort of saying the opposite of things and it being funny. I do struggle with jokes a lot, especially when people are keeping a straight face. Sometimes I can recognize the mechanics of it, kind of like diagramming a sentence or substituting numbers for the placeholding letters in an equation, but if I don’t recognize the format I sort of just get stuck and I don’t know what to do.

        I have not been told my writing was too mechanical. I’m very good with language, not so much vocabulary but with the patterns and grammar rules and things like that. I’m also good with metaphors if I understand that it’s a metaphor. If I don’t get that they’re being metaphorical I just assume I misunderstood and they’re being literal. I do tend to be a very literal person. Sometimes I just think of all the possible things in my head but they all have equal weight and I’m not always sure what to go with. I try to use context clues but things don’t always fit.

      2. Owl*

        Actually, your pre-diagnosis thing is not found anywhere on the DSM V (where Aspergers is now rolled into Austism Spectrum Disorders) and perpetuates harmful stereotypes that we have about people on the autism spectrum. There are many people on the autism spectrum that make wonderful, fluid writers, can tell when someone is sarcastic (and are experts at sarcasm themselves, as my friend is), and can tell when people are joking. Yes, it is oftentimes more difficult for someone on the autism spectrum to understand the complexities of social language, but by boxing all people on the autism spectrum as being near-robotic in social ability leaves out many who are that way and yes, have been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. If you’d like to read more, I highly suggest checking out Disability in KidLit, particularly this post on the “autism voice” used in many fictional books written about people with autism, written by someone on the autism spectrum.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, that’s a really interesting and thoughtful post–thanks for the pointer.

          While it’s good to have media examples of people with various disabilities and atypicalities, the downside is that those portrayals tend to dominate the public consciousness, no matter how accurate or inaccurate they are.

        2. Mando Diao*

          With all due respect, the examples that I gave count as 1) Deficits in verbal communication skills, and 2) Deficits in non-verbal communication signals, which are two of the three criteria listed on the DSM site you linked.

          I agree with fposte: it’s not very helpful to promote notable exceptions as being more prevalent than they are. Many aspergers/austism diagnoses come about due to the reasons I listed, whether or not they appear to be in line with the clinical criteria.

    6. Owl*

      I totally understand where you’re coming from. I’m in the same boat right now. I suggest joining #autchat on twitter. Good people/resources there.

    7. mander*

      My husband was diagnosed with Asperger’s (or as being “on the spectrum”, if you prefer) when he was about 32. There was a major disaster at work, culminating in him being terminated, and as part of the fallout from that he saw a professional who diagnosed him. Long story short, the diagnosis not only helped him get his job back but also gave him a useful perspective for understanding why he reacted in certain ways to particular situations, why some things were difficult for him, and so on. He’s been able to put what he learned into practice and avoid circumstances that would get him in trouble again. In general he seems much happier now that he has a framework for understanding.

  45. fposte*

    I know there’s some crossover here with Carolyn Hax’s readership. In the chat on Friday (the holiday one), somebody recommended a Christmas album available on Spotify called “All I Want for Christmas Is a Goat,” with goat bleats pieced together to make Christmas carols. Apparently it’s the hot Christmas album this year–which I’m happy to support. It really is quite the work of hysterical art. I’ll go through a section where I’m like “Yes, very amusing,” and then the soprano goat scream will send me snickering away. So I recommend giving it a try.

    1. GOG11*

      I heartily second your recommendation! I was thinking of posting about it, but hadn’t gotten around to it. I could not stop laughing this morning when I heard it.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      Have you seen the parody video “All I want for Christmas is Food”? It features a pug, who, as you probably can guess, really wants food for Christmas. Highly amusing.

  46. The IT Manager*

    Had a wholly unsuccessful Christmas shopping expedition this afternoon. Then I came home and order nearly everything I was looking for online.

    One thing I did learn was that unless I am willing to play twice the normal costs on Amazon, there’s no Yeti 30 (or 20) oz rambler cups to be had. I saw a ton of the 10 oz cups though.

    1. Samantha*

      Did you try REI? Looks like they might have some. I ordered one directly from Yeti a few weeks ago but I think they’re sold out now. Must be a very popular Christmas gift this year.

      1. The IT Manager*

        No REI me me, but I tried REI-like placed. I found lots of the 10 oz cups which is how I knew I was in the right spot in the store – just too late. No biggie; she’s getting another gift.

  47. Allegra*

    Just poking my head in to say thank you for the book recommendations. Straight Man looks great and I think I am going to give it to 2-3 different people this Christmas. And I am going to go back through the archives to check out other book recommendations for other gifts for people.

    1. Dan*

      Best: being on vacation.

      Worst: using western toilets in Asia that also come with a hose, and having to walk into a stall with water all over the floor.

      Don’t ask me about the hose, it’s on the short list of “when in Rome” things I refuse to learn about… Until I have to.

    2. Sparkly Librarian*

      Best: Getting kitty snuggle time next to the Xmas tree. I think they like me more now that I have a hot water bottle under the lap blanket to keep my feet warm.

      Worst: This being the season of fried foods, I indulged a few days in a row and paid for it with a 3 AM gallstone attack. (This was my second, so I knew what was happening and didn’t panic; also I had drugs on hand.)

      1. Greggles*

        Best- daughter was born happy and healthy Friday morning! Oh and got to have 2 dad sin nights this weekend!

        Worst-planned c section was supposed to be next Thursday do we were on 90% ready. LOL

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      Worst: still utterly bored out of my mind at work. And you know, broke.

      Best: 7.5 working days left until Christmas break. I have lots of good TV to watch. My friend is coming down for coffee later today, yey!

    4. Doriana Gray*

      BEST: I finally have enough money to go grocery shopping!

      WORST: I have to go grocery shopping. :( This is one of my least favorite activities ever.

    5. Mimmy*

      Best: Jim Gaffigan concert last night in NYC. Very funny show!!

      Worst: Not so much “worst”, but school work took me longer than hoped, which is affecting my papers. Now I’ll be scrambling today to finish #1 tonight and starting #2 tomorrow. UGH!!! I love school, but hate crunch time.

    6. Blue_eyes*

      Best: Hosted a successful and fun Hanukkah party last night. Other best – I’m a finalist for a job that could be really great. Meeting the big boss tomorrow.
      Worst: Actually, things are pretty good right now. Aside from continued job search and general holiday busy-ness.

    7. Schnapps*

      Best: One more really stressful week of work and then its just tidying up stuff for a week, then a week off.

      Worst: 6yo decided to have a tummy upset last night. I hate starting laundry at 1am. And cleaning the carpet at 3am (stopgap measure until I get the bissel out). Also, there is not enough coffee in the world for me to adult today.

      6yo is much better now, btw, and playing normally. She also got ginger ale for breakfast so that kind of made her day.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Best: the ice show is OVER. Went well; my program was meh but not terrible. Dresses did not turn out and I’ve gained so much weight they looked crap so I went with a velvet t-shirt I had (I blinged it up a bit) and a skirt.

      Worst: Ugh, Christmas isn’t over yet.

    9. Trixie*

      Best: Great luck with car repair/maintenance, getting it done before temp job started. Managed to pull together enough pieces to resemble bus casual wardrobe.
      Worst: Said car work added up fast but necessary.
      Second worst: Tried wearing new jacket without removing tag and my friend/boss spotted it immediately. We laughed about it but I was bummed and a little embarrassed. Just can’t afford new wardrobe for temp job.

  48. Night Owl*

    I’m seeing an old school teacher tomorrow who I was a real brat to when I was 13 or 14. (I’m in my early twenties now.) I spread a rumor that she was pregnant, which went pretty far, even getting back to her in-laws. She was actually pregnant, but not ready to announce it yet (I didn’t know this), and I caused her unnecessary stress and upset. At the time I thought it was funny, but as I grew older and grew up, I realised it was silly and unkind, and I’m sorry.

    I’d like to tell her that tomorrow, but we’ll be having drinks for an hour with a group of unrelated people. Would it be weird to bring that up and apologize in front of other people? I could apologize vaguely, but that may also invite questions. Should I ask to speak with her alone (the only way we’re going to be alone is if I make it happen), or just apologize the first time I talk to her even if it’s in front of others? Would it be weird to just not acknowledge it at all tomorrow and then try and get her number off someone to apologize later? Sorry for all the questions – just don’t really know what the right thing to do is. I don’t want to have her think I’m not sorry if i just don’t acknowledge it at all, but I also don’t want to risk ambushing her or making her uncomfortable by bringing it up.

    1. Caffeinated*

      definitely do not bring this up in front of other people! They’ll be eitherawkwardly silent or, worse, require some kind of explanation.

      If I were you I’d try to grab a moment alone with her if you feel you must apologize that day. When she goes to the bathroom or bar or something, find an excuse to join her.

      1. Night Owl*

        Okay, it’s not so much that I feel I must apologize tomorrow as it’s that I probably need to apologize tomorrow or not at all. I haven’t seen her since that year (she didn’t come back after her maternity time) and probably won’t see her again. (Tomorrow is a class/farewell for a dance teacher who she also apparently once had.)

        I was originally just going to skip it so I didn’t have to see her, but I’m not a kid anymore and I want to handle it like an adult. So I should go and be polite and friendly and try and get a moment alone? If I can’t talk to her privately should I try and track her down later to apologize or would that be weird?

        1. fposte*

          If you miss tomorrow, I wouldn’t track her down physically, but I would write her a note (and I would say this should be a written note, not anything digital); you can say, “I’ve been thinking about this and unfortunately didn’t manage to talk to you at Felicia’s farewell. [Mea culpa]”

        2. Liza*

          Night Owl, I suggest thinking about whether you want to apologize *for* her or for yourself. If you want to apologize because you think it will be helpful for her in some way, then go ahead and track her down to apologize later. On the other hand if your real purpose in apologizing is to make yourself feel better about it, then don’t apologize unless you find a graceful time/way to do it. (Nothing wrong with wanting to apologize to make yourself feel better! But it can turn creepy when the apologizer ignores the apologizee’s feelings to do it.)

    2. Ruffingit*

      I agree with both Caffeinated and Colette. Ask to see her alone for a few minutes and just say “I just wanted to apologize for being such a brat when I was in your class. I know I did some things that hurt you and I am truly sorry about that, particularly spreading the pregnancy room. I hope you can forgive me and know that, with age, I realize how hurtful that was.” That way, you address it, but you don’t make a long story out of it.

      1. Night Owl*

        Thanks. I think the trickiest part is getting her alone without making it a big, obvious thing. It’s just 15 people or so doing a short dance class and then having some drinks in a single room. But I will be looking for an opportunity.

        1. fposte*

          I think you can often make an opportunity without it being a big deal, though. The halls to the bathrooms are filled with people having these kinds of conversations. Get up, stand behind her a little and say quietly toward her her (but not creepily close), “Could you walk with me for a second so I can tell you something?”

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      If I met up with any of my former students who gave me grief, the last thing I’d want is a specific apology. I’m with Colette that you should keep the apology vague. Honestly, the best thing you could do is show her that you grew up to be an amazing adult—that’s what most teachers want for their students anyway, not an apology (well, an apology is nice when it happens, but not decades later).

  49. Jen RO*

    Someone mentioned /r/oddlysatisfying in a comment and an older question came back to me… is there an actual name for that “oddly satisfying” feeling? I’m hoping that, given AAM’s diverse readership, someone can answer this… I’ve been googling for months and haven’t found anything!

    1. fposte*

      I’m not finding anything like that in English, but I’m wondering if our German speakers have a suggestion–that seems like the kind of thing German could put together in an Augenblick.

    1. fposte*

      What a wonderful question!
      -Getting done with some key work stuff
      -Work holiday party (I really like ours and I have a particularly fine gift to give in the exchange)
      -A big dropoff of good-condition old toys at the Salvation Army (only place that’ll take stuffies)
      -Watching more of The Great Pottery Throwdown, now that I know about it

    2. Jen RO*

      Hopefully hiring a replacement for the coworker who left a month ago.
      Hopefully the end of my sciatica pain!

    3. Mimmy*

      -Finishing up my 4-6 page paper and starting on the big one that’s 12-15 pages.
      -Hopefully, barring any issues with said paper, spending next weekend with my brother and his family in Pennsylvania.

    4. Overeducated and underemployed*

      -Having a friend over for mulled wine and gingerbread waffles tonight
      -talking with a former supervisor about a temp job he has, hoping it works out!
      -a friend’s Christmas party after work Saturday. She throws fantastic parties.

    5. Blue_eyes*

      – 3rd round interview for a job that could be a really good fit for me.
      – Making Lego gummy candies tomorrow with one of my students (Yes, I’m seriously getting paid to make Lego gummy candies).
      – Flying home next weekend to spend Christmas with my parents.

    6. Doriana Gray*

      Making gluten free blueberry muffins, catching up on my reading (just started Agatha Christie’s 4:50 to Paddington), attending my first team meeting Tuesday afternoon with my soon-to-be new division (I don’t start until January 18, but I was invited anyway and have been included on all major department wide emails since my hiring two weeks ago), and, hopefully finishing up some short stories I started writing months ago for my next short story collection.

    7. Pennalynn Lott*

      Taking my last final and starting my epic 47-episode binge-watch of Dr. Who, so I’ll *finally* be caught up!

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Getting some actual work done on Secret Book; I’ve been managing to head-space Protag 1 a little better and I’m feeling her a lot more. Also identifying some difficulties with something about her (and trying to write it so it doesn’t come off as offensive).

      I’m not querying again until February, to let the tide of NaNoWriMo and New Year’s resolution people ebb a bit. I don’t want to get lost in that slush pile. Plus, my queries still need better targeting and work–this is VERY hard for me, even more so than writing cover letters. I’d rather write a synopsis than a query!! I have time now to study up and practice them.

    9. GOG11*

      SO and I cleaned the whole house and I am on vacation starting Friday. I am delighted to simply relax, do whatever I like, and enjoy my nice, clean house. Aaaaaaah :)

      How about you, nep?

      1. nep*

        I like many aspects of my job, so I always look forward to certain parts of the work-week.
        Hearing back about whether a raise is in the cards. Even if it’s no, at least I’ll know where I stand, I can ask whether there are steps I need to take to merit one — and just in general move forward on that.
        Getting a bit of ‘extra’ time to read, as a class I was taking is done for the semester.
        Continuing work on my weightlifting; it’s getting increasingly gratifying as I practice more and learn more.

    10. Trixie*

      Continuing year end purge, cleaning, repacking and general straightening up. One full week of temp FT employment, making the most of 2-3 weeks to network and make a positive, lasting impression. Enjoying this week of classes before schedule is thrown during holiday season.

    11. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Getting sworn in, a formal with boyfriend and friends, a low-budget home/handmade Secret Santa party…:)

  50. Judith*

    I’m hoping someone can help with a persistent annoyance that, really, isn’t critical. Sort of a sand-in-the-shoe kind of thing…I’m wondering how other people organize their jewelry so they remember what they have (and don’t buy 2 or 3 near duplicates!) This house doesn’t have the as much accessible storage as the last, resulting in lots of boxes stacked in drawers. All suggestions welcome – brainstorming is one of my favorite activities! Thank you!

    1. fposte*

      Almost nothing is in its original box; it’s all visible without opening, often in the little plastic chambered boxes you can get at craft shops for storing buttons and notions but with the lids removed; when I run out of those, cardboard jewelry boxes without lids or the lids themselves as “dishes.” Basically, it’s all about the tessellation–I see everything when I open the drawer. I have mine in several small drawers, so I can divide by type, which helps, but I think just having it all on view would be a useful step.

      If it’s so crammed into the drawers that you wouldn’t have enough room if they were only in one layer, there are also jewelry drawer trays you could add that would give you a removable second story, as it were.

    2. Colette*

      If you have wall space, you could screw cup books into wood (a board, picture frames, whatever) and hang them on the wall. They screw in by hand, so you don’t need any tools to do this.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        My husband got me a jewelry hanging board along these lines–it’s a nicely-finished wooden board with about 60 staggered hooks in it, so I can hang long necklaces and stuff without them getting tangled. I hang hoop and dangling earrings, watches and chain bracelets (not bangles), and rings. Stud earrings live in a little dish, but I would prefer to have a corkboard that I can stick them in so I could see them without digging around too much.

        My really good/fine jewelry lives in its own box on my bureau. I don’t like to have it sitting out when I have two bad cats in the house.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      For the stuff I wear the most I use egg cartons. Not the top half that is mostly smooth, I use the bottom half wear the egg sat. I make sure the carton is clean, of course. I can stack two or three on top of each other in a shallow drawer in the bathroom. Instead of cleaning them, I just toss them and replace with new.
      This works for the smaller pieces, but not so much for big bracelets or necklaces.

      1. Trixie*

        Same here with egg cartons which are perfect for those really small earrings. And I’ve seen bracelets stacked on vertical paper towel

    4. Arjay*

      I use a “little black dress” hanger from the Container Store. The top is just a regular hanger, then one side has clear plastic pockets (for earrings and such) and the other side has Velcro loops suitable for necklaces, bracelets, etc. It hangs on the back of my bedroom door, and I wear jewelry so much more often now that it’s so easily accessible to me.

  51. Anon2.0*

    My adult/teenage children learned something this week that I had been keeping secret from them. The purpose for keeping the secret wasn’t terribly sound but it involved something that I am not very proud of it and never found the right time or way to bring it up to them. The secret was that I was married briefly/unhappily and divorced before I met and married their father. My marriage to their father was tumultuous, painful and also ended in divorce.
    My oldest son found my first divorce papers when I sent him to retrieve some important papers from the filing cabinet. He asked me about them and I explained the situation and my reason for keeping the secret. He handled it well and then so as not to force him to keep my secret, I told my younger son and daughter. I told them all that they could ask me anything now about it or later if they had questions in the future. No one seemed terribly distressed except my oldest seemed uncomfortable bringing it up. I am so glad that he did, though. I come from a family of secret-keepers and it is so troubling to navigate those relationships. I don’t want that for my kids. Anything else I should do to keep healthy communication going?

    1. fposte*

      Maybe talk about that with your kids as an issue in its own right, so there isn’t silence about the silence? “I was raised in a family that kept secrets. It’s influenced how I share my experiences with you, as I did with my first marriage. I don’t think that’s a good plan for any of us and I’d like to change that pattern. I’m going to try to be more transparent with you in the future, and I hope that’s something we can all reach for.”

      In my experience, being on the other end, being told you can ask questions doesn’t make much difference, and their distress is often going to be calibrated carefully to what mother looks like she can bear; it’s the rest of the ongoing messages about sharing information and past with family that really have meaning about openness. I don’t mean you have to dump everything on them–a parent is like a manager in having an obligation to keep the people with less power protected from day-to-day ups and downs–but think about things they might not know, or you’ve assumed they know without being told. What’s the family financial situation, for instance, and what’s available for them for college? That’s usually an easy place to start because it has such obvious implications for them and can actually be a decent teachable moment.

      1. Anon2.0*

        Thank you! That’s helpful start for getting me past just simply doing the opposite of what my own mom did :) And I have already been doing some of your suggestions–esp related to finances–so thais reassuring.

      2. Doriana Gray*

        You always give such good advice, fposte. This is absolutely the way to go (says the daughter of a huge secret keeper).

    2. OP1*

      Love fposte’s response! Now to be a little personal with this topic…

      My mother-in-law was married for 3 years before she met and married the man that would raise her two children, but these two children were actually from her first marriage. She never told them and my sister-in-law found out in the same way your son found out about the previous marriage. Then she chose not to tell my then 15 year old husband. He only found out because he tried to get his drivers license at 18 (his mom wouldn’t let him get it before then because she didn’t want him to realize that the name he used wasn’t his legal name). It was a huge heartbreak for him. The thing is, she actively denies everything to this day and their family never talks about it. She keeps everything a secret and the wall that used to be up between her and the kids is now this awful hateful thing. You kept one secret and your children seemed to understand – as long as you’re open with them from now on, things should be better. I tried for a really long time to get my husband to have a better relationship with his mom, but she’s never stopped lying and keeping secrets and he just doesn’t trust her. You sound like you want to try and prevent this kind of thing from happening and I am so thankful that you do. It’s been very hard for my husband and he’s the most honest person in the world. I am very happy to know that you want to do a better job than my mother-in-law. I still hope she’ll try someday, but the earlier the better.

    3. Sunflower*

      This happened to me kind of. My father was married before he met my mother (they are still married though) and I didn’t find until I was 16. I saw lots of pictures of them together in old photos but my grandmother always said it was just my dad’s girlfriend. I don’t really remember how I found out they were married but I remember not finding out until I was about 16. They were also married briefly but it freaked me out. I asked what happened to her and my grandmother said she moved far away and no one has spoken to her since the divorce.

      My biggest fear was that my dad had a child or family I didn’t know about. Sometimes I still secretly wonder if I have a half brother or sister. Or if she actually still lives nearby. Or if my dad still speaks to her. It’s not something that I lay awake thinking of but every so often it crosses my mind. These are just the questions that went through my mind when I found out so it might help to reassure your kids that they are your only family

    4. Carrie in Scotland*

      I was in my early 20’s when I found out my mum had been married previously to meeting my dad. Perhaps that was one of the reasons why she & my dad didnt get married til I was 7. I did ask about it once or twice but she didnt want to talk about it. And now the chance has gone.

  52. Rebecca*

    My kitchen counter top is decluttered, scrubbed, and nearly barren! Yesterday AM I went in to my kitchen, and not one horizontal surface was visible. OMG. I need to adult better. So, I took a few hours, put things away, tossed things I never use, managed to break a large Corning casserole dish that I actually did use (ugh, so glad I had shoes on when it shattered around my feet), but all in all, my table is completely organized with Christmas place mats and a small decoration, the counter top is bare except for my tea kettle, Mistos, and a wax warmer, and the sink area still needs a bit of improvement, but once the dirty dishes are in the dishwasher and the clean things put away sometime today, that will be done. When I walked in this morning to get coffee, I felt so relaxed. No sea of clutter and stuff. It was so calming. Now I need to keep it that way!

    1. acmx*

      I have the same problem with my counter and table. I managed to get it all cleared off at the beginning of the month but need to clear off the counter again (in my defense, I had 4 guests recently and I was very busy shuttling and running errands with them). Clearing it again is today’s agenda.

    2. Trixie*

      This is precisely why I like doing dishes/cleanup at night. It’s such a relaxing space to make breakfast in. Of course, I’m also this way about making the bed in the morning. I’m not compulsive but just love coming home to calm space at the end of the day.

  53. Today's anon*

    I started working out with a new trainer and I need help figuring out what to eat! I meet her at 7am, then go to work, where I shower and change. I usually have something light to eat before we exercise (usually some oatmeal). By the time I am at work, I am starving. I already carry a bag with a change of clothes and have to stuff my coat in there too so I don’t want to carry anything too big or too liquidy (we work out outdoors). Any ideas? I’ve been going to get the egg platter at my deli but that is too expensive to do regularly. Maybe something I can leave at work would work too – we don’t really have a refrigerator though (our refrigerator freezes anything left overnight).

    1. Schnapps*

      Egg muffins! Beat eggs as you would in a bowl for scrambled eggs, add whatever other stuff you usually put in an omelet, pour egg into sprayed muffin tin about 3/4 full, bake at 400 until cooked through.

      There are lots of recipes on the web. These freeze well, so you could grab a couple from the freezer, put them in your bag and they’d be thawed by the time you get to work.

    2. anonanonanon*

      String cheese, hard-boiled eggs or a banana and apple with some type of nut butter or a handful of almonds. These are light enough you can just shove them in your bag and filling enough because they’re full of protein.

    3. Jill of All Trades*

      Try a Scotch egg: boiled egg inside ground sausage, rolled in breadcrumbs, and then baked. Easy, filling, transports and freezes well, and you can substitute the sausage with a vegetarian option.

    4. Trixie*

      I used to love oatmeal but by itself it doesn’t keep me going. I will sometimes add a tablespoon of nut butter or coconut oil for some lasting power. I can’t eat a lot before working out but can easily eat some plain greek yogurt with a bit of no sugar added preserves (costco) and topped with walnuts or ground flax seeds. I read quite a few times of folks eating something light before working out, then eating again before or at work to last them until lunch. For a second breakfast, I might also have an egg on half tortilla covered with avocado, maybe some fresh shredded parmesan.

  54. LCL*

    This week I am finally going to make an appointment to get my hearing tested. I will probably get hearing aids. I have chosen a good place based on the recommendation of a long time wearer of hearing aids. My hearing loss is age related and noise related. Does anyone have any advice?

    1. Mimmy*

      I wear hearing aids due to congenital hearing loss that I refused to own up to until I was in my 20s. The one thing that sticks out for me is that it will take time to get used to them. If you do get them, start with wearing them for a couple hours a day, then work your way up until you can wear them all day. But even I still sometimes find I need to take them out (but I have sensory issues also, so that may not apply to you, hopefully).

      Good luck!!

    2. misspiggy*

      Apparently it takes six weeks of constant use for the brain to adjust, but with me it took a lot less. You can go back and get the levels adjusted if certain areas of sound are still really unclear after a few weeks. Music isn’t great through hearing aids, but I’ve found that using an aid in one ear for music can be a good compromise.

    3. Clever Name*

      As a child of a parent who likely needs hearing aids but refuses to get them, Thank You! I’ve heard that hearing aid technology has gotten so much better in recent years. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        I was in your shoes for years. My stepdad refused to believe he needed them for years. He finally broke down and got them after his younger brother started using them. Modern hearing aids are much less noticeable than they used to be, so th only way you know he’s got them in is the fact that he can actually follow conversations without complaining that we’re all mumbling.

    4. Artemesia*

      My husband got the kind of hearing aids that are managed with his Iphone. He can get phone calls on his hearing aids if he chooses which has made the phone much easier to manage and he can adjust the base and treble and such at music events. They also allow him to adjust the range so he can in a crowded noisy restaurant for example, narrow the catch to just the 45 degree angle in front of him which helps screen out the background noise. They dramatically improved our social life as he can now hear to converse with friends.

  55. Aurora Leigh*

    Any suggestions for board games?

    Last Christmas I discovered Carcassonne and the siblings and I have really enjoyed it! I bought Ticket to Ride as a Christmas gift this year, so I’m hoping it will be a hit. Probably looking for gateway games, and ideally something appropriate for a 10 year old (he’s a quick learner, though!).

    I’m not opposed to “magical” elements but mom would have a cow if it involved anything to do with occult/idols/wizards/etc. So tell me about those games anyway, but I’d love suggestions that don’t involve those elements for family gifts.

    Thanks for suggestions!

    1. Colette*

      My niece loves Kittens in a Blender – you have to save your kittens while sacrificing your opponents kittens. It sounds terrible, but the kittens are really cute. Fluxx is fun, and there are tons of variants. Settlers of Catan is also fun.

      We haven’t playtested this at all is really, really random and fast, but good with a group.

      Gloom is fun if you play with people who like storytelling. You’re trying to make your family unhappy (and kill them off) while making everyone else’s family happy.

      1. fposte*

        Okay, I cackled at the disclaimer. Oh, you’re putting *cute* kittens in a blender–that’s much better!

    2. Elkay*

      Ticket to Ride is good fun, we played it with friends a few months ago having never played it before, it’s easy to pick up but I’d recommend someone is the official rule reader.

      Hive is a good two player game. Apples to Apples is a card game but good fun, Killer Bunnies is another card game and doesn’t require any skill so is good for all ages.

    3. Cruciatus*

      I’ll be interested in any answers as well. I was also thinking of buying Ticket to Ride. The games we like to play are Catch Phrase, Buzz Word, and Head’s Up. They tend to go fast and kids can play and as you can see, usually have to do with pop culture and/or words/phrases in English. We also play Cards Against Humanity but not with kids around. But these games always get us laughing and don’t require too much time each round. We usually play for hours, but each round is something new. I’m looking for games that just make you laugh and wasn’t sure Ticket to Ride would be the, well, ticket (though it gets great ratings).

      1. Owl*

        I play the Ticket to Ride app almost daily (free, so a good way to test it out) and beg people to play it with me. If you like the road-connecting part of Catan (no supplies necessary), I recommend it.

    4. LizzyB*

      Settlers of Catan was our first Euro-style board game. The base game doesn’t have any occult elements, but some of the expansions do. My kids were playing it at 10. There is a website called Board Game Geek where gamers rate games. I think of it as Ravelry (if you’re a knitter) for board games.

      Here are some my husband (a huge board gamer) suggests:
      Castles of Burgundy (I love this one!), Stone Age (dice rolling / worker placement), Isle of Skye (Tile laying like Carcassonne but with auctioning and goals), Alhambra (tile laying/city building), Istanbul, Pandemic (cooperative – so everyone is on the same team trying to beat the game)

      These ones take a little more planning:
      Lewis & Clarke (deck builder and worker placement), Trajan (worker placement), Dominion, Intrigue version (deck building, may have some wizard stuff)
      Keyflower (auction/tile laying)

      Have fun!

      1. hermit crab*

        Blokus is a big favorite among my friends and family too! It’s great for mixed groups of kids and adults — easy to learn, no reading required, no long waits for your turn, and the pieces (at least in my set) look like delicious jello jigglers.

    5. LizB*

      No wizards:
      – Pandemic: no wizards in this one! This is a cooperative game where it’s the team of players against the game itself. You’re trying to cure four deadly diseases that are spreading across the world. If you cure all four, you win; if any of them spreads too far, you get too many outbreaks, or you run out of cards in the deck, you lose.

      – Sushi Go: a very quick to learn and quick to play card game. Everyone is dealt a hand of cards, and each turn you take a sushi card out of your hand to “eat”, then pass your hand to the next person. At the end of the round, you score points based on the sushi you’ve eaten. Super fun, with absolutely adorable artwork.

      – Smash Up: a card game where you shuffle together two “factions” of cards (pirates and aliens, robots and wizards, zombies and dinosaurs, etc.) to create your personal deck, then play your cards onto bases to destroy them and gain points.

      – Lords of Waterdeep: set in the Dungeons and Dragons universe; you play mysterious powerful lords & ladies that control the city of Waterdeep, recruiting minions and collecting resources to complete different kinds of quests. It looks complicated, but is really easy to play once you’ve played a turn or two, and is super well-balanced. Might be a little tricky for a 10-year-old.

      – Betrayal at House on the Hill: one of my absolute favorite games. It starts out as a cooperative game, where you’re a group of hapless civilians exploring a creepy old haunted house together. Depending on the cards you draw and a roll of the dice, at some point the “haunt” will begin, and one of the players will turn out to be a traitor who has unleashed some kind of B-horror movie monster on the rest of the group (there are 50 different scenarios, so each time you play it’s a new challenge). From that point, it’s the traitor and their monster(s) against the other players until the monster is defeated or everyone is dead. Probably too scary for a 10-year-old, but lots of fun for adults!

      1. LizB*

        Oh, also in the non-wizard category, Tokaido is great! You play travelers in ancient Japan on the road between Edo and Tokyo, and your goal is to have the most relaxing/rejuvenating/cool experiences. You stop along the way to buy souvenirs, make friends, paint the landscape, eat food, donate to the temple, etc., and when everyone reaches the end of the road you tally up your points and figure out who had the best journey. Really simple to learn and quick to play, and the artwork is gorgeous.

    6. mt*

      We liked pandemic, its a cooperative board game. Each game takes about an hour. Also can be played 2 to 6 players

    7. Elsajeni*

      Takenoko is a good one — it’s a tile-laying game about taking care of a panda where your goal is to lay out tiles, grow bamboo, etc. in patterns that match cards in your hand. Wizardless; kid-friendly but also entertaining for adults; non-optimal for colorblind players (the tiles are pink, green, and yellow and my colorblind husband reports lots of trouble telling them apart).

      Guillotine — all the fun of the French Revolution in a card game! Cards representing nobles are lined up in front of the guillotine; each player plays an action card (which might move nobles around in line, allow you to steal from another player, etc.), then beheads the next noble in line and collects their points. Wizardless; kid-friendly, depending on how you feel about jokes about historical bloodshed and your kids knowing the word “piss” (it’s on one of the cards); can become VICIOUSLY competitive.

      Love Letter — another quick card game, with cards representing various people in the court. You play cards to force other players to do things like discard their card and draw another, swap hands, etc., and the player whose letter is closest to the princess (represented by having the highest-numbered card) at the end of the round wins. No magic; kid-friendly; cheap to buy and fast to play.

      Thebes — the game of tomb-robbing in the golden age of archaeology! Collect cards to increase your knowledge about various historical sites, then travel to them and dig for artifacts; score points based on the artifacts you collect and what you do with them (once you have a few, you can give lecture tours or host museum exhibitions). This game has a fun mechanic where, when you go on a dig, you actually dig around in a little cloth bag to pick out tokens for the artifacts you find. No magic; playable by kids, but possibly kind of boring for them, since at times it moves kind of slowly while everyone is just collecting research cards.

      Snake Oil — this is more of a party game than the others. It’s a card game, a little bit like Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity in terms of mechanics. One player is the judge; they draw a card with a profession or type of person on it (Priest, Cowboy, Santa Claus), and all the other players must combine cards from their hands to create a product that person should buy, then give 30-second pitches explaining why their product is the best. This one’s very much controlled by the players in terms of whether there’s any references to magic or whether the products described are appropriate for kids.

    8. Ham Sandwich*

      I second Pandemic and Guillotine as other commenters recommended.

      I also like Splendor. It’s a simple jewel resource game with a sort of Renaissance/Medieval feel to it.

  56. A Dispatcher*

    Last week there was a discussion about too chef (which I had to opt out of as I hadn’t caught up yet) and it made me miss the old TWoP (television without pity) forums where you could discuss certain tv shows. Has anyone found something somewhat similar that has an active group of commenters but avoids getting too out of hand?

    1. Cruciatus*

      I use previously.tv. I don’t like the setup as much as TWoP, but it’s been 1.5 years and I’m mostly used to it by now. I recognize a lot of users from the old site but the moderators aren’t as strict in forums as TWoP was. Every once in a while they have to tell people to chill out about going completely off topic (usually politically) but I haven’t read anything about “You are banned for talking about boards on boards!” or anything like that.

      1. Nina*

        Co-sign on Previously.tv. I think they moderate it pretty well when it goes off topic or gets too controversial.

  57. Bummed*

    I had been dating this woman for the last month, and she just texted me that she just realized she was not ready for a relationship, it was lovely but bye. It seemed we had a good thing going, and I did not see this coming at all. Obvious it is better to end now than later, but … it feels pretty awful and it’s left me feeling so lonely and alone, although rationally I am pretty much where I was in my life before meeting her so that’s not very logical.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m sorry that happened to you, but it totally makes sense to be feeling lonely and alone—it’s completely logical. Would you tell a couple who had a child and then the child got killed that they should feel fine, because five years ago they also didn’t have a child?

      You had a relationship, and now it’s gone. Perfectly logical to feel a sense of loss.

    2. nep*

      Makes me wonder whether she was sort of on and off with someone else around the time you started seeing her — then at some point it was back on. In which case, it would be less of a reflection of how much she was enjoying being with you and more a case of her wanting to try again with that other person. Just a thought.
      Sorry you’re having this pain. It stings, no two ways about it. Best wishes. Keep us posted on how you’re doing.

  58. Tamsin*

    As an adult, I’ve always been a cat person and have always lived with at least one. Here’s my question: Within the last couple years I’ve finally started coming out of a long depression, and while I always did the best I could to keep myself and my apartment at least sanitary if not white-glove clean, now I’m finally becoming more rigorous as I feel better — I know this might sound ridiculously small to people who might never have experienced depression, but I’m now, for example, washing all my dishes and pans after every meal, making my bed every morning, things that used to take a gigantic effort to do. Okay, that’s all leading up to: I absolutely adore my kitten, but now I’m having trouble ever feeling like my apartment is completely clean as a result of the cat hair etc — and I need to know if there are basic tricks I just am unaware of, having not been particularly focused before on cleaning tips. It doesn’t help that I live in an apartment with white carpeting, I’m sure. And it’s absolutely not an option to get rid of my cat, she’s a big reason I came out of the depression, frankly, on top of the fact that she’s my beloved pet. Thanks in advance!

    1. fposte*

      Is it possible that the budget, or some kind person’s Christmas gift budget, would stretch to a Roomba? A lot of people who need to control pet hair swear by them. I think you’d probably need to investigate which model would be best for the combination of carpet and pet, but you could just run the thing every day or two and make the hair the machine’s problem rather than yours.

      And I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better. That deserves some celebration right there.

    2. OP1*

      Are you me 3 years ago?

      I found a lot of ways to help and the thorough routine I’ve adopted to keep my house clean with my two fur balls has actually helped with my depression and anxiety (my triggers are losing control, so having a routine and complete control over the cleanliness of my house works for me).

      I bought a bissel! I’ve gone through two actually. And I clean all carpeted surfaces once a week (including shampooing their cat tree). I’ve never used a roomba, but like fposte I’ve heard they’re wonderful. My cats tend to track litter everywhere and it drives me bonkers, so I do a quick sweep and normal vaccuum over the floors after work every night. Lysol wipes for counters/sinks/etc. are my best friend. As for smell, I also have 2 litter genies that I use every morning (they tend to use the litter box at night) and I keep air fresheners everywhere. I’m a febreze fanatic also – everything gets sprayed lol. I have certain spots set out for them to sleep on so they don’t snuggle in my laundry baskets and I get around to washing all of those blankets twice a month. I also brush them very often even though they’re both shorthairs. They love the grooming and it helps the shedding out a ton. I have had minimal issues with cat hair since I got all intense about it and I feel like they’re happier guys also. Cats are pretty OCD about their stuff being clean haha

      I don’t know about your kitten’s personality or what boundaries you want him to have, but I also don’t let mine jump on counter or sink surfaces and they’re both very submissive so it was an easy train. I’ve found that also helps fur issues.

    3. Artemesia*

      Get a Roomba and let it clean your floors every time you leave the house. You will be amazed at how much cat hair it gets the first few times (you will have to seriously clear the rollers and pivots and such) but then it maintains really well. A place looks so much cleaner when that layer of dust and hair that you don’t exactly see but is there is sucked up. Best appliance ever.

  59. Sunflower*

    For people in the US- we get one free(no copay) preventive health visit to the GP doctor each year. What happens at your prev. health visit? My doctor recently billed mine as an office visit. He told me that it’s basically a physical and you can’t talk about ANY issues you’ve been having at all or it becomes an office visit(aka copay). So when my doctor asks me how I feel, if anything is wrong, I’m supposed to just not speak the entire appointment apparently? However, my sister thought that this was bizarre and she’s used hers before when she’s actually sick. I’ve also talked about my anxiety and depression issues with my gyno during my annual(also free) and I’ve never been billed for it.

    What has everyone’s experience with it been? Is my doctor ripping me off or is this normal?

    1. Doriana Gray*

      I’ve never had a copay at any of my doctors visits, only the dentist (and only when getting fillings or when I had root scaling done) – granted, I don’t go to the doctor that often either.

      But what your doctor does sounds a lot like what my dentist’s office does sometimes when they don’t want me to have to pay a copay (they just code the visit as preventive care or a cleaning). Now I too am wondering if that’s allowed/ethical.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m with your sister– I think that’s weird. I got a physical a few months ago with bloodwork and the whole nine, and then my doc specifically asked if there was anything bothering me. We talked about my anxiety and blood pressure, then I scheduled a follow-up visit, during which we went over my bp readings. Then I had him look at a mole. No co-pay for the first, co-pay for the second.

      I don’t know if your doc is ripping you off, though. He just sounds extremely literal. Try calling the office and ask what a preventive appointment entails and what differentiates it from an office visit in their practice, and if it sounds like you should have been billed as a physical, tell them.

    3. fposte*

      This isn’t uncommon, unfortunately. You might ask your doctor next time you go what would tip the visit into being coded as a consult/office visit rather than a physical, just so you know. But yeah, coding does tend to mean that the exam is coded one way, but the part of a physical where a patient brings up issues she wants to check, which used to be standard, is now often coded separately. Sucks.

      1. Cruciatus*

        Agreed that this isn’t, unfortunately, too uncommon. My sister is a doctor and has told me about this specific problem in her clinic. It’s a bit confusing and I don’t know that all clinics/hospitals do this, but at her clinic patients end up being very confused when they went in for a physical and mentioned X or Y and then need to get labs/tests/diagnostics and then are charged because the visit has changed its code. So it’s “a thing.” Agree with fposte to ask next time. I know it seems ridiculous but that’s American health care for you…

        1. fposte*

          It also occurs to me the doctor may not even know–she just writes her clinic notes and the coder breaks it down. I don’t know what action could be taken in that case, but bringing it up to the doctor is probably the place to start.

          1. Sunflower*

            My issue is that I told the receptionist it was preventive, she wrote it on the appt sheet. She said I could not ask about specific problems and I asked if I was allowed to talk about ongoing, general issues like my anxiety. She seemed to just not want to deal with me anymore so she told me to just go back. I said I was just here for my annual visit and my doctor asked me what else was going on/if I was having any issues. So I told him I was having ankle spurs and he diagnosed me with some random disease associated with high arched feet and told me to stretch before I run. I was also at this doctor for an office visit 2 weeks earlier where I discussed numerous issues. I understand the laws but I feel like I was tricked. If i say I’m here for my annual, do what is covered at my annual. DON’T ASK ME WHAT ELSE IS WRONG WITH ME!

            I talked to the office, who talked to the doctor, and they refuse to recode the visit. I’ve read the rules on office vs preventive and I do understand so that’s why I’m debating filing a claim or whatever with my insurance company over it- I don’t know if it would be worth the trouble. I’m already not going back to this doctor since my insurance has changed but even if it hadn’t, I don’t like the way they operate. I’m definitely going to ask any new doctors I scout what to expect from preventive care visits.

            1. fposte*

              You can check to see if your state’s attorney general’s office has a health complaints division; there might also be something like that in your city. I had a complaint settled that way.

              But in most health care situations, the doctor isn’t going to reliably know what your insurance will cover or how the visit will be coded, and the receptionist certainly won’t know. That’s between the coder and your insurance. It sucks, because it means there’s no way of finding out in advance how much anything costs for most plans. But it’s the system we’ve got.

        2. Lore*

          With my dr office this started when they joined a hospital network. The pluses are much better patient portal so I can get a lot of questions answered by email and I find I need to go in less so I’m living with it but it is irritating. But it also depends on which doctor I see in the practice–last year I wen for my physical and asked for a refill on my allergy meds and got billed (tho my insurance only allows half an office visit charge in that situation); this year I needed a presurgical physical and combined that with my annual and they didn’t.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        If this is the case, then there does not seem to be much point to going to the appointment. It is as if they are just collecting up data to satisfy some requirement of the insurance company, as opposed to actually caring for the patient.

      3. Artemesia*

        Computerization of medical records has had one virtue and it is all for the corporate greedheads — it is about being able to charge for every little thing even when it is routine part of an exam.

    4. Samantha*

      With my previous insurance through my employer, this was the way the yearly well check worked too. At the annual enrollment meeting the insurance company representative made it a point to tell us that our we’ll check would only be covered at 100% if it was just a checkup. If we discussed any issues with the doctor it was no longer just a well check and our copy would apply.

      This never made any sense to me. So I don’t discuss any issues with the doctor and my visit is completely covered. I then have to turn around and make another appointment to discuss those issues, at which time I have a copay. So I’ve still had to pay, and now I’ve had to find time in my schedule for two appointments instead of one.

      1. fposte*

        No, it’s older than that; my system’s run like this for longer than Obama’s been in office. I even filed a complaint about it with the state’s attorney general about 10-15 years ago.

      2. Older not yet wiser*

        Nothing to do with Obamacare at all. Quite a few years ago my husband was charged for what he thought was his annual physical. When he checked with the insurance who had previously covered annual physicals 100% they told him his doctor had not submitted it as an annual physical. When he called the doctor’s office he was told that it was considered an office visit rather than an annual physical because he had brought up an issue that they ran tests on and prescribed medication for. Now every year I tell him “zip your lips” when he goes for a physical. He schedules a separate visit if he has anything he wants to discuss with the Doctor.

        1. LizzyB*

          Yes, ours was this way before Obamacare, too. I think it is the way the health insurance requires the doctors code it. If you talk about any condition, each one gets a separate code.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Also, they make mistakes and it’s like pulling hen’s teeth to get them to change it. I once went to urgent care for a sprained wrist and they coded it as an ER visit because the facility had a clinic right next to the ER. They refused to fix it and I had to pay the difference anyway. >:(

      3. Artemesia*

        The American medical system is deeply broken because for profit medicine and good medicine are incompatible; one of the symptoms of its brokenness is the cynical blaming of all its problems on ‘Obamacare’. Obamacare is a lousy system for covering care; it was the closest to an adequate system our Congress could be pushed to pass.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Sounds like a rip-off. I’ve been going to doctors for decades, and I’ve never heard of this, and I’ve had issues. Yes, if I have to come back for something else, there’s another co-pay, but there’s never been a “this is just a physical and NOTHING ELSE.”

    6. Rana*

      Huh. I wonder if this sort of weirdness is the reason why our insurance (through my husband’s work) doesn’t cover preventative check-ups. It only covers visits when you’re there for something specific.

    7. Artemesia*

      This is totally stupid — of course the annual physical includes assessing ongoing health issues (for me it is my thyroid to adjust the meds each year) and anything else that is emerging. That is what an annual exam is about — smoking out health issues that emerge and keeping track of ongoing issues. If he can’t figure out how to code that without triggering the co-pay when you are entitled to a check up time to find a doctor with a clue. Sheesh.

  60. Ugly Christmas Sweater*

    What are good resources for the family members of an LGBTQ+ individual? A family member recently came out and I would like to learn more about how to support them. They’ve been been really depressed and their mental and physical health has been suffering. It’s been difficult to watch. I keep telling them I love them and that nothing as changed, that I’m here to listen if they need to talk. What else, if anything, can I do? Are there any resources I could point them to where they could find support? Or would that be overstepping?

    1. asteramella*

      That depends whether they’re L, G, B, or T, and where they live. They could google “(their location) LGBT resource center,” look at LGBT-related Meetup groups, find an LGBT-competent therapist or support group. If they’re in university there are likely resources there.

      PFLAG can be good. It depends on the chapter. One of my family members had a difficult experience there because meetings were mostly centered on parents who felt negatively about their children being LGBT.

  61. AvonLady Barksdale*

    We went to my bf’s dad’s house yesterday afternoon for dinner. Bf’s sister stayed with us on Friday night (had a great time), then we all drove over for a family dinner. She’s staying with them for a few more days. For those of you who recall, bf’s stepmom is… a pain in the ass. We’ve had more miserable than pleasant occasions with her. Yesterday was ok. Not wonderful, but fine. Stepmother wasn’t feeling so hot, so maybe that was it– she didn’t want to talk much and therefore wasn’t super whiny. The food was kind of eh (driest turkey I have ever had– even my dog had trouble getting it down), but it wasn’t offensively bad.

    But here’s what I’ve noticed adds to my disinclination to spend time with them: they never, ever ask about me. Ever. I don’t need a ton of attention, but I just think it’s strange to have someone in your home and not ask her a single question about herself. Not even a, “How’s work” or “Did you enjoy your Thanksgiving” or “Do you like that cocktail”. Maybe it’s a family culture thing, I don’t know. My family always, always pay attention to my bf. I just go over there and feel like a non-entity. My bf says that his dad doesn’t ask him about things either because they talk on the phone, but even then, I just think it’s so bizarre. Is it just me?

    I was also put way off by them taking out a whole bunch of pictures from a family vacation this summer– a vacation they refused to schedule around my bf’s exams, so he didn’t go. That’s not so bad in and of itself, but even yesterday they were giving him shit for not coming. Sigh.

    1. Doriana Gray*

      It’s not just you – that’s weird. I’m socially awkward as hell, and don’t like talking on the best of days, but even I know you’re supposed to ask guests questions, even if it’s just, “Enjoying the weather?”

      Yeah, I see now why you don’t like going over there. The rudeness is off the charts.

    2. fposte*

      Oh, I hate that. I do think it’s not rare, though, and it sounds like it’s a whole family culture. It’s sort of conversational Darwinism, where the assumption is that if you want them to know you’ll tell them. Whereas I’m with you and feel like the other person doesn’t consider me worth conversational or emotional effort.

      And it’s possible that’s how they feel, and if so, to hell with ’em. But it might also be worth paying attention to see if there are non-conversational ways they acknowledge you. Do they get a food you like in, or avoid smoking while you’re there, or keep quiet when you wear your shoes in a shoeless house or vice versa? You could also ask your boyfriend if he can “translate” and identify ways his family shows regard other than the conversational.

    3. Trixie*

      Similar experience over thanksgiving. My sister and BF drove out for long weekend and this guy has plenty to say about EVERYTHING but didn’t once ask us a question about anyone else. I found it exhausting and him not especially insightful. And when he did talk about sister, it was about getting her home safely or doing what she wanted to do, so it felt less about her and more about wanted to be recognized for his efforts. Not excited about this, and they’ve been together two years.

      1. Nicole*

        I can relate. It blows my mind how self-absorbed some people can be. Another peeve of mine is when someone does ask about you only to cut you off to talk about themselves, because that was the true reason for the question from the beginning!

    4. Stargazer*

      I have cancer and my stepmother never asks how I’m doing. Never. She sent me one nice text when I was first diagnosed, but that’s it. She and my (awesome) father live five minutes away. Best I can figure is my father tells her how I’m doing so she doesn’t feel compelled to ask. But I think it’s so weird. So I get how you must feel.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That is so weird! And I hope you’re doing ok. It’s just so odd to say nothing. My mother and grandmother give me all the family news– so when I see those family members, I say things like, “I hear you’re going to Costa Rica soon!” or “How is yoga” or whatever.

    5. Artemesia*

      They sound like insensitive clods. Reminds me of one of my favorite extended family moments — big gathering for my Grandmother’s 84th birthday — major part of the entertainment was my uncle showing numerous slides of my first wedding (my second husband was meeting them all for the first time) My mother was mortified; my husband and I found it hilarious.

    6. misspiggy*

      My inlaws don’t ask direct questions of guests, as they consider it rude and aggressive. So you talk about your interests, and somebody else will chime in when something comes up which is relevant to them. Inverse snobbery as far as I’m concerned, but it’s their house – now I’ve worked it out I just join in. But they do show concern for me and others by doing nice things, so the relationship is good overall.

  62. nep*

    Experiences with / thoughts about chickenpox vaccine? (Or getting chickenpox as an adult?)
    Anyone had any bad side effects from the vaccine?
    Background — very healthy / last time I was sick for longer than a couple of hours was in 2012. (Touch wood.) Never had chickenpox. Work in a setting in which I’ve got a lot of contact with the public.
    On the fence about whether to get the vaccine.

    1. Clever Name*

      I’d talk to your doctor. From what I understand, getting chicken pox as an adult is often worse than getting it as a kid. And shingles is no joke. I got my son vaccinated, and if I had never had it, I would get it myself. I had chicken pox as a child, and I’m now thinking of getting the shingles vaccine.

    2. Cruciatus*

      Assuming your doctor agrees it’s best for you, I would get it. I actually don’t know if I’ve had chickenpox. I can’t find anything in my childhood medical history. My sister did so everyone assumes I did as well but…no evidence. I hear shingles is terribly painful so why not try to avoid that if you can? I will have to remember to ask my doctor if I should get the vaccine next time I go in!

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I was a teenager when the chickenpox vaccine was coming out, and as I’d never had it (or at least never had it badly enough for anyone to notice), my doctor at the time recommended I get it to be safe since it can be far worse for adults than for kids. If your doctor recommends it, or if you’re in a position where you are in contact with a lot of kids (like at an elementary school), I think you’d be better off with the vaccine.

      I think I got maybe one little pock after the vaccine, and that might have been something else anyway. By contrast, the people I know who got chickenpox as adults were very, very sick and/or hospitalized.

    4. Sparkly Librarian*

      I was vaccinated when it became available, at about age 13, because I’d not had chickenpox before that. I’d much rather have a shot than a sickness! Chickenpox as an adult is said to be worse, but even if it’s “only” a mild case — that’s feeling like crap, taking time off work, keeping quarantine, and possibly having scars. Why not avoid it?

    5. Sunflower*

      First check with your doctor that you need it. I never had chicken pox as a child and my doctor strongly recommended the vaccine before I left for college but first ordered a test. Turns out I can’t get them- I’m either immune to them or I had them but never developed any symptoms. I would get it if you need it but first get tested.

      1. nep*

        Yes — I’ve read that some people have a natural immunity. Perhaps since I never got it as a child when schoolmates did, I’m immune. Who knows. That test sounds like a good idea — then taking it from there.

    6. nep*

      Thanks, all, for the feedback and thoughts on this. I, too, have read/heard that it’s far worse and potentially fatal for adults.
      Shots don’t bother me at all so that’s not an issue.

    7. Judith*

      I’ve known a handful of people who contracted chickenpox as adults. Their illnesses were, collectively, worse than any kid I’ve known (3 sibs, 5 cousins, 6 nieces/nephews, and a host of baby-sitting!) And 2 of the adults were hospitalized, so if your doctor suggests it, I’d get it. I work with older adults and got the shingles vaccine as soon as I could – it also is an ugly and painful disease!

    8. nep*

      Wow — just seeing how expensive this vaccine is. Have got to check on Monday to see whether my insurance will cover it.

      1. Artemesia*

        My husband and I had to pay 300$ each for shingles vaccine when we got it; I think medicare may cover it now and many insurances do — but not when we got it. His father basically died as a result of a cascade of events and illnesses that followed from shingles (e.g. left his legs weak and he fell and broke a shoulder and yadda yadda — within a year he was demented and then dead because of the side effects and consequences of shingles –) We felt strongly that we really didn’t want to go there. It is only partially effective but we were willing to do anything to lessen the likelihood of having the kind of issues he had.

  63. Jessen*

    Somewhat of a follow-up to my friday question: how do you find you generally perceive “alternative” styles (e.g. goth) on adults?

    1. asteramella*

      It really depends on the style, its associations, and the context in which it’s worn.

      For example, I look pretty dimly on e.g. people wearing “alternative” styles that are associated with neo-Nazis.

      1. Jessen*

        I was mostly thinking of things like goth or punk. I’m a bit of a goth myself, and seem to have family that is firmly insisting that alternative styles are For Teenagers and people will wonder why an adult is still in a Rebellious Phase. Hence the question.

    2. katamia*

      I have lots of friends who are goths, so in general, I wouldn’t judge anyone negatively for anything like that. I find that I tend to really like it when I see tattoos or more unusual piercings on people in more white-collar jobs (like librarians or lawyers or bankers)–my unusual piercings have closed up (thanks, annoying mysterious metal allergy) and I’ve never had any tattoos, but there’s still a sort of “Yes!” feeling I get when I see other people with that.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I feel the same way as asteramella about the Nazi thing, but I actually like the goth thing. I don’t think I could pull it off myself, but it looks cool. Honestly, I don’t much care what people look like; it’s how they act that I pay attention to. If I see a kid with a mohawk, multiple face piercings, gauges, etc. etc. politely hold a door for someone, I’m going to be much more impressed by him than a David Gandy* lookalike in an Armani suit who screams at a person for accidentally bumping into him. And I have ink, so I’m more inclined to look at people’s tats and say, “Cool ink, bro!” than to judge.

      *google him; you won’t be sorry. [drooooool]

  64. nep*

    Interesting that le Front National (extreme right) took a beating in France in second round of regional elections today. The first round was in the wake of the terrorist attacks and they appeared to be making gains.
    Que pensent nos lecteurs/lectrices francais(es)?

    1. nep*

      (‘Extreme right’ — using a term I’ve seen/heard to describe that party — not making any statement there as of course I’m not an expert in French politics. Incidentally I’ve been listening to a lot of Marine Le Pen and Marion Marechal Le Pen lately, just out of curiosity.)

  65. MsChanandlerBong*

    PSA time. Parents, please don’t have your child’s high-school diploma professionally framed in a way that makes it impossible to remove the diploma from the frame without ruining the whole thing. There will come a day when a potential employer will ask to see the diploma, and then your child will have to deal with the embarrassment of carrying a giant frame into the HR office and trying to explain why it is accompanied by a photo, a tassel, a dead corsage from 20 years ago, and a pencil drawing of your child’s high school.

    1. YaH*

      Why can’t they bring in a second copy of the diploma? Or the employer contact the school as if it were a reference and doublecheck that the student graduated, without having to see the piece of paper? What if the diploma had been ruined or lost somehow- what would the employer do in that case?

      1. Stephanie*

        My alma mater’s diploma is comically oversized (like 2′ x 3′). The registrar actually has a version available for copies if an employer requests it. That being said, I don’t think I’ve ever had an employer request the actual diploma, just the transcript.

        1. Whoops*

          My current job did actually require originals of high school/college diplomas/transcripts. I don’t know HOW I had an extra transcript on hand, but I did…Saved me literally driving through the night to retrieve my diploma from my parents’!

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        My husband’s high school no longer exists. I really don’t know how he’d otherwise prove he graduated other than to show the original diploma.

    2. The IT Manager*

      My high school diploma was inset into a wooden frame and cover by something. Impossible to remove. Really the “problem” in the story in not the framed diploma; it’s the business demanding it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Agreed. Once you’ve graduated college, nobody needs to see your high school anything. Besides, if they did require it for some weird reason, a transcript is better anyway.

    3. anonanonanon*

      Why do they need to see the diploma? Can’t someone just hand over official transcripts from the high school? Whenever anyone needed to verify my college degrees, I would just send an official transcript from the school and not my diploma.

      Asking to see the actual diploma seems a bit weird tbh.

      1. katamia*

        I’m not sure about high school diplomas, but in some countries people want to see college/university diplomas, and only the original will suffice. People who teach ESL in certain countries (can’t remember which off the top of my head) have sometimes found this to cause problems if they come from a country like the US, where you’ll basically never need the actual diploma again once you get it.

      2. mander*

        I think my husband had to show his for his last job. Fortunately it was a normal size and is kept in a plastic sleeve, rather than a frame, so easy to move.

    4. Artemesia*

      No one in my entire working life every wanted to see my diploma — they are decorative items in the US and the key official document is the official transcript. Many colleges in the US will not replace a lost or damaged diploma whereas transcripts are always available. Perhaps this was not the US though.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        We are in the United States, but my husband’s high school closed several years ago, and there is no way to get his transcripts in time. He has to go through the local diocese (he attended a Catholic school), and they don’t have the records computerized, so it takes time to go through everything. The temp job starts January 7, and he has to go in today to do the paperwork. Either he shows them the diploma or he doesn’t get the job. It’s a major university system, too, not some weird mom-and-pop business.

  66. BRR*

    You will never win the war against animal fur.

    I recently got a shark navigator pro and it’s worked wonders. Investing in a high quality vacuum and utilizing the attachments has helped so much.

  67. The Other Dawn*

    Hopefully someone is still reading; I got to the party late due to a jam-packed weekend, capped off by refinishing the hardwood floor in the dining room.

    I noticed up thread that several people have Roombas. Any particular model you can recommend?

    I have 10 cats (yes, 10!), with two more on the way (adoptee and foster). I have almost exclusively carpeting, with vinyl in the kitchen and hardwood in the dining room, so the carpeting has definitely limited the floating car hair. I love being able to vacuum a cat hair-covered rug and feel like I actually picked it all up; however, I’ve had cats long enough to know that the hair hides EVERYWHERE. I’ve been wanting a Roomba, but I’m just not sure which one would be right for me.

    1. lfi*

      omg you have 10? i have 2 and would love one or two more but DH says no. :(

      no advice on the roomba but just wanted to say thanks for fostering and i’m a little jealous. ;)

Comments are closed.