weekend free-for-all – January 9-10, 2016

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

Book Recommendation of the Week: The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, by Meghan Daum. Smart, funny, brutally honest essays about everything from her mother to Hollywood dinner parties to not having kids to an out-of-the-blue freak illness that almost killed her.

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

{ 768 comments… read them below }

  1. TowerofJoy*

    House buying – when did you know you were ready? What percentage did you put down?

    I’m worried about having enough leftover in the bank if something goes wrong, but I’m also worried we’ll never buy because enough will never be enough.

    1. Windchime*

      My situation will be a little different, maybe, because I’m on my third home that I’ve owned and I have been able to build equity over time and gradually move up into a decent home. My first home was a mobile home in a sketchy neighborhood, and my second home was built in 1929 but was in a much better area of town. I made enough profit on that one to be able to put down 20% on this one, and thus avoid PMI. I’m also in my 50’s, which means I’ve been working my way up in the homes for about 20 years.

      I don’t really have any good advice. My son and his wife are both trying to save for home, but the Seattle market is crazy competitive right now and there are bidding wars on homes that are selling for tens of thousands over market. He feels the same as you; it’s going to be tough for them to buy a home any time soon.

      1. Gene*

        Yeah, the Seattle Times had an article this week that house prices are now above the peak of the bubble in 2007. I’m in Snohomish County and we’re going the same direction. It’s good and bad news; while I’m no longer underwater with my mortgage, property taxes are rising with value.

        1. periwinkle*

          Definitely a weird market. We bought in Lynnwood in Snohomish County, convenient to Boeing and a quick hop onto either interstate. The Redfin estimate for our house now is $40k more than it was when we bought it 11 months ago; the inventory today for comparable single-family homes in our zip code is… 6.

            1. Stephanie*

              I’ve heard. My friend just moved there and was like “You should look for jobs here! It’s so cheap!” I’m like “Did you just buy a house for like $450k? I know that’s cheaper than DC [where we met when we both lived there], but that’s not really that cheap…”

        2. Windchime*

          I’m in Snohomish county, too, and I think I bought my house at the right time (2011). A neighbor bought their house 18 months ago and are selling it for $80k more than they paid. I definitely think we are heading into another bubble here.

      2. lm in fl*

        If you’re eligible to join Navy Federal Credit Union, check them out for mortgages. If your credit is good, they generally allow as little as 5% down and no PMI.

        1. Paige Turner*

          We also put down 5% with no PMI, with another lender. I think it helped that we both have very good credit, thankfully. When we first started looking I thought that was would be no chance that we could afford a house in the DC area. Good luck to you!

    2. periwinkle*

      We bought our first home 11 months ago (yay!). We weren’t completely ready but had become so annoyed with our apartment complex that we accelerated our plans.

      If we had waited until we could put down 20%, well, around here that would have been about $70k for our location (and this is a relatively affordable suburb of Seattle!). We decided to put down 5% knowing that we’d be stuck with PMI for a while. If you take that route, read over the mortgage terms carefully to ensure that you are able to remove PMI when you have enough equity; our credit union mortgage requires us to carry PMI for a minimum of 3 years but we can get it removed. IIRC, FHA loans let you put down just 3.5% but you’ll carry PMI for the entire loan term.

      Look for other ways to reduce those upfront costs – remember, the down payment isn’t the only chunk of cash you’ll need! Figure on another 3% to 5% of the selling price for your closing costs, plus a few hundred more for each appraisal you have done (we arranged one before making an offer, the CU required another before approving the purchase). If you can get the seller to cover some of your closing costs, that’s very helpful.

      Ignore the people on House Hunters – don’t buy at the top of your range! According to the usual mortgage calculators we could have gotten approval for a house nearly twice as expensive as the one we bought. This was intentional because it gives us a comfortable mortgage payment and required less upfront money, so we could buy sooner and saner.

      1. HR Wannabe*

        Good tip here about ignoring the bankers and buying less. When I applied, the credit union told me I was pre-approved for a mortgage about 8x my annual salary. O.o

        I laughed so hard… Until I realized they were serious. Then I realized why some people say “But I thought I could afford a $300,000 mortgage working at Starbucks part time!”.

        Do the math (and research) yourself.

      2. Zelenu*

        Hi, I work in the industry and just want to add my 2 cents. Where I am, we have community development programs for 1st time home buyers. They are a bit more rigorous to qualify but allow 3% down with no PMI. I think most areas have them. Maybe google your state and “1st time homebuyers program”. In addition, there is a program called ” equity builder” run by the federal home loan bank which I believe is nationwide. This is a grant to help with your down payment that can be used in co junction with a community housing loan program or a conventional loan. It has even more rigorous criteria but is worth checking in to.

        1. Anna*

          This is what we used. We bought before we were completely ready, but it was right around the market collapse and we figured it was as good a time as any. We were also able to have the seller play closing costs, which was a huge help.

      3. Cass*

        Seriously an HFA loan requires you to have a PMI for the entire length of the loan?! I knew there had to be a catch somewhere, I always heard of people buying houses with 2% down and thinking how does that work.

    3. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

      We’re trying to figure out the same thing. We won’t have 20% (depending on what we spend we’re at 10-15%) but where we live it’s generally more affordable to own than to rent.* Check out FHA mortgages, down payment assistance/matching programs, home buyers clubs (my friend found one of these that takes 10 mos but matches your down payment savings 4:1 up to $7500, not a bad deal if you’ve got the time), etc. Some cities and states also have their own first-time homebuyer incentives, definitely worth researching.

      *Anticipatory note: I’m aware that home maintenance and repairs will add considerably to cost but we’re at our max paying for an apartment that barely meets our needs and is a steal compared to others in this area. We live in a city where rent is ridiculous but home prices are low, we plan on staying for awhile and have mapped neighborhoods where resale shouldn’t be a big concern. I have calculated PMI and taxes into my estimate of a mortgage payment and, if we don’t buy at the top of our range and we’re smart about what we buy we could end up much with a mortgage payment that’s far more comfortable than rent on a larger apartment.

    4. GlamNonprofitSquirrel*

      I’m outing myself here but I run a regional housing organization and can I strongly recommend (OK, beg) you to please call a HUD approved housing counselor for a free 1:1 counseling session and/or homebuyer education class? You’ll learn all of the things that you need to know (for free, did I mention that?) and you will have someone local to advise you on getting the best realtor (do not ask your friends or your social media networks – worst advice ever) and getting the best home inspector (do not skip this step – unless you enjoy burning $100 bills for fun).

      Please oh please. Google HUD Housing Counseling and search using ONLY hud.gov. (Do not rely on third party sites. Unless they are HUD approved they are lying liars of Liartown.) They might also be certified and/or accredited by your state housing organization (that’s a good thing). If they don’t have an office, don’t work with them. Don’t use a big mega-corporation. Use the local, hometown organization. I’ve worked in this world for 20 years so I know a thing or two.

      Also, YAY! Buying a house can be awesome and overwhelming and fun and exciting and terrifying. Get yourself some good advice and go forth, be a homeowner in the next year or so. :)

      1. pieces of flair*

        Would you also recommend this for someone who isn’t a first-time homebuyer? We unfortunately rushed into our first home purchase and made a lot of mistakes (including buying just before the bubble burst). I’m hoping we’ll be able to move soon and want to be smart about it this time. I know a most of the supports are set up for first-timers, but we’re actually much worse off than we were the first time and could use all the advice we can get.

      2. TowerofJoy*

        Oh! I will look into that. I didn’t know that was a service available. I will fully admit that all this housing stuff is overwhelming. I’m afraid of getting in over my head with things I don’t understand. I will definitely look into this!

      3. L*

        We went to one and it was horrible! It was approved like you said, and the person running the class cut it short by two hours because she had a dinner party, yelled at me for asking a question, and was rude to us (an openly queer couple). I’m hesitant to go back but they’re the only one in our area. : (

      4. the gold digger*

        Also, based on our experience selling my husband’s parents’ house: it sounds so nice to give the new guy a chance, but go with the hardened 20-years-experience realtor who knows what’s what. The new guy is nice and sincere but does not know how to deal with the weirdness and your Christmas week will be full of last-minute drama that you did not anticipate.

    5. Swoop*

      We knew we were ready when we couldn’t stand renting anymore (‘friend’ landlord was the final nail in that coffin)

      We had just 5% and it was a bit nerve-wracking for a time, but we got all the inspections and anything it needed was either a distance in the future or cosmetic. Ultimately, it turned out well.
      I’m looking to buy again and am aiming for 20% + a cushion this time though :)

    6. Robin*

      I agree with Glam—see a non profit housing counselor. Never pay for a service. They will guide you in qualifying and even more important they can direct you to lenders offering first-time homebuyer grants. Many of these don’t have to be repaid. I’ve been doing mortgages for 30 years and there are more grants available than ever. You can find a list of free counselors local to you at CFPB’s site.

    7. Sparkly Librarian*

      I was suddenly ready when I received a modest inheritance; otherwise we had been looking at the market and planning on renting a couple more years while we saved up. (We would have had more saved for a house, but I had instead put my efforts into paying off my grad school loans by graduation and putting almost the same amount into a fund for our first adoption.) I’m glad we were able to move more quickly; we found a good deal on a short sale in very good condition for its age. The lump sum allowed us to put down 5%, pay closing costs, and keep some funds in reserve for repairs and unexpected costs. All in all, we laid out about 10% of the total purchase in cash and took a mortgage for the rest. The type of mortgage was a Fannie Mae Homestyle Renovation Mortgage, obtained through a lender recommended by our real estate agent, and it gave us about 10% more than the sale price to refinish the floors, pour concrete in front, repair some minor plumbing, and so forth (with a contractor) before we moved in. The work had to be finished within a certain time after the sale closed, and there was a bit of extra paperwork for the contractor.

      I felt comfortable when we had 6 months of basic expenses (including mortgage payments) in reserve with no debt other than the mortgage; I think being a Millennial who began college two weeks after 9/11 and launched a career during the recession (not to mention observing the housing bubble burst while I was deciding whether or not to buy) makes me overly conservative when it comes to financial safety nets. Your tolerances may be different. I would suggest setting your budget rather lower than the maximum amount you can be preapproved for, and consider what would be a monthly amount (including mortgage, insurance, and tax payments) you’d feel comfortable/happy spending, and how much would be a stretch.

    8. The Cosmic Avenger*

      We bought our current house in 1999, and to be honest I forget how much we put down, but it wasn’t much. Looking back, I would have advised my younger self not to do that, but it worked out because we paid a lot extra every month, and we were in our late 20s, so we expected our earnings to increase a lot over the years (which they have). If you have a very healthy emergency fund and no other debt, and are willing to live very cheaply in order to pay down your mortgage, you can probably stretch the guidelines a bit.

      We’ll have our house paid off in 4 more years…just in time to start paying college tuition! D:

    9. Blurgle*

      My advisor said the biggest mistake young couples make is to assume they can afford a house when the only way they can save for a down payment is if they live with relatives. His mantra was that unless you earn enough and are frugal enough to both pay rent at market value and save a significant amount every month, you won’t be able to cover the mortgage, taxes, insurance, upkeep, etc., etc. when you do buy.

      I should point out that where I live mortgage payments aren’t tax deductible.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Good point, but if they can afford market rent, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to save up with an alternative living arrangement anyway.

        My mom charged me rent when I moved back after college (I already had plans to get an apartment with my girlfriend, who is now my wife, who was a year behind me in college)…but then when I moved out she gave us back all the money I had paid in rent, so we had a security deposit, first month’s rent, plus a nice emergency fund!

      2. danr*

        In the US, mortgage interest is tax deductible, and for the first years of a mortgage, most of the money paid is interest.

    10. HR Wannabe*

      I bought a condo in the cheaper side of one of the most consistently high sections of the country a year ago this week. Also, 0 cash down without PMI for less than 4%.

      A couple of things to keep in mind that I found:

      Be extremely picky about what you (actually) need. For example, I needed to have a ground floor unit, with a full room plus bath on the ground floor due to family reasons.

      Did I need a fancy basketball court, indoor swimming pool or metro access? No, therefore I ruthlessly cut options down *hard*. My agent set me up with a search function with a very low max price and every time it ran, my goal was to cut all the options down to a maximum of 3 options.

      Additional thing – start getting those realtors to send you MLS reports now! This way, you can start to see what’s out there, what the general types of inventory is for the zip code you want (and the zip codes nearby) along with what the prices are. Ask your agent why each property is priced the way it is – come to find out, the agent can almost always pick out why (in the 3rd line it’s mentioning a new fridge) or point out an ad that has no reason to be that high.

      Actually go and look at houses! Get used to walking into a place solely to critically observe it – I visited a place that I was 95% sure I wouldn’t buy only to see if there was something to justify the price. (spoiler: didn’t besides location) You’ll see things that give you ideas, both good and bad. You’ll also get out of thinking of only trying to look when your lease is almost up.

      Take a very strong look at credit unions near you, along with different types of mortgage products. Bankers aren’t all evil – there are a few who are willing to sit down and explain what an ARM is, how mortgage rates work, what happens when you make a payment, etc.

      Final point: negotiate hard, very hard! This might be market specific, but always ask for something if you buy. Of course, if you’re aware that the seller is trying get out, there’s usually nothing wrong with asking for a discount or cash towards closing or paying agent fees or titling or money towards repairs.

      Hope that helps, I kinda rambled a bit. (also in mobile, forgive weird words!)

      1. Kyrielle*

        “Actually go and look at houses! Get used to walking into a place solely to critically observe it – I visited a place that I was 95% sure I wouldn’t buy only to see if there was something to justify the price. (spoiler: didn’t besides location) You’ll see things that give you ideas, both good and bad. You’ll also get out of thinking of only trying to look when your lease is almost up.”

        Also, you’ll get some Stories, if you’re lucky. The place we walked in to with an open entryway and staircase up around it…where the owners had mounted a ginormous moose head on the second floor above the open entryway, for example. Or the *incredible* steal of a property that we had to see, to figure out why the price was so low…where someone apparently decided a DIY install of an outdoor sauna and hot tub would be awesome, and had rotted away supports and siding on one side of the house (including bringing down the second-floor balcony, leaving a sliding glass door into nothingness).

        Sometimes, you just have to see it to believe it.

      2. Windchime*

        The advice to be very picky is good. I made a list when I was looking for this house; it contained a column for “must have’s” and another for “nice to have”. Things like granite countertops went on the “Nice to have”; the must haves included:

        –Price must be no more than $X. Period.
        –Covered patio (it rains a lot here)
        –No older than Y years
        –Located in or near CurrentTown

        It really helped me to focus my search. I gave my list to my agent and she didn’t even show me things that didn’t meet the “must have” list. I found a house within a few weeks and list price was $X-50. :) It had everything on both lists except for a view (which was on my “nice to have” list).

        So I guess that’s my advice. Use an agent that knows what they are doing and will respect your wishes (and not drag you around to a bunch of fixer-uppers [unless that’s what you’re looking for]) and be realistic about price. Don’t believe the mortgage calculators that tell you you can afford a million dollar home.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I did not listen when they told me I was approved for x amount. I used my own mortgage calculator. I used my rent payment as my monthly mortgage payment, estimated the loan %, figured on a 30 year loan and hit solve for loan amount. The number was 33% LESS than what the lender said. TG, I went with my number and not the lender’s. Even then, the first 6 months were so tight we couldn’t even buy a coffee on the way to work. But eventually we got raises and things loosened up. Any money we got ahead we used to reduce our current bills, such as a programmable thermostat (at that time it was $100 for that stat.)
      We had maybe 12% down, we rolled the closing costs on to the mortgage. Once we got in the house, we had to decide on something to remove snow. We spent our last bit of savings on a tractor that would blow snow and mow the lawn. We bought a very modest used machine. That was December.
      In January the washer broke. Fun times.

      My opinion is that if you live slightly below your means you will be able to get through whatever happens. Just as you can’t anticipate everything that could go wrong, you also don’t know what creative thing you will come up with to solve your current problem. With the washer my techie husband found a wire that had come loose inside the machine. He soldered it back in place and the machine worked for another decade plus.

      For us, I think it was the house itself. The house had so many things that were right about it that we just decided to pull out all our determination and go for it.

      1. the gold digger*

        My opinion is that if you live slightly below your means you will be able to get through whatever happens.

        I was approved for a mortgage of $450K. I laughed and bought a $120K house. Every bonus I got, I threw at the principal. Paid extra principal every month. (I was single, making decent money, and had paid off my student loans.)

        I was laid off four years after I bought my house. My mortgage payment was low enough and I had enough in savings that I was fine until I sold the house to get married three years later. (And I was within $300 of paying off the house when I did sell it.)

        Live beneath your means. You never know what bad things might happen.

        1. Artemesia*

          Best advice ever. Both of us have been unemployed and neither time were we afraid — because we could live until we turned it around on a mortgage that was not too high and savings. My daughter and son in law have also both experienced unemployment in this current economy and have rolled with the punches because they haven’t overreached. We are now happily and lavishly (by our lights) retired because we always lived below our means and squirreled it away. We didn’t do as well in investments because we were so conservative, but we also didn’t lose big in down turns and today can vacation in Europe for a couple of months a year and live in an expensive city and partake of expensive but wonderful cultural opportunities. We did okay but we didn’t have high incomes — we just didn’t buy a lot of stuff many of our peers had.

    12. Jen*

      First time- we knew we would be in the area for 5+ years. Put 3.5% down (though we could have done more) because it was post crash and financing was dirt cheap, husband was going back to school so we preferred the extra cash cushion, and we had fantastic credit.

      Second house we bought 5.5 years later and put 20% down. Could have done more but rates were still absurdly low (our rate is 3% on a jumbo loan). Knew we needed to move because we knew we would want to have a second kid and our place was too small. The commute was also killing DH.

    13. Princess Buttercup*

      If you are eligible*, USAA is a great option for the entire home buying process. They will refer you to a realtor (USAA has approved realtors), with the realtor paying USAA a referral fee (similar to a realtor in one state referring a client to a realtor in another state), and USAA passes that on to you after closing (It’s a percentage of realtor commission so amount varies, but I think we got at least $1k). If you don’t like the realtor, you can tell USAA and they will give you a new referral. We started looking in 2012, didn’t like initial USAA referred realtor, got a new referral and bought in 2013 with that second realtor.

      Of course there were the inevitable hiccups along the way, but in general it was a smooth process. We also could research home listings thru USAA. We ended up with USAA mortgage and USAA homeowners insurance (we keep 90% of our financial transactions – banking, insurance, credit cards, auto loans, with USAA for convenience and the excellent customer service).

      *some connection to military, but once you become a member, you keep that membership even if the military connection goes away. My husband became a member when his first wife was in the military, but automatically retained membership after divorce. I was able to become a member after I married my husband.

      1. simonthegrey*

        I second this. Was literally grandfathered in (both grandfathers were armed forces) and my husband now has it because of me.

    14. NDQ*

      If you think you’re ready, then start looking and keep putting money aside. It can take a long time to find the right property.

      Good luck! There’s a lot of great advice here.


    15. Cass*

      I just closed on my first house with my husband in September. We put 20% down, I definitely recommend that.

  2. KS*

    Hoping this week is better than last weekend. My friends father passed away on New Years Eve. She lost her mother in 2009 so she is now without both of them in her early 20s. I haven’t been able to get over it. I have both my parents, thankfully.

    1. Be the Change*

      Oh, KS, so sorry. I read in a children’s book once that we all have a “mother pie” — several different people who fill different motherly roles, since no one woman can be every mother we need. I’m sure her parents seemed like part of your own “parent “pie” as well. Hopefully your parents can be a bit more of her pie now. Sending you warm thoughts over the internetz.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am so sorry to hear of your friend’s loss. No doubt it’s jarring to you too, so young to be without parents.
      I lost my mother when I was 23 and my father when I was 34. People do come along to fill in our gaps. No, it’s not the same as having mom and dad but the advice, the pearls of wisdom are almost as valuable as anything mom or dad would have had to say. It’s an odd thing to say that nature fills in our empty spaces, but it does happen. We are never truly alone, people do reach out for other people all the time. Encourage your friend to accept invites from people and get to know those who reach out for her. It’s hard to say yes and go meet people, it’s much easier to crawl into bed and pull the covers up over our heads for a good cry. Well, she can do both. Actually, it’s good if she does both, so also encourage her to cry when she needs to. And if you cry along with her that is fine.

  3. Noah*

    Mentioned my new cat last week. The name Wheezie has stuck and the dog are getting along great. They run through the house and play, keeping each other company while I’m gone. I also have to fight two others for the corner spot on the sectional now, apparently that is everyone’s favorite. Started giving her canned food instead of dry kibble at the recommendation of the vet. She seems to like that much better, although I still leave the dry stuff out in between so she can snack if she wants.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      I’m so glad to hear she’s doing well! My kitty had a lot of respitory problems at the start as well.

    2. catsAreCool*

      That’s great! I also feed my kitties some canned and some dry food – canned is good because it has water in it, and cats tend not to drink enough water. Dry is good for their teeth.

    3. AnotherCat*

      I add some water to the wet food I give my cats – I call it “gravy.” That helps them take in more water.

      1. AnotherTeacher*

        I mistyped my username in my previous reply! Congratulations again on the addition to your fur family :)

  4. lmao*

    So, a friend’s girlfriend refuses to invite me to events or go to group events where I’m there because one of the first few times we hung out, the topic of pets came up and I mentioned that I like dogs, but though I find pictures or videos of cats cute, I don’t really like cats because I’m severely allergic and they make me nervous (I had some bad experiences as a kid).

    That’s literally all I said, but she acted like I had murdered someone in front of her and went on to talk about how much she hated dogs. Like, absolute, all-consuming hatred. It’s one of the weirdest experiences I have ever had.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      Confession, when someone tells me they like dogs, I flash back to terrible horrible OldBoss who loves dogs more than people. To the point that she talked about how terrible she thought people were who saved thier toddler from a burning house but couldn’t get back for the dogs. Yes it was tragedy. . . but of course you get the kid first!

      Rant over. This story has no bearing on yours, but that doesn’t sound like a person you would want to be around anyway.

    2. catsAreCool*

      Odd. I love cats and dogs, but if someone else doesn’t, as long as they aren’t mean to cats or dogs, that’s OK. Sometimes I feel a little sad that they won’t get to enjoy the fun of cats and/or dogs, but I totally understand why someone with an allergy would avoid the allergen.

      1. lmao*

        It’s not only an allergy, but a cousin had a vicious cat that would attack people they didn’t know, mostly by lunging at people’s faces and clawing or biting them. Having been a recipient of that when I was 7, it scarred me the same way people who get bit by dogs tend to not like being around dogs.

        I just stay away from them for both those reasons, but I totally understand why people love them.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          And I wonder about your friend, too. :) How long have they been together? Do you see her sticking around for the long haul? I admit to being fascinated by my friends’ romantic choices.

    3. Clever Name*

      I’ll admit I’d think less of someone who said they just didn’t like cats, but I wouldn’t not be their friend.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Well, here’s the thing– if you decide not to be my friend because I don’t like cats (which I don’t, though I generally keep it to “I prefer dogs” and no further than that), that’s cool. That’s your choice. But to openly avoid me, stay home because I’m going to be somewhere (!!!), and treat me like some kind of murderous villain because I’m not a cat fan… that’s effed up.

        1. Clever Name*

          Totally effed up. And I actually adore dogs. Work in a dog friendly office, and one of my office mates is a dog (who is a seriously awesome dog). So I’d still be your friend. :)

        2. NJ Anon*

          Have a SIL who wouldn’t talk to us for years because we had to put our dog down. I guess we were supposed to let it suffer? No great loss, didn’t see her much anyway but she was definitely animals come before people person. I love animals, we have 4 cats and 3 dogs but, yeah, people first.

          1. Windchime*

            Assuming that you put your dog down for a good reason, then you *were* putting your animal before humans. You were putting the dogs need to not suffer any longer above your need to have him around. It’s very sad to put an animal down, and people who are all judgey about that bug me.

            1. catsAreCool*

              “Assuming that you put your dog down for a good reason, then you *were* putting your animal before humans.” This!

              1. Artemesia*

                No kidding we are kinder to our animals in this regard than to ourselves as humans where in most US states you are required to suffer to death if that is what comes to you.

    4. StudentA*

      I’m curious how you know the reason she doesn’t invite you. Did she tell you or did a friend tell you she actually said that? I’m sorry, but it sounds like a cop-out. Either that, or she’s pretty obsessive about animals?

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Sounds like she is one of those who likes animals better than people. This does not bode well for her bf. Bide your time, this too shall pass. ;)

    6. Edacious*

      Toxoplasmosis, and cat scratch fever, and the fact they are more unpredictable than dogs are a few reasons I do not favour cats.

      1. Clever Name*

        Cats are predicable, but their behavior is totally different from dogs. And they’re kind of jerks. (And yes, I’m a cat person)

      2. Pennalynn Lott*

        Cats are incredibly predictable. Watch their eyes. They literally cannot do something without looking in that direction (i.e., they can’t scratch you if they’re not looking at you; they can’t jump onto a counter unless they’re looking at their landing spot, etc). They are also highly trainable, as long as you understand what motivates them (which is different from what motivates dogs or human children).

        And toxoplasmosis is everywhere. Do you garden and dig in the dirt? Then you’ve been exposed to toxoplasmosis.

        I have six cats now. I have always owned cats. I have been scratched (deeply sometimes, and *always* on accident) thousands of times. I have never once contracted cat scratch fever. In fact, I have never met a single person who has ever contracted it in my almost 5 decades on this planet. (Not saying it hasn’t happened, just that it’s pretty darn rare).

        It’s OK to not favor cats, of course, but they’re no more dangerous than dogs. (I have been injured more often and more severely by dogs than I ever have by cats. I still love dogs, though!)

        1. Oh anon*

          Why hello. Nice to meet you. I actually contracted cat scratch fever when I was in elementary school. A particular little boy would start singing the song every time he’d get near me, just to tease me about it.

      3. F.F.Fox*

        I have to admit/rant that (as an “animal lover” in general) I sometimes get defensive when people tell me in detail why they don’t like cats. Explaining that you’re allergic or had a bad experience or just plain old “I don’t like cats” seems fine and neutral to me, and in lmao’s case it doesn’t warrant the friend’s girlfriend’s reaction at all. But if someone mentions their cat and you respond by listing all the things you hate about cats, it doesn’t feel neutral anymore. There aren’t a ton of polite responses to “I don’t like that thing you like!!”

        Sort of unrelated, but I’ve noticed a lot of anthropomorphic criticisms of cats (they’re unpredictable! they’re manipulative! they’re evil! they’re incapable of love!) that don’t make any sense to me. Yes, cats sometimes scratch or bite, but I have never seen a cat attack without giving some pretty clear signals first. They’re not always the same signals that a dog would give, but it’s not that difficult to see that a cat with its ears flat, eyes wide, mouth drawn and tail lashing is feeling defensive. If you spend time learning cat language, cats do become very predictable, and if you “talk” to cats in their language then nearly all of them become more friendly, playful, and trusting–that just might mean that they’re friendly and playful in cat ways. They’re definitely not evil or trying to manipulate you, beyond wanting the food, water, and shelter that you are responsible for giving them. They’re also not any more likely to make you sick or hurt you than dogs are.

        “Cat” and “dog” aren’t opposite ends of some spectrum. Some cats behave very much like we’d expect dogs to, being affectionate and playful and trainable. Some dogs act like we expect cats to, being more standoffish and independent (I’ve heard entire breeds, like Basenjis, being described as “cat-like dogs”). But cats are more often painted with this brush of being cold, unloving, unpredictable, and bad companion animals, while dogs are more often painted as being a great addition to nearly any family (which leads to a lot of placements of dogs in unsuitable homes, tbqh–neither characterization is great for the animals themselves). In reality, cats can be loving, dogs can be unpredictable, and both can sometimes be good (or bad) choices for a home. Often, they both could be a good choice for the SAME home…it’s not an either/or thing.

        I might seem sort of whacky for going on about this! But it’s important to me, because even though more dogs enter US shelters each year than cats, more cats are euthanized annually than dogs are. More cats in shelters are euthanized annually than adopted! (according to the ASPCA, at least). I think that has a lot to do with a public perception that cats are not good pets, and it’s a totally false perception. It’s fine to not like cats, but it grates on me to hear people disparage them generally or discourage others from adopting them over dogs, because it’s so unnecessary and (I think) has a larger effect than they realize or intend.

        tl;dr: Cats can be great pets! Dogs can be great pets! If you’re a responsible owner who learns to read your pets’ body language and handle them safely, both dogs and cats can make excellent companions and enrich your life deeply. There’s no need to yuck anyone else’s yum on an otherwise positive topic.

        1. Jo*

          This +100000. Not to mention, cats are much lower maintenance than dogs (not needing daily walks or being let out constantly to do their business, are much quieter, etc) and are even cuddlier, i.e., often enjoy sleeping in your lap.

        2. simonthegrey*

          Grew up with a basenji. When he was around 12 I adopted a cat from the humane society that was well socialized with dogs. We ended up with a cat who was more of a dog than our dog was, but my family was always “Cat people.” For me, I was bit on the nose as a kid by a dog so I am not as warm to dogs, and barking bothers my sensory issues (especially that high whine-bark that aussie sheepdogs have, and growing up we had a couple of those living near us).

          The two cats I have now, I adopted as kittens and have spent a lot of time training them (spray bottle training, not clicker, though I would love to learn that). They are the most affectionate cats in the world. You can’t sit down without one of them crawling into your lap. One of them is a Maine Coon and he trills when he purrs.

          My husband’s parents don’t like pets in general (hair, cleanliness, etc.) though they had a mostly outdoor hunting dog when he was young. He didn’t care much for cats because he had only ever known poorly socialized ones, but he baby-talks to ours and adores them now. It really is all about putting in the time and attention, and the individual personality of the animal.

  5. Windchime*

    Earlier this week, I listed a piece of furniture on our company’s internal classified ads. A coworker (who I had not previously met) contacted me, we agreed on a price, and today she came to my home to load up the item. She handed me a wad of bills and I didn’t count it because she is a coworker and I didn’t want to insult her. When she was done loading it, I went into the house and counted the cash — she shorted me by $40! So I marched back outside and fortunately she was still sitting in her car in my driveway, texting someone. I tapped on the window and said, “This is only $X, not $Y as we agreed.” She nonchalantly shrugged and said, “Oh, sorry, I meant to give you $Y” and handed me two more twenties. She didn’t seem sorry OR surprised.

    I’m trying to give her the benefit of the doubt but….wow. She seriously did not seem embarrassed at all that she had “miscounted” the money. I am going to count it next time before someone loads up my item!

    1. Artemesia*

      The fact that she so quickly was able to hand you $40 suggests the short was intentional and she had the money loaded up and ready to go. When I have purchased things with cash, the pile of 20s is ready to go when I arrive — hers probably was too and then she thought she’d see if she could pull this off. On the other hand, she should have booked it the moment she got in her car. The joys of craigs list.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        To do that to a co-worker is pretty jaw-dropping. Didn’t the person worry that Windchime might mention her odd behavior to someone else at work and word might get around that she’s potentially a little shady? It doesn’t seem very smart of her to risk her reputation at work like that.

    2. MsChandandlerBong*

      That happened to me before we moved cross-country. We sold all of our furniture (it would have cost $5,000 to rent a truck for that distance, and we didn’t have any furniture that was worth spending all that money to keep) by using our local Facebook rummage sale group to post ads. I put up a large, white desk, which was in excellent condition (only one year old), for $30. The lady came to get it, handed me the money, and went back to her car. When I looked, she had only given me $10.

      Fortunately, that was our only bad experience. Everyone else paid the amount agreed.

    3. danr*

      Always count your money, friends or not. And don’t trust her with any money at work. Chances are she’s been shortchanging folks for years.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yep. Trust, but verify. Anyone who makes a fuss is very likely trying to scam you anyway. I have no problem standing there and counting my money with people I don’t know really, really well. And my friends are all such good people that they’d probably count it for me or tell me to count it, because they’d be mortified if they were short.

        1. blackcat*

          I have no problem counting money in front of BFFs–precisely because no one wants to make a mistake! I trust some friends with my life, but I don’t trust that they wouldn’t, accidentally, count out the wrong amount of money. I don’t trust myself with that, either, unless I make nice, organized stacks in appropriate increments.

          1. Rater Z*

            I work part-time as a cashier in a convenience store. I always count the money, not just because they might not give me enough but because sometimes they give me too much. In that case, I give the extra right back to them. It’s probably about 50/50 which way the error is. Also, usually there’s a few pennies left in a “penny dish” and I will use one or two to round up to the next nickel so that I don’t give back four pennies. (For example, I use a penny to give them 45 cents instead of 44 cents.)

    4. Clever Name*

      Wow. Honestly, I would be wary of this person at work too. Not like they’re dangerous or anything, but it sounds like they have a fundamental lack of integrity, and I wouldn’t trust them on other things.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Give her the benefit of the doubt. It’s only benefits you if you do. She did apologize and she gave you the money.

      I could appear this way to someone else. Part of my thinking would be, if I intended to give you the correct amount and I screwed up my next step would be to fix it immediately. That would be the best thing I could do for a situation turned turtle. I don’t blush much any more. I don’t fumble and stutter like I used to. That could be read as lack of regret, it isn’t. From my perspective I took immediate action to fix the situation, that is me showing regret/concern. I would hope that you would let it go.

      Yes, count your money. Or ask the person if you can count it together as she hands it to you.

      As an aside- my father sold his car at work. Then he started hearing all that was wrong with the car. It went on for weeks and for some reason involved many of his coworkers. His advice was do not sell things to the people you work with, it’s a trap. Don’t do it.

      I have gotten to the point where I bring receipts for things that good friends have asked me to pick up. If they chose to crumple up the receipt and not look at it, that is their choice. Better to be abundantly clear when handling cash and it does not matter who the other party is.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        His advice was do not sell things to the people you work with, it’s a trap.

        Or your friends/neighbours/family members. Because something is going to go wrong with it at some point, somehow… and it will be your fault, or partly responsible in their mind. One of my neighbours is in the trades, but I wouldn’t hire him to do his stuff around my house. Not because he’s bad at what he does but because if I didn’t like the work, I would be pissed. It’s one thing to be pissed at RandomContractor who did a job you weren’t entirely happy with, but it’s another thing entirely to have to continually run into that person, their spouse and/or kids at the mailbox/neighbour’s party/backing your car out the driveway/on Hallowe’en. I don’t need that much bad blood and drama in my life, I’ve had enough of that.

      2. Windchime*

        Yeah, I am on the fence about giving her the benefit of the doubt. The only thing that makes me think it was an accident was that she was still in the driveway texting instead of jetting off as soon as possible. But when she shrugged and said, “Oh, sorry” so nonchalantly and then pulled the extra cash out of her purse (no fumbling, no opening the wallet–it was right there at the top of her purse) makes me think that it was on purpose and she was just trying to get it for less. I was already selling it to her for $75 under my asking price!

        1. Anna*

          Yeaaaaahhhh. She shoved a wad of bills in your hand, knowing it would be too difficult and confusing to count right then. She knew what was up.

      1. Sunflower*

        I agree!! I’ve never sold on CL but I do buy and I count out the money in front of the person to protect myself as well. I don’t want them coming back out to my car claiming I shorted them when I didn’t.

  6. Gene*

    I’ve started on my costume intended for the Worldcon Masquerade. I’ve never done a judged costume before, so why not jump into deep water with both feet? :-) Since it’s judged, I need to make everything myself and this will be more ambitious sewing than I’m used to.

    I’m working with a seamstress to make the pattern, first fitting was this week. Here’s a photo of the fitting. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KDbzZenXprYu90k2MVxPBI0vRZPr7o_8kg/view I’ve been experimenting by making prototypes of some of the details. This is going to be fun!

    Most difficult thing so far has been finding dimensioned drawings of an M60 Machine Gun so I can carve one from rigid foam.

    1. acmx*

      What character are you going to be? (sorry if it should be obvious – I don’t watch TV or many movies lol)

      1. Gene*

        As this costume will be unveiled at the Masquerade, I’m keeping it under wraps. I’ll probably post a photo or two of parts that won’t give it away, but not much. Only my closest friends and the seamstress know what it is.

        And it’s definitely not obvious from that photo, so don’t feel bad.

        1. acmx*

          Ah, I see! Good luck with the costume!

          I always like looking at the Con pictures epbot posts; so many creative ideas!

  7. Marzipan*

    So, a (rather gloomy) update on the pregnancy I mentioned just before Christmas. I had a scan on Tuesday, and there’s no heartbeat and it’s nowhere near as developed as it should be, so it looks as though I’m going to have a second miscarriage. Which, as it turns out, is actually a good thing, since they also didn’t like the location of it and suspect it’s a rare type of ectopic. Off to the hospital next week so they can take a look and decide if any intervention is needed.

    In the meantime it’s actually been really helpful being back at work – I found out I was pregnant on the last day before I went off for a long Christmas break, and then found out I won’t stay that way on the last day before going back, and in a weird way that’s making it psychologically much easier – like it was a sort of pregnant holiday from non-pregnant reality.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Oh marzipan I’m sorry. I wish you all the best, and please take care of yourself.

    2. Thinking out loud*

      I’m so sorry. I had basically the same situation about a month ago. I ended up with a medication induced miscarriage, if you have any questions about that and would like to discuss.

  8. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    In a set of nutshells…

    Best: The boyfriend spent time with me at Christmas, he gave me a promise ring (said in his card he’s contemplating long-term..er…commitments). Also, his mom, who is nice but really hard to please, seems to like me and even offered to lend me her silver ornate holiday stuff.

    Worst: My mom keeps trying to fix me up with doctors/lawyers and says my bf isn’t good enough. Also, she’s saying to not make permanent commitments (ie. do not get engaged) without explicitly saying so.

    Silver Lining: My mom can’t actually say “don’t get engaged” bc I have awesome extended family that really has my and my bf’s back thank goodness…..and my mom knows there are certain things she can’t get away with saying. But my dad came home and advised me to search online for a new boyfriend, and recited a rehearsed speech my mom told him to give me.

    I pointed out to him that mom’s been weird all the time, it’s not just my boyfriend. I also told him that I choose to be really happy and really successful, and too bad if that messes with mom’s ideas of perfection.

    I mentioned when my dad was 1st dating and my mom was too embarrassed to be seen with him near her home so she had him drop her off blocks away. He then told me not to compare his early dating with my current relationship, they were nothing alike. At least my dad’s willing to engage in dialogue but O RLY??….ugh. Also, he always wanted a puppy but my mom hates them (I mean seriously, who hates dogs??)

    Is the only way to get through to these people that my relationship is meaningful, by getting engaged, married, and popping out kids? Any readers with similar experiences? Do people eventually come around when grandkids are in the picture? #icanteven I did tell my dad I’ve been with the guy 2 years and I’m perfectly fine where I am….but still. I don’t think it’ll sink in unless I do the above (kids, marriage, etc)….

    1. Menacia*

      I think you have to figure out why you care so much about what they think about your relationship? I would hope that you would not take the steps of marriage and children just to “prove” something to them or anyone. You have to let things take their course naturally. The relationship(s) you have in life are based upon what YOU want, not what someone else (yes, even Mommy and Daddy) want for you. You don’t mention how old you are, if you still live with your parents, etc., but I’m thinking that it might be time to truly be out on your own, and make your own decisions. My parents had nothing to do with me meeting my now husband, I had been on my own, living my own life when I met him. I made the decision, for myself, to be in a committed relationship, and then get engaged/married. Oh, and we don’t have children, our choice, and we are still very happy and committed to each other 16 years later.

    2. Aisling*

      I’ve been dating my fiancé for more than a decade, I got a ring awhile back, and my mom refuses to acknowledge him. If I mention him, she changes the subject. She thinks that because I’m not married with kids, he must be stringing me along.

      I’ve tried telling her this works for us, I’m in no hurry for kids, but she thinks I don’t mean it (because getting married and having kids is what women do, and she doesn’t comprehend that some women don’t). Honestly, I had to let go of the fact that she will ever come around to like him. If she does, great, but if not, my fiancé and I will have a great life that she will choose not to be part of. It’s not my job or my fiancé’s job to convince her that he’s awesome and makes me happy.

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      Carmen, are you in counselling at all? Because it sounds like you are having a hard time with your mum and accepting that your mum’s the way she is, from your posts on weekend threads.

    4. LizB*

      Is the only way to get through to these people that my relationship is meaningful, by getting engaged, married, and popping out kids?

      This is going to sound really harsh, but I honestly don’t think there’s any way for you to get through to these people about anything. They’re not reasonable people, and nothing you do is going to change their thoughts or behavior in the slightest. It’s possible that if you got engaged, got married, and had kids, they would suddenly accept that you can make valid choices for yourself… but it’s just as possible, and probably more likely, that even if you do the whole engagement/marriage/kids thing and are blissfuly happy and wildly successful, they’ll still be ordering you to get a divorce and marry a doctor. From everything I’ve read about them in your comments here, they will probably never accept that your relationship is meaningful — and if they do, it’ll be because they decide through some twisted logic that the relationship actually does fit with the plans they had for you all along, not because of anything you did or said.

      So, thinking exclusively about your own needs and desires, would you like to get engaged, get married, and/or have kids with your boyfriend? If so, go for it! But you need to be making decisions about your relationship based 100% on what you want and what’s good for you, and 0% on what your parents want or would approve of. Nothing you do is going to convince them that your choices are acceptable, because the very fact that you made those choices on your own is what makes them unacceptable.

    5. Perpetua*

      The only way to “get through” to people/family in these situations is usually to stop trying to get through to them, unfortunately. I can really empathize with you. I’ve been in two longer relationships and my mom disapproved of both of those boyfriends, for different reasons. With the first one, it seems like a similar situation you have – I had always been a “golden child”, a high achiever, great in school, etc., and then I “ruined my life” by getting together with someone who finished vocational high school, had no real intentions of going to college, or even working in the field he finished school for. I ended that relationship after two years for various reasons – incompatibility in ambitions and general outlook on life was one of them, but I wanted it to be MY decision, not my mom’s, and it was hell trying to defend my choices all the time (especially when I wasn’t even sure of them).

      It’s a process of growing up, differentiating ourselves and separating from our parents, which can be very hard when you’re close to them or when you’ve been brought up in that specific way. As others have said, it’s YOUR life. It can be hard coming to terms with a parent’s disapproval, but it can also be very empowering to realize that it doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. What helped me the most was moving out and becoming completely financially independent from them. Also, two years of therapy (not just for that topic, although it was a part of it). :)

    6. the gold digger*

      Is the only way to get through to these people that my relationship is meaningful, by getting engaged, married, and popping out kids?

      Nope, because once you are married, they will find a new reason to be unhappy.

      Do what makes you happy (and is not illegal or immoral or cruel to others) and don’t worry about anyone else.

      1. Mean Something*

        This. People who are constitutionally unsatisfied will stay that way. You could win the Nobel Prize and marry someone who checks all the boxes, and they would still find something to criticize.

      2. Sunflower*

        YUP!!! I understand wanting to have a good relationship with your mom and sometimes that means having to say ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’ and continuing on with your life

    7. Not So NewReader*

      So what you are saying here is that your mother’s behavior has been going on for decades.
      I kinda figured that.

      Everyone here is trying to help you see that your mother is not going to change. That is the answer to all your questions. There is nothing you can do to change your mother or the way she thinks about things. Why do you keep trying? What is in it for you? (Real question, honest. What do you hope to get out of making all these changes to your mother?)

      1. Today's anon*

        A variation on the question above that was super helpful to me was posed as : What are you afraid of losing if you decide to accept your mother as she is and let go of the fantasy that she will be suddenly become different?

    8. Anonymous Educator*

      Some of the most miserable people I know are the ones who are concerned, as adults, with constantly pleasing their parents or not making their parents upset. I don’t know if you’re still living at home or how old you are, but if you’re not living at home, and you’re older than 24, I would highly recommend just saying “Thanks for your opinion. I’ll take it under advisement.”

    9. NJ Anon*

      My parents weren’t crazy about my husband-then bf, he wasn’t a doctor or lawyer (sigh). We will be celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary this year. Let’s say they have grown to accept him over the years. Besides you are an adult. You don’t need their permission.

    10. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      Carmen – just a thought, but please take a look at your reasons for wanting to marry your boyfriend and make sure that your desire to marry him is because you truly want to spend your life with him because you love him that much.

      I’m concerned that there may be an element of wishing to marry to your boyfriend as a way to prove your independence to your parents. If this is true, it’s not kind or helpful to you or to your boyfriend, and it’s not the best foundation for a lasting marriage.

      I mean no offense – there are a lot of inter-personal dynamics here involving your parents and your needs to get through to them and express who you are. Please take a moment and make sure that you are considering a life-altering event for reasons that truly benefit you and your boyfriend.

  9. Soupspoon McGee*

    Here’s a twist on the New Year’s review: What small accomplishments are you particularly proud of from the last year?

    I finally did a few things I’d been meaning to forever.

    I made my own laundry detergent after getting tired of paying for super-expensive eco-friendly soaps. I found a good recipe for liquid soap using Dr. Bronner’s, washing soda, borax, and water. The only downside is that borax needs warm water to dissolve fully.

    I also made granola. My mom made it all the time when I was a kid, and I finally did it, with fancy variations (figs! pistachios! coconut chips!).

    1. periwinkle*

      I’m proud that I’ve established a UFYH-inspired approach to keeping our house low on clutter. If it gets to be a bit messy (frequently, since I work full time while in grad school), it’s easy to reset things back to clean because everything has a place.

        1. periwinkle*

          If you don’t mind a fair chunk of profanity, head over to www [dot] unfuckyourhabitat [dot] com to learn about 20/10s, “wash, dry, and put it away”, and the joys of white vinegar. The before & after photos are tremendously inspiring and a reminder that you don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to do everything at once. The great thing is that it gets you into the habit of keeping things reasonably tidy on a regular basis. It’s not Pinterest-friendly like KonMari but who cares? It’s realistic, achievable, and celebrates victories of all sizes.

          1. Shell*

            I fell off the UfYH bandwagon last year but am getting back on this year. A little at a time, and…yeah.

            My bay window and my dresser looks amazing right now. Some other parts, not so much. But it’s a work in progress!

    2. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      I learned how to make gluten-free yummy Russian tea cookies from scratch, and learned how to make sunflower-basil-roasted kale chips. Om. nom nom :)

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Oooh, what was the recipe you used for the cookies? I’m a celiac sufferer and I’m always trying out junk food recipes (I really need to eat better).

        1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

          It’s an easy recipe, just needs finely chopped pecans; gf pancake mix from tjoes; eggs; butter, powdered sugar. Mix all, roll in balls in more powdered sugar, bake at 350, 20ish minutes. It can be found via Google.

    3. LizB*

      I cross-stitched a little sampler with our wifi network name and password, framed it, and hung it in the living room — super convenient for when friends come over and want to use the wifi!

    4. Pennalynn Lott*

      It’s a small accomplishment because I have almost as much still yet to lose, but I lost 50 lbs between the end of June and Dec 31.

      I also got a 95 on my Calculus final, despite being certain early in the semester that I was going to fail the class.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I unf*cked my drawers–but the stuff I took out is still in the bedroom. I’ll move it tomorrow. Some of it’s going in the garbage, some in the donation box, and the old nerd shirts that are too tired to wear anymore went into the everything room, where they will eventually become a blanket. :)

      1. Billy Mumphrey*

        I read something that not making your bed can help not to have bed mites, cause more air and light prevents them.
        So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    6. Tau*

      I started cooking regularly! :) I have wanted to do this for AGES but never managed and always ended up guiltily subsisting on ready meals. But in the summer something clicked and I now either cook or have leftovers most days a week. It’s generally something pretty simple (pasta + sauce consisting of frozen spinach, a dash of cream, and whatever veggies and the like I have lying around is my go-to) but it makes me really happy that this is finally working.

      I’ve also been writing regularly since November or so, which has been great. I try to flex my time so that I can leave early and head to a coffee shop and write for 1-2 hours or so at least twice a week, and have a standing date with my laptop and breakfast at a local pub for Saturdays. Writing is something that I struggle to really make myself do but where I’m unhappy if I don’t do any, so having that structure has been amazing.

      On a different note, I am deeply interested in your homemade granola. (Probably everyone I know has heard me swearing about the fact that none of the shops near me sell big bags of granola that is just granola, no added dried fruits or anything.) How difficult was it, if you don’t mind me asking?

      1. Soupspoon McGee*

        Granola is really easy. I use a big metal cake pan or roaster. I just mix everything in the pan, then bake at 350 for 25 minutes, stirring twice (less stirring = more clumps, which are nice too).

        This is my very approximate recipe. The beauty if it is you can adjust proportions easily.

        Coat the pan with
        2 Tbl. to 1/4 cup fat (olive oil, coconut oil, etc)

        6-8 cups of oats (quick oats are fine)
        1/4 cup wheat germ or flax seed (optional)
        1/4 cup each hemp seeds, chia seeds or other (optional)
        1/2 to 3/4 cups of something sweet (honey or maple syrup)
        1/2 tsp salt
        1 tsp vanilla
        1 – 2 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
        2-4 Tbl water

        Stir well and bake.

        If you want to add dried fruits, coconut, nuts, or other seeds, add them in the last five minutes, stir, and bake.

        That’s it. I did not like granola with stuff in it until I controlled the nuts and fruits. Now I love it with dried figs and and cherries or berries.

        1. Tau*

          Okay, that sounds both delicious and surprisingly easy. And nicely customisable, too. I think I’ll have to give this a shot!

    7. NDQ*

      I’m super proud of my investment account. It meant giving up several luxuries that I no longer miss, but wow, I love looking at the amount and it makes me want to contribute even more. I certainly sleep well these days.


  10. Victoria, Please*

    I have a new goal in life: Die owning nothing but a few clothes. Over the holiday we had to go to elderly relatives’ places (one passed away, the other is very frail). Going through the things of the one who is gone, and imagining having to go through the other things soon, was pitiful. The…fragments…of a life, or at least these fragments, seemed deeply sad to me. Once rich and vibrant, now wrapped in innumerable small plastic bags and covered with dust.

    I don’t want my relatives tearing through my fragments, wishing they didn’t have to deal with my old crap, feeling guilty for thinking it’s crap. I want to give it away while it’s still beautiful.

    Realizing it’s probably unreasonable to die owning nothing but some clothes, I do hereby vow to engage in clutter clearing at least every 5 years commencing at approximately age 70. I’d love to do it way sooner than that but you all may recall my earlier posts feeling frustrated with my husband who is a bit of a pack rat (obviously he comes by it honestly). I figure by the time I’m 70, he’ll be too old to object!

    1. Artemesia*

      My mother was neat and clean but nothing that went into her house apparently left it. We found her pay stubs from 1941 (wish I had kept them actually.) It was a real drag to wade through and dispose of everything. So when we moved cities when we retired, we just got ride of everything. I think we furnished 3 full apartments for refugee resettlement with some shelving left over. We donated everything in the kitchen except for a handful of things — our stainless, our one set of sort of good dishes (they were danz seconds back 30 years ago when we bought them but they are OUR good dishes) and our collection of champagne flutes given to me by my husband over the years and a couple of appliances. But almost everything, blenders, toaster, grillers, pancake gridle, pots and pans, glasses, dishes — went to donation. Same with furniture — we saved the bedroom set which was fairly new and the dining room table, but everything else went.

      It was nice in the new place to have new stuff for the kitchen and it is a small kitchen but works great because our limited space is fitted out with exactly what we need to cook with. And our closets while full, are not full of clothes we will never wear and haven’t worn in years. In fact we just went through our now meagre wardrobes this fall and donated a couple of giant bags of stuff to the local homeless shelter — so we are skinned down even more. Most of our clothes got donated before the move. Our modest walk in closet holds everything we need now.

      My kids when we die will not be confronted with days worth of junk. They can grab the jewelry, and donate the clothes and everything else. Except for the 12 boxes of photo negatives which I intend to but haven’t managed to yet, digitize. New Year’s resolution for 2016.

      1. Aileen*

        Ive got so many odd things that remind me of my family- their favourite mug, and an old silver spoon that I remember Grandma using. An old china dog that sat in her window.

        So while keeping your environment clutter free and the piles down, maybe don’t get rid of all the stuff. Those old things, worth nothing much, may be the most cherished.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        My father had a blank 1040 from 1945. why, why, why.
        I kept it. To remind me NOT to do that! I think I have become my father.

    2. katamia*

      Oh, my gosh, yes. My parents inherited most of their parents’ stuff when they died, so they have so. much. crap. They’re really making an effort to get rid of a lot of things now, which I’m really grateful for.

    3. fposte*

      That’s one of the things that motivated me to trim the stuff down. My father really did pare down amazingly, and it was a huge contrast to a neighbor, whose family just had to load dumpsters up when he died.

      That being said, though, I think it’s okay for stuff to be meaningless to people other than its owner. It’s not a tragedy for its value to end when the owner dies, as long as it was really valued by its owner in the mean time.

    4. the gold digger*

      My husband’s parents both died this summer. He is the executor and is nowhere near done settling the estate. They left a huge mess and now we have boxes and boxes of their junk in our house. If nothing else, please keep your financial records in files and get rid of old records. That is, do not pay to move your check registers from the 1970s from Pennsylvania to Florida. And do not put your medicare EOBs, your bills, and your bank and investment statements all in one box for eight years. All that means is that someone else has to go through everything to sort “have to keep for taxes this year” from “trash.”

      Also – if you have a safe deposit box, tell someone in your family. Don’t just write “safe deposit?” in a few places in your office so that your son has to go to your THREE banks to find out if you actually ever did get a safe deposit box.

      And car titles belong in their own file. Not in a manila folder with previous versions of your will stuck on a shelf in the back of the coat closet.

        1. the gold digger*

          Hi Pennalynn – it has been an awful year for Primo. He has taken their loss well (I think he is relieved) but the drama with being disinherited and all the estate stuff and his jerk brother Ted has made this a never-ending story.

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            He. . . he. . . he was *actually* disinherited?? And they still made him executor? I just. . . wow. I’m not telling you anything new, but his FOO is seriously messed up. I’m glad you’re there for him. My thoughts and heart go out to the both of you. (Fat lot of good that’ll do you in sorting out the mess, but – hey – a random internet stranger would hug you if she could). :-)

          2. Artemesia*

            He has good legal advice I hope and knows that the executor can charge the estate for his time. Usually a family member who is an heir doesn’t of course, but in this case with this amount of work, he should either have refused to do it or be paid for it.

      1. Billy Mumphrey*

        I made a death kit for the kids. Banking info, insurance, desires for funeral services, etc. I keep it in a red folder in my files and drew a grim reaper on it
        and a message from the beyond. It makes it so much easier for them at a really bad time. They know it’s there if (when!) the time comes.

        1. SaraV*

          If, God forbid, both my parents pass away, I know to grab the red binder on the bookshelf in my dad’s office. All the “important” people I would need to contact, their funeral service wishes, etc. And knowing my dad, he SHOULD have everything covered…plus some.

          Several years ago, I was talking to my mom about the “nightmare” of clearing out their house. (Unfinished basement, four walk-in closets, huge attic on 2nd floor, storage above 2nd floor) She chimes in with “Don’t forget there’s stuff above the garage, too.” *sigh*

        2. Artemesia*

          My parents prepaid their cremations and also left such a folder. This made it so much easier for brother and me — a neighbor who knew her plans notified the funeral home and they had taken her to their facility before we were even able to fly into her city. Made is so easy for us. Her house was a bit of a challenge, but her affairs were in great order. My husband and I are in the process of doing the same for our kids. In the meantime, my local daughter is on the lock box and knows where the key is.

    5. Mike C.*

      I hope I’m not making too light of this, but it reminded me of the following. In the British series “Coupling”, two of the male characters agree to be each other’s “Porn Buddies”. Their responsibility is that if one of them dies the other must rush to their house and destroy all physical and digital copies of their porn collection before members of the family can find them.

      1. the gold digger*

        I wish my husband’s father had made that arrangement with someone. Nobody needs to find naked photos of his parents with – equipment – nor does he need to find the equipment, the porn, or his father’s sex diary.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          I am an atheist but. . . Oh. Dear. GOD. There wouldn’t be enough eye bleach in the world for that.

        2. ExceptionToTheRule*

          Oh, I feel you. I can never un-see what was on my father’s laptop, nor unread some of the things that I found.

          My father was a hoarder. We hadn’t seen each other or spoken since I was 22 years old when he died. His final revenge was that I had to go clean out the house. Had he not been renting, I’d have just burned the place down.

          1. Artemesia*

            For others in this circumstance. There are people who will do this for you. My mother’s lawyer put us in touch with such a person. My brother and I went through things to identify what we wanted. This individual came in and cleaned the place up for auction of what was left, auctioned it off, donated the rest and gave us a receipt and then cleaned the place up for sale. Among the tasks was getting rid of a giant chest freezer that hadn’t been used at a depth of more than about 6 inches in 40 years. We ended up with about 3k when it was done (there wasn’t all that much of value) — I would have paid 3K for someone to do things like get rid of a giant chest freezer full of ancient food.

            This made the whole process of getting the house ready to sell easy.

      2. Clever Name*

        I did this with my gay uncle’s collection of “erotica” before my mom could see it.

        1. Victoria, Please*

          Oh God, I commented before seeing gold digger’s post. Um, Mike C’s post is still funny, but um, so sorry that Primo had to deal with that, gd.

      3. Ann Furthermore*

        I was roommates years ago with a dear friend who is gay. We were drunk one night and he made me swear that if anything ever happened to him, I would empty out the bottom drawer of his dresser before his mom showed up. He made me promise that a few times during the years we lived together. It must have been something he really worried about.

    6. AnotherTeacher*

      That’s great! After going through relatives’ homes a few times, I’ve made the same goal.

      I like giving things away while they still work/are still useful/are still in good condition. Once in a while, I think, “I wish I still had X,” but that’s rare. I’m much happier knowing someone else is using the fancy kitchen gizmo I’ll never get around to learning how to use or wearing the once-worn but gorgeous dress that I’ll never fit back into.

    7. Blue_eyes*

      My parents (in their mid-60s) have recently started doing this. My dad tells me “I just think, will Blue_eyes have to throw this out when I die? And if the answer is yes, I throw it out.” My parents have never been pack rats by any means, but stuff does accumulate when you live in the same house for 30 years. My mom has been going through all the old papers and shredding everything except for the most important documents. They’ve also updated their wills and created living wills, medical power of attorney documents, and legal power of attorney documents. I’m very grateful that they’re doing all this now, because it’s going to be so much easier down the line to have all of this in order.

      1. Victoria, Please*

        Your parents rock! It sounds like they are very on top of it. Here’s a tiny detail that gets overlooked: if they are leaving money to grandkids or grandkids are beneficiaries on policies of any kind, make sure they specify guardians for minor grandkids. Kids’ parents are not automatically considered guardians.

      2. Elkay*

        My mum told me she’d found an extra tea set in the attic so if we needed to hold a wake at their house we’d have enough cups!

    8. GreenTeaPot*

      It took us almost two years to clean out my mother’s house and get it on the market. I am in total agreement with you.

  11. Elkay*

    I don’t know if it can be accessed outside the UK but if you can watch The Age of Loneliness that was on BBC One this week. It’s people of all ages talking about being lonely for various reasons, I’m so impressed with how brave the participants were, it goes to show that even when you do interact with people or have a family you can still be lonely. You may need tissues but it’s not all sad, one of my favourite quotes was “I’m 93, I’m not old!”.

  12. mander*

    Does anyone have any experience with SAM-e for depression? I’ve struggled with depression on and off for most of my life, and it seems to be coming back again. Over the years I have taken numerous prescription meds but they all seem to cause me trouble in one way or another, so I thought I’d try something different. SAM-e interests me because it has the bonus effect of apparently being good for your joints, and lately I have been having problems with my knees, so that could be a welcome side effect.

    Any opinions?

    1. HB*

      When I was 16 I went through a very traumatic event. For over 10 years after that I took various prescription meds. Although I never really felt like myself so eventually I just stopped taking anything. The thing that helped me the most was exercise and more recently meditation and creative visualization. SAM-e sounds interesting and I think you should try it. Good luck and I hope you start feeling better!

    2. Schnapps*

      No opinions on SAM-e, but I’ve been taking Curcumin (Turmeric), which seems to have a lot of the same properties as SAME-e. I sleep better and have less anxiety generally.

    3. Sammie*

      Hi Mander,

      I’ve used Sam-e for depression off and on over the years. It does work–but it takes a few weeks to kick in. If you take Sam-e make sure to supplement it with a B (combo) vitamin. I’ve had much better ( and quicker) effect with a combo of DOPA Mucuna, L-Theanine and Magnesium. My depression tends to manifest itself in the form of anxiety attacks–so I take supplements to even that out.

      Good luck to you. Please make sure you get some talk-therapy.

  13. edj3*

    If you’ve had endoscopic sinus surgery (bone removed, no deviated septum), how long did it take for all the gunk to clear your head?

    Recovery has been fine but I’m tired of the gunk and tired of sounding like I have a cold.

    1. Mimmy*

      I had sinus surgery years ago but I did also have a deviated septum and my nose reshaped to remove a bump caused by heavy glasses. I’m sure the surgery and recovery is easier now, but it was NOT. FUN. I’d say my recovery lasted a couple of weeks.

    2. LCL*

      Have you been back to the doctor? It could be what is making you feel stuffed up is that the tissue that’s left is still swollen. It took me about 3 weeks before my head felt clear.

      1. edj3*

        Yes, I went in for what was supposed to be the 2 week post op suction event. Only my appointment was early, I think too early and things weren’t healed enough to have that be effective and he had to stop. It hurt worse than immediately after the surgery even though I have been diligent about putting an ocean up my nose three times a day.

        I go back in another 3 weeks; in the meantime I’m still irrigating and spraying with saline and going through a truly staggering amount of tissue.

  14. Trixie*

    Kind of tagging on to Tower of Joy’s post above re: house buying. When moving to a new area ( think long distance), what are the things you wish you’d either thought about it or do differently next time? Trying to collect a master to-do list with everything from setting up P.O. Box for local address to utilities/cable to canceling old services, etc.

    1. TowerofJoy*

      Well, I’ve never purchased a house but I’ve moved long distance a lot. (Part of the reason I’ve never had a house!) I always wish that I’d spent more time checking out the new area, driving around and getting a “feel” for the neighborhood I was thinking of living in. I also wish I did better at timing my post office switch. It takes 2+ weeks and they always lose things in the fray anyway, which sometimes show up later or sometimes never at all. Add a day or two to packing time. I’d always think I was right on track, and then come moving day when I’d planned to haul out at 12Noon, I’d end up leaving at 3pm because theres always last minute things you don’t think about until you see them.

      1. Trixie*

        I’d read that arranging PO Box in new area may work for those who want to set up local accounts/services but dont’ have physical address yet. Or for those who go with temporary housing until they’ve had time to better check out area and either settle on year-lease or buy in chose neighborhood. I’m a big fan of short-term rentals for the flexibility.

    2. Clever Name*

      We’d rent a place for a while before buying next time. We bought in a hurry last time, and while our house was fine, there were several things we didn’t like-like the layout.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I’m very glad we insisted on this. We weren’t in a great position to buy anyway, but people kept bugging us because we moved to an area with a very low COL and excellent housing prices. I said there’s no way I would buy in a place I didn’t truly know, so we’re renting. We have a wonderful little house in a great location, but the flexibility makes it so much better for us.

    3. ginger ale for all*

      Tagging on to this – I recently moved from one apartment to another. I have a box and a half of checks with my old address on them. I only write checks to my landlord now. I looked through all my old checks and it has been over two year since I wrote a non-rent check. Is there a way you can get less than a box of checks or should I even bother with new checks just to reflect the new address?

      1. HR Wannabe*

        Some banks/credit unions have a bill pay feature where you setup the biller via name/address and the service mails them a check. Might be a good time to dig into your bank’s website to see if they offer it or call customer service.

        1. ginger ale for all*

          Ooh! I would love that. I will ask both the bank and my landlord about getting this done. Thank you so much!

      2. periwinkle*

        Yes! I’ve been using Vistaprint for years to order checks in small quantities. You can order as few as 25 checks at a time! It’s also a good place to get return address labels, too.

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      If you’re buying, have someone come clean the carpets before you move anything in. It will never be easier to get that done than when your house is completely empty.

    5. Lluviata*

      There is a moving checklist here: https://static1.st8fm.com/en_US/content_pages/1/pdf/us/sf-movers-checklist.pdf. (It’s put together by State Farm, but I like it)
      Last time I moved, I really focused on having an overnight box for anything I needed in the first night and day or two and that made a big difference. This is my content list for the overnight box: Ortho Home Defense (I like to spray before I move in), blanket (air mattress if needed), toilet paper, soap for bathroom, paper towel and general cleaner, water cup, bags for trash, one plate, one bowl, one fork, one spoon. I’d also pack a suitcase with clothes and toiletries. BOTH the overnight box and the suitcase go in my car where I can get them out easily. I’ve spent a few moves really wishing I had a cup to fill up with water from the sink, or a blanket, or a plate so I could eat something beside restaurant food.

      1. Windchime*

        I had a similar box the last time I moved. It contained teabags, sugar, a cup, something to boil water in, sheets, Pajamas and underwear, and the usual soap, paper towels, toilet paper, etc. If I didn’t have a glass shower door, it would have also included a shower curtain and hooks. Oh, and I did paper plates and a few utensils.

        Regarding moving: My advice is to always set up the bed first. Get that set up and made, so that when a long day of moving is done you can crawl into bed for a good rest.

  15. Mimmy*

    This week I FINALLY managed to sit and binge-watch Making a Murderer (well, it took 3 days…does that count? lol). Anyway, my husband was watching it before Christmas but I couldn’t join him because of my paper, so I resolved to watch it after the holidays. The series started getting quite a bit of buzz in the news, so I want to see what the AAM-ers think! I’ll put my take in the comments so there are no spoilers.

    **If you have not watched yet, do not open the comment thread!!!**

      1. Mimmy*

        I have!! I’m not usually into these murder mysteries, but this case was really fascinating. Here’s a guy who gets exonerated after 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, only to be arrested, tried, and convicted for a gruesome murder. Even more disturbing was how they treated his nephew, who has a slight intellectual disability.

        Many people are convinced that both are innocent and is the result of cover-ups and fraud on the part of the county this all took place in. I……don’t know. Every time each side presented their arguments, I was convinced, so I kept going back and forth. But that’s how good of a story this was – while the filmmakers appeared to be on the side of the Averys and their relatives, they presented both sides equally.

        I’m honestly not 100% certain about Steven Avery; however, I *do* think the nephew is innocent based on the lack of physical evidence, e.g. DNA.

        1. TowerofJoy*

          Cover-up or framing is still difficult to believe. It would require such a coordinated effort, that I don’t know that those responsible in the county were capable of. But then, the fact that the one officer read the license plate back to dispatch days before? Weird. And then, you would think if you spent 18 years in prison, and were going to commit a murder you didn’t want to be convicted of, that you would have the sense not to burn the body 15 ft from your back door, leave the car on the front part of your property, and bleed on everything without cleaning it (but then also some how get rid of almost all the DNA evidence in your room, garage, and the like). I still think Avery was a not-good guy. He did enough things he admitted to doing that it makes you question his character…but it seems strange that he would just murder a random woman and make it so obvious. It would only make sense if he wanted to go back to jail, and why would he, when he was standing to gain a significant settlement from the state?

          The way they treated his nephew was very disturbing. It was obvious he had no idea what the gravity of the situation was or how to defend himself from his craptastic appointed lawyer.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Cover-up or framing is still difficult to believe. It would require such a coordinated effort, that I don’t know that those responsible in the county were capable of.

            Really? Maybe I wasn’t watching closely enough, but I thought part of what the documentary showed was that it would take only one or two corrupt officers to do the frame without coordinating. Since the local officers (only two of them) weren’t supposed to be on scene and were and also were not being constantly supervised by the other department, it would be fairly trivial for them to sneak evidence (e.g., the key) on to the scene for the actual investigating officers to discover.

            1. Blue_eyes*

              I agree. I didn’t find the idea of the framing too far-fetched. The Averys were outsiders in their community and Steven Avery was about to win a large settlement from the county. Add in the tampered with vial of blood, and the suspicious circumstances around finding the key and the car. Something weird definitely happened in this case, the facts just don’t line up right.

            2. TowerofJoy*

              Right – but how did they move the car, the bones, etc. on to the property without anyone noticing? Stephen and some of the other family members weren’t allowed on the property for 8 days but I believe Earl was still allowed to do business.

              They would have had to have done some of the moving by darkness of night. They key sure, easy enough and definitely suspicious – but the rest? There would have had to have been a lot more “looking the other way” on the part of Calumet for all of that to get done during that period of time. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen – but I feel like it would have been difficult and Lenk and the other officer weren’t exactly geniuses imo.

              1. Kate M*

                Well I think the point of it was that (if you buy into the theory), the person(s) who committed the murder knew that Steve Avery was an easy target, so they placed the bones there. Maybe they met the girl as she was leaving his house (like he now suspects his brothers I believe?), and with the combination of her having been on his property and his history with the sheriff’s department, they knew he would be an easy target.

                The police find this evidence, and they are convinced it’s Avery, and don’t want him to get out again (or win the settlement). So they plant the key (easy) and the blood. Probably the car too, considering that the deputy had called in it a couple of days prior, and that they women looking for it found it in about 20 minutes. It didn’t necessarily have to be a coordinated effort by the person who committed it and law enforcement.

                I know people say it’s hard to believe that police would frame him, but they LITERALLY already did once. And put him in jail for 18 years for it. If they did it once, they would do it again.

                Not saying that Avery seems like a particularly good guy, I don’t really know, but the evidence didn’t really add up to me.

    1. TowerofJoy*

      Wow. That was good timing. As you can see below I did! I think its incredibly interesting. I have a lot of thoughts but I go back and forth. Like others, I’m not convinced Avery did it but also not convinced he didn’t either. If it was not him, then possibly one of the others – older Dassey brother or Scott seemed very sketchy and were one of the last people to admit seeing her. Given the bus driver, and the ease of having someone to pin it on… I also thought the boyfriend was very sketchy. How do you not remember, when you were part of the search party, the last time you saw someone who is presumed dead and was your significant other at one point in the past? That was a huge “Nope!” moment for me.

      1. Mimmy*

        Haha yup! I’d asked Alison to delete one thread or combine them, so now they’re a little goofed up. My thoughts are a couple of posts down. I went back and forth a lot too, and agree with your assessment.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          They’re now combined, but it’s making references to things being a couple posts down or above/below slightly confusing! Should be set now though.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have very mixed feelings about the case itself, but I think the documentary itself was very well done. I think Dean and Jerry (Steven’s lawyers) are amazing– their willingness to go above and beyond really touched me, and I completely identified with their steadfast adherence to what they thought was legally right.

      I think the way they (the police/investigators) treated Brendan was abhorrent. He needs a new trial, and badly. Even if there is additional evidence that we didn’t see (per some articles I’ve read recently), he didn’t even seem fit to be legally tried as an adult, though I am not a lawyer so take that with a big spoonful of salt. That confession brought me back to the Central Park Five. Oh, and Kachinsky? Smarmy putz, no matter which way you slice it.

      I am not 100% convinced of Steven Avery’s innocence, though I do believe that, from what we saw (and only from what we saw, and I do not believe we saw absolutely everything), there was reasonable doubt. Being a juror is a very tough thing, and I sympathize– I once sat on a jury where we HAD to find one defendant not guilty because the state didn’t make its case. We all thought he probably did it, but we couldn’t say for sure, so we had to let him off. I can imagine the fights in that jury room, and I feel for them.

      I think the state of Wisconsin would do well to investigate law enforcement in that county. Oh, and Ken Kratz is a creep with a creepy voice. The voice! Ugh, I couldn’t get through a single episode without cringing.

      1. TowerofJoy*

        Kratz is an uber creep. He was dismissed in 2010 for attempting to “sext” crime victims. Vile. And I agree about the investigation.

        I think they both deserve a retrial just based on all the mishandling of evidence, the home, the investigation, the media, all of it. Neither got the fair trial we all expect in the States.

      2. Mimmy*

        Yeah I wasn’t too fond of Kachinsky myself. My husband and I were listening to one commentary, and the guy compared this case with Fargo (not sure if he meant the TV show or movie) and compared Kachinsky to William H. Macy’s character, which I can TOTALLY see!

      3. Windchime*

        I watched the show and thought it was fascinating. I have also read a lot of articles and as much as the documentary convinced me that Avery was innocent, some of the articles have convinced me that he is not innocent. So I guess I have reasonable doubt, just based on the limited information I have.

        Part of me thinks he did it. But I also think that there was evidence tampering–maybe the cops thought, “We are going to make sure it sticks this time!”. It’s shocking to me that Brenden is in jail; it’s obvious that poor kid wasn’t competent at the time and his “confession” is not reliable. If he was involved, it was because his uncle told him what to do and he wasn’t bright enough to resist.

        The whole case is so interesting. A terrible thing happened, and I believe that someone on the compound full of people did it. I’m just not sure who.

    3. it happens*

      I’m only on episode six and have a really hard time watching this. Between MaM and Serial season one, I have a lot of doubt about prosecutors and juries. I fear that we have seen so many police procedurals that make it crystal clear who the bad guy is that we have a hard time remembering that the state has a responsibility to PROVE their case beyond a reasonable doubt. And conversely, CSI isn’t real, DNA isn’t present in every case.
      But there is hope, a friend was on a jury in a murder case a few years ago and couldn’t believe how bad the prosecution’s case was (like the video they showed to put the accused at the scene was very clearly someone else) and then how much time it took a good number of the jurors to come to the conclusion that there was at least a doubt (and really, it was just someone else who killed the guy – who was still on the loose) so that they could rule not guilty. He was pissed about the two weeks of his life that were wasted, and only sort of ok with it because he kept an innocent man from jail.
      I just don’t want anyone I know to ever have to be in any situation with law enforcement. And that saddens me. I do not mean to say that all law enforcement is bad, just that there are people who are not representing the best interests of the citizenry.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Also? I really, really want to know who the “international recording artist” on the jury was. Because I am nosy as hell.

      1. Stephanie*

        I’m surprised that person would have even made the final cut. I was always under the impression famous people like that were cut during voir dire (except for somewhere like DC…they seemed hard up for any jurors while I lived there).

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I doubt it’s someone truly famous. Maybe someone who sings backup for recordings in Milwaukee and Toronto. :) If this took place in Minnesota, though, we’d all think it was Prince!

      2. :)*

        This is from the Rolling Stone magazine website:
        1. Who the hell is the international recording artist who was released from the jury?
        Richard Mahler, listed in the documentary as an “international recording artist,” is actually just a local dude with a local band, according to TMZ. Mahler’s outfit, the Rick Raybine Band, played the National Anthem at a NASCAR event once; as for how he got the label, Mahler told the site that a reporter described him that way once and it just stuck. Mahler was ultimately dismissed from the jury for a family emergency after he sat in deliberations for four hours.

    5. Sunshine Brite*

      I think Avery did it based on other articles, etc. but I think there was enough police misconduct to raise reasonable doubt. Throughout the additional evidence I’ve only really seen facts against him, not Brendan. I think he needs someone to really look at his case and go to bat for him. That confession and no attempt to try and determine the extent of his disabilities is enough for me to say that he was treated unfairly.

      Police in general need to re-examine their methods including assumption and bias across the board. As I said, I think Avery did it, but the conflicts of interest and general questionable tactics almost had a murderer go free at the same time as convicting a teenager who probably wasn’t as culpable as he was found because of the same tactics.

  16. Trixie*

    I’ve rediscovered my empathy for those working full-time jobs and have zero energy for working out. I’m back in a working routine and need to do better as far healthier lunches/snacks. If I eat better, I’ll have more energy and more likely to be motivated to doing something after work rather than crashing at home. I also think my key tactic is going straight to gym or walking from work with no detour by home. If I’m still working when the weather warms up, it’ll be easier to get out for walks and get the heart rate. Maybe bike to/from work.

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Oh my goodness, yes. If I sit down on the couch, it’s over. But if I can get it together enough to do other stuff, even chores, first thing when I get home, it’s much easier to incorporate a workout as well. The darkness makes it hard, too–when the sun goes down at 5pm I’m reeeaaaaally unmotivated to do anything else.

      1. Trixie*

        It’s even hard to stay motivated at gym because with New Year’s, there are always new members for a couple months so it’s extra crowded and busy.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      Is there any possibility of working out in the morning? That’s how I manage to do it — I’d make it to the gym MAYBE once a week if I did it after work, since you never know when you’re going to leave the office with advertising. (Plus, people are also pretty relaxed about what time you show up to work in the morning — 9:30 is totally fine.)

      It takes a lot of getting used to, but once it’s a habit, it sticks — my whole sleep schedule shifted to accommodate a morning workout, and now I wake up fairly early even on mornings I don’t have to work out. I also sometimes go to sleep dressed in my workout clothes — this is something I learned when I was just starting to work out in the morning, and it definitely makes it easier to actually get up and get out the door when your alarm goes off.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        I will likely be returning to full time work soon (yay!) and I think this is going to be my plan. In the past I’ve been a teacher, so working out before work was just not gonna happen. But in my new position I won’t need to be in until 9am, so I think I can make morning workouts happen.

      2. Dear Liza dear liza*

        This. AND I have a friend whom I work out with, and if one of us tries to bail, we guilt trip her hard. I realized exactly how effective this was last year when she broke her ankle and couldn’t work out for 6 weeks. I did nothing for those weeks.

      3. edj3*


        If I miss my morning workout, it flat doesn’t happen. Like AdAgencyChick, I get up a little earlier, get it done and then feel virtuous the rest of the day.

    3. NDQ*

      I struggle with this. My job requires a lot of thinking, solving problems that require a lot of negotiation among parties that don’t want to give an inch, piles of documentation, and working with a difficult population of people. When work is done for the day, I’m toast.

      I realize I will have to make time in the morning, before work begins or it won’t happen.


  17. Fleur*

    I just wanted to thank everyone who left me comments on the new year’s post. Work is still awful, but I’ve started learning guitar with the help of Rocksmith and I’m starting voice lessons in February! Very excited to have something to look forward to when I go home.

    New year’s resolution: become a walking stereotype and learn to sing/play wonderwall, just for the lulz to amuse my friends.

    1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      Rocksmith is awesome! I love the rhythm on Paint in Black, and I’ve almost got Losing my Religion *down*. I bought a cheapie Billy Squier 3/4 Fender, and I’m a happy camper.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, as a distinguished and sedate older gentleman, he does not join in the frolicking, but he enjoys watching her and wants very much to bury his face in her fur and sniff her when her back is turned.

      1. GOG11*

        What kind of markings does Sam have? I have a cat that has similar markings and I’ve always wondered what the name for it was. I refer to him as a turtle brownie, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the technical term…

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes, Sam is the orange one in the back! The one in the front is Eve, who is apparently called a cream tortoiseshell (or a diluted tortoiseshell).

            1. GOG11*

              Does Sam have stripes, like a tabby, or more like swirls and splotches? It looks like swirls to me, which is what my cat has and I didn’t know what that is called. If he’s actually striped, please disregard my question :)

  18. Carrie in Scotland*

    So I’m trying to cook more (save money/be healthier) but one thing I’m finding really hard is getting over the fact that my food is cooked and I’m not going to kill myself. Like yesterday I cooked chicken in a frying pan and put noodles and sauce in it but all I could think when I started eating was “what if it’s not cooked?”

    1. MsChandandlerBong*

      I would suggest investing in an instant-read thermometer. Then you can check the temperature and know for sure that it’s safe to eat. I use a thermometer when I cook whole chickens, and it’s a life-saver. After you’ve been cooking for a while, you’ll start to remember the cook times for various cuts/thicknesses (e.g. I cook whole chicken thighs for 40 minutes, but if I cut chicken into small pieces and cook it in a skillet, it really only takes about 10 minutes).

      1. Artemesia*

        Those thermometers are cheap and super easy to use. My husband makes cappuccinos every day and so needs to measure the heat of the milk when he foams it — and I use his thermometer when I am cooking. Cheap. Easy.

    2. Blurgle*

      Are you worried about undercooking chicken?

      If it’s the chicken, if it’s in big pieces (like whole thighs) you can check the internal temperature of the largest piece with a thermometer; with smaller pieces like stir fry strips, just tear a piece in half in the pot and look to see if it’s pink on the inside.

    3. Sparkly Librarian*

      A meat thermometer is helpful for larger cuts. If you’re cooking a chicken breast, though, just cut it open and see whether it’s pink on the inside. Cooked chicken is white and opaque. You can tell even once there’s sauce on it.

        1. Gene*

          For what you are doing, you want an instant or quick read thermometer. If you just ask for a “meat thermometer” you’ll likely end up with a slow response one intended to be inserted before you start cooking something like a roast.

          1. RG*

            Oh… That makes a lot of sense. I thought I’d just gotten a bad thermometer – something not unexpected for a $3 price tag.

        2. Blurgle*

          Are you near an IKEA? They have one for $10 Canadian – not sure what that is in sterling – that doubles as a timer.

    4. GOG11*

      I have the same fear so I just don’t cook chicken (or other meats, but I’m especially afraid of undercooked chicken). I eat a lot of vegetarian meals and sometimes use mushroom or soy based meat substitutes that are actually very tasty. Using a meat thermometer is probably the least disruptive/drastic solution, though.

      1. hermit crab*

        Yeah, if cooking meat makes you nervous, learning some solid vegetarian recipes can be a GREAT way to start gaining confidence in the kitchen. That’s what my husband did (and still does — this works well for us, since he likes to eat meat and I don’t, so our dinners are mostly veggie and he gets his meat fix buying takeout for lunch or whatever).

        Besides, cooking with beans or lentils is super cheap and healthy and all that. Or it can be completely unhealthy and full of cheese, which is also excellent. :)

        Anyway, I’m part of an awesome vegetarian lunch club at work, so I’ve gathered a bunch of tasty recipes lately and am happy to share if you (or anyone else) wants!

          1. hermit crab*

            1. Start with the beans and rice recipe from the back of the Goya can ( basically this – http://www.food.com/recipe/classic-black-beans-and-rice-46221) but use brown rice, put in the whole green pepper and a bunch of mushrooms, and substitute some turmeric and cayenne pepper for the oregano and sugar.

            2. Total comfort-food chickpea casserole – http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-chickpea-casserole-with-137473

            3. Baked eggplant parm, courtesy of Martha Stewart – http://www.marthastewart.com/313564/baked-eggplant-parmesan

            4. Crockpot cheese heaven – http://lecremedelacrumb.com/2014/12/slow-cooker-enchilada-quinoa.html

            5. Baked lentils, from a fellow AAM commenter – http://itjustdawned.blogspot.com/2015/03/baked-lentils.html#.VpG1bRUrLIU (I added mushrooms to this one too and it ended up tasting miraculously similar to my grandma’s pot roast, if you can believe it)

            6. Beautiful cauliflower egg thing that tastes like tortilla espanola but is easier and healthier – http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-cauliflower-cake-recipes-from-the-kitchn-217980

            7. Spaghetti squash tacos – http://lemonsandbasil.com/vegetarian-spaghetti-squash-tacos/

            8. Kale & bean soup – http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11001/portuguese-kale-white-bean-soup.html

            9. Chickpea “tuna” salad – http://www.thekitchn.com/vegetarian-lunch-chickpea-of-t-114022

    5. Treena*

      The best part about cooking for yourself is that you can just cut it open and see for yourself, no worries about presentation/looks needed =)

      1. LizB*

        This! Before I got an instant-read thermometer, I ate lots of burgers and chicken thighs cut into halves/quarters because I wanted to be 100% sure they were done in the middle. They still taste yummy!

    6. Trill*

      Cook vegetarian! Things like beans and lentils are not only cheap and healthy, but undercooking them won’t make you sick!

    7. Mike C.*

      You can by thermometers that have timers on the outside that beep when the correct internal temperature has been reached. They’re around $20.

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

        I bought mine thanks to Good Eats. I think I’ve gone through three of them.

        I covet Alton’s thermometer collection.

    8. AVP*

      This might not help if you’re trying to save money, but I try to buy the slightly more expensive organic meat and eggs almost solely so I can think to myself, “what if it’s not cooked? oh well it was too expensive to have salmonella!”

      I realize that that’s an imaginative leap but answering my nonsensical anxiety with this nonsensical technique seems to work.

    9. Stephanie*

      Agreeing with everyone about the meat thermometer. Also, if you’re just learning to cook meat, you’re probably going to overcook it tbh at the beginning. Especially chicken–it’s pretty easy to turn the heat up too heat and get a hockey puck.

    10. vegetarian meals!*

      I would echo some other commenters and try some vegetarian cooking. I am vegetarian now, but for years before that I never cooked meat for myself. There are a lot of easy vegetarian recipes on the internet.

  19. Blurgle*

    I’m really having problems with wanting to slap people because they can’t stop saying how it’s “cold and rainy” where they live. I mean, slap right upside the head angry. IT IS NOT COLD IF IT IS WARM ENOUGH TO RAIN.

    1. Anonyby*

      To be fair to us who live in “cold and rainy”, our bodies tend to be calibrated for the warmer weather, and so for us it truly is cold. (And we also tend not to have the wardrobe to handle anything more extreme, because we don’t need it!)

      1. Tau*

        Or the infrastructure!

        One of my perennial gripes about living in the UK is badly-insulated houses with single-glazed windows, lots of draughts, etc. The last year I was in Scotland, I was in this terribly energy inefficient ground-floor flat that just sucked the heat out of everything. If I didn’t have the heat running full blast, the temperature in my bedroom would rocket down to 14 C. In the meantime, it got far colder in my hometown in Germany, but as a result people put a lot more effort into insulation etc. and being inside was far more comfortable.

        1. blackcat*

          Oh yes, this is a big factor. My parents (in a relatively warm climate where temps dip below freezing only 5-10 nights/year) spend more on heating than I do (Boston, where it’s been warm this year, but where temps can get below 0F). My house has awesome windows and insulation. When they had to open up a wall, they found *no* insulation. So it takes as much energy to keep their house ~15-30 (F) degrees warmer than the outdoors as it does to keep mine ~30-50 (F) degrees warmer than the outside. It’s insane what good construction can do.

          1. Windchime*

            My old house was built in 1929 and was insulated with sawdust. I don’t know if that’s common around other parts of the country, but the town I lived in had a sawmill back in they and lots of the houses used sawdust as insulation. And it worked about as well as you might think (as in, not very well).

        2. Hellanon*

          Yeah, that would be Southern California. Older houses were built without insulation and with single-glazed windows (and inadequate furnaces), so when it’s 40 degrees outside my bedroom, it is 45 degrees inside my bedroom. I can run a space heater, but “warm & toasty is not what results…

          1. Blurgle*

            I have a Facebook friend in southern California whose heating bill dwarfs mine up here in the frozen north.

            1. Artemesia*

              We lived in an old bungalow in Nashville — maybe 1500 square feet. We moved to a new home that was 3000 square feet and our heating bill dropped in half. Modern insulation and we didn’t even have double glazed windows is so superior to whatever it was they were doing in the 20s when our first place was built.

        3. Marcela*

          Yes. Yes. People think I am joking when I say I’ve been colder in the San Francisco bay area than in Boston. I spend more in heating and I get less comfort!

    2. Clever Name*

      Ha ha. I live in Denver, and snow in May is typical. Spring basically sucks here, but I set so tired of people whining, “when will it be spring?” I want to shout, “it IS spring! Spring here means snow”

      1. TowerofJoy*

        Yeah, but Denver’s weather is so erratic and impossible to predict most of the time. Snow for the weather casters there is basically “0-12 inches! Its a crapshoot!” And for 70% of the year it could be a good day for a pool or shoveling out under 12 inches. If anyone deserves to whine about weather its Denverites.

    3. Gene*

      A few years after I’d moved from South Dakota to Phoenix, I had real trouble explaining to friends back there that we were wearing gloves and winter coats when it got down into the 50s.

    4. Cath in Canada*

      There are different types of cold. To me, a prolonged period of damp, wet, dreary cold weather somehow *feels* colder than a clear, sunny, crisp cold day – even when the latter is up to 10C colder!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Totally agree, if I am commenting on the rain and cold I am actually thinking about the dreariness of it.

      2. CC*

        When it’s dry, layers actually work and (if you’ve picked the right ones) keep you comfortable. When it’s wet, your layers just get damp and clammy. Brr.

        I think below freezing and clear is much easier to take than a bit above freezing and rainy.

        1. Nashira*

          Honestly, if your layers stop being warm when they get damp, you aren’t wearing the right materials. Cotton kills since it loses its warmth once it gets wet, but good polyester (like for outdoor base layers), wool, and silk retain their warmth even if they’re damp.

          1. CC*

            They retain some of their warmth, yes. Wool is the best material ever. But – not all of it. Damp cold just feels chillier than dry cold, even with wool layers.

      3. Talvi*

        This, exactly! Damp cold gets into your bones in a way that dry cold doesn’t. This is why -15C in Edmonton is far more tolerable to me than 0C in rainy Vancouver (and why the statement “But at least it’s a dry cold” is something that does actually get said when putting up with -30C weather).

        1. Blue_eyes*

          Yes! I grew up in Seattle, and damp cold certainly does get in your bones. It’s the same way with heat – humid heat feels much worse than dry heat.

    5. mander*

      Even if it’s 40 F outside, rain makes everything feel cold. Especially when you are working outside in mud up to your calves.

    6. Dan*

      Are you really that upset? I grew up not far from the Canadian border, and will unabashedly tell you that 33 and raining is pretty close to some of the most uncomfortable weather.

      Give me 25 and snowing any day.

        1. Dan*

          But are you really that upset? “Cold and rainy” by definition means a temp above 32F/0C.

          You won’t catch me saying “it’s cold outside” for temps above about 30, if there is no rain and the winds are fairly calm. But 33 and rain? Yup, it’s cold and rainy, no matter what the temp is where you are!

    7. Lady Bug*

      Yeah, I’m cold (and really angry) when its under 50. And its not hot until the temperature is 3 digits. My husband wears flip flops when its 20. Cold is very individual.

    8. Mephyle*

      I grew up in Canada (so I know cold) but now I live in a semi-tropical country. When it’s cold here we suffer even though it never gets down to freezing because the climate isn’t quite cold enough for having central heating. It (the suffering) was something I wouldn’t have understood before I lived here. Normally the climate self-regulating because winter is the dry season so it’s sunny every day and it warms up at midday. But from time to time there’s a run of unseasonally cloudy winter days and then it just gets colder and colder and there is nowhere at all to warm up. It is cold outside. It is just as cold inside the house. I get slack about putting away leftovers in the fridge because it’s practically as cold in the kitchen overnight as in the fridge.

    9. Stephanie*

      Eh, depends what you’re used to. It’s been dreary and rainy in Phoenix all week due to El Nino. So sure, 42 and rainy isn’t -4 and whiteout conditions, but it’s pretty unpleasant.

    10. Anonymous Educator*

      There is such a thing as freezing rain. Of course, if you live in a place with average winter temperatures in the teens fahrenheit, you’ll be annoyed at any relatively warm place’s people complaining about the weather, but 30 or 32 and raining is, in fact, cold and raining… and not fun!

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Freezing rain is the worst. We had almost-freezing rain the other day, and I had to get out and walk all over campus running errands to the admin building and the bookstore. My shoes weren’t waterproof, so I spent the rest of the day grumpy at my desk with wet, cold socks. I should have gone home and gotten into slippers and jammies.

    11. misspiggy*

      If you live in the UK you have the joy of horizontal wind smashing water into your face and the fabric of your house – ‘it’, as in the immediate environment, is most definitely cold at that point. Give me a dry, -20 Central Asian winter over England’s 10 degree feast of damp and rain.

    12. CheeryO*

      Well, I don’t know about -40, but I’d take a dry day in the single digits over 30s and rain any day. It’s hard to dress for a cold rain if you don’t have the right gear.

    13. danr*

      Sorry, at 35-40 deg F it is cold, especially with rain. At 75, it’s nice and warm, even when it’s raining. And, when it’s raining and 28 deg F outside, it’s a real mess as the rain freezes on contact with whatever it lands on.

        1. Dan*

          You mentioned that already.

          I hope you’re dressing warm. You can get frostbite PDQ if you’re not careful! Oh, don’t touch your tongue to a metal surface outdoors, it will stick. Keep some spare blankets in your trunk. I was watching a TV show based in Alaska, they have something called “bunny boots.” Do you have a pair?

  20. Francesca*

    A counterpoint to my “yay, new job!” post in Friday’s thread – I got dumped over Christmas by my boyfriend of 2+ years. The archives of Captain Awkward have been serving me well, and I know I’ll survive, but man. Break ups suck. I wish there was a way to get over this that didn’t involve just waiting for it to get better.

    1. Perpetua*

      I so very agree with the suckage of breakups and the necessity of time and just the UGH of the whole thing, and you have my complete sympathy. :virtual stranger hug:

      I ended a 2,5 year relationship exactly a year ago, and even though I initiated the breakup, it hurt immensely and left me reeling for the rest of the year. When I posted here about it, I cherished the support I got from strangers, and felt a tiny bit better being reminded that I was so not alone in my pain (although I still longed for a magic wand to take the pain away *g*). One of the comments, from Not So New Reader, really stuck with me (thank you once again!):

      Picture a filing cabinet drawer filled with files. Picture that some one takes the file drawer out and dumps EVERYTHING on the floor. Now you have to pick it all up and put it back. But you decide that you’d like to update your filing system, reorganize it some and make it more relevant to your current needs/setting.

      This is what grief does. It takes all our memories and dumps them out on the floor for us to look at. Oh, what a mess- there’s this, that and the next thing. Slowly and carefully we pick up each memory and put it in a new place and use it in a different manner. Yeah, this is time consuming. It’s also an investment – it keeps our brains healthier in the long run and it causes us to reframe our experiences and find a sharper definition of who we are. This almost never comes without pain, though. Respect your process. The time it takes is the time it takes. Cry when you need to. Speak gently to yourself. Will you always remember this time? Yes. You will never forget. Allow it to shape you in good ways.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        One final thing, and I have to guess that Perpetua kind of figured this out, so I will just say it.

        When you reach a point where you try to help someone process their grief, you are closing the circle on your process. New Life is starting to make a little more sense and the Grief is a little less raw. What I am saying is that by helping another person with their grief we can help to heal our own.
        I guess I just told you bunches about me, eh?

        Rock on, Perpetua!
        Francesca, find one thing that does not remind you of your ex. Finding that first thing is tough so hang in there. There good news is, it can be anything- a new flavor of ice cream or hanging out with a friend – it can be anything. That thing is the seed to your new normal. After you find that first thing, and dang it is hard, you will find a second thing much quicker. Keep building your collection of things that do not remind you of him. And that is how you move yourself through grief. Don’t rush your process and don’t look for a cure tomorrow. Remember to allow grieve to thoughtfully shape you and your life.

        1. Perpetua*

          It’s a nice way of looking at it, as closing the circle. :) 2015 was very challenging, surprising me in so many ways (both good and bad), but it has been truly a transformative experience and I’d say that my life is better off for it.

          With all the people you’ve helped with your words, I believe/hope you’ve helped yourself in many ways. :) Do you write anywhere else?

          1. Not So NewReader*

            “but it has been truly a transformative experience and I’d say that my life is better off for it.”

            I doubt I will ever stop being in awe of how this works. Some how we get through the raw pain and we start to realize all the different ways we have grown. In some cases the new experiences that we have, never would have happened without the painful event.

            Truth be told, you guys have helped me. I try to make sense out of what I see around me and, man, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s when I start talking with others that the ah-ha moments happen. A good friend was just saying, “I see so much wrong with this world, I don’t know where to begin.” He had an almost straight-jacketing sense of being overwhelmed. It’s good to know I am not alone in having this thought. We talked about what we can do that is within our reach. All I have ever figured out is to ask for help when needed and give help as often as possible. Anything else boggles the mind.

            Nope. I don’t write any where else. I like it here, I get more here than I could ever possibly put in, it’s the collective genius of the group of participants here.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      You *might* want to look at some of the articles on baggagereclaim dot co dot uk She tends to focus more on “I’ve been dumped… now what?” but she also does posts on self esteem. And like this blog, she now has books and merch because it’s grown so popular.

  21. Nervous relative*

    I guess I’ll just throw it out there–do parents (or to be) think about what will happen to their kids when God forbid they pass away? As in who will take custody of them? I can’t say I ever came across this discussion in online forums or with friends who have kids of their own. I’m not sure if it’s because so personal or just not something that’s really taken into consideration.

    My spouse and I already have our list ready and were nowhere near being parents (yet).

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      I overplan, so of course I’ve thought about it. I also knew that if my parents had both died when my sister and I were minors, our aunt and uncle would have been the ones to take custody. This was something that my parents asked and arranged when they were updating their wills in my early teens. (Before that, it might have been my godmother or perhaps my grandparents.) It’s very important to communicate those plans / put them in writing in case something should happen unexpectedly.

    2. katamia*

      I’m a somewhat obsessive reader of advice columns, and the topic has come up a few times with readers writing in on both sides–parents who are trying to figure out who to ask and people who have been asked to take in other people’s children in case the worst happens. I don’t know if my parents had anyone in mind to take me if something had happened to them when I was a child, but it never came up. I don’t have kids and don’t want to have any, but I know I’d be thinking about it if I did and would probably have several people in mind.

    3. fposte*

      I see it come up, actually; I think it just depends on which corner of the Internet you’re in.

      Remember that all you can do is express your wishes anyway–you can’t will somebody your kids.

      1. Nervous relative*

        These kids are being raised by a single parent and in any unfortunate event, I want to be the one to raise them. I don’t know how to bring it up to the parent: 1) I burst into tears at the thought of it and 2) we’ve never had a close relationship and its difficult at best to hold a conversation with them.

        1. fposte*

          Is the parent ill in a way that makes this imminent? Or is this just a thought?

          Either way, I don’t think the way to approach it is to say that you want to be the one to raise them–your wants aren’t really the primary concern. I think you *can* say that you hope she knows how much you love little Lucinda and that anything you can do to help her along in life, whether it be becoming her guardian or staying a close and helpful friend, would be your pleasure.

          But this sounds a little like you might be trying to forestall somebody else raising the child. And that’s a whole other kettle of fish of the kind that often end up in court. (And if it’s the other parent you want to forestall, that is tough to do.)

          1. Nervous relative*

            No, perfect health thank goodness. Just a thought that occurred to me. Their other parent doesn’t have any custodial rights anymore, but they weren’t a good parent when they did.

            That’s a good point about how to approach and frame it.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              Many people don’t like planning these sorts of things, so your relative may not have thought about it — much easier to toss it off with a “that’s never going to happen!” You might just want to broach the subject in a casual way “Spouse and I have been thinking about when/if we have children and one of the things we were thinking about was what we would do if something happened to us and our kids weren’t old enough to be on their own. Do you have a guardian for YourChild? How did you decide who to pick?/It seems like such a big decision, I don’t know if I would know who to choose.” Yes, your relative may laugh you off as being “silly” or whatever to be worried about something like that when you don’t even have kids yet, or “you’ll know” but that would be the time be “I’m serious. I’m glad you have OtherRelative who has agreed to be the guardian for YourChild in case the unthinkable happened.”

              The problem is that if your relative thinks you would be a good parent, then offering to be the guardian would be received well. If they would rather have wild dogs raising their child (for whatever reason), then it won’t be. You may think you would be a suitable guardian, but they might not. That’s the risk you run. Maybe you could ask their sibling/parent/favourite aunt if they have a plan. But, when my mother was in a similar situation, she chose a friend to be my guardian (which probably wouldn’t have held up in court, but that’s something else entirely). If you’re not close to this relative, I would suggest that you make an effort to be more friendly with her, help her out, offer to babysit, what have you. Because I doubt she would be comfortable leaving her child to someone who isn’t an important part of her life right now. Also, having been on the receiving end of the less than tender mercies of a relative we barely knew following her death, I would have to say that it sucked to be at the mercy of someone who was essentially a stranger.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          In real life, I know of an instance where Relative ran and got the kid right when the parent died. The kid stayed with the Relative through the chaos that naturally follows. The court awarded custody to Relative, in part because of the Relative’s quick response and on-going care for the child.

          Actions speak louder than words, sometimes.

      2. TheLazyB (uk)*

        I don’t think that’s true in the uk, but I would love someone to give a definitive answer there.

        I would hope my youngest sis would take on my son if the worst happened, but it would be a ‘least worst’ option.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Gah, the thought of anyone on my side of the family raising my kids is just — no, no, no. My mom and dad weren’t able to raise us, as it interfered with their drug use, drinking, and carrying on with members of their respective opposite sexes. We were raised by my grandparents, but all my siblings have their own messed-up ways of getting by that don’t seem compatible with child-raising. My husband’s sister is our choice, but we seem to have made it most of the way through child-rearing more or less alive; our youngest is fifteen.

      3. Ruffingit*

        You actually can, in a sense. You designate who you want to care for your children as well as a second (and possibly third) alternative and if it should ever come up, the court will see if any of those people are willing and able to take on the responsibility.

        1. fposte*

          Sorry, that wasn’t clear–yes, it’s a useful way to identify your wishes and the court will be interested. But as people are saying about stupid movies, it doesn’t mean the person you name is officially on the hook, or that if you name your sister instead of your ex that the kid can’t end up with your ex.

    4. Treena*

      I think most people choose the most familial/domestic people that they are closest to. In a lot of movies that deal with this, it seems that the parents choose the people who they feel embody them or something, and they seem to always be the least skilled in parenting. For most people, it’ll be a combination. A lot of people don’t talk about it because it’s something you do once, decide, ask the person for their ok, get the documents drawn up and leave it at that.

      I know my parents decided on the only aunt that had one child, as opposed to 2-5 children like our other aunts/uncles. My parents had 3 children, so it was a lot to take in all of us, and she was the logical choice.

      1. NJ Anon*

        For us it was the relative who was raising her kids the most similar to how we were raising ours. She has 4 of her own and we have 3. The kids are all adults now but that was my thought process at the time.

    5. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      For many people, this is part of the traditional role of godparents. I know that my godparents would have gotten custody of me if my parents had passed away, and my parents would have taken in their children in the opposite situation (since each set served as godparents for the others). For lots of others, it’s siblings (either with or without children of their own). I think it comes up with some frequency depending on where you read.

      1. Artemesia*

        Godparents have no legal standing for guardianship; it is an entirely separate thing. So if you want or expect the godparents to be guardians you have to specify that. If there are relatives who want them (and their money) then they are likely to prevail if no specific guardianship plans are in writing in the will.

    6. the gold digger*

      That is why you write a will, designate a guardian, and get life insurance.

      I have never understood the plots of the movies “Raising Helen” and the one where Katherine Hegel and some guy are the guardians of some kid, much to their surprise. Has nobody in Hollywood heard of life insurance?

      1. Mike C.*

        Yeah, seriously. If you’re going to the cost and trouble to get a lawyer to make up these documents then you can stop by the insurance office and take out a policy.

      2. Artemesia*

        Life insurance doesn’t raise a kid. But yeah — anyone with kids should have a huge term life insurance policy for their minority.

      3. Bibliovore*

        Just a thank you to the gold digger. Because you have shared your trials and tribulations, the husband and I have made the will. The executor gets a big fee off the top for the tsuris. The dog (or any future pets) has an assigned caregiver ( who knows she would be going to her) with generous upkeep and vet money. All of the brothers and nieces and nephews get a little something as well as designated charities. Every time something comes into the house I think…do I want other people to deal with this if a die. (kind of the opposite of “does this spark joy?”

    7. dawbs*

      I will say Mr. Dawbs and I changed our opinion on who to tap pretty dramatically post-kid-existing.

      Not because our original choice (a relative we adore, w/ a wonderful family, who lives on the other side of the country) isn’t wonderful, but because now that we’ve *MET* our kid and we know our kid’s issues, we can picture some of the challenges that will be raising her–and our new choice (a relative w/o kids–but who would absolutely rise to the challenge–and yes, we asked, who lives here and who has an amazing relationship w/ the little one) would be more able to handle those issues in the way that most mirrors what’s important to us.

      And I think it’s safe to say that it may change again once we hit teen-ager-hood. (or maybe she’ll magically not be challenging then. bwahahahaha)

      (also ana side, in the reality of how big of a thing you’re asking of someone–our guardian of choice is also the executor for our parent’s will…she has mockingly forbidden our parents + my husband and I from traveling together w/o the kid or her because she says that would be TOTALLY unfair. Morbid, huh? but really, it would be unfairly huge)

    8. Artemesia*

      I think most parents have made arrangements — I know we certainly did. We certainly did with one Uncle and Aunt designated and a second as backup. WE also staged their inheritance so that they didn’t come into all of it until they were 35. If we had died when they were minors we would have had all of our retirement unspent, and our life insurance as well as our net worth — we were worth a lot more dead than alive and when you are planning for this eventuality you don’t know what kind of people your kids will be at 21. We didn’t want them being destroyed by money or running through it. When they were both adults, we redid the will to make them co-executors and to have immediate control. All moot but with kids, yeah you really do have to make financial and personal plans for kids you might leave behind. Otherwise the person who grabs them up first may be exactly the last person you want raising them. It is even a bigger issue if you don’t have a close relative whom you would want in that role.

    9. blackcat*

      My parents made plans and communicated them to both me and my brother from a young age. I don’t really remember how it was brought up, but I do know the plan when we were little was one of my dad’s siblings (who lived across the country). When we hit middle/high school, they changed plans so that both my brother and I would have (individually) gone to live with our best friends’ families (and those two families are/were close), along with large sums of money in trust funds (so that those families wouldn’t have a financial burden). That would have kept us in the same schools/around the same people, which would have been important to us as adolescents. These plans were formalized in my parents’ will.

      Planning carefully and keeping the kids in the loop (in an age appropriate way) is important. I think it’s irresponsible to not make concrete, legalized plans for kids.

    10. Tara R.*

      I frequently stress about something happening to my mom. I’m not currently equipped to raise my brother, but there is no effing way my dad is getting sole custody. If I had to drop out of school and get a crappy job and an apartment, I would; but I *hope* my aunt and uncle would be willing to take him in (although I have some issues with their parenting, they are at least not drug addicts or prone to manic rages/depressions, so they are a step up). The older he gets the less it weighs on me– at this point he’s probably old enough that I could reasonably raise him on minimum wage (no daycare requirements, growing is slowing down a bit so fewer clothes) and I could probably still reasonably have the schooling career route I want, just delayed by some years.

    11. anon this time*

      Yes, they do. I had anxiety about my custodial parent dying as a kid (which apparently is common in kids with single parents) and asked about what would happen if my custodial parent died. I always knew I would go to Relative X first, then Relative Y, then Relative Z.

    12. Tuxedo Kitler*

      Our big issue is that I can’t think of anyone I trust enough to do it. Definitely not family.

  22. katamia*

    I’m trying to read more books by non-US/non-European authors and am wondering if anyone has any suggestions. I’m pretty flexible on genre, but I really don’t like mysteries and usually tend to go for science fiction, fantasy, horror, and historical fiction in general. Some authors I’ve enjoyed in the past are Cixin Liu, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, and Vikram Seth.

    1. katamia*

      And, rereading my list, bonus points will be given for female authors, since all the ones I listed are male. Gah.

      1. AVP*

        Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s books are lovely! I loved ‘Americanah’ but ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ falls into the historical fiction realm, set in Nigeria / Biafra during the 1960’s. (Do not be tempted to watch the movie first even though it’s streaming on netflix right now!)

        1. AVP*

          As an aside, it’s pretty depressing that I can’t think of more non-western women authors right now. I feel like there are some amazing writers coming out of Southeast Asia and South America right and I can think of approximately zero of them.

          1. dancer*

            I know of plenty of female, South Asian writers, but most of them don’t write genre fiction like SF or fantasy. I’m happy to recommend some if you’re interested.

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      Buzzfeed have a books section and lists and such. You could have a look there for books and authors that are non-US/European.

    3. GOG11*

      I liked Lin Yutang’s essays. I usually race through most books and his stuff made me slow down. It wasn’t that it was uninteresting but rather that the subjects and his writing style made me go at a more leisurely pace, which was surprisingly enjoyable.

    4. acmx*

      Out – Natsuo Kirinio is a Japanese female author. But this might be more mystery/thriller and not your genre.
      In the Miso Soup Ryu Murakami (male, no relation to Haruki) Thriller
      Sara Novic Girl at War

      Any other authors I can think of write mysteries.

      1. lonepear*

        I was going to recommend Out before I saw this post, so I will just second it. :-)

        I’d also recommend works by Jose Saramago (especially Blindness) and Peter Høeg (Smilla’s Sense of Snow is his best known, but I really enjoyed A History of Danish Dreams also).

        1. lonepear*

          Totally ignoring that you said non-European too with Høeg, but–as penance two more recommendations, Kobo Abe, whose work is darkly surrelaist, and Borges and the Eternal Orangutans by Luis Fernando Verissimo.

      2. acmx*

        If you scroll through this post to the author has a women’s author and POC challenge. You have to click on the images to see the names (no links to the books) but might give you some ideas. I don’t know the nationality of these authors.
        http://bibliosanctum (dot) com/2016/01/04/tiaras-tentative-2016-reading-goalschallenges/

    5. CanadianUniversityReader*

      There are some great Canadian authors. Kenneth Oppel has an interesting series called Airborn. It’s sci-fi with some steam-punk and history thrown in. There’s also Kelly Armstrong. She’s written a lot of fantasy books. I’d recommend Bitten and The Darkest Power series. They are both great writers.

      1. dancer*

        Aren’t those books more YA? I think remember my sister reading Kelly Armstrong in high school. My favourite Canadian author has to be Guy Gavriel Kay :)

    6. literateliz*

      Clarice Lispector! Her complete short stories were just released for the first time in English and they are fantastic.

    7. it happens*

      Second clarice lispector.
      Also Elena ferrante. Sorta literary chick lit, but really good examination of women’s relationships over time. Four novels that follow two friends from Naples over the course of their lives.
      Also Isabel Allende – Chilean.
      Haruki murakami – Japanese magic realism.
      Check out goodreads, too
      Have fun!

    8. Overeducated and underemployed*

      Nnedi Okorafor – she’s Nigerian American, if that counts, and has written a couple great fantasy/Sci Fi novels.

    9. dancer*

      I highly recommend Aliette de Bodard. I believe she was born and raised in France, but her family is originally from Vietnam. She mainly writes Sci-Fi/Fantasy from the perspective of non-European characters. I particularly like the short stories and novellas from the Xuya universe, many of which are available for free around the internet.

      I also like Lauren Beukes who is South African. Zoo City in particular was pretty good.

      There’s an sci-fi/fantasy anthology of short stories called Long Hidden which have many stories from non-European/non-North American authors and focuses on stories about marginalized people, but it had a limited publishing run and may be hard to find.

      1. dancer*

        Oh! Another short story anthology: The Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee.

        Also, I know it’s not non-European/non-North American, but I loved the Ancillary Trilogy by Ann Leckie…

    10. Mean Something*

      If you like science fiction and have enjoyed Garcia Marquez and Murakami, may I recommend a very good collection called The Magic and the Real? It is a collection of short stories by Latin American women, edited by Celia Correas de Zapata. It includes stories by Lispector and Allende (both mentioned upthread), as well as by some other writers I didn’t know. Some are firmly in the magical realism tradition, others not so much. There’s a science-fictiony parable, “The IWM 100,” by an Ecuadorian writer, Alicia Yanez Cossio (sorry for lack of diacritical marks), and “In the Family,” a kind of ghost story by Carmen Naranjo (Cuba), among others. I think it’s a great collection, and you may find more writers to read.

    11. ginger ale for all*

      One book that is just in and out and repaired often in the academic library that I work in is Things Fall Apart and I think the author’s name is Achebe.

    12. Blue_eyes*

      Fanny Buitrago (Colombia) – Señora de la miel (Señora Honeycomb or Mrs. Honeycomb in English translations)
      Elena Poniatowska (Mexico) – lots of works available in English
      José Ovejero (Spain) – Nunca pasa nada (Nothing Ever Happens), not sure if any of his other works have been translated into English

      (Finally, my degree in Spanish lit is coming in handy!)

      1. Glod Glodsson*

        Hey! I’ve actually been making a push to read less genre literature by white dudes myself, so here’s a couple I read recently and really enjoyed:

        Karen Lord – Redemption in Indigo.
        This is a modern take on a Sengalese folk tale, and it’s written in the oral tradition. I loved this one. It doesn’t offer an easy answer to the questions it asks, it’s full of humour and very whimsical, even while it investigates big issues such as free will. It doesn’t read like a Western narrative at all but once you surrender to it, it’s a delight.

        Marina & Sergey Dyachenko – The Scar
        Loved this one as well. An arrogant young man in the prime of his youth (think Gaston :P). After he kills a young man in an unfairly matched duel, he’s put under a curse which turns him into a coward (don’t worry, this is all on the blurb). This is a lovely tale, not an epic fantasy but much more of an examination of what it means to have a defining quality taken away from you. The heroine in this book is amazing.

  23. Treena*

    Tips on staying hydrated?

    This seems like one of the most ridiculous problems to have, but nonetheless, I can’t seem to overcome it. I can’t manage to stay hydrated, unless I make it a major priority for the day. I frequently get headaches that are definitely a result of dehydration, and it’s officially interfering with life.

    I like the taste of water, and don’t particularly enjoy sweet beverages, can tolerate tea in social situations, but rarely drink it alone, and don’t drink coffee. I rarely (less than 2x/month) drink alcohol. I keep water by my bedside, carry a water bottle around, try to come up with little games to get me to drink more, but all of that has to be planned and conscious. I can’t just live my life for 3 day and be hydrated at the end without planning for drinking. Help!

    1. Perpetua*

      What’s wrong with having it be planned? :)

      Can you pair the experience of drinking water with a specific time/place/situation? For example, getting into the habit of drinking half (or whole) of the water bottle when you arrive to work, or when you get up to stretch, or at 11 am and 4 pm, or when you get home, etc.

    2. katamia*

      You could set an alarm on your phone or something to ring every hour/2 hours/half hour/however long you want and go get some water then. I’m the same as you, and that helps me sometimes, although I don’t do it every day.

      Is your water bottle visible to you most of the time during the day? I’m a very “out of sight, out of mind” person, and the amount of water I drink goes up when I can keep a glass or bottle of water where I can see it during the day.

    3. Amber Rose*

      Can you keep your phone on you? I have an app called Plant Nanny. It tracks my water drinking and uses it to grow some cutesy little plants. It also reminds me to drink at preset times of day.

    4. GOG11*

      Something small but very helpful for me is having a water bottle that has a spout that pops up. I keep the straw/mouth piece in the open position and just mindlessly sip as I’m working whenever I feel like it. It’s less disruptive than having to unscrew something or worry about spilling if I’m not paying attention and drinking from a regular glass so it helps me do it without thinking about it as much. I generally drink 60 ounces of water during the work day using that type of bottle.

    5. Yetanotherjennifer*

      The perpetual water bottle does not work for me. I drink too slowly that way. What has been working is to chug a juice glass full several times a day. That way I get about 6 oz at a time. And I try and drink at least two glasses first thing. I’m not quite where I should be but I’m closer.

      Also, there is a lot of misinformation about water needs. Look at the mayo clinic for good advice. The food you eat provides a good portion of the water you need, so you don’t need to drink a huge amount. Start with a goal of 8 liquid cups or 64 oz and see how you feel. And other liquids count ; including coffee and alcohol. The are all mostly water and their diuretic properties are minimal.

    6. Mando Diao*

      You really do have to plan it. I drink a full 64 ounces a day. I drink 16 ounces before my shower, 16 more while doing my lotions ‘n things, and after that it’s easy to do 16 with lunch and 16 with dinner.

    7. Stephanie*

      Move to the desert. You’ll definitely remember to drink water that way. :)

      I would say get a canteen that keeps your water very cold (I find cold water way more enjoyable than room temp water) and doesn’t require a lot of effort to use. I have a push-button Contigo canteen that keeps my water cold for several hours and will mindlessly sip on it.

      And I agree there’s nothing wrong with setting an alarm.

  24. Amber Rose*

    I got in a car accident over Christmas for the third year running. It’s going to take 17 business days to fix my poor car. The entire drivers side is caved in and both bumpers are damaged. I really, really hate my rental. Piece of junk. And my back is so painful I still can’t be touched/have massage.

    So 2016 is starting off pretty stupid. On the plus side, the plan is to order my sword for my birthday next month using the settlement money.

    1. Clever Name*

      Ouch. :( I assume you’ve seen a doctor/chiro for your injuries. Back pain is really awful.

    1. GOG11*

      Best: Things are going pretty well at work. I’ve been able to pull of a smattering of tricky/difficult tasks, which makes me and the people who rely on me happy.

      Worst: A really good friend I’ve known for almost 20 years is moving across the country soon. I kept it together at the going away party but cried quite a bit in my car after.

    2. Doriana Gray*

      Best: I just went to Marshall’s today and bought eight new designer shirts and sweaters on the clearance rack for $120. I’ve been splurging on full price items from ModCloth and Macy’s lately and forgot how fun bargain shopping can be. And I was in and out of the store in an hour, which has got to be a record for me given that I tried on 13 different tops.

      Worst: My mom may have MS, and my brother failed two classes so he didn’t graduate in December like he thought he would, so now he has to stay one more semester (and take out more loans). I won’t see him or my niece in person until the spring – that sucks so hard because I miss them.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Best: Started off the year with some work wins. Also, cold weather makes my dog snuggly and I love it.

      Worst: I went to a work retreat at a luxury resort where I had an amazing room and a glorious king bed, but I had crazy dreams and headaches the whole time. Boo.

    4. Soupspoon McGee*

      Worst: I just heard from my #1 PA school that I did not get in. They had 1600 applicants for 50 slots. Another school rejected me because I was 1 credit shy of a requirement (but they don’t review transcripts so I had to pay the application fee to find this out). I still have two applications out there, and I’m applying to a few more, but I really would prefer to go to my top pick rather than across the country. I’m changing careers, using my savings to take classes and work as a low-paid CNA, so it’s discouraging both because rejection sucks and because I can’t afford to do this for too long.

      Best: I cleaned my closets, and two consignment shops took seven items. It’s motivating me to keep decluttering my many clothes and shoes.

    5. SL #2*

      Best: I live in Southern California, so I got one of those 3-day discounted Disneyland passes that are good until Memorial Day weekend.

      Worst: My feet haven’t been properly warm in a week. I woke up with cold feet under the blankets this mornings!

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Best–I had my brows done today and they look FABULOUS. And I don’t know if this is best or worst, but I went to get cat food and the comic store was right next door, and I went in to look around for a movie, and came out with a pre-owned PS3.

      WHY DO I DO THIS?!

      Worst: Work stuff that isn’t thread-related. I don’t know what’s going on but will know more this week.

    7. Shell*

      Best: First Iyengar yoga class today was fantastic and I’m really looking forward to the next! Also, slowly starting back on UfYH; my nightstand and windowsill look absolutely amazing! (The rest of it not so much, but eh, working on it.)

      Worst: why do I have so much crap?

    8. Jen RO*

      Best – work: We managed to make an offer, the candidate accepted AND can give a short notice.

      Best – social: After the winter holidays, when everyone was out of town, my social life is starting to pick up again. This week I had one outing with my work volleyball team, one with an ex-coworker and the new joiner mentioned above (they are old friends), and today I am meeting with some high school friends.

      Worst: Three people have quit the department in the last month, mostly because of money. I am not particularly sad, because two of them were “meh” at best, but we are going to be overworked for a while and the atmosphere is gloomy. Unfortunately, the rest of the department is also underpaid… and considering that the average raise for people who joined other companies was 50%, there is no way we can keep anyone if they decide to go.

      However, in a potential-best, my boss has finally realized that we are screwed because we only have 3 senior people in a department of ~15 (and one of those senior people is going on maternity leave soon), so he is trying to get one more senior position open. In turn, I am trying to recruit back the ex-coworker above, and it’s going well so far – boss wants her back and she wants to return!

      1. Jen RO*

        Oh, and another best, I found out that my sciatica pain was literally a pain in the butt – one of the gluteal muscles is too tense and it’s squeezing the sciatic nerve! I am relieved that it’s got nothing to do with my spine, and I just need a couple of weeks of pshysio-/kinesiotherapy to get back to normal.

    9. Nashira*

      Best: My mission to make Sichuan food for most meals is going quite well, so we’re saving tons on not eating out constantly. We are also eating tons more veggies… Like I cooked 1.5 pounds of greens last night for two people and we had none left. I think we need to buy stock in Lao Gan Ma sauces though; the black bean chile oil is addictive.

      Worst: I have to have a freaking root canal tomorrow, which is even worse than it sounds since I have nerve damage around the affected tooth and it’s very very painful to have work done. Ngggghhhhh. I am praying the endodontist believes me when I ask for just all the novocaine.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Oooh, your worst…sorry. I had root scaling done last year and that was highly unpleasant (and I had to be numbed four times), so I feel your pain.

    10. Mimmy*

      BEST: Other than a couple of minor things, our home office remodeling is pretty much done, FINALLY!!!

      WORST: Nothing super bad–the only thing being my doctor appointment and my doctor threatening to put me on another diabetes medication if I don’t get my act together and get my numbers down. Sad thing is, I know it’s all my doing–I just don’t have the self-discipline to maintain better lifestyle habits. My husband is the same way. Also, my numbers aren’t even THAT bad–elevated, yes, but not outrageous.

    11. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Best: booked a flight with bf for a summer weekend getaway! Also, we started talking about going to Paris…sometime 2-3 yrs from now :D

      Worst: my mom drives me nuts. Even on her vacation, she texts me 6 am her time…….blech.

      Also: I’m thankful I separated my finances from her last year and that I moved out from her place 2 yrs ago…..oh thank heavens……

    12. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Sitting in front of the fire on Saturday evening just relaxing.

      WORST: Needing more sleep and not getting it.

  25. TheLazyB (uk)*

    Spoiler warning for breaking bad, just in case:

    Would you consider “he dies at the end” to be a spoiler? I am watching from season 1 with my DH, I saw loads of bits while he watched it first time fond and watched the second half of the last season with him. I don’t think that is a spoiler but might be wrong.

    I would consider “buffy doesn’t die at the end of buffy ‘s last season” to be a spoiler.

    Interesting thinking about it. No?!

    1. Cruciatus*

      I wouldn’t necessarily want that ruined for me if I’m specifically watching that show, but I don’t think knowing will ruin the episodes before it. You don’t know how anything gets to that point, or even how you’ll feel about it by that point in the story.

      Technically, at this point it’s probably fair game–he sees dead people, there is no Keyser Soze, Rosebud is a sled, Soylent Green is people. It’s hit the popcultural trivia world. But if I knew someone was watching anything that I knew the ending to, I would find it spoiler-y to tell them if they didn’t already know. So I guess….it depends on the situation.

      1. TheLazyB (uk)*

        I accidentally spoiled someone on a really, really important death on Dexter, right after they’d said they hadn’t got that far. It was still a couple of years after it ended, but still. Not cool!!

      1. TheLazyB (uk)*

        I just don’t think there was ever any way he was getting out alive. I think if he’d survived it wouldn’t have been dramatically satisfying.

        Also sometimes death doesn’t mean the end for your character: see Buffy, the Leftovers….

        1. Not Karen*

          Then have a discussion about your theories on whether or not he will die. Telling someone that you know he dies because you’ve seen the end of the show is a spoiler.

    2. bassclefchick*

      Well, I don’t think it’s fair to call “spoilers” on a show (Breaking Bad) that ended 2 1/2 years ago. Buffy ended 13 years ago so the info on what happened has been around for a long time. If you didn’t watch the show when it first aired and are just finding it now, yay! Welcome to the Hellmouth! But you really can’t get mad about spoilers for shows that were on so long ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a HUGE fan of Buffy and think Joss Whedon is brilliant. But at a certain point getting upset about spoilers just becomes a bit silly, IMO.

      And although I agree with Not Karen a little bit about character deaths being a spoiler, it just depends on the character and how long ago the show ended. Because Buffy and Xena both died more than once.

      1. TheLazyB (uk)*

        Oh yeah I don’t think anyone would complain about spoilers from shows that old :) I’m just curious because it’s what I’m watching right now (also I just watched an episode of buffy the other day so that’s on my mind too!).

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      That’s a spoiler. I mean, I’m sure lots of other stuff happens during the series, but you definitely wonder about every series “Does the main character die or not at the end?” The only exception I’d make would be for Cerebus, since Dave Sim said from the beginning that the goal was to have Cerebus die at the end.

    4. Claire (Scotland)*

      I am not familiar with the show, but as a spoilerphobe I would consider major character death one of the biggest and worst forms of spoiler. I’d be very upset if someone spoiled me for that in a show I wanted to watch.

      1. TheLazyB (UK)*

        I don’t think any one is getting that I’m asking about the specific case of Breaking Bad, not that kind of thing in general. I would mostly think that the death of a major character is a terrible spoiler (and I’m annoyed at my hubby for doing that in Person of Interest, I’ve known for ages someone is going to to die but so far they’re still alive), but in that show, I think the main question was always going to be what finally killed him, not whether or not it would happen.

        1. Mephyle*

          I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know whether he dies of cancer or violence (and if so, killed by whom). So knowing how he dies would indeed be an important.

        2. Windchime*

          I would consider it a spoiler, yes. Knowing the final fate of Walter White is what the whole show is basically about and to tell someone what happened (and how it happened) would be extremely spoiler-y.

        3. bassclefchick*

          Oh, yes. I see what you’re getting at now. Breaking Bad is going to be one of the shows I start after Making a Murderer and Call the Midwife. IF he dies at the end of the series wouldn’t be a spoiler, but maybe HOW and WHY would be. But again, the show ended over 2 years ago, so even if I knew the how and why…at this point it wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me. I still want to watch it because I’ve heard good things about it.

    5. StudentA*

      Character deaths are spoilers, yeah.

      If you are asking whether you will enjoy the show all the same, knowing this particular spoiler, the answer is heck yeah :)

  26. the gold digger*

    Cat question. We changed Laverne’s food and she has finally stopped throwing up once a week. (She would throw up almost right after eating. I got very good at identifying the “about to throw up” sound.)

    She has been on new food since September – and the hair on her lower belly and the base of her tail has fallen out. We changed to another food before Christmas – and now the hair on the back of her hind legs is going.

    She does not seem uncomfortable or unhappy in any way, but we are worried. (We did give her a flea treatment in Sept as well, even though there was not and is not any indication of fleas.)

    Has anyone else encountered this? Any ideas on what might be causing it and how to fix it?

    1. GOG11*

      Two things come to mind. My family had a cat who was allergic to fleas who lost patches of hair. It sounds like fleas can be ruled out, but is there anything else she could be getting in contact with? Cleaning products, soaps, lotions or creams you use (I know arthritis creams can be very harmful to cats), etc., that could end up on her skin? The other would be thyroid issues. I’ve never had a cat with them, but I have thyroid problems myself and it can cause hair loss.

      Generally, when I think there’s something up with one of my cats, my vet’s office is less concerned when there are no behavioral changes that accompany whatever else is going on, but it may be a good idea to take her to your vet if you haven’t already.

      Good luck. I hope your kitty gets better soon.

    2. Cruciatus*

      Maybe she’s allergic to something common in both foods. My sister has to buy one of her dogs food without wheat or something in it. Or perhaps there is another allergen in the environment. I would definitely go to the vet. It might be nothing big and you just have to switch some food, but could be something else wrong that some blood tests or stool tests can help figure out.

    3. Brandy in TN*

      This isn’t your cat but I have a cat that if he has no fat in his diet, eating only dry food, he loses hair on his legs and belly. His sister had this too but starting eating some wet food too so she has hairy legs now. We supplement him with some wet food (he doesn’t like much) and his hair comes back.

    4. FD*

      Have you tried a grain free food? I had to switch mine to a grain free because she had trouble keeping other kinds down.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Mites in the hair follicles?

      I had a dog that got that. But they scratch the bald spots until they bleed- it looks like an abrasion. Anything like that going on?

    6. Pennalynn Lott*

      Cat 101 question, and I apologize for its simplicity but. . . Have you taken the cat to a vet and run labs? There are lots of things that can cause barfing and hair loss, and not all of them are related to diet.

    7. Soupspoon McGee*

      Is she over-grooming, or is her hair just falling out? The former could be anxiety, while the latter could be dry skin, mites, or allergies. Try grain-free food, wet food, and fish oil supplements.

      Also, consider a vet trip if the throwing up continues. My old Atticus had a stomach tumor that caused him to barf. I can’t think of why this would cause hair loss, unless she’s not getting nutrients.

    8. Perse's Mom*

      It may be a food sensitivity or allergy and she’s responding differently to different foods, but particularly if she’s an older cat, it could be something else that will take an exam and/or bloodwork to diagnose.

    9. AnotherTeacher*

      Like others have said, it may be a food allergy or over-grooming.

      One of my cats had some hair loss and scabs without any of flees. Our vet suggested we use a dose of Revolution, which cleared up the scabs.

    10. the gold digger*

      Thank you, everyone! Laverne’s behavior has not changed and Shirley is not losing any hair at all. Laverne has no hot spots or scabs, so I don’t think it’s from excessive grooming. We switched to the new food – different protein but I think maybe still some grain (because grains are part of a cat’s natural diet?) in it – two weeks ago. If she does not improve in a few weeks, we will get something without any grain whatsoever. I appreciate all the advice!

      1. Mephyle*

        Your question made me wonder, and I looked it up. Apparently the natural diet of cats in the wild consists only of animals (mammals, birds, insects, reptiles). No grains, no vegetables, no plants at all.

        1. CC*

          Cats feeding themselves without human help do eat a little bit of plant matter: whatever is in the prey’s stomach when it’s killed.

          Cat food that we feed them should not have plant matter as a primary ingredient. So: remembering that ingredients lists go in order of most quantity to least, what are the first 5-10 ingredients? Plant matter low in the ingredients list isn’t going to be harmful, but in the top 5? Not good.

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          No grains, no vegetables, no plants at all.

          And yet, they eat grass, without coaxing or prompting. Probably because it helps them puke or something.

          I like to taunt my cats with grass. They watch me go outside and do work, so sometimes I’ll pick some grass and just wave it around near the patio door. They even have a certain way they cry when they see it. I’ll poke a few blades through the door/baby gate and they eat it like it was candy. Then I get to clean up the yak so it’s fun for the whole family!

    11. Maybe Tomorrow*

      Itty bitty kitty comittee has a cat with…megaesophagus? Wylla couldnt keep food down after eating and they had to feed her in a way that forced her to stand up to help with digestion.

      Try looking over there. Email the owner of the site and ask for tips on what to ask your vet.

    12. Windchime*

      I have recently discovered that cats can have food allergies. Mine is going through a 12-week trial of hypoallergenic diet right now because of other problems he’s having. Fortunately, he still has his coat but there are other signs that he may be allergic. It sounds like you’ve ruled out fleas, so I would suspect food. And sadly, chicken is something that they can easily become allergic to. Check with your vet about hypoallergenic foods.

  27. Doriana Gray*

    So my mom just told me today that she’s got an appointment set for February 1 to get tested for MS. She’ll be 50 in June. She was at work when her throat closed up on her while she was eating (apparently this has been happening for months and she just hasn’t said anything to anyone), and her workplace doctor happened to see her stop eating in the cafeteria and asked to speak with her privately. This woman knows my mom is currently being treated for vertigo, has joint pain and problems with her gait, and has had memory issues the past couple of years, so she suggested my mom be tested for the disease.

    I have no idea what we’ll do if she does have MS. She lives alone and if something happens, I can’t help her because I don’t drive. My brother lives three hours away, is finishing college, and has a one year old daughter to take care of, so he can’t help either.

    I just feel terrible for her – her entire life has been one big disaster after another. Even more frustrating is that she seems to have given up on everything. Her job is killing her, but she won’t do the work necessary to get out of it (she doesn’t see the point and keeps saying she’s “tired”), we have to damn near force her to even go to her doctor for her other issues (she’s a type two diabetic and she still hasn’t had her gallbladder removed even though her doctor told her to have the surgery over a year ago), and her negative talk has gotten worse to the point where I have to start screening her phone calls or literally say to her, “Mom, shut up,” because who the hell wants to listen to someone constantly calling themselves useless or weight shaming themselves all the time?

    I don’t know – I just needed to get that off my chest. I won’t be telling anyone I know in real life, especially if it turns out she does have MS, because I know she wouldn’t want me to. I just wish she could catch a break. She raised me and my brother by herself, she had a nightmarish childhood that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and the universe continues shitting on her well into adulthood. And here I am getting promotions and raises, and having luxuries she can never afford – it feels wrong somehow.

    1. Observer*

      Not wrong at all.

      Has she been screened for depression? For most parents, seeing their child “having luxuries she could never afford” would itself be a huge source of satisfaction, and also of self-respect. “See, I didn’t do so badly by Doriana.” Yet, all she can talk about is how terrible she is. And how “tired” she is. That’s classic depression talk.

      But, it’s really, really hard to deal with.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        She’s been depressed my whole life (28 years), and was in therapy/on medication after a nervous breakdown a few years ago, but she’s stopped going because she can’t afford it and she stopped taking the meds because she was crying all the time. Mental illness runs deep in our family, and she knows that, but she won’t do the work to try and get better. And I can’t shove the pills down her throat so I don’t know how to help.

        1. NJ Anon*

          Look into some nonprofits that offer counseling/therapy on a sliding scale. Don’t know where you live but your city/town may have a social services department that can help her out.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        The thing she’s most worried about is not being able to play with my niece. We don’t get to see her often, and my mom’s afraid that when they do move back near us, and if she has MS (and it’s progressive), that she won’t be able to do the fun things with her she did with us when we were babies.

        1. Soupspoon McGee*

          I’m so sorry. One thing to remember is that treatments for MS are a LOT better than they used to be, so even progressive MS can be fairly well controlled. It’s important to make sure that whatever the diagnosis, your mom doesn’t give up. I’ve known two people with MS, one who treated it and can function pretty well (she uses a cane and has to rest, but she can play with her grandbaby) and another who just gave up, refused treatment, and is in a wheelchair.

          1. Doriana Gray*

            I’m afraid she’d be like the one who gave up. She’s been fighting her entire life, and I think she’s at the point where she’s just done. That saddens me because although I haven’t always respected her decisions or behavior, her sheer force of will to conquer every bad thing that came her way was the one thing u always respected and admired. Now she decides to roll over *sigh*.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I saw that with a few of my elders, you know, depression kids and all. My father was one of them who fought a valiant fight. Like you are saying, I did not always agree with him but I admired how he just kept going. Then one long winter, it snowed way too much. He ran out of money to get plowed out. Then his life long friend died. He called 911 when he had chest pains that would not go away. He passed away in the hospital a month later.
              He was 72. Too young, I thought. Probably he thought he was too old on the inside. I think all his battles took so much out of him. It was hugely sad for many reasons. Some of it was because he brought on some of his own problems. But, don’t we all?
              Yeah, their fight goes out of them. It took me a while, but I realized some day I will reach that same conclusion, enough is enough. It’s really hard to watch because you end up thinking, “why now?”. Keep in mind the movie, their whole life story. If you just look at the current moment, their current chapter in life, it won’t make as much sense.
              It was stunning to me that our parents teach us what to do and what not to do right up until their last day. We can watch and learn.
              I am very sorry for your sad news. I hope your road and her road will be a less hard that it seems it might be now.

              1. Doriana Gray*

                I’m saving this comment along with the other encouraging one you left me about my job situation – this was very comforting in an extremely scary time.

    2. Stephanie*

      I’m so sorry to hear this. I wouldn’t beat yourself up for doing well. It sounds like she raised two good kids by herself, so that’s something good that happened to her. Hoping for good news.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Thank you – I’m hoping all this stuff going on with her is a side effect of one of her medications or stress. My mom’s not allowed to be seriously ill – she’s just not.

    3. StudentA*

      I’m popping in really quickly on a busy day and the OP’s post caught my eye. I just wanted to say really quickly that you sound like a nice, caring daughter and your mom sounds like a nice, hard-working lady. You must both be so proud of each other. I agree with the above poster who said that surely she feels pride in your success–that is a great feeling as a mother to an adult child.

      I am sorry at all the pain your mom has had in her life. I hope you can find a member of your community, a friend, or a distant family member who can spend time with her on a regular basis and help her out here and there. Also, some cases of MS are terrible, and some are more tolerable or at least have a good-day/bad-day deal. If she does turn out to have MS, I hope it’s a mild case.

      You might not like what I’m about to say next, but here goes. If you know she’s very depressed, try to be kinder to her in your reactions and less angry. It probably hurts her even more when she feels like she’s grating on your nerves. She might very well be making you angry with her lax behavior toward her health, so it could be an ongoing effort for you to show less frustration. I know it’s very hard, but I know you’ll agree it’s worth it. I wish you and her the best.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Oh I know I have to work on being better with my frustrations with her – I’m mentally ill as well so believe me, I get it. My mom and I have a…tumultuous relationship to say the least and always have (she carried the abuse she suffered as a child into her parenting of me and my brother, so he and I both still harbor some ill feelings toward her for that). Still, the difference between us is, I recognize and work on my issues – she prefers to wallow in the guilt and self-pity, and neither me nor my brother has patience for it. Our east coast way of being is to be direct at all times, and so when we do the Cher/Nic Cage Moonstruck face slap verbal equivalent to her, it actually does help her to snap the hell out of it – though that’s clearly not a good long-term strategy.

        I’ll recommend the social services angle NJ Anon suggested upthread. She needs it, but she’ll especially need it if her test results don’t come back well.

  28. Nina*

    Sadly, I missed the YNAB thread the other day. I’m really interested in it but I’m kind of concerned about the privacy aspect. For those who use it, is everything saved on a cloud-type database? With all the internet breaches over the past few years, I’m wary about loading anything personal online.

    1. Yetanotherjennifer*

      the current version is newly online. Before it was desktop software with everything stored locally, or on Dropbox if you also used the phone apps. We have the desktop version and the phone apps but we synch via wifi once a week. I’ve heard the new online version is not as robust as the desktop version but it’s sure to improve down the line. It’s probably about as secure as any other online app. You can mitigate the risk by not linking the software with any accounts and just manually entering your transactions. I’ve also heard they will be creating a new desktop app in a year but no word on where the data will be stored. It may be something that just allows better interaction with the online data. We are sticking with the old version for as long as we can for many reasons. If you can’t get your hands on a copy of the older version then you could try applying ynab principles to another software package like money dance.

      1. Nina*

        Thank you! I would prefer a desktop software as well, but it looks like more of the newer stuff is utilizing a cloud database. I’ll see if I can find an older version of YNAB.

  29. MsChandandlerBong*

    That photo of Sam and Eve is giving me life. My husband and I took in an orange stray a few years ago, and his name was Samson (Sam for short). Poor fella had been on the street for a while. We only had him for 14 months before he developed a serious illness (probably cancer; the vet wasn’t able to tell us for sure), but he was a good boy.

    1. Hattie McDoogal*

      Aww. Was he named after the Samson in the Church Mice books? I insisted on naming one of our cats Samson when I was little because of those books, even though he was a portly brown tabby with white feet who looked nothing like book Samson.

  30. Not So NewReader*

    Smoke alarms. I want something that does not go off every time I cook a meal.
    The way my house is laid out, the alarms in the other rooms go off, too. I have totally given up on a kitchen alarm. I just stay with my cooking food.

    I am really hoping for recommendations for specific models. I have tried so many different models. And of course, I don’t want to spend big bucks either. sigh. Thanks in advance.

    1. Noah*

      The Nest one is pretty neat, but pretty pricey. I’m a gadget geek and think it is pretty cool to have a smoke detector that connects to a phone app.

      The best part is it doesn’t immediately alert if it detects smoke. You have a few seconds to open the phone app and tell it not to sound the alarm.

      I have an alarm in my dining room which is between my kitchen and living areas. Nice open floor plan but annoying if you’re cooking because it always seems to set the thing off, even if all you’re doing is searing meat or something. It got so bad I just pulled the alarm down but that meant an entire floor of my townhome didn’t have a smoke detector.

    2. Noah*

      One other option a friend recommended AFTER I bought the Nest was a heat detector. Apparently they’re slower to detect a fire but have less false alarms. They function by detecting either a rapid rise is temperature or a temperature over a certain amount. They were way less expensive than the Nest and only slightly more than a normal smoke detector.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ah-thank you, Noah, I will start by looking into heat detecting alarms.
        I know my friend has a nice hardwired system and she had to unplug it. It just went off all the time and drove her nuts. wth.

    3. Liz in a Library*

      Ugh…me too. I’m not, like, constantly burning food, but my alarm sets off constantly. It’s not even in the kitchen.

      If you find a good model, I’d like to know!

    4. mander*

      I had this problem in my old apartment. The smoke detector was actually a heat detector, but it was located too close to the stove and it would go off every time I baked something. Pain in the rear.

    5. Traveller*

      My smoke detector is also close to my kitchen.

      It might not totally solve the problem, but ensuring that your stove exhaust fan is cranked to maximum when you are cooking can help reduce the number of times the alarm goes off.

      I tend to only put it on low because I don’t like listening to it. But when I crank to high, it works much better.

      Also if your house is relatively new (ie airtight) opening a window or door nearby will give the exhaust fan an air source to pull from and will be much more effective at exchanging the air out of the kitchen.

    6. Pipette*

      Late to the game, but many smoke detectors have a “snooze” feature. You press the button, and the detector shuts off for a short time, usually around 15 minutes. So you press it just before you start frying or open the oven or whatever usually sets off the alarm, and it won’t go off for anything during the snooze time.

  31. Kat*

    Hi, Alison. Ever since your website changed some months back I’ve been unable to make the text larger on my mobile, even when I adjust my iPhone settings to do so. It used to be that, by turning my phone horizontal, I could read all the way across the paragraph but in larger font than when my phone is vertical. Now I can’t. It resizes the font to be so tiny, and my eyes have been straining to read.

    Some other websites have an option to display the content in larger text. Would you consider adding that option to your site?


    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hmmm, that’s odd. It’s working for me correctly on an iPhone. What OS, and which browser?

      Also, if you look at the top menu, there’s an option to resize the font — does that work for you?

      1. Kat*

        I’m on an iPhone 4 with the current iOS. I didn’t see an option to resize the font when I come to this site on my mobile, but I checked again and realize it’s all compressed into the Menu toggle. I changed it, and it’s a little better but still very small.

  32. dancer*

    Hi all. I have just started to take up knitting. I think I remember there are some other regular commenters who also knit… Does anyone have any suggestions for resources for beginners? I’m trying to find some easy patterns I can use to practice, rather than just making swatches.


    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t know about resources (I learned in person, not online or through books), but I will say that if you can knit a swatch, the next thing to try would be a scarf.

      I would try a simple knit-purl, kint-purl, knit-purl… 30 stitches across and keep going up and up for about five feet… that’s a scarf!

    2. newreader*

      Ravelry.com and Lion Brand Yarn web site are good resources for a variety of patterns. Googling terms or stitches noted in patterns that you’re unfamiliar with can provide good resources for definitions and videos showing how to work a particular stitch.

    3. Sandy*

      Honestly, the vast majority of my early projects were done with just knit stitch, no purl at all. Probably a year’s worth of projects?

      I’m now up to knitting both adult and baby sweaters, so it doesn’t seem to have hurt me.

      In terms of formal pattern resources, I’m not a fan of Lion Brand, since I’ve had really mixed results with their patterns. I concede that Ravelry can be a bit intimidating at first, though…

    4. MegKnits*

      Knitting!! I have a bunch of options for you.

      Scarves!! They’re basically long swatches. Once you get knitting down, then you can try ribbing (knit 2, purl 2 etc) or other patterns. Also you can sew the ends together to make infinity scarves once you get the hang of it.

      Pattterns: Ravelry(dot)com is amazing but might be tricky to navigate when you’re first starting. I found Yarnspirations(dot)com really helpful for finding free patterns that were simple. It’s a yarn company website but as long as the yarn weight matches you should be fine using whatever yarn you have.

      If you’re stuck on how to do certain stitches, the best website is KnittingHelp(dot)com. It has the best video tutorials that are clear and easy to understand. Youtube is great but you never know the quality you’re going to get.

      Don’t get discouraged. Some of my first projects were pretty not square or got unraveled and I tried again. Have fun! If you’re getting frustrated/mad either take a break or throw your project across the room. (Okay I only did that once. But it helped lol.) Let me know if you have any other questions. I’d be happy to shoot you an e-mail :)
      (Also sorry for the length. Apparently I’m very opinionated)

    5. Blue_eyes*

      That’s exciting! I taught myself to knit almost 15 years ago using library books and (the budding) internet. I still use internet tutorials often when trying to learn new skills or techniques like cast ons, bind offs, etc. Just google whatever you’re trying to do.

      Ravelry is an awesome online community of yarn crafters and there are tons of patterns available for free there, but as others have noted, it may be overwhelming for a beginner. I would suggest looking for books on knitting at your local library. Even though I was a teenager when I learned to knit, I checked out children’s books about knitting because they often have clear directions, lots of photos, and don’t assume that you have any experience. Beginner knitting books will have lots of ideas for small, simple projects.

      As other people have suggested, a scarf is a great first project because it’s basically just one long swatch. If you know knit and purl stitches, there are tons of stitch patterns you can make (garter stitch, stockinette stitch, ribbing, seed stitch, basket stitch, etc.). You could do one pattern for a 6-12 inches and then switch. You’d get to practice different stitch patterns and end up with fun, funky scarf.

    6. Kate in Scotland*

      I would highly recommend something smaller than a scarf for beginner projects, but that’s because I have no attention span and I’m a really slow knitter! I did lots of simple hats in the round – it means getting used to circular needles and decreases but it is so satisfying – baby hats in particular are lovely quick projects.

      1. Tau*

        I *love* doing hats – with the magic loop method I find knitting in the round easier than straight, since you don’t have to worry about right-side/wrong-side rows (all rows are right-side!) and don’t have to worry about tension etc. on the borders. And there are some lovely patterns for hats in all sorts of difficulties. (I like gloves, too, but the big downside of gloves is that you need to do two. *looks at large collection of single gloves in shame*)

        My first beginner pattern was a scarfswatch, a long piece of knitting where I just tried out different stitches and patterns until I got bored of them and moved on to the next one. I am not a fan of the “do a stockinette or garter stitch scarf” first project, because like you I have no attention span and if I’d tried that I would have quit knitting entirely due to being bored out of my mind.

        1. Jubilance*

          I cannot figure out how to do the magic loop! I do something wrong in the middle and I end up with these loose stitches in the middle section and I can’t figure out why :-(

          1. Blue_eyes*

            Hmm…When I do magic loop I always tug a bit on the first stitch on a new needle to tighten it up a bit. Similar to when starting a new round while knitting in the round or a new needle on DPNs. Would that solve it? Magic loop is pretty much like knitting on DPNs except you only have two sections of stitches. If you want to explain the problem you have in more detail I’d be happy to help brainstorm solutions! I just want everyone to experience the beauty that is Magic Loop! I love it because I can knit anything with my long circular needles, no needing to hunt for the right size or use DPNs to finish a hat. And I especially love being able to knit two-at-a-time socks and mittens so that they always come out the same.

            1. Tau*

              If you have a link for instructions for two-at-a-time socks/mittens I would be eternally grateful. I really want to make myself at least one pair of fingerless gloves and maybe some comfy socks, but I have a terrible, terrible case of Second Sock Syndrome.

              1. Blue_eyes*

                I can’t remember exactly where I learned it, but I’ve included some links below that seem to have clear instructions. There are tons of other videos as well if you google it. Try it, you won’t be sorry! It’s also great for when you want to make changes mid-pattern. You can just do it on both at the same time and not worry about making sure to note it and do it the same way on the second one.



    7. CheeryO*

      Ravelry is everything. Once you are comfortable knitting and purling, you can start browsing patterns. If you get stuck on anything, just head to YouTube and look for a tutorial. The pattern pages list the difficulty as rated by users, so as long as you pick something easy, you’ll be fine.

      A scarf or cowl would be ideal for a first project. I did the “Gaptastic cowl” as my first real project – it’s just seed stitch (alternating one knit stitch and one purl stitch) over and over on circular needles.

    8. Mean Something*

      I am still a beginner and probably always will be, but I’m chiming in here to say that while Internet tutorials are awesome (between starting one project and the next, I always forget how to cast on), there is nothing like a live person to help you! I learned at a yarn shop from the 90-year-old mother of the owner. Shops often have drop-in knitting circles and staff who are happy to help (as long as you’ve bought your yarn there–rude to come in with a bagful of materials you bought somewhere else). They can also pick yarns and projects that are appropriate for a beginner. Enjoy!

    9. Mephyle*

      I learned to knit long before the internet, and the book and project that did it for me was Learn-to-Knit Afghan by Barbara Walker, which I got from the library.
      You start with the most basics – first a garter stitch square, then a stockinette stitch square, and then squares gradually add techniques one at a time. By the time you are finished, you not only have an nice afghan big enough to cover a bed, but you have practiced pretty much any technique you might encounter in any pattern; including but not limited to: different kinds of increases and decreases, knitting in the round, short rows, seaming, cables, lace, bobbles, and many different kinds of stitches.
      These days I would add that you can also look up demonstrations of any technique on Youtube, but back in the day I found the book sufficient to teach me everything.

    10. Windchime*

      Yay, another knitter!

      I like the videos by Stacy Perry. You can find her on YouTube as “Very Pink Knits”, and she also has a website. Her videos are professionally produced and she explains *everything*, from the very basics to some tutorials on fancier stuff. Some people love to learn in a class; if you have a local yarn shop, give them a call and see if they offer lessons.

      I taught myself to knit out of a book about 100 years ago, and have just picked things up along the way. I’m currently knitting a sweater out of very fine sock yarn.

      Good luck!

    11. Lee Ann*

      Craftsy has classes with videos, with message boards where the class instructor and other students will help out. Some of them have kits for the class project too, so you don’t have to track down the right yarn and accessories.

    12. dancer*

      Oh man, I wasn’t expecting this much of response. Thank you everyone!

      Yeah, I’ve been looking at Ravelry and my biggest issue is trying to figure out which patterns are accessible to my current skill levels. I’ll take a look at the other website suggestions as well. I’ve also found a local yarn store and I’ll be starting a class next week. Thanks again for all your help!

  33. Jen*

    So today, I was telling my husband how grateful I was that my 2.5 year old seems to have not yet hit the “no” stage of toddlerhood. He put down his glass and laughed at me.

    Our daughter doesn’t say “no,” she says “uh how ’bout you do it put lease?” Which i find annoying but endearing and it always turns into a lighthearted back and forth about who will do said request.

    I didnt realize we were in the thick of the damn phase because she is so cheery and polite about it. Man, am I in for it with this one…

    1. Not So NewReader*

      LOL. Your daughter sounds like a delight and very smart. She’ll keep you on your toes!

  34. Anon for This*

    Any tips on finding a last minute flight from Washington, DC to Tokyo? I don’t care if the inbound or outbound, though the Japan to US one way seems more expensive. I’ve only ever done late bookings domestically! Appreciate any tricks.

    1. Noah*

      Make sure you’re checking both airports: NRT has more international flights but is further away, HND is closer but not as many airlines.

      Sometimes Hawaiian has good deals if you’re willing to make a connection in HNL. Same deal with United and GUM. Both would involve multiple connections from the DC area though.

      If you’re booking one-ways, make sure you’ve booked the return before you depart on the outbound. Arriving in Japan and being unable to prove you plan on leaving can be an issue.

      You might try booking one ways using Skiplagged. With both Delta and United having mini hubs at NRT there might be some good hidden city ticketing deals. You might not be able to check bags using this trick though, would depends on how customs works for tranfers. Basically you’d book the flight from ABC-NRT-XYZ because it’s cheaper than ABC-NRT. Then just don’t make the connection and leave at NRT. You can’t book it round trip because once you miss a segment the airline will cancel all remaining segments on your itinerary.

      1. Dan*

        Noah pretty much covered it. The hidden city thing, I wouldn’t do unless I had a friend who knew what was going on. To easy to screw up and you’ll get stuck with a big bill.

        The other solution is see if you have a friend with some frequent flyer miles to burn.

    2. matcha123*

      I just few to the US from Japan and back. One-way tickets are expensive. Probably about $2,000 or more. If you are not planning to move to Japan, get a round-trip ticket.
      I can’t say for certain, but I don’t think the Japanese immigration will let you in without a flight booked back, plus it’s cheaper. If you can, fly with a Japanese airline such as JAL or ANA. I flew with ANA and the seats were wider than the same United flight (economy), they also offer a good selection of beer/wine (they came by often), the food is a lot nicer, the staff seem nicer, the planes are cleaner and the entertainment selection is great…especially if you are into Asian movies and dramas.

      Just know that Japan isn’t like, say, Canada. We do have a visa-free arrangement with them (for tourism), but they will definitely refuse to let you in the country for any reason. Also, if you’ve never been to Asia, do not, under any circumstances, try to pack weed or certain types of cough medication in your luggage. You will be arrested and detained and deported.

      1. OP*

        Oh, will definitely book a round trip – I have enough miles to do award travel one way though if I can find a reasonably priced ticket for the other half. Right now the R/T is cheaper than miles + one way!

  35. Stephanie*

    Registered for my first 10k! Which is…next weekend. Wasn’t sure if I’d be in town or not, so I registered super late. Furthest I’ve run is 4 miles, so…we’ll see. I’ve walked more than 10k at work many times, so I figure worst case scenario, I’ll just walk the remainder.

    1. CC*

      I ran 10k for the first time in a race, and until then my longest run had been about 8k (5 miles) so … don’t try to run fast in the beginning, and you’ll make it through. Note: this is harder than it sounds, because there’s so much energy at the starting line that it’s very common to get swept along by the crowd and run the beginning faster than you can sustain and end up walking in the second half. (I’ve done this. Multiple times.)

      Also, if they sort you by your pace at the starting line, try to place yourself a little bit farther back than your actual pace. (And if they don’t, start toward the back of the pack anyway.) This is for psychology: it’s really discouraging to be passed by “everybody”, which is what happens when you place yourself at the front of the pack with the people who run faster than you do.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yup, fallen into this trap. Gun goes off and I want to sprint. It’s one of the Rock and Roll races, so there are pens. I just kind of guessed on the time, lol. Good point on going toward the back. Thanks for the tips! I’ll let everyone know how it goes.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      You’re going to be just fine. I know this is cliché, but if you can run three miles, you can run six miles… and you can run four! Have a great race!

    3. Hattie McDoogal*

      You’ll crush it. :) My first 10k race, the longest distance I’d run at that point was around 8km, and I did fine in the race. Don’t underestimate race day adrenaline.

  36. Lindsay J*

    Advice for moving in with a significant other? I lived with an ex for years but we never talked about anything – we kind of figured we would sort things out as we went along – and wound up with a lot of resentment towards each other because of it. I don’t want to repeat that mistake.

    My boyfriend is buying a house. Offer is accepted, inspection is done, closing is at the end of the month. He wants me to move in with him.

    We’ve talked about rent a little bit – I said I would pay about $600 a month, which is less than my current rent and would cover the entirety of his mortgage payment (plus $100, I think). Is it fair to then expect him to cover all the utilities? I know he will have taxes to pay, repairs to make, cost of furnishing the place, etc. Should those costs be split or are those his to bare as it is his place and his furniture should we happen to break up? Groceries?

    I know we should come up with some way of splitting the chores. I also know that he is a significantly neater person than I am. How do you determine who should do what? What if one person is fine with there being water spots on the dishes while the other isn’t? Should whoever does the dishes make sure there’s no spots, or should the one who cares about the spots take care of removing them if they care so much, or should the one who cares be the person to do the dishes so they are done right the first time, or should they just learn to deal with the spots?

    Should we write up some sort of contract regarding rent, etc? (As he trained to be a lawyer I imagine he will want to do this regardless, and I think it’s a good idea as well.) Is there anything I should be thinking about protecting myself from in this situation? I mean he’s gaining equity in the home and benefiting from me paying his mortgage basically, but then I’m benefiting from cheaper rent so I think it’s a win-win.

    Besides money and cleaning, are there other things we should discuss?

    Anyone have a good script for starting the discussion?

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      When I got married, we just kind of picked the chores we didn’t mind and it worked itself out. So I usually do the laundry, grocery shopping, and the cooking. He takes care of the yard and everything related to the outside, repairs and maintenance for anything house-related, and he pays all the bills and takes care of setting up auto-pays, timing the mortgage payment to go right after the payday closest to the due date, etc. There should be some sort of arrangement, but try not to be too rigid.

      As far as money goes, definitely discuss how that will work. I think the tough part for you might be paying rent and maybe getting frustrated or annoyed if he lets something go. Or if how he spends your rent money on isn’t how you would choose to spend it. If you can work those things our, it will probably be OK.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This is a different aspect of moving in than the ones you asked about but: Make sure you’re both on the same page about why you’re doing this and what it might or won’t lead to. If one of you sees this as the next step on a path to engagement/marriage and the other one doesn’t, it likely won’t end well. (I also tend to think that if it’s not part of a path to an eventually permanent relationship, you’re setting yourselves up for a much more painful ending, because it’s a lot harder to end relationships when you’re living together — which leads not only to more painful and logistically difficult break-ups but also tends to prolong bad relationships because people resist ending as soon as they otherwise would.)

      I’m a bringer of cheer, aren’t I…

      1. Doriana Gray*

        This. My friend and her boyfriend of two years just put down money for a house a month before Christmas, and our former manager asked, “So when are you two getting engaged?” They talked about it, and my friend thought he was going to propose at the holidays, but…no ring yet. She hasn’t said anything, but I can tell she’s disappointed since she’s always talking about them being married and having kids. Plus, their relationship moved at warped speed up until now (they were renting an apartment together fairly soon after they began dating), so it’s kind of like, what is he waiting for?

      2. the gold digger*

        OP, the first thing I thought when I saw your note was, “And that’s why I said I would never live together with someone unless I was married to him.” Not because I have moral objections but because I am not going through all this hassle of sharing a living space more than once.

        If your boyfriend were just a roommate, you would not be asking a lot of these questions. Your questions – and they are all legitimate! – are more from the perspective of a shared investor, but an investor who gets none of the benefits of ownership. Your BF will get the tax deductions. He may or may not declare your rent on his taxes (in the US, he would be breaking the law if he does not, I believe). If you guys disagree about something, he will get to pull rank because it is his house.

        Alison is exactly right: What is the goal here? If you are both on the path to marriage, fine. But if he is just trying to save some money on his bills, how does this end?

        Good luck!

      3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        I’ve read in a few places that this is actually part of what contributes to divorce rates in couples who cohabitated before marriage–the lack of future plans. The thinking goes that if a couple is serious and then one of them buys a house (or their lease ends, or other living arrangements end for whatever reason) and the other moves in without discussing future plans, it can be easy for one half of the couple to think “Ah, the next step in the path!” and the other to think “This is just the easiest thing for us, it doesn’t mean anything.” Once they’re living together it’s harder to break up, since things are commingled and there’s more at stake, which like you said can make breakups more difficult and painful and drag out relationships. There’s a not-insignificant number of couples who will move from that to engagement and marriage because “that’s just what you do” when you’ve been living together for a number of years, bowing to pressure either from inside or outside the relationship, and things continue along an uneven keel until a few years into the marriage when one party finally is fed up enough to leave.

        I don’t know how true this is on a general basis, but I’ve seen it happen multiple times among my own friends and family, and I’ve read a few articles about it as well.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Yeah, this is what definitely happened with my ex and I (we never got as far as marriage, thank goodness) but we moved in together, got engaged, etc, kind of because that’s what we thought we should be doing. It took a long time for me to step back and realize “Hey, I’m not happy now, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life being unhappy so I need to leave.”

          From the start of this relationship I’ve tried to make sure we are both doing things intentionally because they are what each one of us wants, rather than letting peer pressure and/or momentum sweep us away. I think we have been good at doing that so far, but it wouldn’t hurt for us to check in and discuss this again before I move in.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        I can definitely second this, having been through it. :P

        I would also recommend some kind of agreement in writing, especially with the financials. And SAVE AS MUCH MONEY AS YOU CAN. A coworker from long ago moved in with her boyfriend and helped him fix up his house, paid the mortgage, etc. When he decided he didn’t want to be with her anymore, he kicked her out and she had nothing. She lost all the money she had put into his home–he owed her nothing because there are no laws that cover cohabiting couples the way divorce laws do. She used up her savings helping him and he didn’t have to pay her back. :(

        In my case, we had discussed getting married but in nearly five years with this person, it never happened. Instead, I got the divorce part without the marriage part. :P In hindsight, I’m glad we didn’t, because we’d be divorced now. But I will never move in with another SO unless we have a date set!

      5. Lindsay J*

        This is definitely a good point. I think it’s a step on the path to marriage, but it would be good to clarify that, and just more generally clarify what sort of time frame he envisions for that. We had discussed it much earlier in the relationship but haven’t talked about it recently.

    3. Sparkly Librarian*

      Since you’re going to be paying less in rent, think about what you can do with the difference. If your budget is going to stay mostly the same, why not put it into a savings account? You won’t miss the “extra” money if you don’t assume you’ll have it to spend. I always feel like I have more options when I have enough set aside for first/last/deposit in case I suddenly have to move without a lot of notice.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am on my own and I own my house. I have always felt that if I decide to commit/marry a second time we would get a new house together as a couple. I think there is something unbalanced about one person owning the home and the other person moving in. There’s a vulnerable spot where the owner can say, “Look, this is MY house.” And that can come up at the worst points in arguments. I have seen this statement used in regard to rented apartments also, “I was here first.”

      Even if it’s never said out loud, I have seen too many non-owners say, “I can’t say anything about X because my name is not on the deed.”

      In watching couples where one moves into another’s house/apartment it seemed like nothing at the time of moving in. As the years passed, it worked into a big, fat, hairy deal and darn near tore the relationship apart.

      It could be that you two have enough on the ball that this will never be an issue. So, YMMV, and all that. For myself, I would not do this.

      1. Short and Stout*

        I can’t help but agree. Your boyfriend would essentially be your landlord, with more than 100% of his mortgage paid from your rent. This would lead to his gaining and eventually owning an assest without you at your expense BUT at he same time having all of the advantages of having a live in partner to share chores and emotional labour.

        Fully agreeing with NSNR’s YMMV caveat too, but I would not do this either.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          That’s exactly what jumped out at me. You pay more than the mortgage payment but he gets the equity? That’s not a deal I’d be signing up for.

          1. Colette*

            Well, that’s what rent is. In this case, she’s paying for a place to live at less than the market rate. As long as they’re both clear about who gets the equity, that’s not unfair.

            Having said that, I agree that mixing business (I.e. He’d be her landlord) with a personal relationship can lead to problems – and if they’re living together, it’s harder to walk away if necessary.

            1. AdAgencyChick*

              Yes, that’s what rent is — but I wouldn’t enter into a renting relationship with someone I was considering as a life partner. I wouldn’t want a life partner who wanted to treat me as a non-partner.

      2. Dan*

        I was going to write in with something similar. In a landlord tenant situation, rent is based off of market forces, of which the mortgage, if one exists, is just a small part and perhaps irrelevant. Utilities and chores are another part of that.

        In a romantic situation, tbh, I’d be peeved to no end knowing that I was paying my partners mortgage in its entirety, and getting nothing to show for it, yet at the end of it, my partner has a house I paid for.

        1. Anne*

          I moved in with my bf a few yrs ago. I pay for groceries etc and most nights out but he covers mortgage since it is his house. I’m not on the deed. He owned house when he got together. I’m also saving more for the new house we will get once we are married

    5. Anne*

      You are covering the entire mortgage? I know you are paying less in rent, so that is good. Will you have the same amount of space though?

    6. Carrie in Scotland*

      When I have co-habitated (& I own my own place also) it’s been split down the middle for mortgage/rent, food, bills.

      The only thing I did on my own was repairs.

    7. BRR*

      The questions you asked are one you need to discuss with him. There’s not a right answer, there’s how things will work best for you two. The big things to me are do you see this as a precursor to marriage, will both of you not see it as his house, and do you get any equity in the house. While normally when you pay rent you dont, I feel with this sort of situation it’s a little different.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      One other thing, having thought about this more: Your old rent shouldn’t be relevant here. It’s not fair for you to pay more than him now, just because you’ll be saving compared to what you would have paid somewhere else. He’ll be saving too, compared to what he’d be paying if he were living there alone. In the arrangement you’ve outlined, he saves far more than you do. Why?

      The two of you should share living expenses. And if anything, he should pay more since he’s getting equity in the house, which is a significant benefit that you won’t be getting.

      He’s inviting you to move in with him, and — if you do it — you should figure out a fair division of expenses based on what your expenses will be under the new arrangement, not based on what your old expenses used to be.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        This makes total sense and is fully in line with your usual thinking with regard to salary—it doesn’t matter what salary you used to make.

        The boyfriend is definitely getting the better end of the deal, because of the equity.

        Totally unrelated: It makes me cry a little that spouse and I are paying almost 6 times in rent the boyfriend’s mortgage payment…

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Granted, there are other ways of doing things, but my husband and I split the bills according to income. I brought in 40% of the household income and I paid 40% of the bills. This left us both with the same amount of discretionary money for our own individual use.

        It’s a good idea to talk about these things before making a big step.

      3. Colette*

        I think it depends on two things:
        1) What are the other expenses (property tax, utilities, maintenance) – is he really paying less?
        2) Is she a partner or a tenant? If she’s a tenant, then if something breaks, she reports it and he does the work of fixing it (including the logistical work and paying for it). If she’s a partner, some of that is her responsibility – but she should be getting the same financial break that he is, including an agreement about equity.

        It sounds to me like they’re approaching this like she’s a tenant – which makes your earlier point about being on the same page about what this means for their relationship really critical, since they are essentially adding a business relationship to a personal relationship.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Yeah I think #1 is something neither of us are sure of (I’m not sure of it at least). Utilities will be a couple hundred at least I’m sure. Then I’m not sure how much he intends to sink into repairs etc monthly – it’s a 33 year old house so there are plenty of small things to be repaired and upgraded (though some of those repairs and upgrades also increase the value of the house).

          #2 is something I’ll definitely point out in the discussion; that if I’m being treated like a renter I should get the benefits of being a renter – having him deal with emergency maintenance, upkeep, etc mostly without my involvement.

      4. Artemesia*

        He gets all the equity so he ought to be paying more of the house expenses. Split things like food and operating stuff like supplies.

        When my husband and I moved in together nearly 50 years ago (yikes) we worked things out explicitly and the foundation we laid then just living together made for a firm lifelong partnership when we married. He is neater, so we agreed that I would have the second bedroom as my space/office junk room, but that we would keep the bathroom, living room/dining el and kitchen presentable. We took turns cooking by weeks. This led to when we had kids me cooking during the week since my schedule was better for that and him on weekends when he cooked more elaborately and then when he retired him doing all the cooking and then when I retired us sort of taking terms when we feel like it. It really set a norm of equal responsibility. The cook figures out what to have — which is of course the hard part.

        In our day there were built in assumptions about gender roles and most women fell into doing the housework with his ‘help’ — we didn’t want that. And being very explicit about what the chores were and how we would get them done and taking responsibility for our thing laid that foundation of equality. We until retirement did our own laundry and would spend a quick couple of hours on basic cleaning ever week. When we had hard jobs and kids, we had a cleaner come in every two weeks to do the deep clean.

        There are lots of ways to do this but 1. explicit 2. taking full responsibility for the things you agree to are IMHO the key to happiness.

      5. Lindsay J*

        This is a good point. We had been approaching it basically based on market rate for rent, and based on that I would be getting a deal. But I didn’t think about the fact that he is getting a deal too and a much better one than I am.

        1. catsAreCool*

          The money he spent to buy the house – the percentage down plus other costs – that might be a factor, too. If someone spends years saving for a house, that seems like it counts.

          1. overeducated and underemployed*

            But it does count, in that he gets that much equity in the house from the start. I’m not sure how that figures into her rent payment.

    9. New Bee*

      You already got a lot of advice about what moving in might mean, so I’ll focus on the division of labor part. “Equitable” means different things to different people, so you should first come to a shared understanding of what that means. For example, my husband does all of the cleaning and buys dinner out each week, while I do all of the cooking and grocery shopping plus clean the bathroom. We each do our own laundry. That wasn’t our original arrangement (we’ve been living together about 4 years), but it really came down to things we liked doing (I feel lucky to have married someone who likes cleaning) and what’s convenient (I have a more flexible work schedule and can go grocery shopping in the middle of the day, plus I track our finances and know how to shop sales).
      I think it’s important to also not fall into the trap of trying to do what you think you “should” be doing. I think there can be pressure for the woman moving in to have it all together and to have an opinion on how things get done (playing some sort of “executive house manager” role), but it’s on you both to find what works for you, and you always have the right to change your mind.

    10. Lee Ann*

      Definitely get things in writing! I got laid up with a broken ankle for a month and watched a lot of Judge Judy, and post-breakup cohabitation issues turned up a lot; even relationships that ended on friendly terms could leave a legal mess behind.

    11. Wo Fat*

      Though you didn’t ask about this, I can see this one advantage for you. Since you’re a tenant, you can pick up and leave any time.
      You should plan an exit strategy as a contingency. If this “deal” and/or “relationship” or whatever it is goes sour, you should know how much notice you have to give, if any, where to move to, how to get your things moved out quickly and how to survive, at least financially, when you’re away from him. And consider being able to do this at the drop of a hat or like a thief in the night.
      If things work out OK you won’t need an exit plan but you should have one just in case.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, this is pretty much what I did with my ex. Hopefully I won’t need to do it again, but if I do need to I can handle it.

    12. NDQ*

      It sounds like a great deal for him, not so much for you. He’s owning an asset, you are helping him buy it but not sharing in any security in ownership. What happens if he suddenly dies? His heirs (not you) will decide what happens to the house and can evict you, likely in 30 days. The same thing can happen if you break up. He will stay, you will be out.


      1. Lindsay J*

        Good point wrt death. We’re both fairly young so it’s not something regularly on our radar or something we like to think about, but with a large asset like this its definitely something to consider. Especially since last year I learned you can lose anyone at any time (lost two friends younger than I am in two separate freak occurances).

  37. I should know this*

    I feel like someone must have asked this before, but since this is a US-centric blog perhaps previous advice was slated towards US?

    I need some information on Investing for Dummies. I’m not talking US specific things like 401k (did I get that right?) and how to best sock money away, but more generalized information, like equity vs fixed income vs bond, what is a dividend fund, difference between credit union vs bank and in terms of investing with them, what difference do all these terms make in terms of returns/risk/whatever. My sum total of knowledge re: investing is the concept of compound interest I learned in high school. I seriously have no handle on any of this. If you can find Canadian-slated advice all the better, but I really just want an easy-to-digest rundown on the basic concepts of investing and what all these words mean. They may be English, but they’re not in English I understand.

    My father has some investing knowledge from years of trial and error, but truthfully he’s 1) not great at explaining concepts, and 2) explaining it in Chinese doesn’t really help my grasp and retention because I don’t really think in Chinese anymore.

    So yeah…less on “how to save money” and more “what’s a beginner-slated Investing for Dummies 101 compilation for building up basic knowledge”? Glossary is a must. Book recs, websites, whatever you can think of that I can read.

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Swoop*

      I think Gail Vaz-Oxlade covers investing (I hope I’m remembering rightly), and she is very good on money in general. She has several books, a website with a good Q&A section, and a couple of shows you might have come across (they rerun a lot) – ‘Princess’ and ”Til Debt Do Us Part’

    2. Dan*

      You’re asking for advice on a 1) US centric blog 2) about a very serious topic that is nowhere near the focus of it.

      May I suggest that you investigate resources that are focused on your locale? You would be much better served that way. The thing is, a lot of financial stuff is going to be locale specific. For example, many of the “general” things you ask about, such as the risk difference between banks and credit unions, will have answers that are influenced by US regulations.

      TBH, you have things you want to know about, why not just Google them?

    3. fposte*

      Best free source: bogleheads.org wiki. Canadian counterpart: finiki.org wiki. That’s related to the Canadian Financial Wisdom Forum at financialwisdomforum.org. US equivalent bogleheads.org.

      Best free short overview: William Bernstein’s If You Can free 16-page PDF. (Google for URL.)

      In general, you’ll probably need to read a few different explanations a few different times and see people describing how it would work in actuality before you feel lik you understand sufficiently, so don’t be daunted if it feels opaque the first time.

    4. CanadianUniversityReader*

      If I remember correctly, The Wealthy Barber has some stuff on investing but it does talk a lot about saving money. I’ve also found that some of the banks (think Scotiabank, etc) have a pretty good basic investing guide. I’ve only glanced at these those.

  38. Sitting Here Beside Myself*

    This guy and I, I thought, were friends maybe trying to find out if maybe something more. We were going to meet up yesterday (nothing romantic still more on the platonic), but yesterday morning I get a text saying he’s not up to it and has been feeling like that since the day before. He apologized but that was it. I returned a feel better but haven’t heard back.

    My question: Are you inclined to feel this is a major red flag or do you believe he really is under the weather? Either way, how would you proceed from here?

    Like the name I put down for this today, I am literally sitting here beside myself because I would never have guessed this would be the result. And yes I have seen the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You” so that’s playing in my mind too.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I wouldn’t read anything into that. Operate as if he’s actually not feeling well.

    2. FatBigot*

      He may be really stressed out and feeling sorry for himself, especially if actually ill. Why not ask if he would like you to bring anything over?

    3. Dan*

      You’re asking us if a guy we never met is actually sick when he says he’s sick? Why would we think he’s lying?

      You open with “I thought”. IMHO, you should have a conversation with him and see what he’s thinking. Otherwise you’re just going to get really confused, trying to read between the lines, and he may not even know you’re doing that.

    4. Artemesia*

      Take this from an old old lady who when she was young occasionally behaved like you are i.e. — obsessing over some guy you barely have a relationship with and reading everything as a sign etc etc. You aren’t even in a romantic relationship and already you are referencing ‘he just isnt into you’ etc etc. There is no upside to this kind of obsessing; it won’t improve the relationship and won’t make you feel better. A one time thing is not a pattern. If this were the third time he had done this, then that would be a red flag (but why are we even thinking about ‘red flags’ in a relationship that hasn’t even progressed to a romantic one?)Until there is evidence to the contrary consider this guy another girlfriend i.e. just another friend and don’t layer the relationship with expectations. If he is a flake then stop making plans with him that put you out. If it does evolve into a romantic relationship and he IS ‘into you’ it will be obvious. A guy who is interested in a woman in that way makes that pretty clear by his actions. A good way to make sure that never happens is to start sending out desperate vibes and that is how it feels when someone is worried about red flags the first time a friend can’t follow through on a plan.

    5. Sitting Here Beside Myself*

      Thank you for your replies and your replies have given me some perspective. I appreciate the time you all took to answer.

    6. NicoleK*

      Are you into him? I’m not clear if you are. If you’re into him, you could call or send him a text in a couple of days to see how he is doing and suggest getting together and see how he responds.

      If you’re not into him, then stop obsessing over whether he was sick or not.

    7. Mando Diao*

      It’s easier said than done, but wait and see. He’ll get in touch if he wants to see you again. If you get to the point where enough time has gone by that you’re panicking and shooting off hasty texts, it’s already over.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, that’s the beauty of this kind of thing — you don’t have to guess. You can just go about your life and see what happens, as long as you believe what he’s showing you.

  39. FatBigot*

    Anyone got any recommendations for quality hotels to stay in the center of Edinburgh, Scotland near the end of next month, and things to do/see?

    It’s our wedding anniversary, and we are thinking of a minibreak there.

    1. Artemesia*

      Look at Trip Advisor for Edinburgh. They usually have a set of frequently asked questions on the right side of a page for a city that links to pieces by travelers — e.g. ‘what to do in two days’ or ‘top tend things to do’ TA has somewhat more sophisticated travelers posting as a rule than Rick Steve’s forum — but both are good sources of ideas. Search the sites first with your questions and see what is already there and then if you have more detailed questions post your own query. TA has more traffic and you will almost certainly get lots of responses quickly. I have also used RS for new places and got some helpful advice but there are more clueless newbies there who post erroneous information.

      I have recently traveled to some places that were new to me and these sites, particularly TA, were enormously helpful.

    2. Kate in Scotland*

      At the top end, I’ve heard good things about the Witchery in particular (if it’s your style), the Balmoral or the Caledonian (now a Waldorf Astoria) for traditional hotels, or the Chester Residence which is more like suites/apartments I think. Never stayed in any of them because a) I’m local and b) I’m cheap :) I did go to a conference at the Caledonian quite recently and the food and service was amazing.

      1. LF*

        I had friends who stayed at the Chester Residence – their space was amazing and I wish we had stayed there when we went!

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      Go see the castle!
      The area behind the castle is called the grassmarket – secondhand bookshops, lovely pubs, a unique icecream/hot chocolate/gelato place.
      Morningside and Stocketbridge are “posh-ish” areas for cute places.
      There is Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat to climb & get good views of the city.
      Maybe take a city bus tour and go to the National Museum of Scotland.

      I don’t know any hotels as I usually stay in hostels. Try Haymarket which is still fairly central?

      & enjoy my lovely little country!

    4. Kate in Scotland*

      To do: definitely Edinburgh Castle, you could spend hours there. We have some fantastic free museums/galleries, in particular the National Museum of Scotland, National Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, as well as a bunch of smaller galleries. The National Museum has a roof terrace which is a bit tricky to find but has a great view. I’ve heard really good things about the Royal Yacht Britannia, it’s out of the centre but there is a good tour bus that goes there. Holyrood Palace I find a bit underwhelming. Mary King’s Close is interesting and a bit different.

    5. Tau*

      I know next to nothing about this because I lived in Edinburgh for four years (ergo: I did none of the touristy stuff because I could always do it another day, and never stayed in a hotel). That said: climb Arthur’s Seat and explore Holyrood Park! It’s not as high as it looks – you can get up in ~20 minutes from the entrance near Pollock Halls/the swimming pool/Newington – and you get some amazing views. That said, wear good shoes and definitely only do this if it’s dry. The path isn’t as good as you might expect considering it’s a major tourist attraction.

      I never actually went to the Castle out of protest at their lack of student discount, but I’ve heard good things. I have visited the National Museum of Scotland and although I’m not generally a museum sort of person I enjoyed myself quite a bit.

      Which is already the end of my tourist knowledge, really. But if you’re in the area and want lunch, Elephants & Bagels (off Potterrow, near South Bridge and the university) is both cute and delicious. It’s an offshoot of the Elephant House, whose claim to fame is that J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter there and which may also be worth a visit. That said, the Elephant House proper doesn’t have bagels. To my mind this makes it clearly inferior, Harry Potter or no Harry Potter.

    6. Claire (Scotland)*

      The Balmoral, the Caledonian or the Scotsman hotels are all city centre hotels and lovely, if you can afford then. The Carlton on North Bridge is also pretty nice. My personal favourite, though, is Prestonfield House Hotel, which is not city centre but not far away and is AMAZING!

      A much less expensive option that I have heard good things about from friends who’ve stayed there is Parliament House Hotel on Calton Hill.

    7. Lucina*

      I’m in Scotland too! No suggestions for hotels, sorry. For things to see, as somebody else has already said, you can go on a hop-on hop-off bus tour that takes you around the main attractions, including the Leith and the Ocean Terminal where the Britannia is (depends on the tour). I think Stirling castle is nicer than Edinburgh castle, maybe because I used to live in Stirling…
      One of my favourite areas is Stockbridge. There is a place called Patisserie Madeleine that is fantastic, and if you walk just a little bit there is the Dean Village, an area that look like it is just out of a fairytale.
      If you go to the National Museum of Scotland, make sure to go to the roof terrace, there is a very nice view. I’ve been to the museum only twice, and the first time was on a rainy Sat afternoon and there were so many families with young children that I almost felt out of place.
      I often use a site called “undiscovered scotland” for inspiration.

  40. Dangerfield*

    I’m going to Norway in August. I’m staying for ten nights, and flying into and out of Oslo. Any things I absolutely must do? Anyone who went for a similar amount of time and came up with the perfect itinerary? It’ll be me and my partner and our eight year old daughter. We aren’t extreme sports types or hikers but we do like to walk. I am a train geek and would like to get in at least one beautiful train journey (maybe Oslo – Bergen).

    1. FatBigot*

      On the way from Oslo to Bergen change at Myrdal to take the branch to Flam. An amazing railway journey down to the fjord.

    2. Short and Stout*

      The Flamsbana is meant to be the most scenic railway journey in Norway.

      When I went to Bergen, I took a day trip up the Sognefjord and then up the Fjaerlandsfjord ending at the glacier visitor centre. I would recommend it highly.

  41. matcha123*

    I was back in the old country (America) for the past two weeks.
    It was good to be back, but I was not a fan of all of the religious stuff on TV or all of the “America is the best country in teh wurld, fap, fap, fap” commercials that ran.
    Prices also seem to have risen.

    But, snow! Yay!

    1. Cruciatus*

      I don’t know about the religious stuff, but the best country in the world stuff may be due to the presidential election. I’m actually trying to figure out which commercials/shows you might have seen! I don’t think I normally see anything like that. Everything I see is abused animals and hungry children with the occasional toothpaste commercial. There is religious stuff, but it’s mostly on religious channels so I manage to ignore almost all of it.

      1. matcha123*

        My mom has some weird cable set-up where she can’t get HD (I don’t know why), and FOX News comes in better than some of the other local channels. It was a commercial for some lawyer which started, “We are the best country, with the strongest currency and the most freedoms…” and some other BS lies. I don’t think it was a local commercial, and I don’t think it was a cable commercial (I feel like I saw it on the local NBC channel, too).

        I feel like there are a lot of religious mentions on the Today Show for the Katie? and Hoda section.

        I guess I get to hear about how great Japan is on Japanese TV from morning ’til night, and I was not in the mood for more of the same in my own country. If you are great, you don’t need to tell people because they already know!

        1. Dan*

          Wait, a strong currency and the most freedoms are bs lies?

          Can you name a country with a stronger currency and more freedoms?

          1. Jerry Vandesic*

            It would all depend on how someone wanted to measure these things. Depending on what was important, you could skew the results to have almost any country win this kind of contest. There is no objective measure of best when it comes to personal beliefs.

            1. Dan*

              Sure, but if I’m going to complain about US government propaganda, or Faux News as the poster described, these aren’t the kind of things that I’d trot out as the exemplar set for “BS lies.”

          2. Amtelope*

            “More freedoms” is really open to debate, but the strongest currency in 2015 was the Kuwaiti dinar, not the US dollar.

            1. Dan*

              Depends on how you measure it. It’s one thing to look at exchange rates, but that’s like talking about the cost of health insurance being measured in terms of your premium only. Sure, that’s one aspect of it, but if your premium buys you a sky-high deductible, well, you have to take that into consideration too.

              I travel around the world quite a bit, and the currency conversion rate between the USD and wherever I’m going is just one piece of the overall picture.

              I almost feel like these things have to be taken into historical context. The last I checked, the Euro was trading at 1.08 USD per EUR. For the last several years, that rate was closer to 1.3, if not higher. Is the Euro a stronger currency then the USD? It’s really hard to say, considering that the USD is the back bone currency of countries beyond the US. For instance, I recently traveled Cambodia, and regardless of the exchange rate between the Riel and the USD, the USD is the defacto currency. In fact, as a foreigner, you cannot get Riel out of an ATM, only USD.

          3. matcha123*

            It’s only within the past two years or so that the USD has gotten stronger. In 2011, I was getting 75 yen to one USD, now it’s 120 yen to one USD and that’s because the Japanese government has moved to lower the value of the yen.
            As to freedoms, which ones? Just because we have freedom of press or expression doesn’t mean that those “freedoms” don’t come without strings attached. I can’t write whatever lies I want about someone and then claim “freedom” when they sue me. I also can’t say that I have the “freedom” to call upon others to incite violence on others. Generally, I find that people who talk about “freedom” in the US tie it to having guns. Since I’m in Japan, I’ll use Japan as an example, but citizens can own guns in Japan. However it costs a lot of money, you have to have a mental evaluation/no criminal convictions, inform the local police department that you have a gun, keep the gun and bullets locked in separate places and more.
            Perhaps that’s not free enough for some people, but, as a foreigner living here, I don’t feel much less restricted than I would in the US.

            1. Dan*

              And during the period you reference, the $ traded where it did because of a US government policy called “quantitative easing.” When I traveled Japan in 2008, the yen was trading at about 100-110 yen to the $. So, you think that the USD is only recently a strong currency, whereas it was a strong and stable currency before that.

              Freedoms? Gee, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to own a gun… we can go look at the bill of rights and see what freedoms it explicitly grants us.

              The US has its issues, sure, but it still has its benefits. You opened this thread with calling certain things “BS lies”, and I just can’t agree with the phrasing you use.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      It was good to be back, but I was not a fan of all of the religious stuff on TV or all of the “America is the best country in teh wurld, fap, fap, fap” commercials that ran.

      Hahahahah thanks for the laugh!

      1. matcha123*

        Heh, I felt the same way after 9/11. I’m not a fan of “We are great!!11” types of propaganda. I was also never a fan of casual references to god and religion on TV…not that those are exactly new.
        I don’t know. Rather than sitting around talking about how “great” we are, as if there were some contest, let’s actually make a great country that allows all of our citizens access to the wonderful schools and freedoms that we are circlejerking about.
        I should stop here hahaha!

  42. Carrie in Scotland*

    As you may remember from previous threads, I put my flat up for sale and moved to new city and things have not been good here.

    I’ve already told my leasing company that I will moving out when it comes to an end mid-Feb.

    I am just not sure if I should keep my flat on the market when I move back or pull it off. The chances of me having money to pay for all the pre-selling stuff is unlikely to happen for a year or 2 (my finances are in an awful state) but OTOH I have nowhere to go if I do sell it.

    And I’m not sad at the outcome of moving back. I’ve given it a go and I am pleased with that but I miss my friends and myself and having all ny stuff around me in my own place. & double glazing!!

    So don’t be sad for me, becauss I’m not :-)

    1. danr*

      Take it off the market. You’ve answered the question yourself. And enjoy re-entering your old life and friends.

    2. Older not yet wiser*

      Too bad it didn’t work out for you. But I admire you for giving it a go! Best wishes for getting the finances back in order soon.

    3. edj3*

      Did something similar–we moved to Boston for five years, during which time so many things went wrong (job losses, three rounds of flood/water damage/etc). When I had the opportunity to move back to Kansas City for a job, we jumped at the chance.

      Sure, Boston is cool, I have wonderful friends there but I’m still pleased we’re here (and still loving the so much lower cost of living).

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I’d take it off the market. That will give you some breathing room to get your finances back in order without worrying about where you’ll go.

      You tried and it didn’t work out, but that’s okay! It takes guts to pick up and go, and now you know that you can do it. :)

  43. AdAgencyChick*

    Things that critics/your friends/everybody else seems to love, but you don’t?

    Mine: The Elena Ferrante Neapolitan novels. Well, really, just “My Brilliant Friend,” because I didn’t want to read any more after that one. I just couldn’t bring myself to care about any of the characters.

    Also, The Simpsons. My husband LOVES the show and I won’t watch it with him. For some reason the jokes just make me cringe instead of laugh, and Marge’s voice annoys the crap out of me!

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      How long do you have!?

      But Harry Potter, Breaking Bad, GoT for a start. Just not my thing.

    2. the gold digger*

      Star Wars. I just don’t get it. I was living outside of the US when the first movies came out, but even if I had been in the States during all the hoopla, I don’t think I would have cared.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I think I can explain Star Wars generally. For those of us of a certain age, who were kids when the original movies came out, it’s about nostalgia: reliving the innocent part of our childhoods when we could pretend to be space pirates & princesses & naive farm boys who get to save the galaxy. This is a hotly anticipated opportunity to share that original wonder with our kids and build a family experience around it.

        The rest of us are just sci-fi geeks.

        1. nep*

          I was a kid when the original came out. Remember seeing it. Just never got into it. (I suppose if I had kids of a certain age who were into it, that might spark a kind of interest.)

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            I was, too. I plan to see the new one next week, because the reviews were good, but the fact that I still haven’t yet probably says as much as I need to say about my level of enthusiasm.

      2. katamia*

        Same. I was too young to see the originals when they came out but watched the original trilogy a lot growing up. And I never really liked it. I watched it because it was there and I liked science fiction but my parents weren’t fans and didn’t really know of much else (I’m still vaguely annoyed that I had to discover Star Trek on my own as an adult). It wasn’t what I liked, but it was close, and at such a young age, I didn’t have the resources to get any closer.

        And by this point I’ve been forced by friends to sit through it so many times that I never want to see it or even hear that lightsaber sound ever again.

        I do appreciate the Knights of the Old Republic and Knights of the Old Republic 2 games that came out of the franchise, but other than that, I don’t feel like my life would be diminished in any way if Star Wars suddenly stopped existing.

      3. Shell*

        Me too! When Star Wars just came out I was still an ESL student learning the alphabet, so I didn’t get on the hype train. I’ve watched the original trilogy and think its decent, but predictable (though it probably created the tropes at the time, plus I’ve gotten a lot of spoilers from it being a cultural icon so I won’t hold predictability against it). I’ve heard the prequels were executed terribly, so I don’t love enough what’s out already to get excited about this new movie.

        And I’m plenty geeky about other things too…shrug.

    3. Weekend Warrior*

      Haha! Nancy Mitford said she couldn’t stand Pride and Prejudice – “all those man hunting mines”. For me – GoT and Dowton Abbey.

      1. katamia*

        I hated the original Pride and Prejudice and movies based on it (and actually Austen as a whole), but I love things that are based on it like Bridget Jones and Lost in Austen.

        1. Artemesia*

          Definitely see Bride and Prejudice a Bollywood adaptation that just captures is perfectly in the Indian context. It is on Netflix streaming right now. But then I actually like Austen a lot and most of the P&P tv versions — not the Keira Knightly movie. I thought the Darcy was pretty good but Knightly was awful and the adaptation itself just didn’t get the book right in crucial moments.

          I agree with the person who didn’t like My Brilliant Friend — I tried twice and just couldn’t get into it. Another author I can’t stand is Cara Black and the mysteries set in Paris. I love Paris and once when headed there for two months stocked up on these books thinking it would be fun to have books about the places I would be exploring. Hated them. Badly written. Stupid protagonist. Hated them. It was a big stack of books too — before I had a Nook. I left them all at the apartment we rented.

          1. katamia*

            I’ve seen Bride and Prejudice, but it’s actually something I’m not a huge fan of. Unfortunately, Aishwarya Rai is an actress everyone else seems to love who I’m consistently underwhelmed by. There are much better actresses out there as well as prettier ones (I normally wouldn’t criticize an actress’s appearance, but a lot of her PR is based around the idea of her being “the most beautiful woman in the world,” which I would find grating even in someone I found to be a very talented actress). I watch a lot of Indian films, and there are other actresses out there who are much more deserving of the acclaim that Rai gets. I also found the songs in Bride and Prejudice to be rather mediocre. A lot of my friends who don’t watch a lot of Indian films really seem to like Bride and Prejudice, though.

            You might like Kandukondain Kandukondain (also with Rai), an Indian version of Sense and Sensibility. I liked the acting and the songs more in that one.

        1. Lore*

          Nope. I once had an argument at a party with someone–in NY, mind you–where I said I didn’t get Seinfeld. He said, “Well, you’re not from NY then.” I said, “I grew up ten miles from here and I’ve now lived in the city nearly ten years.” He said, “Well, obviously you’re not Jewish then.” I said, “No, I am.” If only the term mansplaining had been invented at the time.

          I mean, I’m the worst Jewish person ever but I should still get the jokes!

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            I have been living in NYC for close to 15 years and I don’t get Seinfeld either. Some of the jokes are hilarious when my husband is telling me about them — yes, I totally get why meeting a food delivery guy on a corner because you live just out of range for that restaurant is funny! But something gets lost for me in the execution.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Any chance you’re from the U.K.?

        When I studied abroad there, everyone who’d actually seen Seinfeld thought it was entirely unfunny, but they loved Friends.

        Almost (but not) all Americans I know love Seinfeld. Jerry Seinfeld’s sense of humor is very “Did you ever notice?” which won’t make as much sense outside of his specific cultural context.

        1. Tau*

          Sometimes humour just doesn’t translate well across cultures, be it because of specific references being lost or because of differing humour traditions. I haven’t seen Seinfeld, but there’s a German comedy writer who is very popular in Germany where I really, really wonder how much British or American readers/listeners would get out of him. (Marc-Uwe Kling, if anyone is wondering. I don’t think he’s been translated into English.)

        2. catsAreCool*

          I read SeinLanguage a few times and enjoyed it, but I never did get into the Seinfeld show. Too many cases of adults who ought to know better acting worse then kids would in some situations. George feeding seafood to a woman who kept kosher. Jerry flirting with a woman by trying to give her free dry cleaning. I kept flinching.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Yeah, I watched it a few times and they were just such horrible people. Same thing with Sex and the City.

      2. Doriana Gray*

        Right there with you, NicoleK. And yet I love Larry David and Curb Your Enthusiasm, so I guess I just don’t find Jerry or his TV sidekicks funny.

      3. So Very Anonymous*

        Hated Seinfield. Chuck Klosterman has a great essay that gets at why I never liked it. Link to follow —

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Black Swan, Adele, Serial podcast, The Da Vinci Code, Silver Linings Playbook… that’s all I can think of off the top of my head.

      1. nep*

        Ditto many that people have already mentioned.
        Adele ! Do. Not. Understand. But hey — to each his/her own.
        Downton Abbey.
        In another category, I suppose, but — Facebook.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Oh, yes—Downton Abbey! That, too!

          With Adele, I think she’s a good singer, and some of her songs are all right. I just don’t understand how she’s a record-breaking phenomenon… and her latest song “Hello” is dull as hell. But I don’t hate. Good for her for being successful. And if other people like her, good for them for finding joy in her music. I just don’t get it.

          1. Nina*

            Co-sign on Silver Linings Playbook, or anything in the David O. Russell category.

            I only got into Downton Abbey because I thought the guy who plays Thomas is hot, fwiw. Otherwise I cannot be bothered by the drama going on upstairs.

    5. katamia*

      The Godfather. I’ve seen part of it and of course I can tell that it’s objectively a well-made movie, but I just don’t care about the characters, the plot, or anything else about it. I’ve never made it through the entire movie. (And have tried more than once because my not having seen The Godfather is a Thing for one of my parents, who keeps insisting that everybody loves it.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I had to watch it for several classes in high school. Then my husband decided he like it. It was like having my leg caught in a leg trap and I could not get out. I have heard so many stories about it, that I learned to dislike it even more. I did not think that was possible.

    6. LPBB*

      I just watched the horror film “It Follows” which is getting all sorts of critical love and overly earnest paeans on the interwebs, but I thought it was only okay and certainly not an instant classic. Also on the list, Breaking Bad, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and many others I can’t think of!

    7. Swoop*

      wine and seafood.
      I can’t express how tired I am of the ‘just try it, you’ll love it!’ people throw out. I’ve tried both several times and I don’t love it. For me wine tastes like alcohol and seafood tastes like bleah.

      ‘The Night Circus’ – fantasty/sf = me and all my friends seem to have _loved_ it, but it just did nothing for me. It’s like it was trying too hard to be literary and just tiredly retreading elements I’ve read many times before (and I’ve nothing against retreads, I’m happy to read the same theme over and over as long as it’s got its own take)

      1. Marcela*

        Yeah, I can’t stand wine either. It taste so bitter it’s awful. But I haven’t had any trouble saying that, nobody has tried to force me to drink. And since last year, I don’t think anybody will, since I learned to drive and I am always the designated driver :)

    8. Cath in Canada*

      The Welcome to Night Vale podcast. It feels like something I *should* like – I love podcasts, I love supernatural stories, I love mockumentaries, I love sci-fi humour, I love other humorous and/or mockumentary style supernatural podcasts – but I just can’t get into it. I’ve tried twice and can’t make it past the fourth episode.

      I could never get into Lost, either, even while all my friends were telling me that as a huge X-Files fan it should be exactly my kind of thing. But nope.

      Also, dim sum. Not my thing.

      1. Hattie McDoogal*

        Yeah, I feel kind of bad agreeing with you on the dim sum thing since it’s so ubiquitous here, but I just don’t ‘get’ it. Maybe I’ve just had the misfortune of always having bad dim sum, but it always seems like every dish tastes the same. And it’s always really meat-heavy, which is not at all my personal preference.

    9. Stephanie*

      -Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. It was amusing at times, but it felt half-finished and kooky for the sake of being kooky. And the Dong character and the whole plotline about the secret Native American heritage were really uncomfortable.
      -Bubble tea. The tapioca pearls have a weird taste and texture to me and I prefer unsweetened tea.
      -Sarah Silverman
      -The Big Lebowski
      -Napoleon Dynamite

      1. Stephanie*

        -IHOP. I’m not a huge breakfast person to begin with and I think their food is mediocre and overpriced.

        1. Neruda*

          Fifty Shades of Grey (the book, I haven’t bothered with the movie). I’m not sure this community would like it because people here seem to actually like, you know, well written stuff but it has sold millions of copies so *someone* must like it! People tell me it’s popular because it was available digitally and people could kind of download it and enjoy erotica without the judgement of having to actually walk into a book store and purchase it. Do these same people not realise erotic fiction is all over the Internet for free??

          1. Artemesia*

            I got it from the library on my reader early on and actually didn’t know what it was but that it was popular — don’t know how I managed that but I did. So I started to read this popular book – and didn’t find it interesting or erotic. I hadn’t sought it out as such but it was obviously where it was going — but not for me.

      2. Sara*

        Oh. My. God. Napoleon Dynamite did some serious damage to my long-term relationship back in college. He LOVED it, I thought it was stupid, and grew to actively hate it as he recruited all of our dumb male friends into the cult. Worst.

    10. Jillociraptor*

      I feel like I have to turn in my White Millennial Woman membership card for not liking Broad City.

    11. Tau*

      The Howl’s Moving Castle movie. We hates it, precious. The problem is that I love the book a lot, and every single thing they changed makes me angry!

      I also tried reading the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy once and disliked it a lot and couldn’t get past the first or second chapter. This may have a lot to do with the fact that I was eleven or twelve at the time, but somehow the “ugh” feeling about it remains and so I still haven’t tried rereading it. I know, I know!

      1. Artemesia*

        Hitchhiker is one of my family’s favorite books. When the kids were elementary school age we played it on the car tape player on the way to a summer vacation — 14 hour drive. They were entirely taken with Marvin the depressed Robot. When we got back home they typed his poetry into a computer that had a voice synthesizer (like a Mac SE maybe) and roared with laughter to hear the robot voice doing robot poems. One refrain line I remember is ‘how I hate the night.’ They then moved on to getting the machine to repeat swear words.

      2. Sara*

        +1 for Hitchhiker’s Guide. I read it for the first time in my mid-20s and didn’t find it even remotely funny.

      3. Suz*

        I’m with you. I eventually decided I could appreciate the visuals of the movie, but the story and characters were just all wrong and meaningless.

    12. So Very Anonymous*

      Mad Men. I watched the first three seasons online, then watched the fourth season in real time and officially gave up because I was literally yelling at my TV. I think I had my shoulders up to my ears the whole time. I was talking with my dad about it later, and he said he’d watched a few episodes and then said “I hate ALL these people!” and gave up.

      1. Soupspoon McGee*

        I tried five or six episodes and just could not get into Mad Men. It really bothered me. Nobody was likeable, and all the hype seemed to be based on stereotypes, not actual three-dimensional people.

    13. Sara*

      Sherlock (really, most Sherlock Holmes-adjacent things)
      The Fault in Our Stars
      Jane Eyre (I am well-known in some circles for my loathing of Jane Eyre)
      The Bachelor/Bachelorette

    14. Elizabeth West*

      Football (American) and baseball.
      Mushrooms. Bleah.
      Game of Thrones. Don’t care; probably never will.
      My auntie in London was really into Breaking Bad–I watched a couple of episodes with her and was mildly interested, but I just can’t be arsed to sit down and watch the series.

    15. MsChandandlerBong*

      TV: Seinfeld and Sex & the City for Sure. I can’t say I hate Breaking Bad, but I have never gotten past the first episode. I’ve tried it about four times, and I just don’t think that episode is compelling enough to keep going. Sex & the City was amusing at times, but I couldn’t get past Carrie being such a materialistic jerk when Aiden proposed.

      Movies: Star Wars. I tried watching one of them, but it was just people walking around in the desert for like 40 minutes! I liked the first few Harry Potter movies, but I didn’t finish the series because the sixth and seventh (part 1) were so god-awful.

    16. ginger ale for all*

      Tex-Mex, Cajun, and anything spicy food wise. I grew up in Houston and that stuff was everywhere there. I also don’t get a PBS show with Jeremy Piven (?) where he runs a department store in London and he had three women just panting to be with him, his wife, mistress, and a shopgirl. Pickings in London must have been pretty darn slim for that guy to even get one woman, he was a drip. I forgot the name of the show but really, if you are going to have romantic turns in your plot, at least make the characters likeable.

    1. NicoleK*

      Can you elaborate? Do you need time to make a decision? Never make a decision? Or let others make the decision for you? Do you have trouble making decisions with minor things, major things, everything? And what is your process for making decisions?

    2. Kate in Scotland*

      If you tend to overthink your decisions, I highly recommend the book The Paradox of Choice. It has some good advice on ‘deciding when to decide’. For example, sometimes you can set up a rule about how you’re going to decide in a given scenario, like you always get the cheapest, or you always buy the same brand, or you always eat the daily special. I used to think that was ‘cheating’ but now I realised it frees up some decision making power for the things I really need it for! The book also explains why it’s easier to choose between a small range of options than a big range, so now I do things like deciding which section of a menu I’ll look at and choosing from that section, rather than trying to choose from everything. And I let my ‘gut instinct’ make the small decisions rather than telling myself that I have to have good reasons for everything.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It takes practice making good decisions. I think that is what you are talking about- you want to make a good decision so you don’t decide until you know you can make a good decision.

      When in total doubt chose the most conservative choice. That would the choice that you could undo if it turns out to be wrong. Or the choice that would cause the least amount of problems if it turns out to be wrong.

      From what I have read, Ben Franklin helped us all to think in terms of making a list of pros and cons to find a decision. The problem with the pro/con method is how do you know when you are done making the list? Most often, you do not know when you are done and your decision gets postponed again.

      Another writer proposed a method that involves finding one very good strong reason for making a decision. What is good about this method is that it takes less time because once you find your good strong reason, you know you are done pondering.

      Very few decisions are not fixable. Yes, some can be costly, but they still can be fixed. It helps to think in these terms and not get overwhelmed by limits that exist only in our minds.

      We tend to gravitate to all the bad decisions we have made and we skate by the good decisions. Round up your good decisions. That sweater that you bought three years ago and still love so much- that was a good decision. Put that in your collection of good decisions. Let’s suppose that you are able to find 4-5 things that you feel good about. Take a look at those decisions what, if any common threads do those decisions have? Try to keep this question in mind as you go about life- keep adding to your good decision collection and keep analyzing what went RIGHT.

      And lastly, talk with others. Not with the idea that you will do exactly what they say, but with the idea that they will sharpen your own decision making abilities. Bob bought a widget. He HATES it. You listen to Bob talk about the widget and realize that it’s not for you, either, so you decide to buy a gizmo instead.
      And share what you learn with others also.

      The number one thing I see with decisions is that people don’t know what they will do if it goes wrong. Make a plan. “If I buy this house and it turns out to be wrong for me, what will I do as my next steps?” Have a rough idea of how you will handle worst case scenario, lesser cases will be much easier to figure out as you go along.

    4. Marcela*

      DH is very indecisive. But it’s not that he can’t decide on things: it’s just that he gets overwhelmed when trying to choose. I’m, on the other hand, somebody who decide things in the blink of an eye, so you can imagine that sometimes our differences crash loudly.

      I read the paradox of choice, trying to understand my husband’s train of thought and oh, what a boring book. I could not finish it. But as Katie in Scotland said, the book proposes us to set some rules to follow when deciding. Using my rules or the way I use to decide, my husband has found something he can use. For example, as my family didn’t have much money, I tend to buy the cheapest option for everything. If I don’t like it, I buy the following price up. And so on. So that’s one rule my husband follows now for most unimportant stuff.

      Of course, that doesn’t mean DH is able to decide in a flash now. So for every important decision, when there is a deadline, he has to start thinking and looking some time in advance. For a flight, it’s about 2 weeks. When we bought my car, it was more 3 months. All this time he would be googling and reading websites, reviews, comparing options, prices, etc. And I won’t participate in any of this. Only when he feels he has a decent level of knowledge, then I will enter in the conversation.

      The truth is that I am not bothered because of his indecision. He can decide, it’s not like he is paralyzed. So I can wait until I can’t wait :) and then he accepts we need a decision whatever that is. And in the US most of our daily decisions are reversible (I mean buying stuff, for example) so nothing is that important to make us fight.

    5. Elsajeni*

      If you struggle with making even small/minor decisions, like “Should I get pizza or Chinese takeout tonight?”, I recommend — seriously — flipping a coin. Not that you have to abide by what the coin says, but if it comes up tails for pizza and you find yourself going “Aw, dang,” hey! You’ve discovered that you want Chinese!

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t know if this helps at all, but sometimes indecisiveness can come from a fear of regret. “What if I make the wrong choice?” I’ve made wrong choices. I’ve definitely made choices I regret. And I’ve decided to learn from those choices. When you resign yourself to wrong choices happening and not being the end of the world, it can be easier to make choices. Not sure if that’s your issue or not, though.

    7. ginger ale for all*

      I have that tendency but it doesn’t bother me that much. I am just wired that way. However, I love shopping at Aldi because the choices are so narrow. I have a difficult time choosing things like salad dressing because they always seem to discontinue my favorites but at Aldi, I get two or three choices and I am in and out within fifteen minutes at the most. And if anyone is in the salad dressing industry, please bring back the tomato-bacon ranch dressing. I would eat spoonfuls of that on the sly, it was that good.

  44. LPBB*

    Brief vent:
    We have a new downstairs neighbor who is very nice and quiet and we barely even noticed her existence until the New Year when she brought her dog home. It freaks out when she leaves and barks continuously for like half an hour, scratches endlessly at the door and the floor for at least an hour and whines periodically. She went out yesterday at like 5 or so and didn’t come back until about midnight. No joke – the dog scratched at the door for at least two hours straight. I shudder to think about what that door looks like now. She left again this morning and the dog has just stopped after an hour straight scratching at the door/floor.

    Obviously we are going to talk to her about it the next time we see her, but I don’t understand how you can see this level of damage (in a rental apt!!) and continue to leave the dog without trying to ameliorate it in some way. Not to mention that this is the kind of thing that makes my husband lose his shit and be unbearable to live with.

    1. fposte*

      She probably doesn’t know that it’s going on as long as it does, and she may not realize that there’s anything she can do. I sympathize–that’s a noise that makes it really hard to concentrate.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Friends of mine have two dogs, and they had no idea that one of the dogs barked loudly non-stop for hours while they were away. When they installed a Dropcam in their house, that’s when they realized it went on for the entire time they were at work (8+ hours). You don’t have to be confrontational, of course, but you may just want to let her know—she honestly may not know how bad it is.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Talk to her about it, definitely, but keep this in mind– they’re in a big adjustment period. It took my dog a good 2 months before he stopped crying/barking when we left the apartment, though we were lucky in that it only lasted a few minutes at a time. So I recommend approaching it from a, “We don’t know if you realize this” position and that you feel bad for the poor buddy and hope she can find a solution (like a crate).

      As a dog owner who used to live in an apartment, believe me, I feel for you. We were hyper-aware of our dog’s behavior and did our very best to minimize any noise or problems. If you’ve never heard a peep from her, she probably feels similarly.

      1. LPBB*

        That’s exactly the approach that I was thinking of taking. I definitely don’t think she knows the extent of the problem and is just ignoring it and being an asshole on purpose. You bring up a really good point about the adjustment period. The dog did quiet down sooner this morning than it did last night, so hopefully as it gets more used to her leaving it won’t be such an issue. I can ignore this sort of thing, but like I said it drives my husband up the wall and makes him really cranky, so my main issue is really my own domestic harmony!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I’d suggest to the neighbor that she turn a radio on, maybe some classical music, nothing rowdy.
      But yes, do tell her. You can used the context of you love animals (even if you do not love animals) and you hope everything is okay.

    5. Maybe Tomorrow*

      Would you be able to offer to check on them and walk them during the day?

      I know that depends on a lot of different things, so feel free to ignore it if it doesn’t fit or would cause problems.

    6. Brandy*

      totally up to you, but an approach (if you are up for it) might be something like letting her know about the noise combined with “is there anything I can do to help?”

    7. BRR*

      When my neighbor’s dog did this, I let them know their dog was barking for X amount of time when they left and wanted to let them know their dog was having separation anxiety since they weren’t home to witness it. Sort of a “I would want to know this.” The second time I let them know it was still happening and it was against his policy. Not sure what happened but they fixed it.

  45. Maybe Tomorrow*

    Update on custodian hitting my child:
    I had a meeting with the Superintendent and explained everyhing, including that she admitted it. I found out that the school prinicpal isnt even her boss, the maintenance dept head is her boss.
    The Superintendent said he would be letting that dept head know about the incident but he couldnt get back to me on consequences if there were any. I asked specifically for AT LEAST a letter in her file stating what happened so if it happened again, there would be a record to show a pattern.
    I’m not feeling much better, but it’s a start.

    1. Sunshine Brite*

      Ugh, barely a start. The Superintendent should be above the maintenance head and if not, they should be advocating for staff in the schools that don’t hit children. I’d be tempted to go to the School Board if this isn’t addressed.

      1. Nina*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t be pleased with the runaround, either. I’m glad you’re addressing it, but it doesn’t seem like they’re handling it well, if at all.

    2. catsAreCool*

      I can’t understand why the Superintendent’s reply sounds calm. Hitting a child, especially for something like this, is outrageous. Maybe the Superintendent got on the phone after you came by and read the maintenance dept head the riot act. I hope so.

  46. The Other Dawn*

    I’m late to the party. This weekend was my family’s Christmas celebration. I cooked for 17 and 9 of them stayed the weekend with me. Very busy!!

    So does anyone have recommendations for a fit bit-type device? Ether fit bit or another brand? I’ve been thinking of getting one, but don’t have a clue where to start. Are they any good? Are they accurate? What kinds of features do you like and find useful/not useful?

    Also, any recommendations for beginners yoga videos I can try at home? Not sure if I want to try a class yet. I guess this would be a good way to see if it’s something I might enjoy before I spend money.

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Yoga with Adrienne has a great youtube channel with a ton of beginner videos, everything from 10 minutes to an hour, and everything from basics to more complicated stuff. She’s really encouraging and low-stress, and there’s approximately a zillion videos to work through and decide if it interests you enough for a class.

    2. bassclefchick*

      I’ve had my FitBit Zip for almost a year and I really like it! I didn’t want to spend too much on it and I didn’t want to be chained to it 24/7, so the Zip fit those criteria. I also didn’t care about how many flights of stairs, heart rate, sleep, or any of the other crap the more expensive models track.

      The zip tells me how many steps I took each day, how many calories burned and distance walked. That’s all I needed. The online tool was great when I first started. I used the food journal for everything I ate. I ended up losing almost 15 pounds! I quit doing the food journal after about 3 months. It was exhausting entering every single thing I ate. But I may have to go back to it soon because I gained some weight over the holidays.

      Sorry, no yoga video recommendations.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      If you have an Apple device, my favorite yoga app is called Yoga Studio (unfortunately it looks like it’s not available for Android). It costs a few dollars, but it’s totally worth it. There are a range of pre-made “classes” that you can choose from based on ability, length of time, and what you want to focus on (strength, flexibility, relaxation, etc.). You can also pick individual poses and create your own sequences of poses to make your own program – it will even insert “connecting” poses to get you between two poses that you’ve added to your sequence. I would also suggest trying a class. Many studios or gyms will let you do a free or reduced-price trial class. I started yoga at home with a different app, but I found that I got so much more out of classes because having a live instructor is very helpful for giving you tips on form and helping you find ways to make the poses work for *your* body.

    4. the gold digger*

      We have a roku box so we can get internet on the TV. I just go to youtube and look for exercise videos. I prefer weight classes because I can turn the volume off and just watch for cues. With yoga, I have to listen because the instructor has put me in some weird Twister pose and I can’t see the TV.

      I have also discovered that when I am on a business trip, I can just pull something up on my computer and do it in my room! Yoga is the best for that because it does not require special shoes or equipment.

    5. Jillociraptor*

      I have a Fitbit and really like it. I started with the One (which clips onto your bra or pants) and got a Charge (wristband) a couple months ago. Both have been great. My favorite thing about the app is that you can decide what you track, and which goals you show. For example, I do like to track my food so I can monitor some things on a longer term basis, but I don’t want the calories eaten/calories burned metric popping up every time I look at the app.

      For yoga videos, I like the youtube channel “Do Yoga With Me.” I do the Bedtime Yoga video all the time — it’s super beginner, and the instructor does a great job of suggesting modifications in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re not doing it right.

    6. edj3*

      I’ve had my Fitbit Flex for over three years. I do love it and I love that I can set an alarm so I wake up to a gentle buzzing on my arm rather than anything loud and blaring.

      As far as yoga goes, if you’ve never taken yoga before, I do urge you to take a couple of classes. You can almost certainly get an introduction package or a few lessons for a good price what with all the New Year’s exercise resolutions. The thing with yoga, how you do the poses matters and doing them incorrectly can lead to injury.

    7. Cruciatus*

      I’ve had a Fitbit One for years. The only time I don’t have it on is in the shower. I love the One because I don’t like wearing things on my wrist and it shows (ish) how much sleep you’re getting a night. I’m less excited about that feature 2.5 years in but at the time it’s why I chose it over the Zip (which a friend has and loves). When my first One started acting funky, Fitbit replaced it free of charge. They had a new one on its way to me just hours after I first wrote to them about the situation. I find it to be accurate. I took it to a track once and counted every step for a mile and when I stopped it was on the same exact number (and I’ve read you can calibrate it as needed).

      I like the flights of stairs counter, and I still do like the sleep feature. It helps me be more cognizant of trying to get more sleep, even if I’m not positive the feature works perfectly (seeing how often I move). I also like that I just slip the One onto my pocket and forget about it for the rest of the day. There are lots more things you can do with the app but I don’t use most of them. I’m just in it for the steps/miles/active minutes daily for now–though I do compete with a friend in weekday and weekend competitions to make things more interesting.

    8. ginger ale for all*

      This month’s Consumer Reports with the taglines on the cover about getting to sleep reviewed fit bits and their competitors. If you don’t have a subscription, I am sure your local public library does.

  47. Sinjin*

    I’m looking for recommendations on things to do in Hong Kong, Zurich, and Milan. The more off the beaten path the better. Any suggestions?

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Zurich is really cool, you can get the train up to the mountains or go on a lake cruise. I absolutely hated Milan. I got the train out to lake como which was a nice day out.

      1. Sinjin*

        Zurich is expensive!!! I was lucky to find a hotel that didn’t break the bank. That interesting to hear about Milan. What did you hate about it? I want to explore Italy, but I’m not sure which cities will resonate with me the most. There’s a beautiful train route from Zurich to Milan, so that was my staring point into Italy.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          I got the train from Zurich to Milan too and then on to Rome. Milan was just a big city there was very little for tourists and I just didn’t like the feel of the place. Although the cathedral was spectacular and the football stadium was pretty good.

          1. Sinjin*

            I appreciate your input. I’m going to Florence for sure, but I might now spend less time in Milan than I’d assumed. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

    2. SL #2*

      Hong Kong! I don’t know what sort of climate you’re coming from, but I’m from Southern California and one of the coolest places I’ve been to in HK is the Wetland Park. It’s a protected conservation area out in Tin Shui Wai (way outside the urban center, near the Chinese border), and it’s got good bird-watching, a saltwater crocodile named Pui Pui (from what I know, she’s basically a local celebrity), and lots of walking paths.

      Otherwise, you’ll never lack for good eating or shopping in Hong Kong. The more typical tourist places are Victoria Peak, Victoria Harbor, and the Ngong Ping 360 cable cars, which lead you up to the giant Buddha statue and the monastery around it.

  48. Doriana Gray*

    I’m having a pants crisis. I’m trying to find nice, sturdy, and somewhat fashionable, dress pants for work, and I went to Macy’s semi-annual sale thinking I was going to score. When did their pants selection get so bad? Maybe it’s just my store, but the pants were almost all stretch material (yuck) and/or they looked really cheap. Plus their so-called “petite” or “short” pants are all extra long, so I’d have to wear heels, which I don’t want to have to do.

    Where in the world can a petite woman (5’2 1/2″, size 4, 26-27″ inseam) buy decent dress pants that don’t cost a fortune?! I tried Marshall’s, ModCloth, TJ Maxx, H&M, and New York & Company with no success.

    1. fposte*

      Well, wherever you buy them, you’ll likely have to hem them–petite isn’t for getting out of hemming, really. Now’s a good time for sales at Nordstrom, Banana Republic, etc. Talbots has some decent petites so could be worth a gander. J. Crew has nice pants but the sale stuff goes fast, so you might be stuck with the flame orange in your size :-).

    2. Nicole*

      I used to love New York Company’s dress pants. I still wear them but it’s been years since I purchased any since I can wear jeans to work. Have you looked at Kohls? They have a petite section that might work.

      Oh, and if you find pants that you really like other than the length, I’d recommend buying them and having a tailor adjust that for you. It shouldn’t cost too much. I found this woman at the local cleaners who has altered stuff for me and she does such a fantastic job that it’s totally worth it. Last year I got frustrated trying to find jean shorts after literally years of looking, so I took two pairs of jeans I had in my closet that fit great at the waist but were too short and had her turn them into shorts for me. It cost $12 for each pair, but I couldn’t be happier.

    3. acmx*

      Long time ago, I got some at Dillards. I also, more recently but still a few years ago, got pants at the Loft.

    4. Anne*

      I had a lot of trouble last time I looked for pants. I’ve found some at kohls and Jc penny before. My major issue is that I need real buttons…I dnot like the those metal hooks

    5. nep*

      A couple of the best pair of pants I’ve ever had (good quality, durable, fit perfectly), I ordered from Victoria’s Secret. These pants have lasted for years; they’re just classic slacks — a great go-to. I had never purchased pants on line; it’s nearly impossible for me to find pants that fit me well and look decent. I was amazed how well these fit — as if tailored for me.
      Of course, every-body’s different. I just lucked out with VS, oddly enough.

      1. nep*

        (Just glancing at VS site now — I don’t even see slacks. Wonder whether they stopped selling those. There used to be a huge selection of dress slacks on the website.)

        1. Nina*

          It depends. I get a pretty thorough mailer from VS every now and then, and they do sell actual pants, but they don’t really advertise them. And they’re only available online, not in stores. What they do advertise is a ton of “activewear” such as yoga pants, hoodies, casual T-shirts, boyfriend style pants, and so on. And the bras/panties, of course.

          Their pants look really sharp, but I would rather try them on in advance, but again, they’re not available in stores. And their shipping is terrible, they use a lousy service and my stuff has been stolen right off the walkway.

    6. Doriana Gray*

      Thanks for all the suggestions! I’ve looked at Loft and found some stuff (but they’re pretty pricey, though I wouldn’t have to get these pants hemmed – yes, fposte, I was trying to get out of that, lol). I’ll look into the other places tonight and, hopefully, will be ready to order tomorrow.

      1. overeducated and underemployed*

        Good luck! Loft and Banana Republic are my favorites (I’m an inch shorter but otherwise your size, and I don’t need to hem the regular size 4). Banana Republic has fairly regular 40% off sales online that could be worth holding out for.

    7. Dear Liza dear liza*

      I looked *forever* last year for black pants. I found a good pair at Ann Taylor’s The Loft, and got a bunch of really nice pants from Talbots during a 70% off sale. But yes, the struggle is real.

    8. MsChandandlerBong*

      I buy all of my pants at Christopher & Banks. The legs of their petite pants end right above the bottom of my shoe, and I’m 4’9″. I could get them hemmed, but I read somewhere that the longer leg makes you look taller, and I definitely need the perception of extra height.

    9. Not Karen*

      99% of my dress pants are Apt. 9 from Kohl’s, though I don’t know if they carry petite. If you find pants that are great except they’re too long, you could always hem them. Last time I got a pair of pants hemmed at a tailor it was only $10.

    10. Lore*

      Express! Someone introduced me to their Editor/Columnist pants a few years ago and now I’m up to 5 pairs. Their short length fits me without hemming in work shoes (which are usually not completely flat, it’s true–but more like low heeled boots than pumps). I have black, gray, black with tiny white dots, herringbone, and got a new pair for Xmas.

    11. Soupspoon McGee*

      If you find well-fitting pants that are too long, hemming tape is a godsend. It’s this thin strip of fabric that you use to hem–just measure, fold your pants and iron a new crease, then place the tape between the fabric and iron into place. I am tired and drinking wine, so that may not make sense . . . . but I’ve hemmed really nice dresses with it, so it’s not damaging at all, and it lasts forever.

    12. matcha123*

      I’m the same size as you. Try Uniqlo, LOFT, J.Crew and Banana Republic. The last three are definitely having sales now and they all have great choices.
      Personally, I’ve been using black Uniqlo sweatpants at work for the past few months. The pair I got are more fitted than typical sweatpants and when I roll up the cuffs, pair it with nice shoes and a good shirt, it looks very professional. The GAP also has a lot of nice pants and good sales.

      1. nep*

        Isn’t that the best? Quite common to find clothes there w all tags still on — for a fraction of the fraction of MSRP.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Oh boy. I just picked up some fleece sheets for $12. The owner just happened to be doing a half price sale in her shop. I love these sheets. I left them on the bed for two weeks because I did not want to use my other sheets. I looked on line and found them at JC Penney’s for over $100. Today I see they are on sale at Penney’s. I think I will get a second set.
      Looks like it will be about $40 or so. The best $12 I have spent in a long time.

    2. Doriana Gray*

      I want to know this too – I’ve been kicking around the idea of thrift shopping to save money.

      1. nep*

        Definitely worth a look. As stated here, it’s really common to see brand-new, tags-still-on clothes. Thrift stores are a great option especially if one is going through a body transformation — why buy expensive clothes in sizes you won’t be wearing for long.

    3. SL #2*

      I’ve never bought clothes at a thrift store… but you’ll find me combing over stacks and stacks of used CDs. One of my favorite solo artists used to be in a punk rock band in the early 2000s, and I’ve picked up their entire out-of-print discography for about $2 total, thanks to thrift stores.

    4. the gold digger*

      The trick is to find a consignment store in a rich neighborhood where the women don’t want to be seen in the same outfits too many times.

      I have gotten Ferragamo shoes for under $50. I got a silk Michael Kors suit for $12. I pay retail now only for underwear, socks, and white t-shirts.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        I have gotten Ferragamo shoes for under $50.

        This has swayed me to the dark side. Why the hell have I been paying full price for things when I can get fabulous things on the cheap?!

    5. Elsajeni*

      I got a terrific leather motorcycle jacket for $20 at the Salvation Army this year! I was shopping for my Terminator costume for Halloween, so that’s exactly what I was looking for, but I had expected to end up settling for something pleathery, not quite the right cut or size, etc.; instead I got lucky and found a real leather, super-heavy, super-warm jacket that fits me great! It did have some pretty tacky purple patches that I had to cut off with a seam ripper, but that didn’t take too long and the result was awesome. (And the costume was pretty successful, too.)

    6. Victoria, Please*

      Oh, me!!! Probably the best was a ball gown for a veerrrrry fancy wedding — perfect condition, perfectly beautiful, for $12. The best part was giving it BACK when the wedding was done and not having the thing in my closet sighing at me for years!

      I’ve also found practically brand-new Sofft sandals, Dansko clogs (!!!), and a cute recycled seatbelt bag.

      But, I get a lot of my clothes from thrift stores. Pants, shirts, dresses, skirts, a great Semantik jacket. All my workout pants and tops. The key is to be very patient and very picky; don’t buy something that’s “almost” right because it’s cheap. *Never* buy anything with stains or rips, you will not be able to fix it.

    7. overeducated and underemployed*

      I haven’t shopped much lately but i love thrift and consignment shops. My best find ever might be my knee-length black wool coat (looked for one like it for years before I found it – I know they sell them everywhere, but I wanted a flattering one at a grad student price). I’ve also found probably the majority of dresses in my wardrobe, from casual to fancy, at secondhand shops.

  49. Katie the Fed*

    My husband and I are flying United in a couple days, and something happened that really has me angry. I booked our flight two months ago, and it was pretty open. I reserved us two seats.

    I went to check on the flight and the plane is mostly booked, and we’d been moved to the last row, two middle seats – across the aisle. So each of us in a middle seat, and not seated together.

    I’m really, really angry. We reserved seats together, we’re flying together, and they gave our seats away and separated us. I have a touch of anxiety on airplanes and I enjoy flying with my husband. This isn’t a short flight either.

    Do I have any recourse? I realize I might be unreasonably angry, but I am. I have their credit card. I’ve been such a loyal customer for so long – I ONLY fly United. I don’t have status this year but I don’t think that’s any reason to treat us like dirt.

    1. Mean Something*

      I’d call and see what’s going on. Particularly if your reservation shows seat #s, I’d expect them to honor that. I’d go in assuming that it’s a mistake and expecting them to fix it. Good luck!

    2. fposte*

      They probably changed the aircraft. I certainly think it’s worth politely complaining. I’m guessing there aren’t two open seats together anymore, or at least without surcharges? You might ask for surcharges to be waived, or for day of travel seats in the exit row–something specific they could do for you to resolve the problem.

    3. Noah*

      Probably an aircraft change from when you originally booked. If you paid for seat selection they should refund that fee, otherwise you have little recourse. United’s Contract of Carriage states: “seat assignments, regardless of class of service, are not guaranteed and are subject to change without notice.”

      The phone agents won’t be able to do much to help you, especially if you don’t have status. They might be willing to move you up to Economy Plus to get seats together but I doubt it.

      I would explain the situation to the gate agent when you get to the airport. No guarantees, but they might be able to seat you together as upgrades clear or may have seats held for gate assignment.

      I work for an airline (not United) full time in the safety dept but part time in airport customer service. We have a complicated piece of software that runs and attempts to reassign seats during an equipment swap. It is not perfect, but there are lots of variables. No way to give everyone equivalent seats.

      1. Nina*

        Seconding this about the aircraft change. IIRC, they can’t break up seating arrangements between parents and small children, or some weird circumstance. Otherwise, people can be moved if the airline sees fit and it means fitting everyone on the flight. Airline is happy, but it can be a major headache for the passengers. :(

        If you can’t get it changed through the phone, then get to the flight early and speak to the gate agent. This happened a few times during my brief career as an agent, but it could be possible to have you and your husband moved to be seated together.

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          Oh, they totally can break up families and absolutely do. When wee one was an infant, I always booked an infant seat with his age noted. Without fail, Continental and United would seat the three of us separately (husband and I together, and the infant seat away from us with strangers) and I’d have to talk to someone to resolve it. I stopped flying with them shortly afterward.

          One time I had to resolve it on my own. A man refused to switch seats from his aisle to wee one’s middle so I handed him the diaper bag and said, OK, the boy will be hungry in 30 minutes, the bottle and formula are in there. Then you’ll need to burp him – burpcloth inside. Now for his diaper rash….Dude got up super fast!

          Delta is the only airline that hasn’t broken us apart for assigned seating.

          1. Dan*

            Uh, I’m generally not giving up my aisle seat for someone else’s middle seat either. I’ve seen other people write stories with some sort of “I got him now” punchline, but they all seem to neglect to understand that they’re asking the person to give up a better seat for an inferior seat. Acknowledge that, and maybe we can make progress. But if one says to me, “hey, can I trade you a middle seat for your aisle seat?” The answer is generally “No.” Which is a complete sentence. I’m not looking for a debate.

            Sure there are extenuating circumstances such as yours, like I don’t want to sit next to someone else’s toddler if his/her parents aren’t in the next seat. But presentation is key.

            1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

              Oh, I totally get that. If it’s two adults, no dice. Why would I expect any special treatment?

              In this case, I told the guy clearly what had happened, explained that it was plane error and the flight attendants wouldn’t help, and asked him nicely to trade seats, acknowledging it wasn’t a fair trade. I offered to buy him snacks or a drink. He didn’t even look at me when he said no but turned back to his magazine. The other surrounding rows had families and we didn’t want to break them apart, so when he turned away, I admit I was pissed. That’s when I gave him the diaper bag.

    4. Dr. Johnny Fever*

      You can call and ask them to change the seats, but they might not do so over the phone.

      On trips where my family was separated (seriously, husband and I together and kid in a middle seat two rows back), I’ve spoken to the gate agent, explained the situation politely, and usually gotten the seats switched without issue. If you strike out on the phone, try the gate agents.

      If the gate agent won’t or can’t help you, ask the flight attendants as you board the plane. They can help you find someone to switch seats in that area – luckily, I’ve only had to do this once.

      Good luck!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yes, sometimes the person willing to switch can get a better seat. :) Since I travel alone, I’m always willing to trade if someone needs to sit near a kid or a family member.

      2. Kyrielle*

        Yes, this. I admit, I’m looking forward to my youngest being large enough to use a booster seat in cars, so we don’t have to bring a big car seat on. However, I will miss it for one reason – we have an FAA-approved child seat, so we can and do use it on the aircraft (rather than check it into the baggage hold and risk the treatment there). Which means he MUST have a window seat, and is clearly young. Result: I have never had problems getting things fixed when we didn’t get one window seat, because they *must* give us one, and as long as they’re rebalancing things, they’re happy to stick me in the middle seat next to him.

        My oldest, who has spent many many trips in an aisle seat because of this when we can get a four-across setup, has an entirely different opinion and is VERY much looking forward to his brother having to fairly share the window seat option. (I … don’t think he’s figured out yet that we may not have one at all as often. Heh.)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Kind of OT, but anyway. One time I had to separate from my family while flying. No big deal. I did not plan on my ears giving me a ration of crap on the way up and the way down during flight. By the time we were to land I was a bit tense in anticipation of the ear pain. I must have been clinging to the arms of the seat and not realizing. Without saying a word, the very elderly woman next to me patted my hand in reassurance as we landed. I will never forget that very cool older lady.

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