weekend free-for-all – February 13-14, 2016

O + EThis 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: My Salinger Year — Joanna Rakoff’s memoir about working at a literary agency, where she gets put in charge of answering J.D. Salinger’s fan mail.

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

{ 894 comments… read them below }

  1. different name*

    So the boyfriend and I recently started WeightWatchers. So far I like it. I was really nervous about actually going to the meetings, but turns out it’s not so bad.

    Anyone else done it? Have words of wisdom, tips? Success stories to motivate me?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      You’ve probably heard this, but be prepared for the ups, downs, and plateaus. The weight will come off a little faster in the beginning, since you’re changing your habits, but should become slower and steadier after a while. And eventually you’ll probably hit a plateau — sometimes for a week or two, in which case it could be water weight or other temporary fluctuations, or sometimes it’s for many weeks, as your body adjusts.

      I make sure to still have good cheese, good chocolate, good beer, and good booze…I just have to measure it all now, and plan out my meals and snacks more. Skinny Cow makes very tasty desserts.

      I’m down over 50 lbs. from 2009. (I was down about 10-15 more, but I felt like I needed a break.) If I can do it, anyone can…really!

    2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Weight Watchers is wonderful. I did it about 12 years ago and lost 50 pounds. For various reasons, I gained it all back and more. If I could afford it, I would go back in a minute. I found the support and resources invaluable. I could not have done it by myself.

      In addition to what “different name” said, I would add that you need to follow the guidelines very carefully and strictly for it to work. You really need to be anal about measuring, watching what you eat. You must remember your ABCs and count your BLTs.

      ABCs – All Bites Count
      BLTs – Bites, Licks, and Tastes

      Good Luck with it!

    3. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      I also have had great results with WW. The year I turned 40 I joined w a friend and we went to meetings together. After my friend moved away, I became online-only.
      Buying a food scale helped me tremendously–I was way overestimating portion sizes. I skim the message boards but don’t post or get engaged much there because folks there can be pretty ridiculous at times. But I did pick up some tips there like: eating produce and protein at every meal or snack and some good substitutions for things that I like to eat. And tracking every day.
      I never purchased any of the WW food products or cookbooks but have not heard great things about them overall.
      All the best!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh yes, the scale, definitely. Weight is always a more accurate measurement than volume. I find that I have to stick to the scale or I start getting way too lax.

        And I’ve only done the online tracking, I never went to meetings or bought their products. More than enough for those who love data and tracking and such, like me. :)

    4. Name goes here*

      My husband is on ww and very happy with it. For him, the key is planning and recording his points. Consistency is key.

    5. Amber Rose*

      I loved Weight Watchers! I did it for a year and lost a ton. Meetings were mostly boring haha. But it was good. I learned a lot.

    6. Elsajeni*

      Try to at least write down everything you eat, even if you have meals (or days, or weeks) where you just can’t stand calculating the points. Tracking your food by itself is a useful weight-loss tool, even without counting points/calories/whatever, since it forces you to be a little more mindful of what you’ve eaten and allows you to look over a history to notice trends and habits.

      This one may not apply to you, but: if you have a restaurant or fast-food place that you tend to default to when you need food in a hurry, look up some points values in advance and make a plan for what’s going to be your new Standard Order there. When I was doing WW, I was working weird hours in a shopping center where my only good lunch options were fast food, and it helped a lot with my planning to know “okay, if I get this sandwich and this side that’s this many points and also I will be well-fed enough for the rest of my shift.”

    7. NYC Redhead*

      I have done WW many times and any failure is my fault, not that of the program. My advice is to track diligently, writing down absolutely everything you eat.

    8. Cannoli*

      I did in it 2012 and lost 70 pounds. Gained some of it back and am back in this year. I’ve lost 11 pounds since January! Best of luck! It’s really a great program and helps a lot!

  2. JulieB*

    We’re thinking of adopting a dog this weekend – any thoughts on mixing a puppy with a 6 year old beagle?

    1. Alston*

      Are you allowed to bring the Beagle when you pick out the puppy? See if there’s one he seems to bond with?

      1. newreader*

        Any good shelter or rescue should want there to be an introduction between your beagle and any puppy you’re looking to adopt.

        1. AnotherTeacher*


          Many likely require a “meet and greet.” That’s the best way to see if their individual personalities are a match.

    2. LCL*

      Separate them when you feed them. Expect the beagle to sometimes get tired of pup and growl or air snap. Get a bottle of natures miracle for accidents. Have your camera or phone charged and at hand and post a link!

      1. NacSacJack*

        Be ready for the beagle to put his or her nose out of joint for three days when the puppy first comes home…until he or she realizes he or she has a new chew toy!

  3. Myrin*

    For those of you who followed the story of my sister’s hospital stay (because of depression and PTSD): After almost six weeks, she was discharged yesterday!

    Come Tuesday, she will be going to the day… unit? I don’t know if that’s a thing in other countries or how to translate it but she means she has to go to the hospital every day and has a specific schedule of programs she has to attend but she will come home every evening and sleep here (so it’s basically like going to school or work, time-wise).

    There hasn’t really been any opportunity yet to see how she’s doing but the fact that she could leave already means that the doctors were very content with her progress. She also tells me that she’s managed several times now to ward off an oncoming panic attack with techniques she learned during her stay. I’m so glad she’s doing better, even if it isn’t visible all the time, and that she’s learned a lot and made friends and I’m hoping that, as time goes on, it will show to have had an effect in the long run.

    1. Maybe Tomorrow*

      She’s going to an intensive outpatient program, if that helps.

      I wish you all the best. I am sending mental hugs.

    2. Rubyrose*

      I’ve seen outpatient programs like that work in a couple of different ways.

      On one plan, your sister will be participating in the same programs she was in as an inpatient, side by side with people who are still inpatient. Provides a more gradual easing back into the world outside of the hospital.

      Another plan I’ve seen is that the program is separate from the inpatient program. It may be partially staffed by the inpatient staff, but the focus could be more on getting ready for transition to therapeutic work outside of the hospital. I have seen these programs done as evening, rather than day, programs, so when the patient is ready to go back to work but still needs support it is there for them.

      I don’t think one is inherently better than the other. It depends on staffing and your sister’s specific needs.

      The fact she is telling you what she is shows she is making progress. Good for her!

      1. Myrin*

        Oh god, I feel like I’ve worded something weirdly in my initial comment because both your and Maybe Tomorrow’s comments sound like you think I’m wondering what this program she will be going to will be like – if so, I apologise, because I know exactly (well, as exactly as an outsider can) what she’ll be doing in the next weeks. I just wasn’t sure about the English expression for it because I’m not a native speaker.

        Anyway, it will be a mixture of both of the programs you describe – the activities will be held mostly in the ward next to the inpatient one and will partly be new ones that are meant to help transition to the “outside world”, partly ones she’d already participated in during her stay. There are both people who are still inpatient and those who are outpatient already (many of them were discharged yesterday, too, so she’ll know most people there). There are programs that are mandatory for her and which will sadly interfere (time-wise) with some of her “old” programs that she’d liked to continue but she’s generally pretty happy with the arrangement.

    3. Emily*

      Best of luck to your sister and your family! I’m glad to hear that she’s benefiting from the program, and hope that she keeps on making progress.

    4. StillHealing*

      This is great news. It’s a long road but so very much worth it. I too was hospitalized with PTSD and depression and transitioned from inpatient to “day hospital”. Same type of program you describe. I found day hospital to be incredibly helpful. Very supportive as I was integrating what I learned in the hospital into real life. It can be very rocky at first especially while still adjusting to new medications or medications for this first time. Having daily contact with therapists and psychiatrists and a group of people going through the same process as you, hugely assists you with stabilization.

      It’s not a race but a slow and steady “one foot in front of the other” process. She sounds great and I very much encourage “celebrating” even tiny improvements. Your sister sharing that she’s been able to ward off panic attacks with techniques she learned – that is a major accomplishment in a short amount of time. Something for her to remember on a day where she might not be as successful. Building on and acknowledging her successes will keep the process moving forward. A lot of this, she will do herself. Much of it is a very personal inner process and road only she can traverse.

      In the long run, you will be amazed by her transformation.

    5. nep*

      ‘…she’s managed several times now to ward off an oncoming panic attack with techniques she learned during her stay.’ How great is that. Good for her.
      Thanks for the update. Best to all of you.

    6. Bea W*

      We called it “Day Hospital” in my area, because you attended programs at the hospital during the day, but you got to go home at night, but it’s more commonly referred to as a “Day Program” particularly when talking to people who are not already inpatient.

      I am so glad your sister is doing better and has the therapeutic support she needs to get well. It does take longer than any of us would like, and it’s not a linear process. It’s very much like the stock market. There are good days and bad days, but with proper help over the long run, the trend is upward. Coping skills, like any other skills, only get better with practice over time.

      It can be difficult to transition from inpatient to home, especially after such a long time. It can even be scary for people. So it is very good she is able to have a middle step where she can be at home, but still has the structure and support of a therapeutic program for the full day. I think the chance of success it greatly increased having this transition. I remember myself being released after a month or more and being left to my own devices. This was pretty typical in the US back then. You go from structure and support to nothing, except maybe once a week therapy sessions. If you are not working or have some other external motivator or commitment, this means you have no structure during your day and may be very isolated, and this can be very slippery for people with depression and anxiety disorders.

      Inpatient psych stays for 6 weeks are unheard of in US now. Insurance companies try to shove people out the door as quickly as possible. 20-30 years ago, a 10-30 day stay was pretty typical. Now it’s a battle to get insurance to pay out for a week. That is really problematic when many medications that help depression can take at least month to really kick in, and that time can be really dicey because ironically as meds start to work the risk of suicide temporarily goes up. People can go through a period where they are still depressed, but have just enough motivation to act on suicidal thoughts.

      It’s also not nearly enough time to get enough counseling and learn better coping skills. Medication doesn’t work in a vacuum, but insurance companies are more concerned about the immediate bottom line, and aren’t necessarily making decisions based on what actually works. There is nothing about treating mental illnesses that is as easy as handing someone a pill as if it were an infection. Okay, rant over!

  4. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

    When good friends date bad people. Whyyyyyyyyy?

    And by bad I think I mean obnoxious, racist, rude, controlling or some combination thereof.

    1. Maybe Tomorrow*

      1. It’s not as easy to see if you are in the relationship, especially at the beginning when people tend to think the best of others and sugar coat bad behavior.

      2.they dont want to admit they made a bad choice in partners. It’s a big blow to their pride.

      3. Lack of self awareness. Not every can see or understand why they keep choosing the same douchebag types. They need some sort of help to recognize the pattern, learn skills to stop the pattern, and then gather the courage to leave if fixing isnt an issue.

      4. They have very low self worth and think that is the best they can do.

      Pick the choice that best fits your friend.

      1. fposte*

        Add #5–sunk costs fallacy, when we’re talking about why they’re *still* with that person. I have friends who’ve lost decades to that one :-(.

        1. FiveWheels*

          Or #6 – they get something from the relationship that you can’t see from the outside, and is worth more to them than the downsides.

          1. fposte*

            There’s that too, and if they’re happy, I lean toward MYOB. I was mainly thinking of people who are unhappy in the relationship.

          2. ginger ale for all*

            #6 is what I sometimes call the Florence Nightingale effect. They think they can save or change the person.

            1. FiveWheels*

              “My mother used to say “I’d rather be in a bad relationship than be alone.” It was incredibly sad.”

              I’m extremely introverted and find most people exhausting, so I would rather be alone than in almost any relationship. So I understand totally what she means, from the other direction – if company and interaction etc is as important to her as alone time is to me, yeah, being in a bad relationship could be genuinely better for her than being alone. Not in a sad way, just that nobody has a perfect life and different people have different priorities.

              1. Anna*

                It’s not the same thing. Because you don’t have to be in a romantic relationship to never be alone. There’s something very particular about preferring a bad relationship to no relationship at all. I think anyone who would rather be in an unhappy relationship than on their own are afraid of themselves on some level. They don’t want to spend any time working on themselves or leave gaps in their interactions because that leads to self-evaluation and self-evaluation leads to maybe having to admit some things about yourself maybe don’t want to admit.

        2. Bea W*

          “Potential” – people can get this picture in their head of what that nasty person could be, and they think they can somehow change things if only they work hard enough at it.

          There’s also the fact that often the partner was charming and loveable in the beginning, and that is what they were attracted to. So it’s seems entirely logical when you’re in one of these relationships, that the person you met early on and fell in love with is in there somewhere, and if you can only figure out what to do s/he’ll stop being such a dirtbag.

          1. Sunflower*

            Yup yup yup. Usually these people were really great in the beginning and there is a feeling of if I just keep trying/if i do this, things will go back to the way it used to be’

            1. Father Ribs*

              Aye. The mentality of “I have to work hard to get it back to where it was” is the wrong mentality if one is the aggrieved party, when in reality it’s often the other person who thought “I have to work hard for just a short while to land this fish”. One takes a lot less time, effort, and potential for success.

      2. Blue Anne*

        Yep. It was definitely a problem 1 for me. From inside the relationship, it was hard to tell/easy to excuse that he was a jerk, especially at the start.

        My dad used to say it takes a really nice person to be with an asshole. I think he was right. So much excusing them, believing them when they say they’re sorry and will change,believing them when they say they’re not the one at fault, etc. It takes a really nice person to bend over backwards for a jerk like that.

      3. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I would have put “inertia/fear of change” way up on the list, probably after low self-esteem.

        1. RKB*

          Those two are related to me. A lack of self esteem may come from fearing change… And fearing change may come from a lack of self esteem.

    2. AcidMeFlux*

      A cousin of my ex found himself with World’s Most Toxic Girlfriend (kind of woman who would use the N word loudly in public just to piss people off. ) Gentle comments (over a couple of years) from a loving extended family helped him open his eyes. The best one, however, was from one of his uncles; Shaking his head, sighing, he told his nephew “Son, NOBODY’s that good in bed.”

    3. Emily*

      In that vein, my sister’s friend (who is smart, funny, athletic, friendly, etc.) just got engaged to her loser boyfriend who doesn’t treat her especially well and who everyone was hoping she’d eventually break up with. Oh well.

      In her case, I think that it’s a combination of most of the factors that Maybe Tomorrow and fposte mentioned. She’s been with him for a while and might not realize that she can do better.

  5. Gene*

    Going over to visit the seamstress who is working with me on my WorldCon costume with my wife today. Since she’s lost over 50 pounds, she wants to see if some of her favorite pieces can be altered. I’m not too optimistic, as the size change is so drastic, but the seamstress says she can possibly just take things apart and make something new with the fabric.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      That’s awesome! I imagine cosplay is immensely fun for a person who just lost a bunch of weight. And it’s always easier to take in a piece of clothing than it is to make it bigger! Good luck! Who are ya’ll going as?

      1. Gene*

        She has no interest in cosplay and I usually go to cons alone. After decades of simple hall costumes, this will be my first masquerade judged one. I’m doing a mash up of an 80s cartoon character and movie character. I’m keeping it under wraps until it debuts onstage.

    2. Gene*

      The visit with the seamstress went great, of everything my wife had in the bag, ask of them were, “no problem” except one, ”could be, but I’ll try”, and one, ”nope, donate it. ”

      And I finished a prototype sleeve for my costume. Sounds simple, but the sleeve used up over a yard of muslin.

  6. Come On Eileen*

    I started Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University this week! Curious if any of you went through it and what you think. I’ve always considered myself pretty good with money (no debt, decent savings) but am realizing I could be better and more disciplined.

    1. fposte*

      Dave Ramsey is really good for savings.

      Dave Ramsey is *horrible* for investing advice. So when he starts trying to sell investment services, cover your ears and sing.

      1. JulieB*

        Bogleheads is great for investing! There is a site with a great forum and the books are good too. Dave Ramsey is great for the basics of saving but investing-wise I do not agree with him.

        1. fposte*

          I am a big Bogleheads fan, and their wiki is the single best free financial source available. It’s what allowed me to figure things out when my father died, and my retirement is going to be tons more financially sound than it would have been had I not encountered them.

      2. Heart-shaped Box of Chocolates*

        Generally speaking, I like most of Dave Ramsey’s advice – it’s certainly helped me improve my financial life. But I’m really starting to dislike how much he plugs his ELP program.

        I recently used his ELP program to find a realtor and was very disappointed with one of his ELPs. To make a long story short, I ended up letting them go after they failed to show me any homes, gave me bad advice, and just generally didn’t do what a realtor is paid to do. I considered letting the ELP program know how unhappy I was with said realtor but decided not to.

        Anyway, now whenever I hear him talking about the great realtors in their ELP program, I just roll my eyes.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Sorry to derail a bit, I don’t know Dave Ramsey, but I hear him recommended sometimes by Michelle Singletary, who I do read in the Washington Post. Just wanted to recommend her, too. (She has her own website, but as a web manager, I find it painful on my eyes.)

    3. A Non*

      I went through it and appreciated it. He’s pretty solid on the basics – don’t live off your credit cards. Here’s how to not live off your credit cards. Here’s how to get out of debt. He’s a very good motivational speaker, which is often what people need when it comes to finances. For finer points, yeah, research further.

    4. Mkb*

      Overall I like him and listen to his podcast, but there are some points he makes that I disagree with and don’t follow like investing.

    5. NDQ*

      What you get out of any personal finance program starts with you and your goals. I plan to retire early. There is no way Dave Ramsey’s advice alone is going to get me there. I agree that staying out of debt and having savings are good plans, but they are just the start of a wealth-building lifestyle.

      I’ve taken on a more aggressive approach to personal finance that includes living on a fraction of what I earn and investing as much possible each month into income-producing assets. I don’t live like a pauper and I earn the national average, but I keep finding new ways to save more and I keep shoveling it all into new assets.

      I suggest you figure out short and long-range financial goals, then read everything you can about how to get there. Don’t just subscribe to one popular adviser. I read everyone’s advice, then take what works for me.

      Good luck. I think personal finance and wealth-building is an exciting hobby. It has helped me put my day job into perspective and if for some reason I had to stop working, I know I’d be OK. That really helps me sleep well.


      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I’m never going to be a Mustachian, but the power of your own spreadsheets is an amazing thing.

        1. NDQ*

          I laugh when I hear people say, you should save 10% of your income for retirement. Ugh. But if I save and invest 50% and not live a ridiculous life buying SUVs and big houses, I get to retire early and enjoy my life 100% more.

          I’m not as disciplined as MMM, but I’m living well on a lot less than most. Life is good when you are in control.


          1. neverjaunty*

            But if you’re saving and investing 50% of your income, you may be giving up other things you would enjoy now in favor of being happy “someday”. YMMV, obviously, but I am always a little baffled by the somewhat new-Puritan trend that assumes spending money on anything other than bare necessities is frivolous and stupid (“big houses” and “SUVs” crop up an awful lot).

            1. TowerofJoy*

              This exactly. I want to save enough to retire comfortably, of course, but I also want to enjoy my life now. We never know how long we’ll live, and saving for “someday” may not pan out.

            2. Anna*

              Agreed. How about a small house and a car that isn’t 20 years old? Because I have one and am aiming for the other.

      2. Artemesia*

        Wish we had done this. We made a lot of money over the years and saved a lot so that we have a comfortable retirement but if we had done what you are doing, we would have had a lavish retirement and been able to set our kids up as well.

    6. Heart-shaped Box of Chocolates*

      I took the course and liked it a lot. I thought I was pretty good with my finances too (i.e. no debt, saving consistently for retirement, etc.) But it opened my eyes to a few areas I could improve upon. For example, I was just starting the home buying process when I took the class and I learned a lot about the various insurances and “real” costs of owning a home. I also decided to purchase less home so that I could pay it offer much more quickly.

      I’m really passionate about financial wellness so I found the class endlessly interesting. It’s also good for sharing tips and tricks with others too.

      They’ve asked me to teach it in the future. :)

  7. Ruth (UK)*

    So much bike trouble this week… (just a push bike, not a motorbike or anything).

    First, it fell over as I was unlocking it, and got the brakes jammed earlier this week late in the evening in the city. Then I came off it yesterday due to ice and the back brakes got jammed. Luckily some guy lent me an allen key and I was able to sort it.

    The one earlier this week was more complicated but anyway, here’s a nice thing that happened: 3 different people all tried to help me fix it. A guy who was homeless and had been sitting nearby when it broke, a guy who was in the gambling shop next to where it happened, who smoked a cigarette the whole time and kept saying “mate, if it was a motorbike mate, I’d know what to do” and a really drunk man who suggested I just disconnect the brakes and ride without any… (It’s sorted now…)

    On which note, I now use my bike to cycle to and from work which is about 4.7 miles (7.6km) each way, since our office moved (it was previously further away and too far to cycle). It’s been 3 weeks of cycling now and I think I’m kind of used to it, except obviously I need to pay more attention to ice. I use a mountain bike and normally don’t have skidding issues so I think I forgot to be careful enough…

    1. StillHealing*

      Your adventures on your bike commute sound like a good theme for a blog! I don’t mean to laugh because it was a troublesome week for you, yet, the way you describe these “helpers” was hilarious. I could see and hear the characters clearly. I do hope the bike troubles subside for you as you pedal further.

  8. Rubyrose*

    I’m rewriting my will and decided to leave a percentage of my estate to public radio and my synagogue.

    I was skimming though my synagogue’s web site and found they have a program for people who pre-plan this type of gift. At first glance, it appears to be a social group that meets maybe once, twice a year. But then there was this link for a “Live On Donor Form”. It is a one page document that I think is going overboard on asking for information. They want information on the amount of the bequest (specific sum or percentage) and source of bequest (retirement plan, charitable trust (remainder or lead), life insurance, estate in general). How the organization is to use the gift. The actual written “relevant provision of the estate gift” – you can either attach it yourself, or you can ask your attorney to send to them. They also want your attorney’s name and address. You are to then return this to the synagogue.

    Now curious, I visited web sites for a couple of other synagogues and several public radio stations. While I found the extreme detailed above only on the one site, the rest of them all want you to contact them to tell them of your plans. Some devoted several (5 – 7) web pages to describing your options, in such detail that I have to wonder if they have a financial/estate planning sideline business (not advertised) that they use for additional fundraising, because those pledge drives are not enough. And I fear that if I actually called them to tell them of my plan, they would want the same amount of detail as the donor form mentioned above.

    That form is so uncharacteristic of the way my synagogue normally functions that I have to wonder if they just got some bad advice from someone. Or is it uncharacteristic?

    So, you folks from non-profits – is all of that information really useful to you, given that you may not receive that money for decades? If so, why? Do you do planning with it? Do you ask that of your donors who volunteer that they are leaving you a bequest?

    Other folks – am I just being oversensitive, or do you find this invasive also?

    1. Graciosa*

      I’m not crazy about this kind of thing, but it probably gives them a way to make sure that they actually get the gift when you die. If they have some sort of database of donors that they check regularly against death notices, they can contact the attorneys of those who are deceased to ask about the legacies.

      I wouldn’t do it, however, unless you have reason to distrust your attorney (in which case, get another!), are seriously concerned about anyone being able to find your attorney in case of your death (in which case, please leave the information clearly marked in an easy-to-find spot), and are absolutely confident you will never, ever, ever decide to change your bequests again (neither realistic nor prudent, even if I set aside the knowledge that you’re changing them now!). Giving them the information about your bequest in advance might actually create a claim against your estate in whatever amount you specified on the form, which not a risk I would take unnecessarily.

      I don’t blame them for asking, though – it is totally in their self-interest to do so. I would simply choose not to answer.

    2. fposte*

      I don’t know, but if you just say “Yo, Beth Israel, I’m totes leaving you a couple hundy when I kick off,” how are they going to know when you even die, let alone which hundy is theirs? The huge advantage to them of preplanned gifts is they can lock that thing down (and yes, pledge drives aren’t enough, so these are a big deal) and include it in their projections and promotions. You can of course just leave it to them without preplanning with them if you like, too.

      1. Rubyrose*

        “Yo, Beth Israel, I’m totes leaving you a couple hundy when I kick off,” – LMAO!!

        And you are correct – those pledge drives aren’t enough.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      It’s a combination of ensuring they can legally collect the money when you die (when there may be legal battles that don’t involve you being there to say “I really wanted the money to go here) and planning for their own internal purposes. It’s also probably steps that ensure you make good on your pledge; just the same as if you pledge money to a charity, someone will take down your information and call you to collect it. They’re ensuring that they’re not planning to have money come in and then find that you never even changed your will. It’s not an invasive amount of information; it’s more on the level of due diligence. But yes, charities of all kinds get money from bequests, and the ones that have systematized and robust ways of encouraging people to set up bequests and set them up correctly will inevitably get more revenue from bequests.

    4. newreader*

      I used to work in the processing aspect of fundraising. It is entirely normal for an organization to have a planned giving component to their fundraising efforts. Those would be the types of gifts that are part of estate planning By having detailed information now, the non-profit can report the anticipated bequest in their fundraising totals. They can also be sure they understand the donor’s intent for the use of funds and ensure that intent falls within legal and organizational guidelines. For example, if a donor wants to leave money to a school for a scholarship, there are legalities around eligibility requirements (the scholarship cannot be structured in a way that is discriminatory to protected classes) and the purpose of the organization.

      But, of course, any donor needs to be comfortable with the organization they want to donate to and the parameters around the donation. If the synagogue has that much information on their website, they probably have someone handling their planned giving. Contact them to talk through your thoughts about your potential bequest and get more information. If it feels hinky, try a different synagogue or consult an estate attorney for guidance.

    5. Florida*

      Tell the synagogue as much as you are comfortable telling them and no more. From a fundraising side, it is nice if the donor tells the organization before because it allows the organization to thank you in person (rather than thanking the executor of your estate, who really had nothing to do with it).

      I’ve worked at nonprofits where we received a large check from estate and no one knew prior. I’ve also had situation where we knew years, even decades prior. It’s all up to you.

    6. danr*

      Yes, I would find it invasive (and what if you change your mind?). Just put the bequest in your will and let it be a surprise. I’m sure they won’t turn down the money.

    7. BRR*

      As a fundraiser it’s for planning purposes. The steps needed to o handle a gift of cash vs retirement plans are different so it’s just helpful to get a heads up. Sometimes it can be difficult to find who they need to after you pass which is why they want your attorneys information. And they shouldn’t have a side business because any person who is halfway decent at planned giving knows they shouldn’t cross over into helping the donor do their financial planning, that’s a big conflict of interest.

      You don’t have to go tell them anything more than you want to and I can’t stress that enough but it’s really helpful for the organizations to know what’s coming. It’s very common.

    8. Rubyrose*

      Thanks to all. I do better understand some valid reasons for an organization wanting some of that information.
      And I’ll keep the learning from this conversation for future use. Given my current health and family genes (I have 2 uncles who lived to be 100) I expect that those organizations will not be getting an estate benefit for 35 – 40 years. I just can’t see any organization needing information for a 35 year plan, especially when that information is really not precise (getting x% of an unknown amount). A lot can happen in that time – I could change my mind about who I want to have proceeds, the lawyer could die. So for now I’m not notifying anyone. I’ll rethink that in 20 years.

      1. fposte*

        You’re probably decades younger than people usually are when they’re filling these things out; I think usually people planning on estate gifts are well abreast the estate planning already. You’re just precocious!

        1. Rubyrose*

          Actually, I’m taking advantage of a new legal benefit that pays for all the costs for wills, trusts, medical power of attorney, etc. Even though I expect to live quite a bit longer, being single with no children I wanted things in order just in case I got hit by the proverbial bus. This way, if it happens early, my sister can just walk in and easily do what needs to be done.

          1. fposte*

            Wow, that’s a fascinating benefit. It’s a real gift to significant others and kids, that’s for sure.

    9. MT*

      > in such detail that I have to wonder if they have a financial/estate planning sideline business

      Having worked at a shul office for a while, you would be amazed at the incredible amount of volunteer work put forth for these organizations by members who are skilled in their particular business. It may be offputting to come across all of this for somebody who wasn’t expecting it, but it can certainly be a testament to how strongly their membership believes in their legacy!

    1. Athena C*

      I’m kind of sad about that, actually. I’ve seen Phillip on all the other cooking shows, and I thought he was hilarious.

      Obviously next stop is Hell’s Kitchen.

    1. Mike C.*

      Lol, there are a ton of people here who drive one and love it. It always comes up when someone asks about cars.

    2. periwinkle*

      Yes! We have a 2009 Fit Sport and love it for its purpose, which is as a commuter car and weekend “time to stock up on cat food” hauler. Given the right size carriers we could take all six cats to the vet at the same time.

      Pro: Very good gas mileage, reliable, reasonably comfortable for short road trips, carries a lot more cargo than you’d expect (seats can be configured different ways).
      Con: Not exciting to drive, not as comfortable for longer road trips, not a soft ride

      When we moved from DC to Seattle I had to drive across country twice, once in the Fit and once in my 2003 Subaru WRX wagon. The Subaru was the better vehicle for that kind of trip, especially when it came to crossing over the various mountain passes. It was a bit embarrassing in Montana to have to crawl up those sweeping interstates in the Fit while all other vehicles – including motorhomes – passed by easily.

      Nevertheless, if you need a handy runaround-town car, the Fit is terrific.

      1. cbackson*

        I also did a cross-country trip (from Seattle) in a Fit! What I noticed was that, because the Fit has a slightly higher profile, we could really feel ourselves getting pushed around by the wind as we crossed South Dakota. That said, the Fit can handle a lot – I regularly drove mine up into the Cascades in the winter for x-country skiing, and I’ve also taken it on pretty rough unpaved roads (and through a creek) in the Appalachians. It is by no means an all-terrain vehicle, but it handled those occasional excursions from the pavement just fine, it can carry a lot (if you drop down the back seat, there’s a ton of room), and it’s a fantastic in-city car.

    3. Rubyrose*

      I loved my Fit! Had it for four years. It made me sad to get rid of it. Parking is a breeze.

      The only reason I traded it in for a CRV was that my commute got a lot longer (from nothing to 13 miles one way) and I live where we get heavy snow. It is not that the Fit cannot be driven in snow. You do have to know how to drive snow (no big deal, really). You also have to deal with the larger vehicles with all wheel drive, who think everyone has it and get perturbed when you don’t drive like they do. I do have to admit that I feel safer in the CRV during snow than the Fit.

      Outside of that, I would go back to my Fit in a heartbeat.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        I could have written this comment exactly. Loved, loved, loved my Fit, great on gas mileage, a dream to park, terrific. And the snow thing, ditto–if you know how to drive in snow you’ll be fine. I made it through three Canadian winters with the Fit without even putting snow tires on it, and I was just fine.

        Downsides: Noisier ride, not super smooth, it had trouble doing some big hills on the highway. Not that it was going to roll backwards or anything, just that it didn’t have quite enough power to go roaring up the hill as some of the bigger cars did. I drove it from Alberta to Nova Scotia and everywhere in between, and those were really the only downsides.

      2. Girasol*

        45 miles to work in snow country and no trouble. It’s bigger on the inside than on the outside! I can toss my bike in the back or camping gear for two for a week. It’s not just economical, it’s really versatile.

    4. Emily*

      I own a 2007 Fit and like it, but I am the opposite of a car expert.

      Things I like: Decent gas mileage, small but can hold a lot of things.

      Things I don’t like: A little bit noisy (although I mostly don’t notice, and this may be improved with newer models/automatic transmission – mine’s a manual), doesn’t play auxiliary media (although I think some models do).

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I have a 2007 manual as well. I got the Sport edition, so there are bigger tires and other bells and whistles. Yes, I wanted the Blaze Orange Metallic.

        The first winter, I did find it was a little slippy in snow, so I did wind up buying winter tires and that helped. As with a lot of smaller cars (I had a Civic CX hatchback before this), putting something heavy in the back helps with traction. Water softener salt bags, big bag of cat litter, gives it a bit more weight.

        The one thing which I have found is a problem is that the battery doesn’t hold a charge. This is probably more my fault than the car’s fault as I work from home and, from what I’ve been told, it’s a common problem with people who don’t drive much — apparently cars are now built with the expectation that they will be driven every day. It’s worse during cold weather, I have had it happen where the battery drained and I couldn’t open the doors because: electronic locks. Last night, my car didn’t start for the first time this year, but I put a trickle charger on it for a quarter hour and then it did. I’ve gotten very familiar with all the various ways to charge or boost a battery. Too familiar.

    5. Nella*

      My mom bought a 2016 fully loaded Honda Fit after our recommendation, and she loves it. I have driven it a few times and it’s great. It even has a side camera for right hand turns.

    6. StillHealing*

      Yep! Love my 2012 Honda Fit Sport Raspberry Blue (so I can find it easier in the parking lot) It has been my favorite car ever or even to drive – to date.

      I am about to change a headlight bulb on my own today. I hope it’s not as complicated as one of the YouTube videos suggests. Maybe it’s a bit stereotypical but it was a task ex husband would do and I’m not looking forward to doing it.

      Only issue I’ve had with the FIT is the tires are much smaller as in, less rubber than other vehicles. I’ve replaced two tires in the past 3.5 years I’ve had this car. One, a slab of metal punctured and stuck in the tire. Cost about $156 to replace. The second, the FIT was nearly eaten by some major Seattle potholes. I decided to check my tires after very bad weekend of rain, poor visibility and hitting major potholes multiple times. I noticed a buckle in one of my front tires. The tire light did not show on the dash so it wasn’t too bad. Yet, I replaced the tire because I didn’t want to risk a blowout. Cost over $191 to replace. ( will try to find a cheaper place next time) I didn’t have tire issues like this with the CRV or Odyssey.

      1. Christina*

        I changed both of my headlight bulbs last weekend! I saw one video that days I had to take entire headlight out, and I considered taking it to an auto shop, but I watched one more that showed it was much simpler than that. I was very proud of myself at the end!

        One tip– be sure not to touch the new bulb with your hands, the oil damages the bulb.

        1. StillHealing*

          Thank you! Could you do everything by just popping the hood or did you need to go through above the tire unlatching the mudflap cover?

        2. StillHealing*

          I was able to change the bulb with my son’s help. My glasses kept falling off as I learned over to figure out the wire clip thingy. The round rubber seal thing was difficult to remove but my son was able to get it off. Not too difficult.

    7. Schnapps*

      I have a 2007 Fit and I love it. I got the midrange model (LX? I think?). Its an automatic tranny, and it does have an auxiliary sound port. It runs great, it’s great on gas, and I can haul no end of stuff in it – there was one time I was teaching a lifeguarding course and had to haul a couple of spineboards . And they Fit!

      (see what I did there? :))

    8. Victoria, Please*

      What kind of mileage are all you people who say it gets good mileage getting? Because my Fit is a constant mileage Bummer. I do love the seats, though.

      1. periwinkle*

        My Fit driving is 70% city-like (slower speeds, traffic lights, moderate traffic) and the rest on highways; the usual per-tank range is somewhere between 28 and 30. If it’s mostly highway miles, it’s 35-37 mpg lightly loaded.

        Sure, you can get cars with better gas mileage, but I was accustomed to driving my heavy all-wheel drive turbo sports wagon that chugged premium gasoline at a rate of 21 mpg. The Fit is definitely cheaper to run!

    1. Lillie Lane*

      The ones that come to mind for me are:

      1. I’m much more receptive and less defensive about feedback/criticism
      2. I try to be much kinder to others on the Internet
      3. I’m more aware of and sensitive to issues like gender/LGBTQ/etc
      4. I no longer wear perfume on airplanes!

      1. Bea W*

        Than you so much for #4!

        #2 resonates with me as well. Other places on the internet are so full of people being nasty it’s so easy to lose yourself in that, and the way people have discussions here is eye opening in comparison. #3 as well. I have learned a lot about things in general. The discussion about cocaine and drug use stands out in my mind. In general between those 2 I feel like I have learned to feel less judgey both about what I read and just overall.

        I have also taken some advice and suggestions from people here that really helped me out. I’ve discovered Stitch Fix and fleece lined leggings, which on a day like today are invaluable! They saved my legs last winter for sure!

      1. A Non*


        Between AAM and Captain Awkward, I think they’ve actually gotten “you deserve to be treated with respect, by everyone at all times, anyone who doesn’t is a jerk” through my head.

    2. periwinkle*

      The influence hasn’t come directly from AAM herself (except for some awesome book recommendations) but from the comments – all those websites I didn’t know about until someone here mentioned them! Biggest props go to the people who’ve mentioned UFYH as a resource for going from chaotic to uncluttered (or at least less cluttered). My house still gets cluttered but now it’s easy to sweep through and make it entirely presentable in 15 minutes.

    3. Tris Prior*

      I find I am more likely to address issues up front with the person who’s creating the issue, rather than hinting, being passive-aggressive, or silently stewing.

      1. The RO-Cat*

        Me three! Of course, in my personal life (I’ve been somewhat good at that at work to start with)

    4. Tea Pot Dome*

      I am the product of a very dysfunctional family. For many years my career suffered because I had no idea how to conduct myself in life or in the workplace. AAM has opened my eyes about what to value, what to fight for, and what to ignore.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I suspect there’s at least 1 million other people who feel the same way! Lots of what Alison says, people are hearing for the first time in their lives.

    5. Nicole*

      Yes, after seeing how the majority of people handle themselves in the comments here, my faith in humanity has been restored, plus I find myself being less judgmental and more open to opposing viewpoints, especially when I see how it can be done in a respectful manner. Also, I’m more apt to be straight-forward with people instead of trying to hint at what I want. I was already working on that, but the comments here have helped too.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s easier to be kinder when we see people around us being kind, it’s part of being human.

    6. nep*

      What a great question.
      Initial thoughts — Just an overall positive vibe that comes from being in regular touch with such intelligent, insightful, caring, witty, courageous (fill in more adjectives here) people from widely diverse backgrounds and experiences.

    7. nep*

      Now having read a few of the responses, I vote this one of the best-ever questions. And I very much look forward to further responses. Thanks, Lillie Lane.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This is so nice to read! I got an amazing note yesterday from someone who said the site has made her “more confident, bold, and happier,” which is just the greatest thing to hear.

        1. Lillie Lane*

          Agreed! Also, this site and the commenters have been critical for mental health, for myself and others. I hate Facebook and am isolated from friends, family, and coworkers, so this is kind of a safe spot to hang out.

          Plus I save pics of Olive and the other kitties on my phone because they make me smile :)

            1. Kitty (Ireland)*

              It’s made me relax and just take a breath about stuff. You know how with problems they can really take hold and gather pace in a split second to the point where they become the biggest deal ever? Same with regular life problems for me. AAM is where I come to read about other people going through stuff and making it out the other side.

    9. azvlr*

      I came to the weekend free-for-all to comment that I have noticed a positive change in the questions people have been posting and I think it is due to the consistent and excellent advice that Alison has been giving:

      I noticed people are saying, “I have already tried this and this (applying advice Alison would have already given), but it hasn’t worked. Now what?” I also noticed that I am able to predict quite well, what her answers would be. I have experienced a definite and pervasive shift in my thinking that has made my work life pretty awesome!

      Sadly, I’ve made the mistake of applying the advice by trying to “manage” my SO who is wonderful in many ways, but doesn’t take feedback well. A personal relationship is never as simple as, “You’re not performing to my expectations, so I’m going to have to let you go.” (Note: I’m talking about little irky things, not major stuff like domestic violence, financial irresponsibility or infidelity.)

      1. Artemesia*

        What can work is positive reinforcement — but you have to be crafty and subtle. I transformed my relationship with my mother this way. I use it a bit with my husband but I have such a good relationship that it is rarely needed. For all I know, he is doing it too, LOL.

        1. azvlr*

          Mine totally does! And I’m a sucker for it even though I see right through it. Coming from being told I’m was never good enough to being told I’m wonderful and amazing, I don’t mind this tiny manipulation.

    10. ginger ale for all*

      I am not sure if I can classify this as positive or negative but an interesting effect is how I now view a stand by author that I read when I’m upset. I read old romances written by Betty Neels and the usual theme is a Cinderella type of love story where they usually meet at work. Now I am saying to myself that they need to contact HR, that’s sexual harassment, only one day off, etc. So I am a more critical reader with this author but they are fictional characters and the time setting is about fifty or sixty years ago so it only makes me pause a bit before reading more. I’ve also noticed that the heroine is usually told to wear pink because men tend to fall in love with women who wear that color, LOL.

      1. Hattie McDoogal*

        Ha. I definitely notice workplace dysfunction more often in fiction now. Or just outright “that’s so not how hiring works” eye-rolling. Recently I was watching the episode of Gilmore Girls where Rory gets hired on at the newspaper where she did her internship — her boss tells her flat-out they don’t have the budget to hire her but she ignores him and camps out in his lobby until he relents. Gumption!

        1. Leeza*

          Oh, I hated Rory even more than usual in that episode. I would have had security escort her out in 5 minutes! Her adorable little sit-in wouldn’t have worked with me, and I was angry that it worked with her boss.

    11. fposte*

      Other people have said good things, but I’ll also note how much I enjoy all you commenters! People contribute in ways I learn from factually and emotionally, and I like the variety of the collection. You all add great color to my life’s tapestry.

      1. The Little Prince(ess)*

        No question — the commentariat here is articulate, generous and well-reasoned, for the most part!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Right on, fposte. I am richer in some ways than any billionaire because of this community here. Thank you, Alison for your insight that made you launch this and for your on-going commitment to the work that cultivates and maintains this site!

        1. nep*

          (The first part of your post makes me think of that line — Some people are so poor all they have is money.)

        2. Nervous Accountant*

          Hey, next to Alison, I think you’re one of the best commenters here in both the work and non work threads:-)

      3. ginger ale for all*

        Good point. I enjoy the bits of knowledge that I get from y’all. One example is that the life span of a pillow is about three years. I thought it was a decade or so. When I went off to college, I took the pillows I had had since I was three or four and didn’t know any better. I then kept them for ten more years.

        1. Nye*

          Ha, someone made this comment recently and it’s making me reevaluate the state of my pillow, which just doesn’t seem as comfy as it was when I got it, oh, 10 years ago. So many useful tidbits in the AAM comments!

    12. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Its helped me realize there are lots of other people with nmoms out there.
      That my mother, contrary to her own belief system, is neither perfect nor a demigod to be praised.
      That I am allowed to have my own dreams, desires, and that I, too, deserve happiness and freedom, and nice things.

      This blog helped me gain the courage to be financially independent last July–and for that, its worth its weight in gold. So to speak. <3

    13. QualityControlFreak*

      AAM and her thoughtful commenters have helped me (a very task-oriented person) to see and appreciate the value of relationships, both in and out of the workplace.

    14. Victoria, Please*

      Well, if NOTHING else, and there’s a lot, I got my husband a few weeks of Blue Apron because I’m super busy right now. ;-)

      I feel that I can trust people here (applying reasonable common sense, of course). You all are like 10000 mentors from all over the world.

    15. Alma*

      Hmmmmm. I note that I have a fraction of a second pause – where I mentally step back a moment and there is a flash of “What Would Alison (and the mini-Alisons) Say?” I am better prepared to answer or not answer, as appropriate, and “I statements” are so me!! Almost.

      The wide range of experiences we have been privileged to share have been AAM University (we need a collegiate sweatshirt with something wise in Latin on it!). I genuinely look forward to updates, and input from familiar names.

      I am also more likely to “nip something in the bud” in a direct and not snarky way. Thanks, Alison, for your example in Moderating.

    16. Jean*

      Y’all make me want to be a better person, employee, professional, and all-around mentsch (Yiddish for “person” but with a heavy emphasis on “good person“).

      That said, when I read about terrible, horrible, no good, very bad* bosses I still fight the urge to suggest ingenious and rude responses (that the employees could give to the bosses).

      * Classic American children’s book by Judith Viorst: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

    17. StillHealing*

      The support I received here while dealing with my husband having an affair and the long drawn out divorce, was quite helpful.

    18. Dot Warner*

      In addition to what others have said about communicating in the workplace and learning how to manage and give/receive feedback, I’ve really enjoyed Alison’s book recommendations, and I look forward to the pictures of the kitties every weekend.

    19. The RO-Cat*

      I’ve learned a lot. Professionally (both from Alison and the commentariat) and personally (mostly about being more direct and assertive – hard things for natural-born people-pleaser). Some of these things, I’ve passed them on in my classes (I reckon the website has been written on several hundred flip-chart sheets all over the country). And I’m endlessly fascinated by the cultural differences in the minutiae of life.

      Between AAM and CA, I’ve noticed a subtle, but important weltanschauung shift. I’m thankful to both Alison and ya’all commenting here.

      And speaking of CA, I really like the Friends Of Captain Awkward forum. Could it be possible to set up a Friends Of AAM forum?

    20. Mimmy*

      I can’t really pinpoint anything specific that isn’t work/career related, but I will say that this is THE most civil online community I’ve been involved in (well…most of the time ;) ). I love that everyone here is honest and open but also post thoughtful comments. I can be a bit of a ditz and I strive to be as reasonable and intelligent as all of you!

      1. Aam Admi*

        I came upon this site in 2008 while looking for advise when my employer was deep into some really weird stuff. So I had the webpage appropriately bookmarked under ‘Employment Laws’. I was doing an annual reorg of my internet explorer favourites and realized AAM involves a lot more than employment issues.
        1. This is the place I learned how to buy a properly fitting bra.
        2. I was terrified of trying on makeup for most of my life. Thanks to advise from AAMers I have progressed a bit in the last couple of years with trying on BB creams, tinted mosturizer, mineral powders, etc. and realizing not all products cause allergies.
        3. I also found some great books and blogs from the discussions in the open threads
        4. And, the most important thing I gained from AAMers is ‘self-confidence’ – the courage to be ‘just me’ and not trying all my life to be perfect.

        1. F.*

          I second #1! For the first time since I was 12 years old, I am wearing properly fitted and reasonably comfortable bras!

      2. Vancouver Reader*

        Same! I feel like everyone here are so well informed on so many levels. I wouldn’t know half the things I know without you all, and I strive to be half as diplomatic as this community.

        The one thing that sticks with me the most that I learned from this group is Hanlon’s Razor, which I try to use in almost every aspect of my life.

    21. Elizabeth West*

      I have learned to let things go. So many of the commenters seem really good about giving that advice when warranted that I’ve sort of internalized it and find myself now saying, “Self, is this worth getting your knickers in a twist over?” Nine times out of ten, it is not, and I can just go, “Well shiz,” and then move on. I’m not perfect at it–I still whinge and in fact, I blew up over something stupid a couple of months ago, but I’m getting there.

      And I feel a ZILLION times more serene. So my life still sucks and my finances still suck and my house and the place I live still suck. I hope it changes and I’m still trying to look for ways to make it so, but now I’m not spending as much energy freaking out about it.

      1. Alma*

        I have also learned that Alison’ nieces are brilliant. And delightful.

        Hint! Hint!! We haven’t heard from them in a long while!!

    22. KR*

      I’m naturally a very direct and honest person and this blog has validated that in me and made me realize it’s okay and beneficial to vocalize what does and does not work for me, and basically standing up to myself.
      I love the comments section because everyone is so helpful and friendly.

  9. Blue Anne*

    So as previously mentioned, my life has exploded and I’m planning to move back to the USA.

    I’m thinking Vermont! I don’t want to be near anyone I already know (relationship with family is tough), I do want actual seasons, small towns, generally liberal politics, affordable property.

    Anyone else have suggestions? I’m genuinely just at the “put a pin on the map” stage. It’s all fair game except NY/NJ.

    1. Come On Eileen*

      Vermont sounds like a great fit for you — I’ve never lived there, but I spent a week a few years ago and LOVED it, for many of the reasons you’ve outlined here.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        I’ve lived in both. (Well, technically I live in NH now, but VT is 4 blocks away and I’m there every day.) I grew up in the Twin Cities in Minnesota and I now live in the CT River valley in NH. In my experience, Vermont gets more snow than MN and MN gets more bitterly cold with sub-zero highs. In VT, when they talk about below zero temperatures, they are always talking about the low. In MN, there will be at least a week in January where the temperature never gets above zero. Add in wind chill and it’s a whole lot colder.

        MN gets more hot and humid in the summers than VT. Here, summer highs peak in the 80s and it cools down enough at night that you may only need air conditioning for a week or two in the summer. Last summer we didn’t need it at all. In MN you’ll definitely want air conditioning. The nights can stay warm and the humidity doesn’t budge.

      1. Lore*

        If you have any affinity for the ocean, you can’t beat Rhode Island–and it is full of adorable towns. Not sure if it’s affordable these days though–Providence has become fairly “hot.” (I lived there 20 years ago when it was not at all hot…its main advantage was how close it was to other places like Boston, NYC, the ocean, the mountains of northern New England. Now it’s much more of its own destination but still has all the geographic advantages.)

        1. Laura*

          Wayyyy cheaper than Boston. I had a nice 1BR in Providence for $900 in 2012-2013 (including parking AND HEAT which was my greatest desire). Go outside the city and you can get a super reasonably priced house. And still near the MBTA!

        2. Elizabeth*

          Rhode Island is beautiful, but the taxes are high and the local politics are terrible. If you pay attention to local politics, you’ll be tearing your hair out. Seriously.

    2. LCL*

      Eugene, Oregon. As lefty as it gets, and a small town. We do too have seasons in the PNW-warm rain and cold rain.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Yeah, that’s pretty much the climate I’m coming from. I think I want at least four types of rain! :P

    3. Jen*

      Not sure where you are in life but NH and VT are quite similar, but there is no income tax in NH. VT has income tax and a lot of other high taxes.

      We live in MA and have considered (but not) moving to NH for the 5.5% income tax break. Prop taxes are high in NH but the base property values are lower than where we live now so it’s a wash.

      1. Blue Anne*

        That’s really good to know, thank you. I’ve been looking at an area which is right near the state line, so maybe I’ll just nudge over it a bit…

      2. Bea W*

        Yeh, overall the property tax increase might end up wiping out much of the break on other taxes, and if you need to commute to Boston for work, there goes the rest of the savings! However, if you’re in a field where you can find work closer to home, it can be a good deal. For renters it can make more sense to make the move, because the difference between renting closer in to Boston and renting in NH or RI can be pretty substantial.

        Boston has a residential rate of $11 for every $1000, and if you live in your home you get a huge break on that. So for example, my actual rate living in Boston is $1.10. I pay under $200 *annually* in property tax. That’s really sweet. It made buying here more affordable than buying in the suburbs, which really aren’t that much more affordable anymore. My commuting costs are also next to nothing. However, if I had to rent, fahgettaboutit!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I’ll second Burlington, college town, lots of greener thinking, lots to do. My husband lived there for a while. He said he never would have left if his company had not made him leave. He said people were nice and took responsibility for their own actions. Imagine that.

    4. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I recommend checking out Denver! Winter is less serious than MN but still very real, lots of cool stuff happening, pretty liberal (and legal weed!)

    5. KS*

      I love Vermont! So many cute little towns. I have considered living there. I currently live about 20 minutes from Vermont so it wouldn’t be a drastic change for me.

    6. Stephanie*

      I think Flagstaff’s adorable if you want a small town. It’s bluer than the rest of Arizona (mostly because there’s a university there). There are four seasons and pretty scenery.

      I’ve been reading about Madison, WI (I mentioned getting into grad school–I got into the program there) and it sounds like a nice, smaller town if you don’t mind winter.

      1. So Very Anonymous*

        UW is a great school! I haven’t lived in Madison since I was a kid, but my parents retired to exurban Madison — they met and married in Madison — and I love visiting. You do get winter, but they know what to do with it up there (my parents always comment on how quickly the roads get plowed).

      2. bassclefchick*

        Madison’s job market isn’t the best, but I love it here! I’ve never owned a house, so I don’t know about that, but the rentals are getting way too expensive. I used to live in a not so nice area of town and rent was almost $700 per month. They do keep building new complexes, but I haven’t seen rent in any of them for less than $1200. I agree with Stephanie, it’s got that small town feel with most of the conveniences of a bigger city.

      3. Emily*

        I lived in Madison for a year and liked it! I lived walking distance from the capitol, so food/library/fun stores near the university were all easily accessible. I didn’t have a car and was mostly okay without one, although there were situations when it would have been helpful.

        If you like outdoors/athletic activities at all, there are a lot of options – winter sports, obviously, but also biking, ultimate frisbee, etc.

      4. Tea Pot Dome*

        I loved my ten years in Madison, and if I hadn’t been paying off student loans while living there, I would have done fine financially. It’s a highly enlightened city, a small one, but very easy to navigate. Culture, good public transportation, ample educational opportunities.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Ann Arbor has the same problem a lot of university towns, like Eugene, have – superficially liberal and laid-back but God help you if you do anything that might lowerproperty values, or make the well-off NPR crowd feel uncomfortable about themselves. Plus all of the logistical and social town and gown issues.

        It sure does have four seasons, though…

    7. Nye*

      Maine might be worth a look, too. Very affordable property, and Portland is great city with an excellent food/cultural scene. Also home of the International Cryptozoology Museum, so bonus yeti.

    8. Alice 2*

      I grew up in and currently live in the DC Metro area. Lots of variety in the type of neighborhood you could choose. :) we do have 4 seasons, and with climate change, our winters are amping up! We still have piles of snow even though we’ve had days of 50s since the big storm! (currently back down to near freezing). My yard also looks like a battle between fall (late falling leaves) and spring (daffodils are trying to pop up!).
      But I’m also a big fan of Minnesota! Lived there for 5 years, and would love to go back if I didn’t have another place to go to. If you happen to work in downtown Mpls, you’ll have the skyways to traverse the city in winter! MN is also the land of 10,000 lakes (actually closer to 14k), and there are several close to the center of the twin cities. Lake Calhoun is beautiful plus the surrounding neighborhood (Uptown) is cute and vibrant. Many of the lakes are also open to swimming for those hot summer days! … I miss Minnesota.

      1. Jean*

        Metro DC is an interesting place to live (people who care about the world and want to improve it! gazillions of free museums! marvelous public library systems!) but from my perspective (longtime renter, modest household income) the housing market can be terrifyingly expensive. But it does depend on individual circumstances.

        Depending on where you need to travel and when, you may or may not have to tangle with Traffic. It’s crazily congested during rush hour (Maryland) and plagued by inadequate main arteries plus unwillingness or inability to build, maintain, or widen roads (Northern Virginia). The Metro is trying hard, but struggling without a fixed income stream besides raising the rates despite inadequate service (leading to predictable drop in ridership and another go-round of this cycle). There are many other choices, the potential benefits of which will depend on one’s own particular circumstances. Thus: Virginia and Maryland regional commuter trains, county- & DC-based bus lines that cover lots of territory, Bike Share, various car-share programs, and of course, Uber, Lyft, and traditional taxi services. Plus the ten-toed option of Pedestrianism if one lives relatively close to most/all of one’s intended destinations. :-)

    9. Massachuset*

      Depending on your industry, Vermont has pretty limited employment opportunities. We vacation in VT and love it – but talking to people who live there it seemed like this was really one of main drawbacks.

    10. notthatgirl*

      I grew up in Vermont and (temporarily) live in Minnesota (been here for 6 years). I’ve also lived in W. Massachusetts.

      Vermont is very nice, with four very distinct seasons. Minnesota’s summers are wayyy too hot and humid, as far as I’m concerned. The fall/winter/spring are pretty distinct in MN, though!

      I don’t plan to stay, because I find that people here are less friendly than I’m used to. When my ex and I moved here six years ago, we kept inviting people over to our house, only to never get an invite in return. Sad. :(

  10. Jen RO*

    My birthday night out with coworkers went great, despite the stress that preceded it! (I had no idea where to go, and had no preference on when, so I tried polling people, which of course failed miserably.)

    In the end, we went drinking for a few hours, then a few of us went dancing. OMG I’d missed dancing. I even got to headbang for a bit! Best of all, responsible drinking of water meant that I am not hungover and I don’t have a headache, which I wasn’t even hoping for.

  11. Mimmy*

    (Accidentally posted this in the Friday thread….)

    Can anyone recommend any resources for looking up legal terms or basic legal concepts? One of the requirements for my Law & Policy class is having to write Case Briefs–essentially, you read a “legal opinion”, usually a Supreme Court ruling, and then try to summarize it and give your thoughts on the ruling. Our instructor (yes, the same one I’ve written about the past couple of weeks) gave us one article to read on how to interpret a legal opinion, but it’s not as helpful as I’d hoped.

    Apparently this guy thinks we’re law students! :P (no, this is not a law-related degree program!)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Actually, school stuff goes in the Friday thread — the weekend one is supposed to be no work, no school (although I have traditionally not been as strict about it as actual work stuff).

        1. Mimmy*

          I’m okay with whatever you decide Alison. The question was in a bit of a gray area since it’s not truly related to working and careers.

          So sorry :(

    2. bassclefchick*

      Your local library should (I hope) have a copy of Black’s Law Dictionary, which will help with the terms. As for the rest, it’s been far too long since I went to school to become a Paralegal, but I just googled “understanding legal briefs” and got several good hits. Although I AM old enough to remember life before Google, I do wonder how we managed without it for so long. Also, if the school you attend has a law library, the librarians there will be able to help you. Good luck!

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      Check out your local library! My state has legal self help centers (mostly web based) at every library that provide that kind of info in layman’s terms.

    4. Pixl8*

      Google Scholar has a decent set of briefs and case law. I used it quite a bit before I got access to Westlaw.

  12. Myrin*

    My tinnitus has been acting up in the last few days. I’m usually very good at ignoring it (it’s only in the right ear) and basically only hear it when I lay down to sleep but it’s been pretty much constant yesterday and today. I’m freaking myself out with thoughts of how maybe the volume is permanently higher up now (I don’t know if that’s even possible but I lose all ability to think rationally when I’ve had this sound in my head all day) and ugh, do not want. D:

    1. Trixie*

      I’m making an appt to see a specialist soon. Blocked ear canals for a while and time for some serious attention. If I’m really lucky, no permanent hearing loss.

    2. Gene*

      You get used to it. Due to not wearing good hearing protection in my job and hobbies when younger, I have pretty serious tinnitus in both ears. Both the audiologist and the ENT say it will never get better, though they can’t explain why it sometimes just turns off for up to an hour.

      You might experiment with diet changes, some people find that caffeine or chocolate or (for one friend) tomatoes aggravate it. I discovered scuba diving makes mine worse, so I pretty much cut out diving. I miss it, but it needed to be done. Next time I go somewhere with warm water I’ll do some digging to see it it was related to pressure changes or the pressure changes and cold water.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, that’s interesting. I developed pulsatile tinnitus just in my more trouble-prone ear after starting a new medication, and I wondered if that was just an imagined connnection; sounds like it might be real.

      2. Myrin*

        What drives me up the wall about the whole thing is that there is absolutely no outside reason for why I’d have developed tinnitus in the first place – I was only 23 when I got it and I’m explicitly not someone who listens to a lot of music (especially with headphones; I wear headphones maybe twice a month when I’m in the mood for it on my way to uni) or is in the vicinity of loud noises in general. I know it makes no sense but I’d be more willing to accept it if there were some “reason”, if I could say “Oh well, you brought this onto yourself by X”, but as it is, it’s just like “Why me?”.

        I actually thought I am used to it – I was at the ENT just a month ago (mainly because of something else, though) and he didn’t seem worried about it at all because I told him I usually don’t hear it during the day and it’s not distracting or anything. And now THIS!

    3. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I’m just starting the process for getting treatment for my tinnitus. It’s mostly in my left ear where I have some hearing loss (musician) and it seems to be affected by sinus congestion. I’ve had a low hum for a while but recently added a high-pitched hiss and it’s driving me batty. I’m grumpier and more anxious than normal. I’m supposed to take Claritin and Flonase for 2 weeks and then see an audiologist. I started the Claritin yesterday and it has made a huge difference.

      1. Myrin*

        That’s so great to hear, congrats!

        I was at the ENT only last month and he confirmed what I already knew – I have excellent hearing. Which kind of makes it even worse because there’s nothing wrong wrong with my ear, it’s just that stupid noise. He also looked at my sinuses and said they’re completely fine. Oh well.

        I do feel that my ears have been kind of stopped up in the last couple of days, so I might have a bit of an underlying cold that aggravates my ears. I really hope that’s it because this is driving me bonkers.

    4. First Initial dot Last Name*

      When I’m extra sensitive to my tinnitus I put on my (over ear) headphones and listen to this cat purr white noise http://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/catPurrNoiseGenerator.php I wish I could get one of my cats to drape across my shoulders and purr endlessly while I work, but they’re not down for that kind of schmooping. After a hundred years of having tinnitus, I haven’t gotten used to it, but the cat purr is pretty tolerable.

        1. Windchime*

          That’s what I was thinking, too. Maybe someone was using the can opener and they came running? My cat now thinks that the sound of the microwave beeping means he is going to get something good because sometimes I use it to warm up canned cat food that’s been in the fridge. Why no, he’s not spoiled–why do you ask?

          1. Elizabeth West*

            LOL I did the same thing for Psycho Kitty when I had to use the bigger cans. But she is outside. When she hears me moving around in the kitchen, she starts meowing. And if I am doing something and go past food time, she sits outside the window and bawls until I come out. She does that when she wants pets, too.

  13. EA*

    Has anyone recently sold a home, or work in a profession (Realtor? Broker? Mortgage processor?) where such an event occurs frequently? My house is on the market right now, and I’m looking for ideas on things I can do (other than making sure it’s clean and show-ready) to help my Realtor sell it more quickly.

    It’s listed in the MLS, and Realtor dot com, Zillow and Trulia have picked up the listing (I think that’s pretty much automatic these days). I live in a community which allows short term rentals, there are several other vacation homes in the subdivision, as well as several that are owner-occupied. I’d like to try and target towards folks who may be in the market for a vacation home, but short of spamming message boards for vacation home owners, I’m not really sure if there’s a way to do that.

    Any other advice to try and get a quick sale?

      1. fposte*

        Yup, though hopefully you do that before the listing photos are taken. I’m also a big fan of removing, replacing, or covering patterned textiles like curtains, bedspreads, etc.–they’re very personal and they can date with amazing speed.

        Obviously the best way to get a quick sale is to come in at a lower price. That’s what I would favor in anything other than a really hot market, but it can be hard to talk a realtor into it since they won’t get as much money (they don’t have to pay the mortgage, after all). If you don’t sell for a while, make sure you update the pictures when the seasons change–there’s nothing like a picture of a snow-covered yard in May to say “This isn’t a competitive property.”

        1. EA*

          Good advice. As far as the staging, we’re still in the house, so it is obviously occupied, but I (in my admittedly biased opinion) think it looks nice and shows well. We don’t really have any personal pictures anyways, and none of them are on the walls anymore.

          As far as the snow thing, we’re in Florida, snow isn’t really a factor :)

          1. danr*

            I was going to say that snow was a factor when we bought our first house. We saw it for the first time in February and saw how nicely the streets had been plowed.

              1. danr*

                Yep. My town prides itself on good snow plowing. And they offer free replacement mailboxes if they take your’s out. And help with the insurance claim if needed.

      2. Florida*

        When you show the house, if you get nothing else right, turn on all the lights and open all the blinds. Even if the house is a mess when someone comes, be sure to do that part.

    1. Jen*

      Be extremely flexible for showings. We listed our house last winter in MA. There was 108″ of snow on the ground- my first floor windows were buried!!! But we were the only house in our size/price range brave enough to go on the market in that weather, and we had about 20 viewings (no open house due to weather) in 4 days. Had three offers by the end of the weekend, one at full list. We went away for the weekend so the realtor could show it anytime.

    2. BRR*

      In addition to no personal items and keeping it clean, make sure it doesn’t come close to looking cluttered. This could mean renting a storage unit so it looks like your house has plenty of extra storage.

      1. Jen*

        Yes, in addition to the above we rented a 10×10 storage unit and stuffed it to the gills. Mainly with side tables, stuff that was already in the attic, a dresser that when removed opened up a bedroom, etc. it was like $30/mo and we rented for 3.

      2. Clever Name*

        Yes, I was going to mention decluttering. Especially the counter tops. Also book cases. Don’t have them stuffed with books and knick knacks. Leave white space. Remove all stuff from the front of your fridge. Is anything broken or in need of mending? Torn screen or a loose handle? Fix it. You don’t want buyers to be thinking that your house will be a project.

      3. Kate*

        In the same vein, make sure any storage spaces in the house look neat, and move items to a storage unit if necessary. If your storage spaces (closets, cabinets, etc) look cluttered or crammed with stuff, it will make the buyer wonder if there isn’t enough storage. So move summer clothes out of the closet. Put some pots and pans in storage of your kitchen cabinets are really full. Don’t have things where they don’t belong (for instance, don’t have bath towels stacked in the clothing closet, because that is just going to make the buyer realize there isn’t an appropriate place to store them.)
        Good luck!

    3. Florida*

      Price it for a quick sale. The biggest (maybe only) reason that houses don’t sell is that they are priced too high. Remember the value of your house has nothing to do with what you or your realtor think it’s worth. It is 100% based on what someone else is willing to pay you for it.

      This probably isn’t the type of advice you were looking for. It’s amazing how many people say they want a quick sale, but price it like they really don’t want to move, so I thought this was worth mentioning.

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      I heard some advice a long time ago that you should bake something in the oven that smells really good — cookies, bread — before people come over for an open house. If you can’t manage that, then vanilla scented candles. The idea is that when people come, they’ll smell something great and that will make them all nostalgic or whatever. No idea if it works.

      1. Bekx*

        I’m currently house shopping right now. When I walk into a house that clearly smells of candle or baking or something, I get irritated and think they are trying to hide mildew or cigarette smoke smell or something. I think unfortunately this tip is too well known now.

      2. Dear Liza dear liza*

        Yes, be very careful of any artificial scents. Dear Henry is extremely allergic to them and when we were looking, we would have to leave immediately if a house had scentsy/candles/ really strong potpourri.

        1. Yetanotherjennifer*

          One house we looked at had several air fresheners and they weren’t all the same scent. So of course we wondered what they were hiding. We passed on that house for several reasons and later learned the air fresheners covered up the cat urine smell that was in the floor boards.

          That said, our realtor advised us to use an air freshener because our house was unoccupied when it was on the market. Houses can get stale fast when they’re closed up.

    5. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Go out and look at your competition and then make your house slightly better. When we sold our house a few years back we knew many other houses in our price range would be empty. So even though we were moving out of state and would be selling long distance, we left half our furniture behind so the house would look cozier. We hired a decorator to stage the home. Our realtor said it wasn’t necessary but we felt it showed the house in its best light. We had the Windows professionally washed. It’s cheaper than you’d think. Also our realtor used a professional photographer and the pictures were amazing. She found every room’s best angle and made them all look spacious. It made all the difference. And finally we priced it on the low side. We were moving out of state for a job so we couldn’t wait until it sold and we couldn’t afford rent and the mortgage for too long. We preferred to sacrifice some money up front rather than risk having to drop the price after a few months while still paying the mortgage.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Good photos are SUPER important! People are going to decide whether to do a walkthrough based on your photos. And show as many rooms as you can – if there are six photos of the kitchen and three of the backyard but only one of the four bedrooms, people are going to wonder what’s wrong with the other rooms. This is just my opinion but you don’t need pictures of bathrooms unless they’re amazing (double sinks, soaker tub, unusually spacious, etc.).

    6. Bekx*

      I’m house shopping right now…just put in offer in actually!

      I really liked seeing the kitchen and bathrooms up to date. The houses with ugly cabinets, flooring, carpet, walls, countertops….they all made me think $$$$. Not having to replace anything right away after I empty my bank account to buy the house is what really appealed to me about the place.

  14. Pokebunny*

    Any roommate horror stories?

    Mine isn’t really a “horror story”, but just a bad fit. Right now I’m dealing with him saturating himself in fragrance every day before he leaves, and it makes me slightly nauseated. I’ve asked him to tone it down, but he insists that he doesn’t use cologne, and that he doesn’t smell anything. I’m not breaking out in a rash or fainting, so I let it slide, and when he leaves, I just open the front door, a couple of windows and leave the fan running for a few minutes. If I don’t do that, the smell lingers around the house for up to 30 minutes after.

    I’m also dealing with inane questions, and I’m a bit more stumped on how to handle it. Basically he’s one of those people pleasers who gets extremely fidgety if there is silence for more than a couple of minutes, so he fills that with really, REALLY inane questions and comments. Such as if I’m cutting up vegetables and heating the sautee pan, he’ll ask me if I’m making dinner. If I’m putting on my shoes and socks and grabbing my coat, he’ll ask me if I’m going out. Yesterday I had a glass of water in a different container and he asked me “What are you having?” “Uh, just water.” “Is it good?”


    1. fposte*

      Other people are the peopliest :-).

      My guess on the first is that it’s lotion or something and not cologne. On the second, that sounds like a classic opportunity to Use Your Words. “Housedude, you and I communicate differently; I think you really value having an ongoing conversation and may think I’m annoyed with you when I’m quiet, when in reality I engage better with people in peaceful silence. What if we developed a sign to alert you I’m in a peaceful phase and will get back to socializing with you after a quiet interval?”

      1. AcidMeFlux*

        Yeah, all those “stupid” questions sound like an insecure/shy person’s attempts at friendly conversation. Also, he may not use cologne, but also may not realize that shampoo + body wash + deodoran + t add up to a whole lot of fragrance (especially if he’s using the same brand for everything.)

        1. anon709*

          Agreed. The fragrance point is a good one, especially if it’s Old Spice or Axe or something like that.

          1. Isabel*

            Oh god, Axe. Worst date ever: Concert on New Year’s Eve. My date got very drunk and then decided to surreptitious freshen up his Axe during the concert. He bent over in his seat and sprayed himself! When I yelped, “What are you doing?” and others around us asked “What is that terrible smell?” he pretended it wasn’t him. Funny now, but at the time I wanted to cry.

            1. anon709*

              Oh lord! An ex of mine used the spray-on deodorant. I “accidentally” kicked it way under our bed and thankfully he didn’t find it until I moved out.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      OH MY GOD, that sounds so much like my father. I am tearing my hair out in sympathy just reading this.

    3. Dan*

      Crud. My ex used to ask a littany of questions when she was nervous, but the catch was she didn’t care about the answers. They were random and unconnected. By the third one, I would be like “WTF? Enough.”

      1. Pokebunny*

        omg this so much!! It’s like the answers themselves don’t even matter. Every time I watch a movie on Netflix he’ll ask me “What are you watching?” Initially I thought it was just a normal conversation thing, so I’d explain a little bit about the synopsis and such, but I started to catch on that he doesn’t really care about the answer, because like a robot, the next question will be “Is it good?” followed by “Do you always watch such movies?”

        Every. Single. Time.

        Eventually, when he asks the question “What are you watching?” I just respond with one word… like “Soldiers.” or “Con artists.” or “Ghosts.” and he’ll ask “is it good” which I’ll say “yep” and “do you always watch such movies” which I’ll say “sometimes.”

        I don’t get it.

        1. fposte*

          You’re taking him too literally; if you’ve ever had a cat or a dog, you know this behavior :-). They don’t really want to know what you’re doing on the computer when they put their nose or butt on it; they just feel excluded and want to be part of things.

            1. Pokebunny*

              Exactly! My SO, sure, ask me inane questions, I’ll probably answer with a dirty joke. But a roommate being *that* emotionally clingy is just blergh. And I do have a cat.

            2. fposte*

              Of course not–and I didn’t say Pokebunny had to *do* anything. But she said, “I don’t get it,” and I’m offering a way she might get.

          1. Dan*

            Oh the irony with the movie situation is that if you want to be a part of things. SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, AND WATCH THE DAMN SHOW! Don’t talk to me.

            1. fposte*

              Though that’s why this gets into the thorny compromise area–for a lot of people, “things” are the hanging out and talking while the show is showing and the show is secondary at best. When people who’ve grown up like that cohabit with people who firmly believe the attention should stay on the media, it’s going to make both of them crazy unless they negotiate something.

              1. Pokebunny*

                That’s true. I get that. It’s just a bad fit overall. I operate in one way, and he operates in another. I am at my most peaceful with comfortable silence, he is not.

                Aside from this, he’s really not a bad roommate. He’s not filthy, he showers every day, his room is clean and neat (although there’s a funky smell that I can’t figure out), he does the dishes immediately, takes out the trash when it’s full and helps with my weekly dusting and vacuuming.

                I’ve lived with far worse.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  I’m guessing you probably don’t want to know what that smell is.

                  Next time he asks “What are you watching?” say weird stuff like April on Parks and Rec, like “The complete and utter destruction of humanity.”

                2. Pokebunny*

                  I’ve been in his room, when he wants to show me things. It’s a pretty nasty smell, although my nose gets numb to it within minutes. However, his room is clean and neat (unlike mine, I have clothes all over lol), but there are no obvious signs (like week-old urine in a bottle or smelly laundry — although come to think of it, I rarely see him do laundry, I just assumed I am not home when he does it).

              2. Dan*

                Fair enough. But I’ve always operated with roommates under the expectation that your only obligations are to be reasonably clean, quiet, and pay your share of the rent on time. Anything else is a bonus.

                I can be kind of direct when I’m “off”. Pokebunny’s roommate would annoy the shit out of me, and I’d probably tell him so. I don’t think we’d be roommates long.

                I live alone now, and don’t miss sharing space with anybody.

                1. fposte*

                  Direct isn’t a bad thing :-). And I’m coming from your side–if I’m watching the thing, I like to watch the thing. But in most cohab situations, the house belongs to both the people, so both their opinions count. Which is why I like to live alone too–I get annoyed enough at my own traits.

              3. Hlyssande*

                It can definitely get tetchy.

                When I was playing WoW with a fairly hardcore raiding guild, we couldn’t do anything where I actually needed to talk in TS (belf spriest for mind control) until AFTER Lost was over because there would have been murder. My roommate’s preference for silence directed the boss fight order for the whole raid once a week. And that was fine, once we worked it out.

                1. Pokebunny*

                  I would think this would be way over-accommodating. 10/25 people are scheduling their boss kills around your roommate? Your guildmates are very nice people. lol.

                2. Hlyssande*

                  I was one of the two people at raiding level in the guild who could do the thing that required both of us trading off, so in the interests of actually being able to do that boss fight without causing too much trouble for my living situation, we just did them in a different order.

                  But yeah, it was frustrating.

        2. Sparkly Librarian*

          “What are you watching?”
          “Is it good?”
          “Do you always watch such movies?”

          So he’s copying Netflix’s rating system, eh?

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Lol, pretty much, yeah. If you can go by the recommendations I get from Netflix, this pretty much sums up their method.

    4. Merely*

      My worst roommate story involves living with a mentally ill friend in college. Whenever anything went wrong (losing at a videogame) or anyone disagreed with or criticized him (please do your dishes that have been in the bathroom sink for three days), he would threaten suicide, cut himself in front of us, bang his head into walls, break his valuables, etc. We would then have to spend hours comforting and complimenting him and convincing him he deserved to live. He would later claim to have no memory of the event and trying to talk to him about it would trigger another episode. We tried to get him help, but he’d brag about lying to his therapist and flush his medication down the toilet in front of us.
      This is why I’m never dating / being close friends with / living with another similarly mentally ill person again (not sure what his diagnosis is). I got attacked the last time I expressed this opinion here, but I am not living through this again– no way, no how.

      1. Dan*

        I was married to someone with mental health issues although not quite as bad as you describe. Never again. I’m sorry, but once was enough and its my life too.

        I’m seeing a normal woman now, and it’s such a relief. I’m never going back to crazy.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Odd that you should mention lying to his therapist. I had a family member that told me she did this all the time. But she was justified for [reasons]. Thank you for that bit of insight, that I had skated right by.
        I met a doctor that said his patients never, ever lied to him. That just. did. not. happen.
        I could not contain my laughter.

        1. Ruffingit*

          That is completely ridiculous. As a practicing therapist, I know clients are lying. This is why I will ask certain questions in certain ways that will often get to the truth, but not always. And that’s OK. Therapy is like exercise – you get out of it what you put in it.

      3. Anon for this*

        You are right, that is no way to live. And anyone who would attack you for that probably has not lived with it.

        I had a roommate for 2 months who was nowhere near as bad as yours, but had just been released from a 3 week inpatient stay. I met her via my new therapist; I was new to town, he was also her therapist, I needed a place to live and I think he thought that we could both keep an eye on each other living together. This was the only bad piece of advice he ever gave me. The roommate had no idea about boundaries. She also would threaten suicide at the drop of a hat. My final straw was when she moved in another person, permanently, without talking to me and without renegotiating the financial arrangements.

        I got to observe a number of psychiatric patients while undergoing treatment myself. Yes, some would lie to their doctors and under use/over use their medications. They were in and out of the hospital on a regular basis. It was a game to them. Which playing that type of game is an illness, a serious one. But the folks I’m talking about were not psychotic. They could be master manipulators and at some level they knew what they were doing. I have ultimate respect for the professionals who try to work with them. But I’m not a psychiatric professional. No, not living with that again.

    5. LizB*

      No “horror stories” here either, just bad fits… but it’s amazing how frustrating a bad fit can be when you’re sharing living space.

      One roommate didn’t like me much, and wouldn’t talk to me unless she absolutely had to. If she wanted to ask me to do something, she would leave a passive-aggressive post it note about it even if I was in my room at the time she left the note. She also refused to ever put the thermostat above 65ºF — which seems totally reasonable with no context, but our house was incredibly old and poorly insulated and we were in the midst of a harsh MN winter. When the thermostat was at 65ºF, my bedroom was at about 50ºF. I piled on the sweaters and socks and blankets and drank lots of hot tea, but eventually had to cave and get a space heater.

      Another roommate was just… kooky. She had never rented before, and initially kept trying to get our landlords to a) do things we were responsible for like changing lightbulbs and b) give her permission to make big changes to the space — putting up shelves, taking the screen door off its hinges, etc. She borrowed my kitchen equipment and lent it out to her friends for undetermined amounts of time — in one case, it ended up being literally eight months because she kept forgetting to get it back. She decided arbitrarily that she was going to clean the bathroom and kitchen on a regular basis, and would therefore not have to pay utilities… my other roommate and I were displeased, especially since she cleaned the bathroom like once, and tried to not pay utilities for months after that. Also she bought a 60-pack of the most horrendous one-ply toilet paper I have ever encountered in my life. I nearly cried with relief when we finished it.

      1. Pokebunny*

        I sometimes fear that I do passive-aggressive stuffs. I try very hard not to. For example, as I mentioned above, turning the fan on and opening the door. I try not to do it when he’s around, but sometimes he hangs around my space and I’m like “please go please go please go so I can turn on the fan”. lol.

        1. LizB*

          I think that’s probably fine — the passive-aggressive thing to do would be to ostentatiously open the door and blast the fan while shooting him dirty looks, then insist everything is fine if he asks. I actually think it would be fine to turn the fan on while he’s there, as long as it’s located in your space, or to open your bedroom window or something.

    6. Cath in Canada*

      I once lived with two friends who had some kind of mysterious falling out. I was still friends with both of them, but they couldn’t really be in the same room as each other any more. Luckily they were into totally different things and also had very different schedules, so I could make dinner and watch the X-Files with one friend then make breakfast and play a board game with the other friend the next morning. We made that work for about another year before we all graduated and left town.

      Later, I lived with a couple who were in their early 20s (I was new in town and took the first place I could find). Predictably, they broke up and started to bring home their rebound dates, and there were massive fights all the time. I moved out as fast as I possibly could!

    7. LisaLee*

      I keep having the bad luck to wind up with roommates who don’t actually like living with other people. I’m very much a communal person–I like cooking for others, and sharing chores, and having company–and these people were NOT. Highlights:

      -The roommate who left passive-aggressive sticky notes whenever I touched a spoon that was HER spoon and not MY spoon or moved the cumin or whatever.

      -The college roommate who decided that the living room was her personal space and would take it over for 6+ hours at a time whilst demanding perfect silence because she couldn’t concentrate otherwise. Once when I was trying to make dinner I suggested she study in her room and she huffed, “No, THIS is where I study!”

      -The roommate who was incapable of cleaning up after herself and once left a pot full of soup on the stove for a whole week until it stank and grew mold. When confronted, she said, “But you left a spoon in the sink yesterday! You need to take responsibility for yourself too!”


      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’m very a very communal person, as well. Fortunately, I’ve had the good luck that all my roommates have been, too. Not that there weren’t ever minor issues regarding one another’s preferences around schedules, cleanliness, etc. to be ironed out, but I’ve never had a roommate who wasn’t cooperative and eager to get along in a roommate situation. I’ve heard some doozies about former roommates from my husband, though. One guy moved his girlfriend in, then they got a secret phone that they kept in their bedroom. Whenever my husband would ask if there was phone service and offer to go in on it with them, they’d lie and say there was no service, but he could still hear phone conversations (not to mention the phone ringing) coming from the bedroom. So weird that they would hide that!

    8. Lizzie*

      One of my college roommates my junior year thought George Zimmerman was a hero and wanted to buy a gun to keep in our (university-owned, no-weapons-allowed) apartment. I let her know that it made me uncomfortable and that it was definitely against our housing policy, and she responded by laughing at me and putting a calendar of concealed carry courses on our refrigerator. I requested a relocation immediately.

      In my first apartment not owned by a university, I lived with two other girls in a house where the homeowner drew up individual leases for each bedroom. Girls who would frequently climb out onto the roof to party with their friends. Right above my bedroom. Until 3:00AM. I slept in my car on more than one occasion, and I did not renew my lease.

    9. KD*

      I’m not much of a people person in general but of the 10 roommates I’ve had before my husband I liked 1, and somehow tolerated the rest until the lease was up. So like the others not really horror stories but poor fits. Of course I think I’m just hard to live with in general.

      Most memorably:

      – the woman who routinely set the electric stove on fire when trying to cook and had such rediculous fights with her boyfriend that the other roommates and I had to help fix the walls to get our deposits back.

      – the one who insisted on acting like a dumb blonde to attract boys when she was in fact at the top of her class in a very competitive nursing program. She also asked my husband (boyfriend at the time) why a guy as cool as him was dating someone like me and was surprised that it offended me.

      – the creepy antisocial twins. They played the same sport for our college team, took all the same classes, and as far as I can tell never acted independently. I made the mistake of coming home while they were baking and they literally abandoned their muffins so they didn’t have interact with me in the common area. I lived with them for 9 months and I don’t think we had more than 4 conversations the whole time.

      1. LisaLee*

        Omg, the roommates who can’t cook. I once lived with a girl who acted like she was an 8-year-old in a 20-year-old skin suit. She had to call her mom for EVERYTHING–how to do laundry, how to cook this or that, whether the vacuum was supposed to make that noise. She would literally go over every item of clothing, read the tag to her mother, and her mother would tell her what pile to put it in. She’d already been living on her for several years at this point, so I’m at a loss as to how she still didn’t know how to do laundry.

        One day I came home and she was standing in front of the stove watching a pot of pasta boil over. I took it off the burner and lowered the heat, and she said, “Oh! I didn’t know you could do that!”

        Nice girl, not particularly bright.

    10. Meliora*

      Well, there are a few. The one who sleepwalking while crying/sceaming. There was the alcoholic that drank my high school graduation gift (port from the year I was born) with his buddies while I was out of town.

      Last year my husband was trying to make extra money and was trading work for crash space to a couple desperate cases that ended up getting drunk/ beating eachother/calling the police. Luckily the worst of it happened after my daughter and I moved out. (He moved out too but kept paying rent at that place because it was absurdly cheap and he thought he could do work out of there.) I was way skeeved from the outset.
      Then there was the “escort” that bragged about scamming her clients and who brought a coworker and her boyfriend over to stay with no notice til she could make enough $ to go back to her hotel room. Within a month the boyfriend robbed a bank and shot someone.
      That same roommate bought cases of apricots to make preserves but in the middle of the project left for a road trip and didn’t come back for 2 weeks. She had cats too (in 2 attic rooms) who we found out when they left never had a litter box. Just a very disgusting blanket that she left the rest of us to clean up with about 8 other bags of gross trash. She did at least have the most tragic upbringing I have ever heard of, not that she gets a pass on her life choices.

    11. Sunflower*

      Oh roommates- I had 2 different roommates, in diff apartments, who were so similar. They both had eating disorders and a slew of personal problems which they coped for by binge drinking(and inevitably eating) on the weekends and then spending the whole next week beating themselves up internally for it. Neither of them understood the concept of casual drinking/having a glass of wine to unwind and somehow I was the one who got the side eye for my ‘drinking habits’.

      Not sure what advice to give since I have to admit I’m guilty of being your roommate from time to time whoops- although the water thing is weird.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve had the worst luck with roommates. I’d rather live in a two-room flat by myself than a whole house with roommates (significant others not withstanding).

      –My first dorm mate, who liked heavy metal music and was so homesick she cried every day for a month until she finally ended up quitting and moving back home. (I did feel kind of sorry for her; she wasn’t bad, just not ready for college.)

      –The roommates who asked me to move into this great house with them and later ganged up on me and harassed me into leaving so they could move in another friend of theirs.

      –The cool older friend who moved me in when his roommates married and moved out, and who liked to put on pay-per-view pr0n and just leave it running as background noise and then not pay for it (causing our cable to get cancelled on a regular basis), got a big black scorpion for a pet, and then finally stopped paying rent altogether.

    13. Amy*

      I’ve been lucky considering how many roommates I’ve had, but the worst was a French girl I lived with last year who wouldn’t let me eat, shower, walk around or have my bedroom light on after 9.3opm. She even got annoyed if I flushed or ran the taps. We were sharing an apartment, not a room, and I didn’t finish work until 10pm some nights… so she expected that either I went to bed hungry, or got takeout on the way home multiple times a week and ate it in the dark. (I got my revenge by secretly eating her cookies.)

      She would also turn off the boiler in winter so that she could dry her hair (dodgy Italian electrics) in the bathroom where ~~~the light was better than her room~~~ and not bother to turn it back on before going out, so it would take 8+ hours to reheat. Cold showers + no indoor heating for several months = p-d off, sick roommates who all hated her.

    14. Pokebunny*

      Oh god, he just reminded me of another one.

      Whistling. Compulsive whistling. Good lord. It’s not even any type of melody that I can tell, it’s just a long drawn-out monotonous whistling. It’s his substitute for “I’m not in a talking mood now”.

    15. mondegreen*

      I’ve been lucky so far. I lived with one girl who hit the snooze button for 2+ hours every day, but I was usually gone before the first alarm went off. Another left passive-aggressive notes and always kept her door closed.

      Another had her boyfriend gradually move in starting ~3 months into a year-long lease. He didn’t pay rent and liked to walk around in tighty whities. It was very much a “camel’s nose in the tent” thing: I was appropriately social during day visits, said I was totally fine with him staying over for a holiday weekend because I wanted to be the Cool Roommate, then sucked it up when it became every weekend and most weekday evenings. By the time he grew roots on the couch, I felt like my window of opportunity to complain had passed. Luckily, the rent-paying half broke up with him by late spring.

  15. Jasmine*

    In the spirit of Valentines Day, I’d like some insight on an issue I’m facing. My boyfriend and I have been dating for 5 years and have been living together for the past two years. He’s proven himself to be one of the laziest people I know. Apparently asking him to do any type of chore around the house is out of the question. At first I gave him the benefit of the doubt considering his job is very demanding but as you can tell, I’ve run out of patience. I’ve tried to express to him that I am not his mother but he insists that this is part of who he is. My frustrations have taken a toll on the relationship and i’d like to know if theres any way this can be salvaged.

    1. Laura*

      If he wanted to change he could totally salvage things but it sounds like he has been given many opportunities and declined them.

    2. newreader*

      Unfortunately, you can’t change him if this is the way he wants to be. What you can do is decide if the other aspects of the relationship outweigh this negative. Are you okay with always being the one to do chores or can you afford to hire a housekeeper weekly or biweekly to get some of the chores done? But know that if this is the way he’s been long-term, he isn’t going to change.

      One way to look at relationships is that each person brings their strengths and weaknesses to the partnership. In some cases, those can complement or offset each other. For example, I never open the hood of the cars to try to fix anything and my husband never attempts to balance the checkbook. Over time we’ve determined a distribution of tasks that generally works for us.

    3. Myrin*

      Ooooh, I’m sorry to say that but him saying that this is just “who he is” is a big red flag. I could go on a rant here, but I’ll just link to this and maybe also this very recent Captain Awkward discussion (I’m almost sure there are more relating to that topic but I can’t find them right now). I’m sorry you’re dealing with this and wish you all the best!

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      He insists this is part of who he is? Maybe you can say, “Not doing all the work of maintaining a household of two people is part of who I am. How should we resolve this?”

    5. fposte*

      Sorry, Jasmine; I’m with Laura. Whether he’s put the math together this way in his head or not, what he’s saying is that you are not worth cleaning up for. I think you deserve somebody who thinks better of you than that.

      I don’t think chore division is magic with anybody, and honestly, even really well-meaning people, especially guy people, can slack on their obligations there. But somebody invested in the partnership doesn’t say “Too bad, so sad, suck it up” when that’s pointed out; they say, “Crap, you’re right, I’ll try to be better on this.”

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        A few weeks ago, a friend posted a link to this blog on Facebook. I spent most of that night reading all the volumes of “An Open Letter to Shitty Husbands.” He’s very honest about the fact that he was the guy who is like your guy. He didn’t think he was being shitty, even though he was. He chose repeatedly to emotionally abandon his wife, dismiss her concerns as “that time of the month” or she was just being irrational and ignore her pleas for help… and then she left him and he was completely blindsided that it happened.

        Jasmine, if you can get your boyfriend to read it, great. If not, leave this link up and open on your computer, or his if you don’t share one.


        In the meantime, I would suggest that you start saving money for your own place. Put together all the stuff you need to get out. If he’s not willing to change, then he’s not and you should leave him to wallow in his own mess. This arrangement works *fabulously* for him because he doesn’t have to do a thing and his laundry gets done, there’s food in the kitchen, the shower is clean when he wants to use it. He feels well cared for. He just doesn’t get that you do not and that you have never seen it as your life’s purpose to care for a grown ass man like he’s five.

        You don’t have children with this man (or at least you don’t mention if you do) and that means you can make a clean break. Don’t have kids with him, they’ll be just more things you have to do that he doesn’t help with.

        1. fposte*

          There’s that great statement by the marriage researcher John Gottman, who says that men come in with pride saying “I’m not going to touch a dirty dish; that’s women’s work” and then come back in two years and say, “Why won’t my wife have sex with me anymore?”

          1. Windchime*

            So true. My ex was awful to me during the day; he would alternate between refusing to talk to me for days on end and talking to me with scorn and contempt. And then was honestly confused when I didn’t want to have sex with him.

        2. Marcela*

          Yes, I read this blog (I also spent several days reading it) and it was a small epiphany. I am lucky enough that my husband is the son of someone like Jasmine. I’ve told here that my FIL is nothing short of a beast. So my husband does his part in our house, and for example he is the one cooking and shopping for food, something that disturbs my mom immensely.

          But the blog exposed some mechanism of relationship that I wasn’t aware before. We were friends a long time before being a couple, and from there we knew it was impossible to agree in everything. This reminds me of a fight I had with another Chilean researcher once, when I expressed a different opinion from my husband’s. He told me how could I think that, if my husband thought differently. I told him it was impossible we would think the same all the time, since for starters I like men and he likes women. The research was so offended he stopped talking to me for several months.

          What I am trying to say is that the blog showed me that our commitment to always consider that the other is different and what we say is truthful (so we are not trying to manipulate each other, and that if he says he needs me to do X, that’s exactly what he means) could be the reason we are happy, and something we need to protect at all costs. We have it in our wedding bands, it says “we are one, but we are not the same” (in Spanish is shorter, :D).

          It was a powerful read, even for my husband.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Which is what I’ve been doing ;) I swear I have had those arguments. I have seen other people go through those arguments. I have had girlfriends complain about their husbands’ exact same behaviour/attitude — whether it’s a dish in the sink or dropping their clothes everywhere and then just not seeing it. Or the dismissive “it’s not important/why are you getting so bent out of shape?”

            What that guy needs to do next is write a post on how to talk to a shitty husband so that you can get your point across. Is there a formula or procedure? Are there special words that will penetrate the darkness?

    6. Jen RO*

      I am the lazy one in my relationship… and our solution was to get a cleaning lady. It’s made life so much easier.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Yeah, we aren’t there yet, but I’m definitely the lazier one in my relationship, and I just don’t really care if there are dishes in the sink, some piles of stuff around, etc. My partner is pretty good about it; he does dishes because he cares more about how many dishes we have in the sink than I do. I want a cleaning service but neither of us are sure we’re interested in the money trade-offs yet…

    7. Nella*

      He is probably not going to change after this amount of time. I’d it is a deal breaker then maybe it is time to move on. It is a hard step buto lots of us have done it including myself.

      1. GovWorker*

        I would not break up over housekeeping. I would hire a service, they are not just for rich people anymore.

        1. neverjaunty*

          But she’s not breaking up over housekeeping. She’s breaking up over his laziness and contempt for her.

          If your SO is like that, a cleaning service is a band-aid over a sucking chest wound.

    8. AcidMeFlux*

      At the age of 60 I have to say that the biggest regret of my life is that I put up with someone like this for 7 years. “I just don’t see the dirt….I have different standards of tidy….why are you so uptight about conventional ideas of housekeeping…” Ugh. And the worst thing was that he worked at a health care/social services job and worked his butt off…at work. Because THAT was important. And the home wasn’t.

      He finally left me for a spoiled, neurotic woman who treated him like he treated me. That was satisfying, but damn, I wish I’d wised up sooner.

    9. Elkay*

      You don’t have to live together to be in a relationship. If it would make you happier to maintain separate households then do that.

    10. Gene*

      This is probably just how he is, I’m a lot that way.

      But you need to be sure you’re not giving mixed signals. One of the things I deal with with SWMBO is “Can you do x?” So I start doing x and she says, “I didn’t mean you need to do it now.” Buy if I don’t do xx right then, I get, “When are you going to do x?”

      1. nep*

        OP’s case sounds to me more like a lack of respect. When one partner is just fine with letting the other tend to all household chores, there’s something a lot more wrong than simply what signals one is sending out.

        1. The Little Prince(ess)*

          Yes, it’s an imbalance. And it’s unfair. You should be partners in making a home and life together.

    11. The Cosmic Avenger*

      He has a different comfort level with dirt, apparently. (I’m assuming that based on the fact that you didn’t mention him asking, begging, or demanding that you clean; that’s a different kind of problem, IMO.) More importantly, he doesn’t care what is important to you, as he not only doesn’t want what you want, but doesn’t care if you get what you want. There are some things my wife likes that I am not crazy about or even dislike, but I will sometimes participate in them to some extent if it makes her happy.

      It’s not so much about the cleaning as it is his unwillingness to compromise or find a solution that you both can live with.

      1. Dan*

        I think your phrasing is a little strong, but I’d argue because they are not married, he has less obligation to change. He’d made clear who he is, its up to the op to decide what to do.

        If his position is, “if I have to clean every day to a standard thats above my preference level, then this is not a relationship I want to be in” then so be it.

        1. Marcela*

          I don’t get that because they are not married, he has less obligation to change, an argument my mom has told me all our life together. I mean, I’ve seen my dad refusing not only to get involved in the house chores, but also our care when we were children, and now that he is retired, refusing to wear old or damaged clothes to paint, for example, wearing instead his good clothes (which get immediately ruined). And I know he thinks he doesn’t need to change or that he did wrong, precisely because he was married in a country where there was no divorce until 10 years ago. Nothing will happen to him if he does wrong. Hell, he even had another family and 3 more children and nothing happened to him. So I always wonder how this “I am married, therefore I feel more committed” works. For me it’s never been this way.

    12. nep*

      I would always interpret: ‘This is part of who I am’ as ‘I don’t want to change this about myself, even for you’. As newreader says, looks like you’ve got to decide whether the negatives outweigh the positives or vice versa.

    13. BRR*

      Honestly it does t sound like he’s going to change. If this is your only issue I’d hire someone to come clean your house.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      You may have answered your own question, when you say your frustrations have taken a toll.

      Sometimes personal habits combined with certain responses make respect go down the drain. Only you know how much respect you have left for the guy.
      It can be exhausting to live with someone who is not on the same page with you and does not even try to get there. But just as you are tired of him not picking up after himself/cleaning/etc, he may be tired of you asking about it.
      He’s telling you this will not change. So the ball is in your court. Is this what you want the rest of your life to look like?
      My friend has been married for decades. Her hubby never did do much around the house. One day the basement had several inches of water. She told him who to call and then she had to go to work. She came home and the basement was still full of water. He never called anyone.

      Not sure if you are thinking of your bf as a potential life partner. But a good starting point would be to think does he keep you and those around you both safe? Can he be relied on when there is a difficult problem to solve?

    15. Maybe Tomorrow*

      Listen to him when he tells you that this is who he is. He is perfectly fine being lazy and isnt going to change.

    16. TootsNYC*

      I’m the lazy one in my relationship (I’m the woman); my DH does the vast majority of the chores.

      And we hired a cleaning service.

      HOWEVER: should my husband say, “Would you clean the cat box tonight?” or “weren’t you going to do laundry?” or “could you pick up your shoes,” I say, “ooh, sorry, yes, I’ll do it.”

      I don’t say, “this is who I am, you just need to live with it.”

      I was reading a big metafilter list of stuff on “emotional labor,” and realized that I’m really being unfair to my DH; I need to step it up.

      Your guy doesn’t even think he’s unfair when you bring it up!

      If you’re at the point that you’re actually asking if it can be salvaged, I’d say: cut your losses.
      Who wants a long-term relationship with someone that lazy?

      It’s one thing to say, “I don’t do the car; but I’ll always do the checkbook.”
      And it’s also a different thing to say, “I hate cleaning, please can we just get a cleaning lady?”
      But if asking him to do “any type of chore” is “out of the question”?
      That’s someone who wants to benefit from your work without having to put anything in himself.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        That’s someone who wants to benefit from your work without having to put anything in himself.

        Yup. And that attitude’s going to trickle down to other areas in the relationship besides household chores.

    17. Artemesia*

      Run like you are being chased by Godzilla. This will not change; part of ‘who he is’ is being a user who expects women to serve him. You are looking at the rest of your life. He is telling you ‘who he is’ — believe him. And as someone who wasted 5 years of her life on my first marriage, don’t think of the 5 years you have in, but the next 50. It only get harder the more time goes by. Imagine raising kids with someone like this? Imagine decades of being the household drudge.

    18. KD*

      If you want to salvage your relationship I’d recommend asking your self the following questions:

      1) Am I upset because he doesn’t do chores or is there something else going on? Compounding problems can lead to directing energy into the easiest target even if that won’t resolve the primary issue.

      2) Is your current arrangement equitable? What about from his perspective? If one partner feels they are contributing more than the other their household contributions may decrease or they may become resentful. (Right?) If you can argue logically that he is doing less for the unit it may encourage him to step up. Or you may find he always plans to put in only 30%. But at least you’ll know.

      3) Is he trying even if things aren’t done to the standard you have for an effort? And have you clearly expressed your expectations? For instance my husband thought cleaning the bathroom ment wiping down the counter and mirrors but after clarifying that I also expected the toilet and shower scrubbed he has been following through with those items. Is he through? Nope but I’ll take what I can get because he is trying.

      4) Is this a battle worth fighting? Would you be happy if you won and he started doing chores or are you going to feel guilty about forcing them on him and end up doing most of the chores yourself anyhow? Are you committed enough to stick it out even if you lose the fight and he never washed another plate for the rest of your relationship? If you don’t know what you stand to gain or lose from this disagreement you can’t decide how to move forward.

      On a more general relationship note. (Since you’ve got so many suggestions to bail) Love is not enough. If you don’t like your significant other at least 80% of the time it’s time to move on. Who wants to spend more than 20% of the rest of their life around someone they don’t like?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        A person who can’t compromise or can’t see a different perspective is not life partner material to me.

    19. Hlyssande*

      Your frustration is not taking a toll on the relationship. His lack of respect for you is what’s taking a toll.

  16. Tris Prior*

    Tips on avoiding a black eye?

    I tripped and fell face first into a piece of furniture, hitting my eyebrow and my cheekbone. Each of which has a small cut. And it’s starting to puff up. :(

    I had to go in to work (retail) immediately after, and I’ve been trying to ice it in between customers. But it’s been a pretty steady flow of people so I haven’t been able to do it much. (and it’s super fun to ice when it’s freezing cold in the store. :( )

    Does arnica gel help? Any other thoughts?

    1. Athena C*

      Baby oil. Just keep it in your house and your purse (small travel thing) and whenever you hit yourself, immediately rub baby oil on it. Even now, it’ll help reduce the swelling. My mom hit herself when she was taking her seat down in her van, rubbed baby oil on it within ten minutes, and never even got a black eye.

      1. Tris Prior*

        Really? huh. I did not know that! I will pick some up after my shift is over. (only 3 more hours… :( )

      2. Cristina in England*

        Maybe it was the rubbing that prevented the black eye, not the baby oil itself. When I get blood taken I always press really firmly on my bandage after they finish because the pressure stops the bleeding.

        1. Treena*

          Yes! I give myself injections and I push really firmly over the bandage and make circular motions for a good 30 seconds. It makes for a much smaller bruise.

        2. Athena C*

          Maybe, but the baby oil doesn’t hurt. I can dab it on little bruises (no rubbing), and it helps with the swelling and everything.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      White willow bark will help with swelling and bruising. You can get it at a health food store or sometimes in the vitamin aisle at a larger grocery store. It’s the natural equivalent of aspirin. However, it’s very good on reducing swelling. When the swelling goes down so does the pain and bruising. Don’t waste money on the double strength. It wouldn’t gain you that much and it will cost a lot more.
      It also works great on sinus headaches, again, because it works on swelling. I gave some to a friend who broke her little toe and could not get a shoe on. She said she could see a difference within 24 hours.

    3. LCL*

      Well, it’s your body and I’m not there to see the injuries, and they don’t sound like they bother you too much, but I gotta say it anyway. Consider a trip to a doctor or other medical person, who can advise if the facial cuts should be stitched, and if you broke any facial bones, and maybe give you something for the swelling. And check for signs of concussion. Hope it’s all minor and you heal fast. And if you have a male partner, be understanding if he won’t go to public places or see your relatives with you until you are less colorful.

      1. Tris Prior*

        Ha, he was trying to get me to go out to breakfast with him this morning. And when I declined on account of not being fit for public viewing – and mentioned that everyone’s going to think he beats me – he said he didn’t care what people think, he knows he doesn’t beat me. OK then! Meanwhile, my friend told me that people were going to be surreptitiously passing me battered women’s shelter cards on the train. :(

        I am not badly hurt – the cuts are tiny and it doesn’t hurt much. I don’t even have a headache which I was certain I’d get. It just looks gross and colorful. I’m really pale so the least bit of bruising really stands out like a beacon. :/

        Ugh, I hope this is gone before I start my new job.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I walked into a door and did this to myself once. No fun. I hope it gets better soon. Even though you haven’t been able to ice it consistently, even a little bit should help.

    5. Caffeine Free*

      This is late, but arnica works wonders! But it needs to be used right away. When used right away, it prevents me from bruising, which says a lot since if you poke me I bruise.

  17. LibLady*

    Recently on a weekend thread, I think, someone recommended a newspaper article about back pain and exercise. I lost the link and really wanted to share it with my husband who is experiencing serious back issues. I think it was a NYTimes article.

    Can anyone help point me to that article again? Many thanks.

    1. fposte*

      I think danr posted it; I sent it to a friend so I can find it pretty easily. I’ll post it in a followup.

  18. Nicole*

    Can anyone provide tips to avoid lower back pain in the morning? In the past year I’ve woken up in pain nearly every morning. At first I thought our mattress was to blame, so we bought a new one, yet it persists. I’ve also tried the pillow between the knees with no improvement. Some days the pain is so bad that I have a hard time getting out of bed. It tends to go away within an hour, though. Please help; I’m too young for this! :)

    1. JW*

      This sort of goes with the topic above on exercise and back pain.

      I’ve noticed in the last few months when work stress has increased (=sitting a LOT at a very unergonomic desk with a crap chair), its been dark and cold (=sitting at home a LOT), my hip flexors have gotten very sore and, as they are connected to muscles in the back, as a result my lower back has been quite achy. I’ve also wondered if it wasn’t this mattress topper we have (still side-eyeing that thing…), but I’ve also noticed that when we have been on vacation and not sitting at desks as much etc, the pain has disappeared.

      Are you sitting a lot during the day? Do you have any sort of exercise or stretching regime to get the muscles moving? Today I did a kettlebell session before practice (not having done my normal exercise group for some weeks) and even though we were doing something I was worried would strain my lower back, which wasn’t feeling well to begin with this morning, it actually helped open things up a bit. Though now I have really sore legs :/

      At any rate, it really opened my eyes as to just how much I’ve been sitting, poor posture, and the toll its starting to take on my body. Never had these issues before and I’m starting to get fed up with it (my buddy at work has also been having lower back pain).

      1. Nicole*

        I exercise on my elliptical machine 20-45 minutes most days and it seems my back pain is worse the following mornings after I’ve exercised. I do sit a lot between work and hanging out at home, but like you, still never had these problems before. I know my posture could be much better, but when I tried correcting it, my back hurt even worse! Perhaps I had to keep doing it for longer, however.

        You may be onto something with the mattress topper. We bought one of those memory foam ones for the old mattress and put it on the new mattress because it felt too firm (it was a terrible purchase I regret because the bed we tested in the store felt nothing like what we got even though the models are/were identical). The problem is without the topper the bed is too uncomfortable. I’m just so frustrated!

        1. fposte*

          If you have patience with knowledgeable curmudgeons, there is an excellent bed blog that you might find worth looking at at oldbedguy dot com. He has years in the business and doesn’t think a lot of most mattress stores, and he includes a ton of information. Read the comments and his responses as well as his original entries. He’s kind of a cranky but well-informed grandpa, in that he’ll smack a commenter down for not asking the right way but answer the question anyway :-).

    2. Elkay*

      Does it make a difference if you’re on your front or your back? I had real problems if I woke up lying on my front and the physio gave me some exercises to do 2-3 times a day which really helped. Both are lying flat on my back one is pulling my knees all the way into my chest and pulsing them into my chest, the other is putting my feet flat on the floor and rocking my knees side to side (not dropping them to the floor).

      1. Nicole*

        I never sleep on my front, and when I do sleep on my back the pain tends to be worse. I primarily sleep on my side. I’ll look into those exercises, thank you!

    3. fposte*

      1) it could be you didn’t buy a great mattress (and did you buy a new foundation rather than putting it on the old one?)

      2) it could be that you’ve got tension/issues from the rest of your day that come to the fore in the morning, since that’s when we’re generally stiffer and dryer.

      I would investigate 2) by going to a doctor or PT. And get a new foundation if I didn’t when I got the mattress :-).

      1. Nicole*

        Yes, we did replace the foundation at the same time. We seriously regret buying a bed from a regular mattress store and not at least trying a bed in a box (like Casper) since a) they are cheaper and b) we could have returned it for a full refund. The sad part? We looked at many stores even though we both hate shopping for a mattress, dealt with more than one pushy salesman, went back and forth three times between a few models that we liked the most, read reviews online, and yet still ended up with a “crappy” bed. It’s so frustrating!

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I’m doing the shop this year, and I’m not enjoying it.

          But I also think it’s quite likely that your pain is not being caused by the bed; it’s just that the bed may be able to help more than it is.

        2. Milly*

          Have you tried sleeping with pillow between hour legs when you’re on your side? I find this excellent when I have lower back pain.

        3. KD*

          We did the whole bed shopping thing this past year. And the first choice my husband loved but I have chronic back pain related to skeletal problems the nice soft bed made for 24 very bad mornings before I sent it back and paid the insane restocking fee. Then we went with a stiff memory foam bed and it has been worth every penny (and it cost a lot of pennies). It’s not as soft as he would like but it’s absolutely essential for me to support for my back. Your bed may just need to be broken in a little. And if not don’t spend the next 10 years on a crappy mattress.

          Also, if you are using the wrong pillow no bed is going to help. Find a store that will let you rent pillows and try out several to see which properly aligns your spine with how far you sink into your bed.

          1. Nicole*

            I had no idea you could rent pillows! I am definitely going to look into this.

            I also read your comment about not spending the next 10 years on a crappy mattress to my husband because he tends not to want to replace something that isn’t all out broken. I can be that way to a certain degree as well, but in this case if the mattress is making us uncomfortable, we’re going to have to replace it sooner rather than later regardless of how much it cost (and trust me, it wasn’t cheap).

        4. Rubyrose*

          I did my shopping last year. You know the matresses that you can adjust on the fly via an air pump (sleep number)? Got one, and yes it is expensive. But well worth it. My lower back problems kicked in after having it for nine months. All I had to do was increase that number by 15 and my back was happy again.

          1. KD*

            This is actually the bed my husband and I sent back. Before anyone buys a sleep number bed I highly recommend trying a $20 air mattress first. If it gives you the support you need then sleep number is for you. If it doesn’t… Well sleep number is a VERY nice air mattress but will provide the same support as the $20 one. I know a number of people who are very happy with this bed but it didn’t work for me.

            1. Nicole*

              We considered a sleep number as well but couldn’t get past the idea that it’s just a very expensive air mattress. On top of that, I was concerned the sound of the motor adjusting the air would disturb me since I’m such a light sleeper. And finally, the idea of having to replace any parts that stopped working turned into us thinking “we don’t want to maintain the mattress like it’s a car!” and we decided it wasn’t worth the hassle.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. This could be anything. Constipation would cause lower back pain in the morning- even mild constipation. One time I had problems with my gall bladder and it sounds just like what you say here.
      You could just need a chiropractic adjustment.
      Annoyingly, my mattress is more comfy if I drink less coffee during the day. :(
      Try the simpler/cheaper things first. Go one at a time so you can figure out if it’s working or not.

    5. some_guy*

      When you sleep, you’re lying down for 8 hours so all the fluid in your discs settles near the bottom and makes your spine sensitive. After an hour of being awake and upright, the fluid is distributed normally again so you feel better.

      Not sure if I’m allowed to link to other blogs here but if you search “stuart mcgill sleep taller” or something, you’ll find articles by him (Dr. Stuart McGill, well known spinal health researcher). Also he has tons of material on how to cure back pain, so check him out and maybe it can help.

      It could be you have a mild disc herniation (its fairly common – herniated discs aren’t all-or-nothing crippling injuries).

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I just got his new book! He’s the mentor of the orthopedic chiropractor I saw, who’s one of of The Gait Guys.

    6. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

      I had horrible lower back pain for years while sleeping. I couldn’t sleep more than 6 hours at a time, even if I was sick. I’d have to get up and sleep upright on the couch. One adjustment with a chiropractor and the pain was gone. Not exaggerating either.

    7. Artemesia*

      Experiment with using a pillow to prop a leg — a sort of side sprawl with the top leg flexed and supported on a pillow will help backstrain for some people. If that doesn’t work experiment with other postures.

  19. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Today, I had a rather pleasant conversation with the mom who (I feel) purposefully scheduled her church dinner all night Valentine’s day and wanted me to help out and stay overnight/play Cinderella so there’d be zero chance of me spending it with my bf she detests. Funny, she asked if I had plans, like she prefers I stay alone and unhappy on Vday and I told her so. I said there were many types of Valentines out there–tall, polka-dotted, dinosaur print. ‘No’ she replied. “I just want you to be with the right type of Valentine.” (*Read: her right type on her terms).

    (But, we/bf and I celebrated with a concert hall performance, dinner, my favorite candy. Yay!!! And days early too).

    ProTip Trick: Be as vague as possible with plans with the bf, focus all attention on mom, and sound like a workaholic cat lady woefully clueless about the male species. (Then do the exact opposite in reality).

    Also, bf’s mom sympathizes with me tg. I told bf that if my mom refuses to acknowledge us as a couple now, what happens when we have kids (ie. Your little teapots don’t exist b/c your husband doesn’t exist b/c I disapprove of your union/happness that wasn’t on my terms). But hey, that might actually be a blessing in disguise lol.

    1. danr*

      Kids change a lot. My mother hated my sister’s husband, but once the first grandkid arrived, she became civil. Which was quite an improvement.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Of course she prefers it if you stay alone and unhappy on V-day… because then you can spend it with her.

      One of the things I have had to un-learn is about love. When I was growing up, my mother made me feel like there was only so much love in the world. Like it was a pie that got divvied up. If my sister was getting more attention, that meant I was getting less. I don’t think my mother ever seriously considered that the more people you love, the more love you have. Your mother wants you to choose her. She hates your BF in part because you are taking love away from her (and attention, but that’s another story). You aren’t really, but I would bet that that is the way she feels. She would never say that because she lives in this world where she is the Perfect Mother. Living your life for you isn’t taking it away from you, it’s making sure it goes “right.”

      Frankly, if you haven’t already, you should read Raised by Narcissists on Reddit for a few months. You’ll see the kind of tricks N-parents pull around weddings and grandchildren. There was one story on there that totally blew my mind where the mother demanded her daughter hand over her newborn baby so that she could nurse him. Yeah. Think about it. Grandmother attempting to nurse her grandkid. That’s a Nope to infinity +1

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        +1. Whole new cosmos of nmom there. I do read nmom on occasion, to give myself perspective (ie could be worse/count blessings). Also, not too often or else it’s trigger material (dredges up nightmare childhood memories)

  20. Trixie*

    New insurance cards arrived in the mail yesterday. Bring on the check-ups! Eyes, ears, teeth, cholesterol, annual, mammogram. And I’d love MRI to see if you can indeed do too much yoga.

    1. danr*

      Different needle, different reason. Good luck and I hope the diagnosis tells the doc what is happening.

    2. Nella*

      The more tattoos a person has the greater their fear of needles. This is especialk g true when the person in front of me is a big burly coveted in tattoo man that looks like they can crush pop cans with their eyelids.

    3. lulu*

      Hey MJ, (fellow kiwi here!) I had my first lumbar puncture about 18 months ago to diagnose MS, and while they aren’t what I would classify as fun it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I think sometimes half the stress is around having to be diagnosed for something and knowing that all is not right. Best of luck!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Psycho Kitty makes the same face. It’s like, “Oh please please please tell me that crinkling is the treat bag!” or “Nonononono come back out and pet meeeeeeeee so I can rip your hand off!”

  21. nep*

    My normally very healthy 15-year-old cat stopped eating and drinking earlier this week. Just. Stopped. He was wasting away before our very eyes. Blood tests and x-rays showed no abnormalities. We were thinking if it continued the next step would be further diagnostic tests like ultrasound or something. I really thought I was going to wake up one morning and he’d be dead. (In fact I do hope that’s how he’ll go when it’s time — in his sleep as another cat we had did.) Anyway lo and behold the other day he started taking food and water again. Anyone out there seen this kind of thing?

    1. Sibley*

      Did you change food? New people in the house? People not there he was used to? Other animals? Rearrange furniture? Really, any sort of change that he’d object to.

      Sounds like your vet’s involved, but I believe older male cats are prone to bladder issues, and a cat who’s sick or in pain may refuse to eat. Hopefully that sort of thing was ruled out.

      1. nep*

        Thanks. I thought about that — I was wondering whether he’d just gotten fed up with being confined to the basement all day Mon through Fri while we take care of a relative’s toddler. In this space he does have a bed, his litter box, and his food and water (moved down from the normal place). And we do see him and pet him throughout the day, as the toddler goes down there to play. This is not a new situation (it’s been over a year) and he didn’t show any reaction when it first started. Still I did wonder about that. Thanks for your thoughts. He’s still eating and drinking — we’re just keeping a close eye on him. And I’m holding and petting him a lot. (Perhaps he just thought we were taking him for granted and wanted to wake us up.)

        1. Kristina L*

          When I was a kid, our German Shepherd seemed really sick. The vet checked out the dog and asked “Have any big changes happened lately?” My dad said “We had a new baby.” The vet said “That’s it. Just give the dog more attention.” Maybe your kitty had something like this, too.

      2. Noah*

        My parent’s have a cat that does this once a year or so. She’s 13 or 14 now (can’t remember). My mom will call me and say she thinks that Hannah is going to die because she’s moving slow and won’t eat. Then a week or two later she’s fine again. The vet has never been able to figure it out. He can’t find any issues besides the fact that she’s older.

    2. LawCat*

      This kind of thing went on with our cat for months (on and off eating). Switching to a different protein helped for a while. I learned cats are prone to inflammation in their intestines and a protein switch can help.

      However, the not eating came back with a vengeance in the fall. I’m sorry to say diagnostics revealed lymphoma. We had an ultrasound, which showed thickening of the intestines. (Blood tests had not been conclusive.) That could have been feline inflammatory bowel disease or lymphoma. We had to get a biopsy to be sure. It was lymphoma.

      We decided to treat him because he’s only 10 years old. He’s been on chemo, steroids, and anti nausea pills since and he has responded very well to treatment. If he’d been an elderly cat, I’m not sure we would have done the full course of diagnostics (biopsy was very expensive) since treatment, even if diagnosed, may not have done much to extend his life. The vets have been excellent in providing options and sensitive to the fact that these are hard decisions.

      The steroids don’t treat the lymphoma, but he would be taking those if we had decided not to do chemo because they do help alleviate the symptoms. Even if we had not done the biopsy to determine if lymphoma or inflammatory bowel disease, steroids can alleviate both.

      My fingers are crossed for you and your kitty!

      1. nep*

        Good to know. Thanks. Sorry you’ve had to deal with this with your kitty. Glad he’s responded well to treatment.

      2. Perse's Mom*

        Steroids are also an appetite stimulant, and it’s vital to keep them eating.

        Best of luck with your kitty – mine was much older when she went through the exact same scenario. You’ve got relative youth and it sounds like no actual masses yet working in your favor.

    3. Perse's Mom*

      You could certainly talk to your vet about having the ultrasound done, if it’s something you can afford. Cats are pretty prone to a number of issues, not least of which are intestinal ones, and an ultrasound could reveal something that’s sneaking by the blood tests.

      That said, cats are weird. It may just be a stress response to something that happened days ago.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        The day Robin Williams died, my boss thought I was really weird for saying “I won’t believe it’s true until I see it on the BBC website”, but then she’s not British.

          1. katamia*

            LOL. I’m the same way. Even Wikipedia had been updated to mention Scalia’s death before I saw it on CNN, though. CNN has gotten worse and worse.

    1. Cruciatus*

      Can’t vouch for its trustworthiness, but NBC is now reporting it. And George Takei on Facebook. Make of that what you will!

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        It’s a sad day for American news media when George Takei is considered a more trusted source! But what will The Daily Show have to say?

  22. Felix*

    So it’s my birthday weekend and I’m feeling kinda down. I historically don’t enjoy birthday celebrations for a whole host of reasons (tricky family etc.). It doesn’t help that friends are usually off doing romantic things with their partners and it’s literally IMPOSSIBLE to get tables anywhere this weekend and if you can, the V-day prices are outrageous!

    My partner is planning something low-key, but I’m feeling grumpy for a lot of reasons…. (My friend was supposed to fly out and visit but now can’t, I’m Not happy at work, student loans are giant and I have a cold, I discovered some wrinkles… I don’t like getting older, but also am okay with it)…..

    I know there are a lot of things to be grateful for but its hard to shake out of this funk.

    Any advice /suggestions to help me cheer up and just get over myself?

    1. Doriana Gray*

      Wine. Lots and lots of wine.

      Sorry you feel crappy on your birthday :( Is there somewhere you can go volunteer for the day? Maybe helping somebody else will take your mind off of all the things you perceive are wrong/bad in your own life?

    2. Treena*

      Are you legitimately the type of person who *wants* to go out to dinner for your birthday? I ask because dinner out with 2-20 friends is our “default” birthday celebration, but I don’t actually enjoy it because you can’t really talk to more than 4-6 people at a time. I never, never go out for my birthday, but I do things I really enjoy. Can you play tourist for the day and do something fun you’ve been putting off? Do you want to be more involved or less with whatever your partner is planning? I think my point is do what you want and don’t let anyone’s expectations but your own get you down.

      1. Felix*

        Haha good call. I don’t really enjoy going out with 20 ppl. More into small groups. I have an ongoing struggle with my introversion and extroversion meters and feel more pressure around bdays to be “the life of the party.”

        Good idea on the tourist stuff! That could be quite fun :)

        1. Alma*

          That was what I was going to suggest. Do the touristy things you’ve never taken time to do. Or do a day trip… there is a series of guidebooks that start and end at the same place, and are updated every other year or so, keeping the info about cafés and artisans current. When we live in a place there is so much we don’t actually see because it can intersect with our work or everyday life.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      How about some self care? Sounds like you could use some rest. Wrinkles might be helped with some hydration, so how about some extra water? This isn’t a work thread but maybe hit the work thread and talk through the work stuff? Lastly, where do you go to laugh? Find something that tickles your funny bone, and sit and enjoy it. I like the Cake Wrecks site if I need a laugh during the week. Sometimes I end up with tears rolling down my face because I am laughing too hard. Find something that you know amuses you and enjoy it.

      1. Felix*

        Good advice… I’ve been avoiding talking about work on here because it’s hard to explain without being outed, but I think I’m gonna have to try in order to move on mentally from the stress. Thanks for this suggestion :)

        I like the idea to get some laughs in too, I’m sure my partner would appreciate it. I’ve been pretty glum.

    4. Cath in Canada*

      I hear ya about V-Day. My birthday’s on the 16th, and when I was younger it never seemed to create a clash because people would go out on the 14th regardless of whether it was on a Friday or a Tuesday. Now though, most of my friends seem to want to celebrate V-Day on the first weekend after the 14th, which is when I’ve always celebrated my birthday. So it’s been getting increasingly difficult to get people together.

      I’ll be 39 this year so I decided to go super low-key, and save the partying for next year! I’ll go for dinner with my husband on the day itself (I have a 5:30 am teleconf the next day so it won’t be a late night!), then after-work drinks on Friday.

      1. Felix*

        Ack! I feel grateful my bday isn’t around a major holiday because it would be worse! Glad you understand the frustration.

        Your celebration this year sounds honestly pretty great. I think part of my whining is that last year I turned 30 and didn’t do any celebrating because work was INTENSE. I told everyone that I would do a bigger celebration for my 31st … And it turns out that work is even more intense this year. I think I just need to pick a date to celebrate me sometime later in the spring maybe?

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I think that’s a great idea! Who says you have to celebrate your birthday right now if you don’t want to? People defer their honeymoons for various reasons. You could start planning something special you want to do and set it up. I was really lucky that the year of my 30th I happened to be working in Europe just before, so I set a plan that I wanted to drink champagne on the Eiffel Tower for my birthday — and I did!

          Actually, my birthday was earlier this month. I have not enjoyed having birthdays since I was 6(?) for various reasons (also, tricky family). But this year, it was actually really good, even though I didn’t go out and “celebrate” the way people expect you’re supposed to. I just gave up the expectation that my birthday should be *awesome* (because why? It’s never really been, even the above story was kind of sad in a way) and then just let it be. One year, I did go out for a spa day on my birthday so that I wouldn’t sit at home all day and be reminded that it was my birthday… so that’s something to consider, too.

          1. Felix*

            Yeah I hear you- even my best birthdays were sad in ways that are hard to explain. I was thinking about a spa day! I might do that :)

            I need to think more about an actual group celebration in the spring. Part of me really wants to do it!

    5. Sunflower*

      I agree with the self-care- treat yo self! Maybe that means a massage or a new outfit or indulging in a food dish you love.

      Or just think of the stuff you love to do and do that. For my last birthday,I sat on the beach and read until the sun went down. It helps that I don’t do that very often- maybe a few times a summer. I remember thinking when I got up that was the best day I had in a long time and I was so happy to have spent my birthday doing that. Find something that might give you that feeling.

    6. Mando Diao*

      You don’t have to force yourself to enjoy your birthday if you don’t want to. Mine is near St Patricks Day and with all the parades and public drinking…I can relate to your frustration with not being able to get your friends together and find a place to hang. Are there local restaurants that give free birthday burgers or tacos or whatever? That can be fun and quick.

    7. Felix*

      Welp update:
      Turns out there was no low key plan. Apparently me saying, ” I really don’t want to plan anything, let’s do what we did last year (a picnic at the beach)” was interpreted as: Felix literally doesn’t want to do anything.

      So after some awkward breakfasting (toast) and tv watching I put on my run gear and said “well, since there is no plan I am going for a run.”

      Everything spiralled after that. Some hesitant plans were quickly made “should I make you dinner?” was actually said (um, dude we always make each other dinner on birthdays?!!).

      Henceforth I am in my sweats making leftovers for dinner, alone…

      Part of me wonders if this is some kind of self fulfilling prophecy or if we both just suck at holidays. (Christmas was a doozy).

  23. Doriana Gray*

    I’m supposed to be writing a short story for a literary magazine’s contest, but I just started reading Matt Ruff’s Set This House in Order and can’t put it down. Such a fascinating look into mental illness. I wish I could write lit-fic like this.

    1. NDQ*

      So, tell me about this contest. I don’t write literary fiction, but would like to find some type of writing outlet in addition to writing about money :).


      1. Doriana Gray*

        It’s through Glimmer Train magazine and it’s all lit-fic (I’m primarily a genre writer so I do this contest every once in a blue moon as a stretch assignment). If you are a creative writer looking for contests/paying markets, check out Writer’s Digest and Poets & Writers magazines.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I wish I could get into Glimmer Train. I hate that they have a reading fee, though. I did send one in last New Writer contest and they hung onto it for ages–so long that I actually thought I might have a sale, but then, last minute rejection. Bummer!

          1. Doriana Gray*

            Yeah, but the reading fee is how they’re able pay the writers $700 per accepted story and $2500 for their first place contest winners. I too have tried to get in with them a couple of times now – maybe third time will be the charm? Lol

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I know–I don’t want to submit to non-paying markets (exposure doesn’t pay the bills!), but it’s frustrating when I can’t get in and still have to pay, LOL.

              1. Doriana Gray*

                Ha! I feel you. Every time I got a rejection from them, I was like, “Gah! There goes $15 down the drain…”

      2. LisaLee*

        You should check out Absolute Write. It does have a very particular culture, but it’s a great place to read about different publication outlets. The Write 1/Sub 1 subforum is especially nifty.

        1. LisaLee*

          Forgot to mention–it is the AW Water Cooler that I’m talking about. It has a main site too, but that’s sorta defunct. The forums are the interesting part.

  24. Treena*

    Scalia has died. Implications? Potential appointees?
    Ethics of GOP staffers pledging to block any Obama appointee?


    1. BRR*

      It’s huge news because the courts leading conservative member is now gone and the possibility for the court to shift left is here and may not happen again for awhile. Republican politicians are saying the next president should get to nominate but I doubt the president is going to do that. It’s likely going to be a huge war.

      1. Goliath Gary Willikers*

        I’m sure the Republicans will try to hold off until the next president is elected, but I don’t see how that’s really possible. Can the Supreme Court be effectively knocked out of commission for 11 months? What if the election turns into a do-over of Indecision 2000? Who’s going to rule on that case?

        1. Treena*

          I was reading a Vox article about the upcoming abortion case (planned in a month or so) and the way it was written implied that the Court proceeds as normal, no halting on decisions. If it’s a 4-4 vote, apparently the lower court’s decision stands. Which is actually terrifying now that I think about it. Can they postpone planned decisions even with cases on the schedule? Who is allowed to decide these things??

        2. danr*

          No. Any 4-4 decisions just uphold the last appellate decision. Interestingly, the last lame duck President to nominate a Supreme Court justice was Ronald Reagan.

      2. Treena*

        Honest question, is there ANY justification for pushing back the nomination to almost a year from now? I could sort of see it if this happened maybe in October 2016, but more than a year? I feel like that is totally unacceptable! But I don’t actually know the rules/how it works specifically.

        1. danr*

          There aren’t any rules. The current President nominates Justices to fill vacancies. The Senate approves or denies. The rest is commentary. And there will be plenty of that.

          1. Florida*

            Can the senate deny every person Obama proposes until January? Then the new prez will decide.
            I’m not sure if that will work but I wouldn’t put it past them to try.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              I am pretty sure the chairman of the Judiciary committee can just not call for a vote to report out on a nomination, in which case it never even goes to a vote in the full Senate.

            2. Observer*

              In theory, sure. In practice, it might not work so well – not for constitutional reasons, but for electoral reasons.

        2. neverjaunty*

          No. The arguments about how it ‘just isn’t done’ ignore that Justice Kennedy was appointed by Reagan in an election year.

      3. fposte*

        Yeah, this is going to be big campaign fodder. Confirmation votes will also be relevant for senators up for reelection this term.

        (The next president? Like, wait a year?)

    2. nep*

      Exactly — my first thought when I heard the news about Scalia was, Wow — Obama nominating a Supreme Court justice in this mad, charged political climate. Fascinating to think about whom he might name or how this will all unfold. Huge stakes to say the least.

    3. LCL*

      The Friedrichs case, a union busting attempt, was heard before the Supreme Court in January. Our fear was that the court would find in favor of Friedrichs et al. My hope is that without Scalia, Friedrichs won’t pass.

    4. Stephanie*

      I feel like the confirmation will need to happen with lightning speed since Obama’s got only ten months left in office. I’d imagine it’ll be a protracted battle because I could see Obama nominating a liberal justice and the Republicans fighting it in the hopes that it could be stalled until the next president is sworn in.

  25. Cruciatus*

    Sigh. I can’t figure out my insurance’s website! I had a health scare starting in November until now with words like “pathology”, and “endometrial/cervical cancer” but was finally(!!) told my results were benign. I have a $250 deductible, but have now paid hundreds of dollars on tests and services. A bill from the pathology place, a bill from the OB/GYN, a bill from the hospital/health center that I never went to(?). I went to the website to see how my deductible progress bar was and couldn’t find it. I even watched the video on the site that shows the exact thing I was looking for, but when I hit the same exact link as they did it just showed my medical/vision plans and nothing else about what I had paid. I can view the claims but it doesn’t help because it doesn’t tell me what was part of the deductible (or not). I’ve paid way over $250 in January and February. I realize I should call them but I hate talking on the phone, let alone to random strangers about personal test results (internet is apparently fine). It may come to that yet. But is anyone an insurance whisperer?

    1. Nicole*

      I’m not an insurance whisperer, but I sympathize. Nothing about insurance coverage is straight forward, so unfortunately your best bet is to call them. Sometimes there are certain things that don’t apply against your deductible and they should be able to explain why if that’s the case. In addition, when you get medical services, sometimes you will receive a bill from a place you didn’t actually go, but they either reviewed your test results, or employ one of the doctors who administered the tests, so that is why you’re billed. And finally, billing mistakes happen, so please call to make sure you’re not paying for services that should have been covered. Good luck!

    2. Treena*

      The whispering is all on the phone, sorry =/

      I feel you though. Been calling Navient (student loans) for 4 months trying to explain to them their website is down (able to log-in, but get an immediate error and can’t see anything). My web developer husband has spent literally hours being “walked-through” the log-in process only for them to say, “oh I guess we’re experiencing a temporary site problem.”

    3. fposte*

      I agree with Treena that the phone is the best way to sort things out.

      You talk about the deductible, but does your insurance pay 100% of everything after the deductible? That’s pretty unusual–either there’s a straight co-pay, as in a lot of managed care, or they’ll pay certain amounts depending on who did the stuff and how it was coded.

    4. MsChandandlerBong*

      Your deductible is $250, but what is your out-of-pocket maximum? You typically pay 100% of the cost until you meet your deductible, and then it’s usually 80/20 or 90/10 or whatever your plan says until you reach the OOP max. So if your OOP max is $1,000, you pay 100% of expenses until you hit $250 (the deductible), and then you would pay your percentage of every bill (e.g. $200 of a $1,000 bill if your plan works on an 80/20 basis) until you finally hit $1,000. My deductible was $4,000, but my OOP max was $8,000, so the year I had two ER visits and a surgery was not good for my pocketbook.

    5. BRR*

      Echoing others about deductibles vs. out of pocket limits and you’re likely going to have to call and expect it to be frustrating.

      You might try seeing what materials your employer has and seeing what your plan covers that way or asking a benefits person to help explain. Also if you have any coworkers you trust you can ask them to help you explain as hey have the same insurance.

    6. Cruciatus*

      OK, I’ll definitely call. My employer’s website says “total deductible and out-of-pocket maximum is $1250” while my insurance’s website says “$5850”. Ummmm. People at work are always talking about how great our insurance is and I guess I’m just not experiencing that yet! I mean, one mild scare that turned out OK in the end and at the end of the year, including what I pay into my insurance monthly, I’ll have paid quite a lot of money that I can’t afford to pay often. Hopefully there’s nothing else around the corner but obviously one can never know that. And I think I’m just surprised they haven’t kicked in more on their end yet. Couple the anxiety I’ve had since November about everything and all the bills coming from places I don’t know of for reasons they don’t write on the bill and I’ve just been a little frustrated with everything and just want to forget about it now. But my bank account will remember for a while!

      1. fposte*

        For my insurance, it can take a few rounds before it’s clear what *I* have to pay–I get bills for the initial charge, then I get a bill showing what the insurance has paid and what’s left. That can go on for months before I get my final reckoning. It sounds like that may be the case for you too.

        You can also talk to somebody in HR; they can probably clarify the out of pocket discrepancy, for one thing. Do you have a plan summary? That’s usually the stone tablet in this situation, so have a look at that.

      2. Anonymity*

        If you’re in the US and have employer sponsored insurance, that’s probably why the numbers don’t align.
        Based on what you’ve written there, it sounds like your health plan has a deductible of $5850, but your employer is only expecting you to pay $1250 of that and they cover the rest.

        Definitely check with HR to fully understand how your medical benefits are supposed to work. You want to understand both what your employer’s plan covers AND what the actual health plan covers (these can be very, very different). You *do not* have to disclose any of your health information to them OR the insurance carrier if you call. Just reference dates of service and amounts, no other specifics should really be needed.

        I work at a TPA with Health Reimbursement Arrangement plans (I believe it’s actually law that your employer should be providing you with what we call the SPD (Summary Plan Description) of what your plan covers at the employer level, while the actual insurance carrier provides one as well – the $ are usually different on these).

        You should be getting EOBs (Explanation of Benefits) from the insurance carrier. This breaks down how individual claims sent to them by your service providers apply toward the plan; if your employer’s plan only covers things that apply toward your deductible, the EOB will list that. It’s usually the EOB that’s needed for your employer’s plan to sign off on those benefits.

      3. Arjay*

        Also if your treatment dates included both 2015 and 2016, and your new benefit year starts 1/1/2016, you’ll be paying deductibles for both years, your out-of-pocket max for 2015 resets for 2016, etc.

    7. nep*

      Great news results all showed benign. Hope you’ll be able to get this all straightened out soon. I reckon most every interaction or dealing with health insurance companies is less-than-straightforward at best — and often pull-your-hair-out frustrating.
      Best wishes

    8. hermit crab*

      If you call them and you still can’t figure things out, you can always authorized a trusted and knowledgeable friend/relative to talk to them on your behalf. For example, I had a crazy insurance situation a few years ago — like, to the point of getting notices about overdue bills for tens of thousands of dollars, an order of magnitude higher than my out-of-pocket maximum — and I eventually authorized a relative to talk to the company about my case. She knew the right vocabulary etc. and was able to get it straightened out right away. So if you know any insurance whisperers in real life, that’s always an option.

      Aside from that, my main recommendation is to not pay anything until you are really sure about what you’re supposed to be paying.

    9. Noah*

      I really hope you’re not just paying the bills you receive directly from the medical providers. Make sure they are billing your insurance company. I never pay anything based on the first bill I receive. It always goes to insurance first. They will adjust it based on “reasonable and customary” charges, and then send out an explanation of beenfits showing what they did and did not pay and why. I then wait for the medical provider to send out a final bill showing the revised amount.

      If your providers have not been filing insurance claims for you, then you need to take the bills you’ve already paid and either file claims yourself or ask the providers to do it. Unless a claim was filed, your insurance has no way to know that it should go towards your deductible.

  26. CharlieCakes*

    I just got my taxes done and I owe money :*( Nothing crazy, but an entire paycheck just went to the State. Bye, money!!!

    I have 0 allowances and IDK what I was thinking…I guess I assumed that my employer was withholding an appropriate amount. My tax guy thought it was really weird and looked at last year and this year and was surprised they were essentially taking the same amount out even though I made much more money. Anyway, I immediately changed my additional withholding to $$$ more so this doesn’t happen again. Man, I am pissed!

    Now all I want to do is online rage shop.

    1. After the Snow*

      There should be a calculator as part of the process for issuing paychecks. It would make the appropriate adjustments for raises, over time, bonuses, etc (any change to the amount of money you receive). Also for changes in the tax code. The only reason we ever owe money on taxes is when the extras (interest, dividends) are larger than expected. And when you fill out your withholding it should stay the same till you fill out a new one. Although I live in a state that doesn’t allow changes in state withholding. There is a flat rate and if you are going to owe more than $100 (from income other than your pay) you are to do estimated taxes.

    2. Noah*

      I ended up owing almost $6k this year. At least I think I will, I’m taking mine to a professional to double check the DIY software.

      I’m fairly certain it is related to a very large profit-sharing check we received this year at work. There were taxes taken out, but not as large as I have seen in the past with bonus checks.

      Not a big deal, I’ll pay up and move on. I’m just happy I didn’t loan the government a huge amount of money all year.

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      Really bugged me when this happened to me as a student. But no one can claim me as a dependent anymore, so yay!

      But on principle I agree with Noah.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I never get a refund back from the state–I always owe. The good news is that it’s a very small amount, usually. This year it was like $15.

      I just wish the IRS could be faster about the refund. I do it electronically and do direct deposit but I NEED IT NAOW NAOW NAOW.

    5. Nervous Accountant*

      That is strange actually. When I process payroll, if the salary changes, the with holdings change automatically. Not sure what happened with your employer there..

    6. Kassy*

      YMMV, but we had to adjust our state withholding to a lower number of allowances than federal. With federal, you have a lot of opportunities for credits – individual states, not so much.

      Last year, we filled out the forms identically. We received $1300 back from federal but owe $500 to the state.
      The online estimator we used was full of malarkey.

  27. CharlieCakes*

    Speaking of shopping… what are your favorite athletic/athleisure brands?

    I was really into Nike for my running stuff, but now I’m getting more into Lululemon (with caution though as I have repeatedly read that their quality is nosediving downhill) for gym/weights workouts. I’ve peaked at Outdoor Voices, but haven’t bought anything yet.

    1. Snowing*

      I like athleta a lot…it helps that I have a banana republic credit card and I use all my rewards toward workout clothes.

    2. Grumpy*

      Still almost exclusively Lulu. One day Nike and Under Armor will get it right (like drawstrings, leggings that don’t stretch out and slide down, zip pockets that hold stuff, headband that absorb serious sweat, and cute prints that stand out in race photos so you know which blurr is you!) but until then I buy from the pretentious house of insanity that is Lulu. Clearance section mostly, though.

    3. Felix*

      I actually really like old navy for most athletic pants and zip up tops. The quality doesn’t seem that much better at Nike/gap/expensive places. ON has pretty good patterns etc especially on running tights. Best part is that they have regular sales with most items $15 or less. I get a surprising amount of compliments on my gear and then some awesome eyebrow raised when I say “ON special.”

      1. Mando Diao*

        Yes, Old Navy has good stuff. I’m a fan of their “lounge pants” which are yoga pants made out of t-shirt material. Good for yoga and low-impact stuff.

      2. CharlieCakes*

        I was so tired last night that I kept searching for ON (as in oh, en) tights. It took me 10 minutes to realize ON = Old Navy.

        Great stuff! Thanks for the rec.

        1. Felix*

          Oh that’s too funny :)

          Glad you like the recommendation. I really like the high waisted performance leggings. Great stuff and they don’t ride down when running!

          1. Runslowly*

            ON stuff is way better than GAP (imho). Gap stuff seems to fall apart and fade quickly.
            Costco is hit and miss — there’s a photo of me holding up my Costco leggings as I cross the finish line that is really embarrassing.
            Also, Crazy Chip (the LuLuLunatic) is supposed to be out. Even if he isn’t, meh. Lots of misogynist maniacs run companies that very nice people work at.

      1. Snowing*

        I’ve tried it, cute stuff but I’m not blown away by the quality…it’s also more complicated than other online retailers to return things.

    4. Hypnotist Collector*

      LuLulemon is a repulsive company created by a misogynist and Landmark (current version of EST, if you’re old enough to know what that was) fanatic who made his employees do Landmark groupthink training. Don’t support them. The only company in this space that’s more repulsive is American Apparel. Find ethical companies making quality clothing.

      1. bassclefchick*

        I didn’t know that about LuLulemon! Thanks for the info. However, when I walked in and saw their prices, I nearly fainted and vowed I would NEVER pay that much money for workout clothes! Also, what is it with these places not making cute stuff in plus size? I want to look cute in workout clothes too! The fashion industry needs to realize that not everyone is a size 0 and 6 feet tall.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I went to a shop a few weeks ago that sold pretty much nothing but PJs. The prices were uh… kind of out there but it was almost my birthday so I thought I could buy myself a present. There was a very striking print of evergreen trees on a navy blue background and I was all “Yes! I love it!” A shop person came up and I asked where the matching tops were, she said they don’t have them, just the pants… oh an BTW, those are men’s pants. She then took me over to where all the women’s stuff was and it was all pink and cutesy. Ugh. Seriously, stop providing me with options that only infantilise me! I did buy something off the clearance rack because it way mainly robin’s egg blue with penguins but the name was Pretty Penguins. Ugh! So much would have preferred the other pattern. If I ever have a shop, I’m going to insist that there are no stupid cutesy patterns on any of the clothes I sell.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I’ll have to see if I can find some. All my skating clothes are faded and crap and I need some new ones. :)

              I had a nice new pair of leggings and I wore them once but my house ate them. I can’t find them anywhere!

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I buy my athletic wear at Lane Bryant, except for my Natori sports bras, which I get from Collards.

            1. mondegreen*

              If choosing a green leafy vegetable bra, I’d think lettuce would be better shaped and more supportive ;)

      2. CharlieCakes*

        That’s why I’m looking for other brands =]

        I thought Chip was out, guess not!

        I believe one of the lead LLL designers went to Zella. I have some amazing tights from Zella, but I haven’t really taken to any other items since. Low impact bras from Target are good and have cute designs. For high impact I prefer Nike. Champion isn’t too bad.

        Tops are another story. Still looking for that trifecta of style, function, and price.

    5. Christy*

      I love the Lucy brand–I have about three pairs of their Perfect Core leggings that I rotate through. They have a bunch of sales, and they go up to a true XL, too. I could buy from them when I was even larger and I still can’t buy from lulu.

  28. MsChandandlerBong*

    I moved a few months ago, and I am loving my new city. I come from a place where people do not place much value on art, music, and culture. My new city has an art museum, a natural history museum, a zoo, a botanic garden, and a planetarium all within three miles of my house. I’m like a pig in mud. We went to the art museum today (it’s free on Saturday afternoons), and it turns out they have live music every Saturday. Today’s group happened to be a sax quartet, which made this clarinet/sax player geek out. Next week, we’re going back to hear a bluegrass band, and there is a clarinet recital at the local university at the end of the month. I am SOOO glad we moved!

      1. MsChandandlerBong*

        I think there are about 900,000 people in our metro area, so it’s definitely bigger than my old town.

  29. Rye-Ann*

    Ughhhh. I don’t want to tell the story of how this came to be, because I don’t know if I can without getting too specific for anonymity. But I recently tested positive for a pretty serious illness, despite not really having any symptoms of it and not being in the demographic that normally gets it. It totally could be a false positive, but on the other hand…what if it’s not!?

    I’m just trying to stay calm until my doctor’s appointment on Monday. :\ Dunno if I have a specific question, just felt like venting a bit.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, Rye-Ann, that’s the sort of thing that won’t shut up in your head, that’s for sure.

      Sounds like it’s likely that it’s a false positive, but if it’s not, it’ll suck, but you’ll find a way to deal.

    2. NDQ*

      Vent away! The scare is tough to have to think about all weekend.

      I’ve had a few iffy things in the past and it really does suck. One thing, I had to wait six months to retest and then finally get the all clear. I figured there wasn’t much I could do about it during those six months, so I really did just say screw it and went on living my life. Once you know what really is going on, you can then take an active role in deciding what to do next.

      Do what you can to relax and focus on enjoying the weekend in spite of the weight of this crappy thing. But please post here on Monday and let me know how your appointment goes. I’ll be thinking about you!


    3. Treena*

      Hugs! Waiting for test results are the worst. Do you have a person to talk to about the details? Venting here is good, but it’ll feel better if you can vent out loud. Do a lot of self-care this weekend. Eat well, drink water, relax.

      This isn’t my normal professional advice, but here’s how I personally handle it. I pretend like the results are positive and whatever it could be IS. Having a “problem” to work on makes me feel like I can “do” something, even if it’s just a lot of researching. I had a super fun week years ago when I actually convinced myself I was pregnant (even though I didn’t believe I was pregnant at ALL–behavior/statistic-wise) because a blood test came back positive. Turned out, they put my name on someone else’s blood. Oopsie! But in that week, my then-boyfriend/now-husband showed me what he was like in a crisis.

    4. Rye-Ann*

      Thank you for the support, everyone! Unfortunately, I doubt I’ll get definitive answers on Monday – I have the sense that I’m just going to get referred to a specialist, but I will try not to worry about it until I know for sure that there’s something to worry about it.

      My boyfriend and Mom know, so there’s a couple of people to talk to about it (although my mom did try to comfort me by poo-pooing science a bit…) but it’s still stressful. I’ll try to remember to give an update on Monday!

    5. Belle diVedremo*

      Ouch. I tested positive for lupus. Doc sent another sample, and it came back clean. Wasn’t a fun waiting period.

      But I got suggestions from friends which helped me prepare for the next appt with the doc. Go to websites and support groups, to ask for the kinds of information you’d want on a first pass. You can often find people with lists of things they wish they’d asked up front. Write them down/print them out, because it’ll be hard to remember everything. Can you take your boyfriend, or your mom, to be a second set of ears for any followup appts, or record the appts on your phone to be able to go back over it later?

      Plan on tomorrow’s appt being for a referral, and ask your doc about preliminary questions to be sure to cover with the specialist and for resources to use for your own research. (which you can then use or not.)

    6. Rye-Ann*

      Thanks for everyone else who commented! The update is in the secret open thread posted today, if anyone’s looking. :)

  30. Amber Rose*

    Saw Deadpool. It. Was. AWESOME. It was dirty and gory without being too much of either, and right from the opening credits I was laughing my butt off. I loved it. It’s not heavy on plot but that doesn’t matter.

    That said.

    Somehow it got a 14A rating in Canada (it’s R in the US). It deserves the R rating. It pushes the boundaries even of that, with nudity, language, sex and violence. For the love of god, do NOT bring your children to see this movie! It is a very adult film. There was a lady with a kid who couldn’t have been more than 10. I hope she enjoyed the follow up conversation about it.

      1. The Expendable Redshirt*

        And Matt Smith dropped a major Dr.Who reference.

        *Parson gets down on one knee* Will you be my companion?

        I almost lost it.

    1. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

      We saw it today too. Loved it! Luckily, no kids. Thank you, Alamo Drafthouse!

      1. neverjaunty*

        Oh ugh. Is he one of those people who thinks it’s a point of pride to be the “cool” parent?

    2. Kyrielle*

      Yeah, I’ve heard from several people who saw kids under 10 in the theater. It’s a superhero movie, it’ll be fine, right?

      No. Seriously, no. I’m impressed they pulled R out instead of NC-17 from what I’ve heard. Take your 16-year-old? Jolly, sure, assuming you know your kid and they’ll enjoy it. Take your eight-year-old? Please, no. >.<

      One guy was even warned by the theater staff that it was "a hard R" and still insisted on taking his young children in to see it. :/

      1. Amber Rose*

        Bad parenting never changes. When I was a kid it was “if it’s a cartoon it must be for kids” and that’s how Watership Down ruined my sleep for days at age 7. And now it’s “superheroes and video games are for kids” even though the ratings are for adults. -_-

      2. Elizabeth West*

        What really drives me crazy is when they do this and then moan about it on Facebook afterward. Dude, it is not hard to check and see if this film is okay for your six-year-old. There’s this thing called internet!

        People are so incredibly stupid sometimes I really wonder how they are even still alive.

    3. TootsNYC*

      My worry is that it wouldn’t be funny enough, that the repartee would be fast enough and wacky enough.

        1. TootsNYC*

          The fact that he was a major, major fan well before the movie was in development had me very hopeful. That he’d get what was special about Deadpool and insist on recreating it.

      1. LibLady*

        Saw it last night and it is funny enough and the repartee is great. So much ch goes by so fast where’d to see it again to catch all the references. Funny from the opening credits and stay all the way through the end credits the that little extra. Definitely a hard R rating. Really good.

    4. Tara R.*

      Ha, my dad definitely brought me to see movies of that ilk from the age of 10 on. I distinctly remember him telling off the movie theatre staff for trying to convince him otherwise. He loved those kinds of movies and my mom wouldn’t go with him. (He brought my little brother to see Mockingjay, which wasn’t overly gory but was definitely quite dark… not a kid’s movie, dad!)

    5. TootsNYC*

      OK, in the realm of “kids seeing Deadpool”:

      What about your 18yo?

      He reads the comic, and I’m OK w/ that. But what do you think about the movie?
      I mean, he’s 18, so it’s kind of like I can’t really stop him….

      1. Amber Rose*

        18 is an adult. If he hasn’t already been exposed to bad language, sex and violence then I’d be very shocked.

  31. Heart-shaped Box of Chocolates*

    Four friends of mine are throwing me a wedding shower and a bachelorette party later this spring. I would like to do something nice to thank them but I’m on a tight budget because I just bought a house. I thought about a nice, thoughtful card for each and a box of this homemade candy that I make for special occasions that they go crazy for. Is that enough? What have y’all done?

    I’m not having a wedding party, so none of them are involved in the wedding in any other role. Not that it probably makes a difference but wanted to throw it out there.

    1. Felix*

      Not having a wedding party is thanks enough! Seriously, not making them buy matching dresses, shoes, and sitting through the agony of getting ready together. Seriously. Candy is more than enough plus the sanity you’ll be helping them save! (Jaded bridesmaid here, but I much more appreciate it when my friends invite me to help celebrate their weddings as a guest than be part of the wedding party.)

      1. Heart-shaped Box of Chocolates*

        Fellow jaded bridesmaid (and reader, and guest book attendant…) Here. :) Your post is exactly the reason I decided not to have a wedding party. After a particularly bad experience a few years ago, I decided not to have a wedding party. I had a few friends who were a little disappointed but handled it well. I keep telling them, “I love you all too much to make you wear a tangerine or cotton candy-colored dress with matching heels.”

        1. Older not yet Wiser*

          I went to a wedding last summer where the bride just asked her four (similar aged) cousins and her sister to act as bridesmaids on the day of the wedding. The groom’s two brothers and three friends were also randomly approached. No matching dresses. No tuxes. But everyone looked perfect, the ceremony was beautiful, and no stress/responsibilities for the “attendants” other than walking down the aisle and standing with the couple for the ceremony.
          And I think a thank you gift of handmade candy is just right!

        2. Felix*

          You sound like an amazing friend! Thank you on behalf of all potential bridesmaids for being so awesome!

  32. Heart-shaped Box of Chocolates*

    So my fiance and I are talking a premarital class through our church. We had our first class last weekend.

    Lo and behold, my ex boyfriend is in the same class. Luckily, it’s a large class so we haven’t run into each other yet. Last week was so awkward for me. Truth be told, this is the one guy I never really got over, even though it’s been years ago and we didn’t date that long. I also kinda of built him up in my mind to be the perfect human specimen and found out some not so great things about him later.

    I’m waiting for that awkward “hello” in class. Or maybe we can just pretend not to know each other. :)

        1. fposte*

          I wish! I think I’m channeling some old Miss Manners advice. But wouldn’t it be glorious? “Oh, look, honey, it’s Bill!” “Um, I’m Bob.”

          1. Not So NewReader*

            “um, I’m Bob.”

            “Right. Honey, this is Brett.”

            OP, here is a solution that you can use indefinitely or until you run out of “B” names. But then you could start at the top of the list again.

    1. Jean*

      Ouch. I would be looking for another class being taught at another time and/or by another teacher (but I don’t know if this would mesh with the timetable that you and your fiance are following re engagement, wedding, work, etc.).Or I would be looking for another congregation. Yes, I sound awfully spineless, but I don’t like being around people who make me uncomfortable. On the other hand, a congregation doesn’t have to be like a bad Western movie with people declaring “this place ain’t big enough for both of us.”

      That said, I enjoyed the suggestions of fposte and Not So NewReader. My own irreverent idea is to punctuate the classroom lessons by recalling (in the privacy of your own mind) the relevant faults of this person and then (also privately) rejoicing that you are not going to live with those faults, or their owner, for a lifetime!

      It’s probably best to just be matter-of-fact and emotionally neutral. Let him say hello first. Don’t smile when you reply (IF you reply–your call!). You don’t need to be actively rude but you also don’t need to extend yourself in any way on his behalf. It sounds to me as though any conversation you once might have shared with this ex was definitively ended when the two of you went your separate ways. In the privacy of your own mind, enjoy the fact that you found someone else whose company and character give you greater happiness.

      As for what you’re each doing in the class, it should be too obvious to need discussion: After you and your ex parted, you each met, and decided to marry, someone else. Period.

      If you are annoyed with yourself for once having thought better of this person than perhaps he deserved, well, most of our younger selves have either given or received this kind of unearned moral credit. If you’re annoyed with him for having been so much less than perfect, well…perhaps his participation in this particular class, at church, signals his own desire to be wiser as well as older. Forgive yourself because life’s too short to be mad at yourself. If you can’t forgive your ex (I don’t know exactly what he did) I hope you can let your shared history sink back into the past. Right now you are building a different and better life with a different and better life partner with whom I hope you share many years of happiness and good health.

      If this is waaaay too philosophical, I please guilty to having just seen the movie Brooklyn, in which the central character grapples with these kinds of questions (e.g. “who am I, in what do I believe, and which life experiences do I really value?”).

      1. Heart-shaped Box of Chocolates*

        Thank you for such a detailed response – I appreciate it. ☺Unfortunately, our church only offers the class a few times a year and the next time they are offering it, it will be past or wedding date. In order to be married by a pastor of our church, we have to take the course. We also both have seen how premarital counseling has strengthened relationships and we want to get our marriage off to the best possible start.

        I’ve thought about this a lot this week, trying to figure out why it annoys me so much. I think it all stems back from not feeling good enough. One of the things I discovered about him was that even when we were exclusive, he continued to meet and date other women online. He also didn’t like that my parents are divorced. And I got the strong impression that he didn’t like that I was somewhat “experienced” if you catch my drift. At the time, he was still a virgin.

        I’ve reminded myself several times this week that my fiance has always accepted me “right where I am.” He is not judgemental and incredibly loving to me. I am so, so fortunate to have a real partner for the long haul.

        1. Jean*

          Your last paragraph makes me smile. Best wishes for much happiness. You two sound well prepared for your journey.

        2. ginger ale for all*

          Think about it this way – living well is the best revenge and I think you have that covered. Just laugh at the idiot he used to be and be happy.

  33. NDQ*

    What are you enjoying on Netflix or Amazon Prime?

    Some of my recommends:

    Madam Secretary
    Better Call Saul
    The Man in the High Castle
    Orphan Black
    Battle Creek
    How to Get Away with Murder
    Jane the Virgin
    Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt


    1. Bookworm*

      I recently watched Broadchurch and got rapidly obsessed. It’s a bit on the darker side, but the music is haunting, the scenery gorgeous…and the acting is really fantastic.

      Highly recommend.

      1. Princess Buttercup*

        I binge-watched Broadchurch on a flight from London to LA two years ago and loved it! Unfortunately, I couldn’t stand the US remake or the UK sequel.

    2. hermit crab*

      I recently finished watching Buffy (like, the whole show) — I didn’t really watch TV as a teenager so I never saw it when it was on, despite being 100% the target demographic. Now I’ve moved on to Angel!

        1. Doriana Gray*

          Angel as a whole story was better IMO. And it had way less infuriating moments than Buffy. Oh, and I watched both shows when they originally aired (was a fan of the latter’s movie as a kid) and have the box sets.

    3. Cath in Canada*

      Just finished Master of None. It was nice to watch a happy, pleasant show – we realized recently that we watch way too many shows that feature murders, violence, incest, cannibalism, and such. Trying to get into Sense-8 but haven’t managed to be in the right mood for it yet!

    4. LizB*

      Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries — a wonderful Australian mystery series set in 1920s Melbourne, starring a fabulous female private eye and a really fun cast of supporting characters. Funny, light, and with gorgeous costumes.

      Call the Midwife — a BBC drama about a group of nurse-midwives in the late 1950s in the East End of London. If you’re squeamish about birth scenes, this won’t be the show for you… but if you like adorable babies, interesting historical/cultural perspective, and a really strong mostly-female ensemble cast, this is a great show to try.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries — a wonderful Australian mystery series set in 1920s Melbourne, starring a fabulous female private eye and a really fun cast of supporting characters. Funny, light, and with gorgeous costumes.

        Ohhh…this sounds like something I should be watching. Thanks for the rec!

        1. LizB*

          It’s so much fun! The mysteries do get kind of intense sometimes (especially season finales), but in general it’s just a really enjoyable show with an excellent ensemble.

    5. Arcadia*

      Of course, if you haven’t seen Making A Murderer yet, you *must*.

      I loved Narcos on Netflix. Finished the season in three days.

      Amazon recently released season 2 of Transparent. I didn’t particularly care for this season, but season 1 was very good.

      I’m not sure which network The People vs. OJ Simpson is on in the US (I’m outside of the US and I stream all my shows) and it’s only two episodes in so far, but man, I’m hooked!

      Other shows I like:
      Mr Selfridge
      Olive Kitteridge
      Happy Valley (5 stars!)
      The Fall
      Last Tango In Halifax
      Black Mirror

    6. Elkay*

      Short Poppies
      It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
      Aziz Ansari’s stand up specials
      Demetri Martin’s stand up special

      Looking forward to Better Call Saul coming back (UK Netflix gets it just after the US showing).

      Alpha House

      I need more half hour comedies.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I am OBSESSED with Parks and Recreation. Can’t stop watching. This show makes me laugh so much. Also, I have a major crush on Ben Wyatt–not the actor, just the character. Goddamn, he’s like the perfect man. He’s smart, funny, really cute, a nerd, his entire CD wallet is full of soundtracks (!)…..I want a Ben!!!

      I have 30 Rock up next. And The Walking Dead begins again soon (I have to watch on Amazon because I cut the cord), and 11.22.63 on Hulu. There’s so much to watch and so little time.

    8. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I’ve been watching Person of Interest and The Flash. With its constant flashbacks, POI is so much easier to follow on Netflix where I can watch several episodes in a row sequentially. When it was on network tv, they would always insert reruns in the middle of the season, which would confuse the story line for me.

  34. Cruciatus*

    In other news, I’ve finished The Shadow of the Wind and The Nightingale. I liked both, but preferred The Nightingale which follows the story of two French sisters living in occupied France during WWII. One sister has a family and has a Nazi soldier billeted in her house while the other more outspoken sister is looking for a way to stop the Nazis (if she doesn’t get herself killed first).

    Shadow of the Wind got better toward the end when the parallels finally started to become more obvious, but there were times when I just wanted the book to get on with something already. Like I said, in the end it all came together but it probably could have been a few pages shorter. There was also some translation weirdness, though that’s most likely because it was being translated from Spanish and English probably didn’t have the equivalent word of phrase.

    I’ve just started reading A Man Called Ove.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Mine too! I loved Firefly Lane. So much so that I don’t want to read the sequel because I don’t think I want those characters to continue. I want them to just live as they were if that makes sense :)

    1. Come On Eileen*

      I’m also reading A Man Called Ove! I kind of adore him. He’s a grump but he’s such a tenderhearted grump.

      Shadow of the Wind is one of my favorite books of all times.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I’m only a few chapters in, but I’m enjoying it so far. But I keep aging him up in my mind to 70s or 80s when he’s only 59. I guess 59 seems too young in my head to be forcefully retired from your job (though it does take place in another country where that age could be the norm) and quite so grumpy (though we do learn he’s had quite a lot to be grumpy about). But I think overall I’m going to like this one a lot!

  35. Pokebunny*

    Ooh, a presidential candidate is visiting my town next week. I’m quite excited and want to go see (we’ve never had a high profile person come visit our town before), but it’s free admission so I’m going to have to scout out the venue the night before, because I expect it’s going to be one of those Black Friday type deals where there’s 200 people already camped out 15 hours before. We’ll see.

    1. SaraV*

      Make sure to see if they require an RSVP. You can usually go to their campaign website and find out. They do this so that they can plan for how many people will be there, and to make sure not a whole bunch of people are turned away. (Fire codes and stuff)

  36. Stuck*

    Need a virtual hug. I feel stuck at work and at home. At work because I don’t like my job, but I’m pregnant, so I can’t really quit right now, nor do I think it would be a smart move to take a new job with a newborn. At home because we already have a small condo, and now we need to fit another human in here somewhere. Mainly, I just need a day off with no one around…alas

    1. nep*

      I can see how all that can make you feel smothered.
      Deep breath. One day — one moment — at a time.
      Wishing you reminders of what’s positive and good, and bright moments amid the madness.

    2. Meliora*

      I’m pregnant too and omg am I over it. I feel lucky that my work seems understanding about how tired and brain dead I’ve been (not to mention sick and grumpy although that is mostly under wraps). I go on maternity leave at the end of the month. I’m just not even thinking past then although I do relate to bringing a baby into a limited space situation. I keep telling myself that the things that were stressful with my daughter will not necessarily be issues this time and that things may be entirely different.

      It’s hard though. I just started seeing a behaviorist/psychologist for panic atracks and general failure to cope. That seems like a good thing.

      Hope you feel better soon. This is not supposed to be our best times. You can do it!

    3. Stuck*

      Thanks, all. I have to focus on the days when things are good and just remember on the bad days, “This is one of maybe 30,000 I’ll have (if I’m lucky). I can do this.

    4. Mkb*

      I’m pregnant too and feel this exact way, I don’t think the pregnancy hormones help! Hang in there, I’m sure you’re doing much better at both than you think.

    5. SAHM*

      On the baby front, they can take up as little or as much space you want. It comes to paring down the necessties and not having too much of the extras. Literally, babies needs one thing. You. You of course decide how much YOU need to continue being awesome. I’m preggo with #3 and there are three things I’m going to need: a rocking chair / glider, a crib (which literally won’t be used for the first 3-9 months, depending on child’s personality), and a Diaper Genie. We had one for our first, but it broke and we went with a cheaper version for the second because those refill bags are $$$$. Worse choice ever. Babies stink. Plus our dog loves to eat dirty diapers. Again, gross.

      And see if you can go away for a weekend, like right now. Call it your vacation before the baby arrives, getting AWAY for a day or two really helps change your mindset. Even if it’s just a day trip to a park or something. Getting OUT really helps.

      Remember most of all, you are rocking it already momma! You are a crazy amazing woman who gets to grow another tiny person inside her, that’s emotionally and physically exhausting! Give yourself some grace and realize that it’s going to be ok, nothing in life is perfect so relax and just let your awesome imperfect self shine through.

      Also babies bounce, not encouraging you to use the baby as a basketball ;-) BUT they do roll off beds, get dropped, get a little banged up walking through doors, etc. Give yourself some grace after the babe gets here. I consider it a success in the first few months after having a baby if I get a shower that day. Lowering expectations is really key. :-) hope this helps! ❤️ Praying for you momma!

    6. Mallory Janis Ian*

      *Hug* I hope you get that day to yourself soon; a day with only your own thoughts and whims can be so restorative.

  37. Ada Lovelace*

    You guys, I’m engaged! We’ve talked about getting married but it was always on our time. He definitely managed to surprise me. I’ve been told the video is hilarious. I had to be reminded to say yes and to kiss him. We just told our families and we are enjoying keeping it to ourselves. My friends know because he proposed while we were out for my birthday but we had to embargo social media so our parents wouldn’t find out third-hand. Even so both my sisters put up a video at 2am, swore no one saw and yet somehow my 72 year old aunt saw it on Instagram?!

    Also I am simultaneously in love with the ring and terrified I am gonna lose it. It’s gorgeous and probably worth a week’s honeymoon in Hawaii at least. He managed to replicate and make a ring better than what I thought I wanted. My clumsy and forgetful self has had to replace an iPhone 4 times in the last 4 years (cracked one phone, somehow I bricked two, and one upgrade that crapped out this year), lost dozens of pieces of jewelry (nothing too expensive) and constantly forget my phone where ever I go. I am so terrified of losing this ring, that it might actually keep me from losing it.

    1. misplacedmidwesterner*


      I understand the ring fear – when I first started wearing my ring, I was terrified. I’d never regularly worn something so valuable. It helps that there is an insurance policy on it through the jewelry store. My sister has a similar policy and when a diamond popped out, they replaced it. I take my ring in every six months for a cleaning/inspection. You might check into that.

      1. Jean*

        What a great name! I’ve lived more than half my life in another region but I still do & always will identify as A Midwesterner. I also still get homesick for the scenery, slower pace of life, and lower cost of housing… Sigh. But oh well, my home is here and my life is basically good.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I think rings are harder to lose. I never, ever take mine off. So I’ve lost all kinds of other stuff, but never the ring.