weekend free-for-all – March 12-13, 2016

Olive Eve sleepingThis 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: Comfort Me with Apples, by former New York Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl — a behind-the-scenes look at being a restaurant critic (disguises! fake names on credit cards!) and later the editor of Gourmet. If you like food and you like insidery details about the restaurant industry, you will find this fascinating.

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

{ 858 comments… read them below }

  1. FD*

    I’ve really been enjoying taking long walks in my neighborhood (1.5 hours or so), and I’m interested in taking up hiking. I understand a good pair of boots really helps–recommendations? Any other tips? I’d love to eventually start backpacking a little too.

    1. StudentPilot*

      A lot of people I know wear either Merrel boots, or Keen. (I wear Scarpa boots, personally.) We mostly go hiking in the Adirondacks – lots of roots, rocks and water crossings. Depending on what type of hiking you’re thinking of, trail runners might work as well – less ankle support, but also less weight. I have a pair of Columbia ones that I wear when I travel – they’ve done me for a range of hikes – flat and long, short and hilly, even a few hikes through Volcano National Park in Hawaii. I know people who wear trail runners in the Adirondacks (and swear by them) but I find the more…scrambling? I have to do, the more ankle support I need.

    2. Pennalynn Lott*

      Trail shoes are a definite bonus when you go off road. I have three pairs of Merrell’s, one of which is waterproof. If I were you, I’d go to a local REI and get some help getting fitted. Plus pick up a day pack (a hiking backpack that has padded straps to go around your waist, to help take the load off your shoulders). A day pack is smaller than an overnight pack and is perfect for carrying water, snacks, change of socks, a jacket, umbrella, whatever.

    3. North*

      Absolutely go to an REI or an LL Bean store nearby and get fitted by someone who knows what they’re doing. They often have little mock trail things that you can use to see how well the boots fit you – it’s different going uphill and downhill and side to side. Terrain totally changes fit. Good hiking boots really make a huge difference. Have fun!

      1. BSharp*

        REI has a great return policy that they encourage you to use if need be—then they sell the returned items quarterly, so if you know what you want you can get a stellar deal.

      2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Definitely agree with this. While there are good brands and bad brands, there are no universally best brands – it depends on your foot shape and your stride.

        Also, get good hiking socks to go with your boots. It can make a huge difference in preventing blisters. I like SmartWool but there are lots of good brands.

      3. hermit crab*

        Yes, absolutely, go get fitted! My hiking/backpacking boots right now are a pair of Lowas, which is a brand I had never even heard of before going to check out boots in person at REI. They do a great job there — they have you walk up and down things, with and without weight in your backpack, etc. And ultimately the salesguy sent me home to order online instead of from him, because there was an online-only discount running.

    4. QualityControlFreak*

      Military field boots work for me, both for day hiking and backpacking. I have very strong ankles but for strenuous hiking, particularly backpacking where I’m carrying an additional load in challenging terrain, I want boots.

    5. Cristina in England*

      I love New Balance because they tell you the different lasts that their shoes and boots are made on, and that lets you know which ones are meant for those with wide forefeet and narrow heels, for instance. I have some waterproof New Balance hiking boots that I have also worn on a very long road walk and I have absolutely no complaints.

      1. Jascha*

        +1 for Vasque! I have a pair of Breeze GTX boots I bought in 2006 and they’re still going strong.

    6. Tau*

      +1 to good trail shoes – I believe my pair is Meindl, but what works for you will depend. It’s probably worth going to an outdoors shop and asking the staff for help. I’d also recommend getting hiking socks if you don’t have any – these tend to be thick wool, which is AFAIK to prevent blisters.

      If you want to do longer – like, overnight – backpacking, you absolutely need a good rucksack, which is sturdy, with good storage space, and has padded straps for the waist and the backpack not lying directly against your back. Also bonuses are some sort of side-pockets and/or a hip pouch attached to the waist strap, so you can get at your water bottle easily when you’re hiking.

      My personal list of DO NOT GO WITHOUT THESE items:
      – water, at least 1 liter. Preferably in a sturdy bottle, not a disposable plastic bottle from the store – it may end up getting treated rather roughly.
      – rain gear. At minimum: raincoat, waterproof trousers, waterproof cover for your rucksack. Shoe covers are also a possibility but not generally necessary if you’ve got good hiking boots that have been reasonably water-proofed. The last trip I went on, we actually brought small lightweight sturdy umbrellas and it was fantastic! Note though that umbrellas can’t replace any of the above items.
      – sunscreen. For my pasty self, at least 50SPF. Also, sunglasses and a lightweight brimmed hat of some sort – baseball cap will do just fine.
      – a decent range of warmth in your clothing – fleece jackets and long underwear to shorts and T-shirts; gloves and something to cover your ears may be necessary as well depending on season. I would also not recommend hiking in jeans if you can help it, as they’re heavy, don’t leave you much mobility and take ages to dry if they get wet. I own a few pairs of polyester(?)-type hiking trousers that have detachable legs so you can use them as both shorts and long trousers, which are great.
      – some sort of reasonably-calorie-dense nonperishable food – trail mix is the classic (it’s in the name!), but honestly something like Snickers might work too. This should preferably involve carbohydrates but not be mainly carbohydrates, as you need both a quick and a sustained energy boost.
      – not essential but nice-to-have if it’s a longer trip: I’ll often take some sort of alternative footwear – hiking sandals, trainers, that kind of thing – so that I don’t have to wander around in hiking boots in the evenings.

      There are undoubtedly things I forgot off that list, and other things that are climate-dependent – my main experiences are in the Alps in the summer, FWIW – but it’s a starting point? And I really want to highlight that water, food, waterproof gear, and warm clothes are absolutely vital even if it’s only a day trip you’re going on – the weather can turn to rain or cold, you can get lost, you can be slower than expected and end up still out when the sun sets, and hypothermia is a thing it is very easy to die of.

      Good luck and have fun! :) And do ask staff in an outdoors shop if you’re not sure about something, they can be enormously helpful.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Even on short hikes I usually bring two medium-to-large water bottles and an excess of snacks. Yes, it can mean carrying extra weight (I usually do get back to the car with water still in my backpack), but the times I’ve run out when thirsty or hungry were really rough – and I’ve never actually been stranded overnight.

        Also, if you’ll be hiking somewhere not so crowded, and especially if you’re hiking alone, an emergency blanket (made of reflective mylar and only weighs a few ounces) and a loud whistle are two lightweight “just in case” items – cheap insurance.

        1. Tau*

          Good point on the blanket and the whistle! Those are certainly worth carrying, definitely if you’re hiking alone.

          I’ve never been stranded either, but my brother apparently got turned around and managed to descend down the wrong side of a mountain once and ended up miles away from his hostel. I forget how exactly he got back, but I don’t think he managed it that night. Definitely an experience you’d rather not face hungry and cold!

        2. StudentPilot*

          I also carry an extra pair of socks, if it’s wet/I’m crossing water. A compass and map, if I’m going into somewhat unfamiliar areas (tech can fail). Water purification tablets, in case I run out of water, or a steri-pen, or something similar. A small first aid kit, and handwipes.

        3. Engineer Girl*

          A large plastic garbage bag is cheaper and lighter than an emergency blanket. You can use it as a rain poncho, stuff it full of leaves for a “sleeping bag”, or pull it over your head with a candle underneath (pop your head out) for a Palmer furnace. Mini rescue whistles are tiny and powerful.

    7. Engineer Girl*

      The most important part of your shoe is fit and tread. You may not need boots. The heavier the load, the more unstable the terrain, the more you need boots to stabilize your ankle. I rarely hike in boots on established trails – I usually hike in my Merrell Azura Wrap hiking sandals. Feet are different so find a manufacturer to match your feet. I have a wide foot so go with Merrell. Other brands cater to narrow feet. When trying on a shoe find an incline to stand on. I use the shoe stool with the incline on it. Stand on one foot and see what happens. First, your foot should not slide on the incline (bad tread!) Second, your feet should not slide inside the shoe and bang your toes (blister city!)
      Gear stores are there to sell you lots of useless gear. You don’t need most of it. I would suggest reading Ray Jardines book on packing light. There’s a reason you see all the old geezers blasting by you with a light pack – they know what is and is not needed! The most important piece of gear is your brain. Use it to learn wilderness techniques. Take a wilderness first aid course (I recommend NOLS). They are worth every penny and show you how to improvise.
      You don’t need a lot of gear to get started. A good pair of shoes, a good rain jacket/poncho, a good light weight water bottle (platypus is way lighter than camelback)

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Headlamp. Always, always carry a headlamp! I can’t believe I forgot this one. Mine is USB rechargeable with the ability to swap in AAA batteries if needed.

        1. StudentPilot*

          Yes! So much this. I got stuck descending a mountain after dark and my headlamp (torch) saved me. Also have extra batteries just in case.

    8. FD*

      These are all really helpful tips, thank you! I will keep them all in mind and I’ll let you know. I’ll probably start with some trails that are in my area–there are quite a few state parks in an hour of me.

    9. Rebecca*

      I just put a pair of Merrell waterproof hiking boots on hold at a local outdoor store. I had to get men’s 10’s, as the women’s sizes are too small for my feet :) I have two pair of Adidas Terra X waterproof shoes, and wore one of them on a recent hike, my very first real hike, and was so happy for them, but the trail was rocky and I’m looking forward to the extra ankle support.

    10. gsa*

      StudentPilot hit the nail on the head when asking about terrain! Best advice I ever received, “Read, Fixing Your Feet.”. Have fun!!!

  2. Hermione*

    Does anyone use IFTTT to automate tasks (either for personal or business)? Any great tips/tasks I should start using?

    1. anonypoo*

      i’ve used it before. it worked fine. if there was something i particularly wanted/needed automated, i would definitely look there first… but i can’t think of anything killer i’m sick of doing. maybe i’m not being creative enough, though!

    2. Al Lo*

      I use it, although I’m not a power user or anything. I do things like save my Instagram photos to a Dropbox folder, or upload any photos that someone else tags me in on FB to a Flickr album. I have a few other recipes I run, but nothing that’s super earth-shattering in my day.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      The main thing I use it for is to turn my phone to on, mute, or vibrate according to certain locations. Work = vibrate, church = mute, everywhere else = sound on unless I manually put it on vibrate.

      1. Jen in RO*

        I tried to do this and failed :( Maybe I should give it another go… I don’t remember what I tried, but I do remember getting frustrated that such a simple task seemed so difficult to actually implement.

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

          It wouldn’t work for me either. Some days it would mute at work, some not, and it never unmuted at all.

    4. internetkimmy*

      I use it to:

      -Automatically tweet my Instagram posts
      -Automatically pin (on Pinterest) anything I “heart” on Instagram

      However, this is because I’m a food/travel blogger and don’t have time to do all that social stuff on its own, so the automation helps significantly. YMMV!

  3. bassclefchick*

    Does anyone watch Gotham AND Game of Thrones AND is current on both shows? (POSSIBLE Spoilers, but I’ll try not to.)

    Love what Gotham has been doing this season with the villains. Can’t wait to see what happens with Penguin. I think the Mr. Freeze storyline has been really interesting. Did anyone else think (when they saw him transformed) that he resembles a White Walker? No? Just me? OK then. LOL

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      Now you say White Walker I can see it, I have to admit I thought of David Anders’s iZombie character first though. I can’t wait to see what happens with Penguin either!

  4. Sherri*

    Ruth Reichl is one of my all time favorite writers. I had a hard time putting her books down, and could have finished any of them in an afternoon, but they were also too good to finish all at once. I have to admit I struggled between wanting to devour them and needing to savor them slowly. It’s the same way I feel about truly amazing food, which makes for an interesting comparison, given the author’s profession.

    Excellent recommendation!

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        I just loved that book! It’s a great book club book because there are so many aspects to discuss.

    1. CM*

      I love her too! I recently read My Kitchen Year, where she mentioned writing a novel during the year after she left Gourmet. Then I read the novel, Delicious! It wasn’t the Great American Novel or anything, but it was a really fun book about a young woman with an incredible palate who goes to work at a Gourmet-like magazine called Delicious! and solves a cooking-related mystery while learning to be on her own in the big city. Great beach read for foodies!

      1. Alma*

        I’ve read almost everything she has written. My Kitchen Year is on my list now.

        To see time pass along with her life experience is fascinating. The “food porn” isn’t bad, either.

    2. Kyrielle*

      I am so completely not a foodie and just … I wouldn’t enjoy most of those meals. And I _still_ love her books. She’s an amazing writer, and lets me “enjoy” the food experience, in a way I wouldn’t if I were actually eating that stuff. :)

    3. GreenTeaPot*

      Love the chapter in “Comfort me with Apples,” when she lands in Paris and cobbles together a meal in her friend’s apartment. I think she also rendezvous with Colman there, IIRC…

    1. Amber Rose*

      Oh, oh! Castle Panic! It’s a cooperative game where everyone tries to defend a castle against ever increasing hordes of monsters. You get points for each kill so there’s still a winner, unless the castle falls and everyone loses. It’s pretty funny trying to coordinate castle defense whole also trying to have the most kills.

      I also enjoy Haunting at House on the Hill, which always has a different game board and a different objective. It’s never boring because you never know, will you be fighting werewolves, or will the house sprout wings and fly away while you try to escape, or will you become a vampire and try to turn all your friends. The odds are weighted against you though. I got stuck in a hallway for three turns and then eaten by a tentacle monster once.

      1. LizB*

        +1 for Betrayal at House on the Hill (which may or may not be related to the book The Haunting of Hill House — very easy to confuse those titles!). Probably my all-time favorite game, and I play a lot of games. I love the variety, I love the role-playing and atmospheric elements, I love that it’s partially cooperative. (I also love ending up as the traitor, and trying to kill everyone before they kill me… one time I managed to beam them all up to my spaceship and win the game! It was great.)

    2. Tau*

      I have no idea how anyone is supposed to pick just one here…

      Pandemic is one of my favourites – I really like co-op games and this is one that’s managed to be interesting and leaves the tension in the game. Caveat that moves generally do end up being agreed communally and so shy people and newbies can rather go under.

      Primordial Soup I haven’t had the chance to play in ages :( but is really fun with varying effective strategies that depend strongly on what other people are doing etc., and the premise is adorable. (You’re playing as a tribe of amoeba attempting to thrive in the primordial soup, and you can buy genes that give you certain abilities.)

      Settlers of Catan is a classic but is so for a reason!

      Two honourary mentions:

      Dominion is a card game, not a board game, but I mentally assign it to the “board game” category because it does take a lot of space to set up and play. This has great replay value as the effective strategies can vary hugely depending on what cards you’re playing with, is nicely strategic while still having that element of randomness I personally miss in games like chess, and doesn’t drag on for too long.

      Saboteur is also a card game that requires lots of space, and is great for slightly larger groups and newbies – the actual gameplay is super simple, but there’s a Mafia-like premise in which there are two teams and nobody knows who’s on which team to start which makes it interesting and memorable.

      …I should stop now or else I never will…

        1. Tau*

          I’ve played Bang and it’s similar in premise, with good guys and bad guys and you working out who’s who from what they do. The basic gameplay for Saboteur is that you’re dwarves taking turns to expand a tunnel network (via laying cards). Most of you are miners who want to reach the gold at the other end, but a few of you are saboteurs who want to keep the other dwarves from reaching the gold until you run out of cards. There’s a few complications, and an expansion with more roles (my favourites there are the geologists, who want to get as many crystals visible in the tunnel network as possible by the time the game ends) but that’s basically the gist of it.

      1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

        Is Saboteur also called Mafia? (sort of remembering the rules:) where everybody is handed playing cards and the card determines like what ‘character’ you play, either from the team ‘Crimminals’ or the other team the ‘Law’?
        Then something about like turning around or closing your eyes while someone asks questions, and if the question applies to you, then you raise your hands.. can’t remember how you figure out who is a bad/good guy or how to win though..

        1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

          well i multitasked too hard and didnt read the saboteur explanation.. thats what I get.

    3. Overeducated*

      For playing the first time or with new people, Pandemic and Ticket to Ride: Europe (building train routes) are fun and solid but not overly complicated. For repeat plays, I like Dominion (card game that can have different decks and tactics each game) and Castles of Mad King Ludwig (building weirdly shaped castles!) a lot.

      1. Tau*

        We appear to have similar tastes in games – I’ll have to check out Castles of Mad King Ludwig!

    4. TootsNYC*

      I won’t say that these are the “best,” but really like these because they are lightly challenging without being hugely complex, and you can play them with many ages:

      Trans America (and Trans Europa): built train tracks across the country
      Kingdoms: lay down tiles to claim rows & columns and built points; sabotage one another (it has Dire Wolves!!)

      Alhambra: lay down tiles to build a walled garden; gain points for longest wall, etc. (I guess it doesn’t have a board, but I think of all table-top games as board games).

      Metro: lay hexagonal tiles on a board to create a continuous train tracks.

    5. JJ*

      Shadows Over Camelot is my current favorite. As you may have guessed, the theme is that you are members of the Knights of the Round Table, BUT….1-2 of you might be secret traitors to the group.

      So, you have to work together with the other knights to complete quests, but you have to make sure not to be so transparent when communicating with others that the potential 1-2 traitors know enough about your plan to sabotage you (though the traitors, too, have to be sneaky about how they sabotage others without giving themselves away). The knights/traitors are confidentially selected at random at the beginning of the game, and sometimes there isn’t a single traitor in the game at all so you just end up accusing each other, lol.

      I’ve never been the traitor. Not ONCE. I am looking forward to when that day finally comes. ;)

    6. GameNight*

      Ticket to Ride is a favorite when we have game night. I’ve played the USA and Europe maps and we typically elect the Europe version. There are expansion packs available to add variety and challenge. I like it because it’s competitive, your opponents’ strategy is a mystery, low learning curve so it’s easy for new comers to enjoy, and the name reminds me of The Beatles (which we usually play in the background).

    7. Emily*

      People have already mentioned a few games that I like (Pandemic and Dominion), but I’m also a fan of Carcassonne. People take turns drawing and placing tiles to build the “map” as the game goes on, and they can get points for stationing their pieces on certain features of the landscape (like roads, castles, farms, etc.). I like that the rules/mechanics are simple but there is still strategy involved.

      I remember liking Legendary (a deck-building/semi-cooperative game based in the Marvel universe), but I haven’t played it in several years to know if it would hold up to scrutiny. It was one of my first games of either of those types (deck-building and cooperative play), and it turns out that I’m into both of those elements.

      Not a board game, but I also like social games in the mafia/werewolf category – it’s just a lot of fun to try to figure out what other people are thinking and who is trustworthy or not. I once worked at a summer camp where the staff got suuuper into Ultimate Werewolf (like playing it most nights, sometimes multiple times), and it became very intense and calculated by the end.

    8. Alma*

      I don’t recognize many of these games – I must be Officially Old.

      A great game is UpWords – like SCRABBLE but you can top a tile with four more tiles to change a word. Scoring is easier. We allow the use of a dictionary (especially with school children, teens, and those of us who are super competitive word meisters with poker faces). I think SCRABBLE has bought the game… but the tiles are made to stack, and it can move quickly.

    9. Kate*

      This one’s an oldie but a goodie, mostly cooperative: Scotland Yard.

      There are as many detectives as you have players -1 and one player is Mr. X. The other players have to chase down Mr. X without knowing where he is in the City of London, using a limited number of taxi vouchers, bus tickets or a Tube rides. Mr. X’s position is revealed every 5 turns.

      Loved it as a kid, love it now. There’s actually an app version too, but it’s no fun just playing against the computer- you need other detectives!

    10. Withans*

      Not strictly a boardgame, but Bausack is probably the most-played game I own. The basic idea is to build a tower out of all sorts of fantastically-shaped wooden pieces. You take it in turns choosing a piece from the central pool, which you can either ask to add to your tower, or to foist on the next person along. Everyone’s got a limited amount of currency gems, which they can bid either to take the easy piece off you, or to pass the difficult piece along to the next person. It’s really straightforward, and you can make some incredible towers if you’ve got reasonably steady hands – one of my engineer friends made one several feet tall, all of which rested on a single egg-shaped piece.

    11. Brit*

      I see most of my favourites already mentioned.
      – I’m also fond of Ascension; you start with a base hand of 10 cards and use that to buy extra cards and fight monsters (I know it sounds similar but it’s different than Munchkin! Munchkin also being another fun card and monster fighting game).
      – Bohnanza is fun too. You get and plant your beans and then try to get enough to sell for a profit. It’s fun to try and negotiate mutually beneficial trades with the other players.

      1. Emily*

        Yes, Bohnanza! My boyfriend and I got that one a couple of months ago, and we’ve already played it a bunch!

    12. internetkimmy*

      I don’t think I saw anyone mention this one yet?

      7 Wonders is one of my absolute favorite games. It’s so well done and I come back to it time and again because it’s easy to play and learn but has really clever strategy as well. The basic premise is that you and other players have different ancient civilizations and are building world wonders, but it has a lot of cool mechanics (like passing your cards to other players each turn).

      The game can seem intimidating due to all of the symbols at first, but is actually quite simple and elegant once learned. And there’s a symbol cheat sheet on the back of the rules. :)

    13. ScarletInTheLibrary*

      Take a wild guess – Clue. Seems so simple but can be very mental. It’s a classic so a group of friends can create their own board easily. You can play with two to six people. Also I’m not a big “image” person ( usually only watch documentaries and read nonfiction), so I usually need a cooling off period for Pandemic, Magic, DND, etc. Not so with Clue. And Kill Dr. lucky, which is kinda reverse Clue is good if one needs variety.

      1. Alma*

        If you can find one on eBay, Stop Thief is challenging for all ages. It has a handheld device that gives clues (auditory), and by using your narrowly down skills all players try to determine where the thief is. Like Clue there are 4 different stores on the board, the thief is invisible, and if you heard the thief take two steps, break a window, and get on the subway, you can attempt to make an arrest. There are false arrests, successful arrests, and when the thief eludes arrest.

    14. Aardvark*

      Space Alert! Cooperative real-time game where you map out your actions ahead of time and see how poorly you did afterwards. Yelling, suspense, and hilarity ensue.

  5. Amber Rose*

    I went for a bra fitting this morning. I’m exhausted, sweaty and sore and I didn’t even have any fun. :<

    It's nice to have a sports bra that fits, since just last Sunday we were having a mini girl rant about having problems with not cutting our boobs off while drawing our swords. But man, I feel like someone sanded my chest.

    Is there a way to translate my Canadian size to my UK size? Cuz I'm about 2 band and cup sizes off what I usually wear from overseas but my overseas bra hasn't fit right for a while (it's old because wow are bras expensive).

    1. Hermione*

      Can I suggest you check out the Reddit A Bra That Fits? They have great advice there for finding the right size. Linking in a reply.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Seconding A Bra That Fits! Someone recommended it to me when was looking for a strapless/converible bra for my sister’s wedding last year. I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about bra fit, but this group takes it to another level.

      2. Marcela*

        I’ve read so many recommendations for that reddit thread, but once I went there, I saw they are full pro wire bras. And I don’t want to go back to wires, no matter how comfortable they can be. It’s like I oppose on principle, but in reality I don’t have any principle for that, beyond that I don’t want to wear anything with wires… but it’s the same thing with pink.

          1. Stephanie*


            G cup here. I don’t really think there’s much in way of non-underwire bras above a certain cup size. If sized properly, the underwire shouldn’t hurt.

          2. Marcela*

            Yes, I know. I wore them for many, many years and I had a couple comfortable ones. It’s just that I see no reason to wear wires. And having a perky chest on public is not reason enough. It’s the same reason I don’t wear super high heels or pointed shoes: I love fashion, but there are some places where I can’t see why I should go.

            1. fposte*

              I’ve really liked the Comfort Revolution wireless line from Bali. Obviously it’s a personal and size-based call (I’m 38C, IIRC), but it’s comfortable and reasonably supportive without being a smash-’em-flat for me. And it comes in a pretty wide range of sizes.

              1. Marcela*

                Yes! I have one in a bright teal, the most beautiful bra I’ve ever seen. I also like Warner’s wireless bras, although they are not so cute :D

            2. Nicole J.*

              “It’s just that I see no reason to wear wires. And having a perky chest on public is not reason enough.”

              I’d be interested to know if anyone had any recommendations for non-wired bras for large cup sizes. For me it’s not about fashion or being perky, it’s just that any bra in my size seems to have to be wired to provide the requisite support.

              1. Blue_eyes*

                I have a few non-wired bras and I’m a 34F. I like Lunaire or Anita brand (both available on barenecessities [dot] com). They don’t look quite as good as wired bras (not as much lift, separation, or shaping), but they’re super comfortable so I wear them a lot on weekends and around the house.

              2. Nancypie*

                Do you have a Soma store near you? They will fit you to their size and have no-wire bras in fairly large cup sizes. Very comfy and great support, you wouldn’t know by looking that there’s no wire.

                1. Snazzy Hat*

                  Seconding Soma. My size is not hard-to-find, but I was in need of specific styles & colors when I first went there. The saleswoman was very understanding, even when I was complaining about the odd fit of the bra I was trying on and she explained that the band is supposed to be level (not higher in the back) and the strap length adjusts where the band goes. I thanked her profusely and blamed my ignorance on how far away my mother lived when I was starting to wear bras. I’m pretty sure that if I had started crying from relief, she would have handed me a tissue. It’s possible I was wearing ill-fitting bras improperly for over 15 years.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          I have such a difficult time eith a bra with wire. I can’t stand the wire touching my sternum or near it.

          Shudders at the thought.

        2. StillHealing*

          I hate underwire bras and have started wearing “Leisure” bras. I find Woman Within online has Comfort Choice Leisure Bras that have big enough cups (DDD and or G) and no underwire.

          I’d rather just wear camisoles or tank with layers but the girls sag so much these days, I see they catch people’s eye and they need some support for clothing to fit properly.

          Gosh, I wish bras were NOT the norm and women of a certain age could just let their facial hair grow and it be celebrated rather than a norm dictating we must shave, wax pluck, or electrocute it. Sigh.

    2. LizB*

      “Exhausted, sweaty, sore and didn’t even have any fun” is a perfect description of my typical bra fitting experience. :( They’re just awful. No advice, just sympathy.

      1. Bibliovore*

        tell me about it. I went to a well-known manhattan bra fitting place with a pile of cash to spend. Because EVERYONE said the reason I hated bras was because I had never been fitted properly, I discovered that the real problem was that I just couldn’t stand the bra touching me. Really…the straps…the band…the cups..and OMG what is with that wire thing? Back to camisoles/ stretchy tanks for everyday and sports bras for exercise.

        1. Emily*

          After discovering that it’s really hard for me to find bras that fit properly (I need a small band, proportionally large-ish cup, and short underwires because I am short and a lot of bras with the proper cup size will poke me in the armpits), I switched to demi camisoles and haven’t looked back. Occasionally I will wear a real bra (I have two that almost fit) with a dress or fancy outfit, but most of the time I am happier without.

        2. Melissa*

          I really dislike bras touching me as well, but unfortunately I’m unable to get away with camis/tanks in the office. So I wear a sports bra daily, which is the least intolerable bra I’ve found.

        3. Blurgle*

          I rarely wear anything but sports bras. It’s nearly impossible to find a 40A bra with straps long enough to actually reach.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      I would recommend going to Nordsrom. The women there really know what they’re talking about. Nordstrom is expensive, but even if you can’t afford to buy all your bras there, you could get fitted and maybe buy one reasonably priced thing, and then know what to look for when shopping for less pricey options.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        It really depends on your size. I love Nordstrom generally, but they only ever carry maybe two bras in my size. If you need even a slightly unusual size, they don’t carry it.

    4. Evie*

      Invest the time in going through the bra fit guide & then order some of their suggestions. They have a far greater selection than any department store and the return process is far easier & less stressful to me than hunting at the mall.
      I always thought underwire brass were torture until I found some that fit.

  6. Gene*

    We’ve managed to trap two of the probably four feral cats living under our office trailer. One big (13+#) male and a 7# female. They’ve both been sterilized, flea treatments, rabies and FVLRP (?) vaccines, and ear tipped then returned. Had one other trapped, but the trap wasn’t fully latched and it got out when we moved the trap. We haven’t seen the fourth recently, it was always the most skittish, so we don’t know if it’s gone or just unseen.

    1. Allison Mary*

      Yay, thank you so much for using Trap/Neuter/Return!!! I occasionally volunteer for an organization that provides free spay/neuter services for feral cats, so I’m a big, big fan of this. Don’t give up on trapping the other two feral cats! Did you go through the “pre-baiting” process with all of them? I know the organization I volunteer for has a list of tips for trapping those hard-to-trap cats, I think I may remember at least a few of them, if you’re interested.

  7. Katie the Fed*

    I just planted 2 apple trees, a pear, a fig and an apricot tree in my yard. It’ll be a few years before they fruit, but I can’t wait. Learning as I go :)

    1. CM*

      Exciting! My big gardening victory was remembering to plant bulbs in the fall for once. This year’s goal is to split one of my houseplants and have it survive. (You’re way more advanced than me.)

      1. Natalie*

        I just noticed the green tips of my daffodils poking up. I had actually forgotten I had planted them last year.

    2. Jcsgo*

      Wonderful! My hope if I own property someday is to plant tart cherry trees. I grew up with a couple on our property – I would love to be able to make homemade cherry pies like my parents do! We also had an apple tree, peach tree, raspberry patch, blackberry patch and eventually an Asian pear tree. I loved it!

      1. Katie the Fed*

        We want to have kids and that’s the experience I want them to have. I have visions of making jams and pear butter with children.

        Tart cherries are a great idea! I was thinking of putting one in. I picked 40 pounds at a PYO place last year!

    3. Cristina in England*

      What do you expect the maintenance to be like with those trees? I would love some dwarf fruit trees but I am not sure I can handle more than a trim every now and again.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Fertilizing, pruning, spraying (although I’m trying to do this organically), and eventually thinning out fruit. Plus harvesting. Eep!

        1. Coffee Ninja*

          Oooh that doesn’t sound too bad! (At least, not more effort than what I currently have to put in my yard/veggie garden). I might plant one!

        2. Natalie*

          Get one of those basket pickers – I used one on a friend’s tree and was pleasantly surprised.

    4. danr*

      If you find that you’re not getting good fruit on the pear and apricot you may need to have two different varieties. The easy way to get second variety without planting another tree is to find someone with different varieties and ask for a couple of light branches to graft onto your trees. My father did that to excess. He had an apple tree that eventually had at least five different varieties on it.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Ah that’s cool! Everything except the apples are self-pollinating but I may have to do that if they don’t fruit well.

    5. TootsNYC*

      watch out for rotting (stinky) fruit in the yard.

      One of my paper-route customers had a pear tree, and I used to snag the pears from their yard.

      I want a yard so I can plan a mulberry tree. My neighbors had one when I was a kid, and I loved it! They really didn’t care about the berries, so I ate them all.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Deer apparently LOVE mulberry trees so I was thinking of planting one as a distraction from my other trees. I never gave it any thought – are the berries good?

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Oh I just looked them up – there was one near my condo – the berries were too high to pick but they fell all over the place and stank up everything!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            You pick them by putting a blanket on the ground and tugging on the branches. To reach the higher branches you can use a garden tool, such as a rake or a hoe.
            As you shake the branches the berries fall on the blanket. You will need to sort through them. They are labor intensive like strawberries are because they are small,but you can make pies and jams, maybe they would make good ice cream or muffins? Not sure

          2. fposte*

            And they stain. And the birds eat them, and then the bird poop stains. I’m not a mulberry fan.

            1. Natalie*

              Us neither. Our mulberry is right over the main path to our house and our garden so we track mulberries everywhere and they cause rot in the garden. We’re going to cut it down this year, actually.

        2. TootsNYC*

          They are AMAZINGLY good. Sweet, flavorful. They make raspberries and blackberries taste like paper.

          Very, very soft–that’s why you can’t buy them in stores; they smush so very rapidly. They usually show up in jam.

          I don’t remember them stinking so very much next door–but the tree produced a ton, and the ground was always slightly smushy from them.

          My mother said, when I spoke of my mulberry-tree dream, “Yes, and your neighbors will hate you, because the birds will poop purple mulberry poop on their clothesline–and it doesn’t come out.”

          I don’t care. They are delicious.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Hmm now I’m not sure what was next door. They were whitish – when I googled mulberries a whitish berry came up.

            Those do sound good though! I want all the trees! And all the veggies.

            1. TootsNYC*

              some mulberries are purple, some are white.

              The tree next door had mostly purple, but there were some branches that produced white-to-purple berries that were sweeter and milder.

              I remember blue jays in the area, but I never had any competition for the mulberries!

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Yes, it has a pretty shape to it, the branches go out from the trunk a good ways. By comparison, maple seem to grow upward more where as mulberries tend to go more laterally. But mulberries will get tall. And old and still viable tree near me is probably as high as a two story house.

                  It’s one of those trees, like catalpas, that you do not plant near walk ways or near where you park your car, because of how they litter the ground through the seasons.

        3. Lore*

          Blue jays also love mulberries more than anything. We had mulberry trees outside the front door growing up and the jays were so vicious in pursuit of the berries that a) we never got to eat any and b) we pretty much couldn’t use the front door when the mulberries were ripe because the jays would swoop at you if you came within a foot of their bounty.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        Rotting stinking fruit. . .ugh. I have a persimmon tree. Some insightful genius planted it near the sidewalk that goes from the driveway to the garage side door, so there are smashed, rotting persimmons over the sidewalk in late summer and fall. Yay. We have somewhere around 15 trees, and some of the others are maples (helicopters all over) and a London Planetree, which bears spikey seed balls. Hope I’m not squashing everyone’s tree excitement. They’re great to have, just messy.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Ha, my husband forbade a persimmon tree. He had one when he was growing up and he has awful memories of cleaning up rotting persimmons from the ground.

          I think when it’s fruiting time I’ll spread some tarps or something to help. Deer and squirrels should also help with the cleanup.

          1. TootsNYC*

            For my mulberry-tree dream, I’ve invented a system of mesh “tarps” w/ grommets in the corners, and poles w/ spikes on each end to stick into the group and loop the grommets over to catch the fruit as it balls from the tree when I shake it.

          2. AnotherAlison*

            Deer do love apples. (Apparently also not persimmon fans.) My neighbors have an apple tree, and the deer get on their hind legs to pull fruit off the tree. It’s cute, since they’re not my apples.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Deer know EXACTLY when the fruit is perfectly ripe, too. My cousin went to bed planning to pick plums or something the next morning as she thought they would be a at peak flavor. She got up the next day and all the lower level fruit were totally gone. The deer also knew that the fruit would be at peak flavor.

        2. Snazzy Hat*

          The house in which I grew up had two plum trees in the backyard. The trees were there when we moved in and we didn’t have the ambition to cultivate them. I won’t eat plums because the stink of rotten plums is too traumatizing. I believe when I was ten we had the trees uprooted and removed.

        3. Hlyssande*

          Send me all of your persimmons. Persimmon pudding (using the non-Asian persimmon variety) is such a nostalgic thing for me and I haven’t had it in 10+ years because I no longer live in an area where I can get them.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My neighbors had a mulberry tree that they didn’t care about either, and my kids and I used to stand at the back fence and eat and eat them from the branches that overhung our yard.

      4. Hlyssande*

        Mulberry trees are my childhood, I swear. So delicious and also great for muffins and things.

        But be prepared for stained feet/shoes/etc and drunken wasps when the berries hit the ground.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I’m so jealous! I’m thinking of a Meyer lemon tree for my sunroom. I just responded to your lemon post. I would love to live somewhere I could grow lemons and grapefruits. But i think places that have lemons and grapefruits also have god-awful heat and lots of nasty creepy crawlies.

        1. Stephanie*

          But i think places that have lemons and grapefruits also have god-awful heat and lots of nasty creepy crawlies.

          Ha, accurate. We had a lot of grapefruits last year. None this year. :(

    6. CharlieCakes*

      Funny. My friend was talking about her trees today and she said that she had heard that you’re not supposed to pick any fruit off the tree or think it’s dead for three years. She’s had her house and new trees for one year. Meh, no harm in waiting I suppose.

    7. Noah*

      My neighbourhood growing up was built on an old orange grove. So many oranges. We gave them away to everyone we knew. We had random people come and pick them to sell. We still would throw away tons. I miss having them though.

      1. Gene*

        Our house was on the border between the orange grove and the grapefruit grove so the front yard was 6 grapefruit trees and the back yard had 6 orange trees. It was citrus heaven!

      2. Katie the Fed*

        If the apples work out, I should have a ton and would like to donate some to food pantries.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Maybe you could get some youth group to pick them for donating, to keep up with them. It might be a cool project for them.

  8. NDQ*

    During the past year, I have been going through my home and getting rid of stuff I don’t want, like or enjoy. It has been tough, but wonderful to feel free. It’s funny how items I’ve had for decades really weren’t things I got any enjoyment out of, but kept out of obligation. I hope that all of this stuff brings others joy.

    A few things I am wondering if I should try to sell on eBay, such as china, but not sure the work of listing and shipping individual pieces is worth it. Any ideas?


    1. katamia*

      Do you have a younger relative or neighbor you’d trust to list them on eBay or somewhere for you in exchange for a percentage of whatever they sell for?

    2. fposte*

      I’m in a similar position, and I don’t want to deal with eBay; there’s a place near me that sells on eBay for a hefty percentage of the sale, and that’s what I’m planning to do. I’m really not looking to monetize, just to get them out of the house and, when it’s stuff that may be of value, to people who would appreciate it.

    3. Cristina in England*

      You could sell it as a lot, even if it is a couple of different sets. Then you could just do one listing.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I really wish I could find people who have few other skills but make a living selling stuff like that on eBay. Sort of like fposte’s, only it would be nice to feel I was contributing to someone who could use it. I don’t even want my share of the profit.

      I probably would offer the china on some place like Craigslist, freecycle, neighborhood listserv, or find some sort of “poor people” charity and see if they would want it.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If you don’t need the money, I’d just donate them, post on social media asking if anyone can use them, or list them on Craigslist. The last one is almost as much of a hassle, but you can kind of set your own terms more since you’re giving it away. If you do, then I’d look into what the others said.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I had someone sell some Lionel trains on ebay for me. What a kerfuffle. He was picky. I mean PICKY. But experience taught him that he had to be picky, because his customers were just as picky. He got them sold, pretty fast, too. I was surprised at what people went into bidding wars over and what they ignored. I think he took about 25-30%. He did explain why he needed so much. He had to pack things PERFECTLY for shipping, his reputation was absolutely dependent on the item being in good condition at the start and the item not getting damaged in shipping, either.

      It could be the person who I did business with. Or it could be WHERE I did business, I went to a very wealthy community and the person seemed to be under a lot of stress about his reputation. He kept his word and I had no problem with the transaction itself, but I think we were both glad when I left the last time.

      If you can handle this locally, you might be better off. I did do business with a place that buys people’s old china and I was very impressed with them. I just checked and they are still in business. Replacements Limited. Their home page is replacements dot com. I think the last time I called them was about 15 years ago, but I found them to be outstanding.

      You will need to know the manufacturer and the name of your pattern. The manufacturer is on the back of the dish for most patterns. They may be able to help you figure out the name of the pattern over the phone if you do not know the name.

    7. it happens*

      I recently went through this. First, look up your china pattern on replacements dot com and see if they will buy any of the pieces. If you can’t identify the pattern you can send them a picture and they’ll get back to you.
      Sadly, china (and silver) is not very popular any more – so even if it was your great-grandmother’s special wedding china that was only used three times a year, it doesn’t matter. Really, an auctioneer told me that full sets of china auction for well under $100.
      But there are some exceptions and maybe you have one.
      Otherwise, I would try replacements, then craigslist for a week (you never know) and then donate it.
      Empty space in the house is so freeing! Good luck

    8. Belle diVedremo*

      If you don’t need the money, are there shelters, refugee resettlement, or other local groups that help people set themselves up in new homes that would like sets of dishes, and maybe other stuff? We have one here that asks for this kind of thing.

  9. katamia*

    Online dating. How far is too far away for someone you don’t know?

    For the first time in ages, I found someone who looks interesting on OKCupid (actually, he found me), but he’s more than an hour drive away, and a lot of that is highway (read: distance-far away rather than just time/traffic-far away). That just seems so far to go for someone I don’t know yet. Actually, no, it would seem pretty far even for someone I DID already know. *sigh*

    1. Overeducated*

      I think that answer changes with the person. Might be worth meeting to find out whether your instincts say “not that far after all!” or “meh, I’m getting home way too late tonight.”

    2. BSharp*

      I tended to give it a shot if it was within a few hours. But I’m a little nomadic, so it made sense for me.

    3. anonanonanon*

      I have a 5 – 10 mile radius around my city, which is about how far I can get on the subway or public transport without too much hassle. I know it’s probably limiting me from meeting some great people an hour or so away, but I’m not renting a car or trying to get somewhere off public transport routes just for a first date and it wouldn’t be fair if I expected them to come into the city to meet me.

      I wouldn’t have a problem traveling a longer distance for someone I already knew or had been dating for awhile, but not for a first date or someone I’ve never met before.

    4. J*

      Ha, I’m from the middle of nowhere and used to drive 30 minutes just to see a movie. An hour drive is nothing to me. But maybe you can meet halfway somewhere for a drink or coffee?

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Yes, see if he’s willing to meet somewhere half way. Unless the idea of an hour away is just completely a drain to you. There are some people who have no problem with an hour’s (or more) drive. And then there are others for whom if it’s more than 5 minutes, they can’t be arsed. You want to meet him sooner than later so you don’t get carried away. He may seem great on paper or by text, but in person you just may not be feeling it.

        If you’re not interested, then let it go. There’s no law that says you have to pursue it. IMO, what have you got to lose except one night in front of the TV? So long as you practice all the online dating safety things, it should be fine.

    5. Hush42*

      I think it depends on where you live and what’s normal for you- I live in the middle of nowhere and I would have to drive that far for almost everyone who doesn’t also live in my tiny little town. I have a 30 mile-50 minute commute to work and my best friend lives right around there as well so driving an hour for a date doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. However I can see how it might be if you were used to everything being within 20 minutes of you.

      1. katamia*

        It’s really the distance more than the time somehow. I’m in the DC suburbs, so it takes forever to get anywhere anyway, but the knowledge that no matter how lucky I get with regard to traffic, it will NEVER be a short trip to see him if I decide to meet with him is bizarrely stressful, especially since I’m actively not looking for something too serious. I want to move within the next year or two, and I want someone to hang out with exclusively/semi-exclusively while I’m cooling my heels here. If I were seriously looking for a future husband, I hope I’d be a little more willing to travel far, haha.

        1. Christy*

          I’m also in the DC burbs. Do you both work in the District? That’s the only way I can see it being worth it for you. It was a little different when I lived and worked in the District–I could drive out for someone. Now that I’m in the burbs, I honestly wouldn’t date anyone in another burb. I would date someone who lived in the District. I certainly wouldn’t date someone in another metropolitan area (aka not someone from Baltimore or Fredericksburg).

          1. katamia*

            No, I work from home. Not sure whether he works in the District (which would be way more convenient for me than the area he lives in) or somewhere else, but assuming he works roughly near where he lives, I’d have to drive a good distance down 495 to get to where he is (although I wouldn’t have to cross any bridges or state lines), and there aren’t a whole lot of great meeting areas roughly halfway between. And while I live in the DC suburbs, I actually spend a lot more time in the Baltimore suburbs like Columbia and Laurel (actually, I’m not sure if Laurel is considered a Baltimore or DC suburb) than I do in many of the other DC suburbs, so I don’t know the area between us well enough to be able to suggest good meeting spots.

            I guess we could meet in DC, but the more I think about it, the more I think it might just be too far away for anything to develop, especially since I’m kind of a low-energy person and I’m not good at planning things. *sigh* Sorry, dude. It’s not personal.

            1. Christy*

              Oh dude, no way. I live with my fiancée near Bethesda and she works in the middle of PG and her commute is at least 1.5 hours on transit. AT LEAST. No way that’s worth it. Even without traffic it’s a 30 minute drive.

              I’d just say “sorry, too far. “

            2. Overeducated*

              It sounds like you’re just not that excited. And that’s ok, better for both of you not to waste your time and energy in that case.

    6. fposte*

      Oh, I know this problem; I’m in the middle of nowhere, and I really didn’t want the two-hour drive that it would take to get me somewhere. I did meet a three-hour-away guy semi-halfway once, and I think we’d have kept dating if we were in the same town but it just was too far.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Hmm, well I dated someone who was several states away, but I knew him from an online social area we both still hang out in (that got awkward for a while after we broke up but is mostly okay now). IMO, you should meet at least once to gauge chemistry, etc. I would date someone in St. Louis if they were worth seeing–it’s a three-hour drive, but I have family over there, so if it didn’t pan out, a trip wouldn’t be a total loss.

      A new criterion for anyone I happen to meet here is this: he has to be willing to relocate from this area (or better yet, not be from here at all) because I do not want to spend the rest of my life in this backward, racist, homophobic craphole.

    8. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I think it also depends on how settled you/they are in your current locations. Are you renting and working in a job you might leave in a few years (or, alternately, your workplace is in between your home and theirs)? Is your potential date in a similar situation? If so, I’d be more likely to give it a shot than if you own your home and love it, and know they also feel very rooted to their current location.

      Still, I think in your shoes I’d give it enough of a try to grab coffee or dinner and see what the feeling is in person.

    9. sugared out*

      When I met my (now) fiance, he lived three hours away. We met through mutual friends so he had already been vetted, so to speak. I was comfortable with that distance because it allowed me to really get to know him and not get so caught up in the physical aspect of things, which I had a tendency to rush into.

      Long story short, I moved to his city several months later, stayed for a year, and moved back to my city. He moved to my city a few months later, and we are getting married in a few months.

    10. Dan*

      There’s no easy answer to this one, as different people have different tolerance levels. I live in the DC suburbs too, on the VA side, I think about 20 miles or so from the city.

      I don’t think twice about dating people in the city, partly because that’s where we are going to go on lots of dates anyway, and partly because I work in Tysons so I’m already “half way there.” I will admit that when I worked at my previous job (which was pretty much in Loudon county) that the idea of going into the city after work was a big drag.

      Would I date somebody with an MD address? Maybe parts of MoCo, but PG is going to be a big drag. TBH, the idea of dating someone in Loudon county isn’t high on my radar either. Also, some people (like me) aren’t stuck where we are for life. So if things take off, it’s not like we’re obligated to stay in my suburban shindigs, nor am I necessary going to “resent” you if I end up moving.

      Oh, I’d say one thing to really keep an eye one: Do they rent or do they own? Owners are more likely to be “stuck” than renters are.

      1. katamia*

        I get that. I’m on the MD side, and while I’d be willing to date someone in DC, VA is just too far. But I’m not looking for something really long term, especially since I want to move (and I don’t mean like moving to Baltimore or Philadelphia or Richmond or even New York, I mean I want to find a job in Asia or Europe or Central or South America). And I don’t know how much effort I want to put in (or have someone else put in) when I’ll be leaving (and am, honestly, already kind of gone emotionally). The chances of my finding someone who’s interested in leaving about when I’m thinking of leaving and going someplace where I want to go are pretty slim, especially living in a place that a lot of people tend to migrate toward rather than wanting to leave.

        I do like the idea of looking into whether they own or rent, though. That didn’t occur to me.

        1. Dan*

          I have to admit, I’ve read profiles on okc and think, “if your dream is to pack your bags and move halfway across the world, what are you hoping to find on a dating site?”

          I’d like to do that, but realistically, my job is too damn good to up and leave for the heck of it. My company is starting to do international work, so my best bet is to wait and see if they are going to try and do overseas assignments.

          1. katamia*

            Yeah, I don’t blame you for thinking that. In my case, I’m not moving for at least a year, and while that specific desire isn’t on my profile (I get a lot of weird messages from people in other countries already, and I want to limit the “Hey, wanna come to my country?” stuff), I’m pretty open about not wanting anything super serious. I think if I were envisioning a long-term future for myself with someone right now, it’d be easier to get myself motivated to meet up with someone who’s far away.

            Good luck on maybe getting some international work in the future!

    11. Blue_eyes*

      Anecdata here: A friend of mine met up with a guy who he assumed lived in our city. They met up in the city, but it turned out that the guy lived in a college town over and hour’s drive or hour and a half train ride away (his location was in his dating profile, but my friend didn’t notice). My friend definitely wouldn’t have met up with the guy knowing where he lived, but now they’ve been dating for over a year and just moved in together. So, you never know.

      Maybe it’s worth it to schedule an in person meeting. I think that will give you much better information about whether he’s worth traveling for. You may meet him and just not feel it at all, in which case your problem is solved!

      1. Overeducated*

        I think this is not that uncommon! I used to live in a small-medium city about 50 miles from a huge city, and multiple friends decided that to have a decent shot at online dating they had to be willing to date people in the big city because the local dating pool was just not big enough. Especially for smaller demographic groups (e.g. J-date) or for avoiding people you knew from work or school after a few years (even in a city it can be surprising how many of your “matches” aren’t new). None of them were able to get up the momentum for a relationship at that distance though. Even meeting people for first dates was a big enough deal that it was hard to do frequently.

    12. louise*

      When my husband and I were dating, we decided anything over 900 miles was probably too far…800something? We’d give it a shot. :) We didn’t meet online, though. We ran into each other in person 2 or 3 weeks before I was moving and each remembered the other from several college classes together 4 years prior…so it wasn’t a total unknown, but virtually. It forced us to have really important conversations because it wasn’t easy to just go out. Our limited time together (he flew to my location for about 4-5 days each month) was really focused.

  10. North*

    I have a totally first world kitchen renovation quandary.

    We are slowly redoing our entire house after purchasing it from the previous owners who last did a quality but of its time remodel in the early 1980s. We adore the house, the vast majority of the work is cosmetic, and it’s all good.

    The kitchen has superb bones – good layout, good cabinets, etc. It’s got a formica countertop that’s not actually in bad shape but I’d like to replace it in the next 2-3 years.

    While I do not personally worship at the alter of granite countertops, I do quite like them and I understand that they will be a major selling point for the house should we need to flee to Canada in the face of a Trump presidency.

    Here’s the quandary: we live in a place that is very very famous for producing granite of a particular kind. It’s not terribly flashy but it is classic and we really like it. We like the sense of place and history it would impart to have the countertops of that kind of granite, and we like the color and pattern.

    I went to a few kitchen stores last week to start the inquiries on how much this particular granite would all cost and all the designers made faces. “Yeah, we carry it, but it’s so boring, and everyone who grew up around here is so sick of it, you see it everywhere, all the banks have their countertops of that kind of granite. No one ever uses it for kitchens, we haven’t done one in YEARS.”

    Because it’s not commonly called for in kitchens (most often used for statues and monuments), it will end up at about the same price point as most other mid-level granites, which means there’s not really a practical argument for going with it.

    At this point, it’s a purely aesthetic decision. We still like this granite but we also haven’t done a ton of looking at other types. What do you think? Go with the one we like but it might turn people off with resale value? Or pick something else that we might like, but lose that sense of place/history, that will have theoretically better resale?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      How long are you likely to live there? If it’s a while, I’d just pick something you like, since there’s no way to know what countertop trends will be in the future when you do sell.

      Also, I will put in a plug for the horribly named “white fantasy” quartzite (which is a different thing than quartz; it’s a natural stone). It looks similar to marble, and makes me happy every time I walk into my kitchen. You can see it in my old kitchen renovation pictures here:


      1. North*

        That’s gorgeous! It does look an awful lot like marble.

        It’s a little unclear how long we’ll be here. We love the house enough for it to be our forever home, but I’m also hoping I can talk my husband into moving a little further out of town to 15 acres in 5-10 years so that I can keep my horses at home. He may never agree to that!

        I’m trying to make my renovation decisions as something that I love, but also nothing that’s too “out there.” My sense of taste tends to be on the more sedate side, so that has matched up well until now.

        1. Artemesia*

          Granite is a bit passe. If I were doing a remodel now I’d choose soapstone or poured concrete — both can be stunning if done right. We have a black granite with kind of a fleck in it — boring but we love it and certainly love it more than the highly patterned ones that look kind of like spotted cats — you know the yellowy swirly ones. I’d go with what you think looks great in the kitchen and you want to live with.

      2. Gene*

        How was the quartzite for stain resistance? I’m liking that look and we are planning a kitchen gut and rebuild shortly.

        All I know for sure so far, is that I want an apron-front sink.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Weirdly, it stained once and then never again. That one time was the first week I had it, and I made a sauce with tomato and a lot of paprika. I don’t know which of those was the culprit, but I accidentally let a spot sit overnight, and the next morning there was a small (barely visible) stain that I’ve never been able to get out. I was horrified, and was thinking that the counters weren’t going to stand up to normal use. But since then, nothing has stained it!

      3. Persephone*

        Hey, we also have quartzite countertops! Now I feel like our kitchen has the Ask a Manager seal of approval. :) We put them in a little over a year ago, and they haven’t stained yet. It’s a striking look that’s more durable than marble. I believe our stone is called calacatta quartzite.

    2. fposte*

      Another vote for “pick something you like.” It doesn’t even have to be stone–there are lots of alternatives these days. But if it pleases you to have something from the area and you like this granite, why make this process more elaborate than it needs to be? (Unless you enjoy the looking process, which I quite understand.)

      I’ve been mulling countertops for a while and I considered all kinds of stone, composite, etc., and I never quite fell in love with anything until I found a replacement formica (well, alternative brand laminate) that would look great in my mid-mod kitchen. Bonus: way cheaper, less upkeep than most surfaces, and quieter. So that’s a likely plan for next year.

      1. Jcsgo*

        Quieter? I don’t quite understand this… (though I understand little about home renovations, having never done any.)

        1. fposte*

          The way you asked makes it seem like I hear granite roaring in the night :-). Putting pans and dishes down on a resilient material like laminate or wood tends to be less noisy than it does when you put them on stone because the impact is somewhat absorbed.

        2. TootsNYC*

          yep–everything clanks when you set it down on granite.

          (Me, I love my Corian! But I’m a big fan of laminate, actually)

            1. stevenz*

              Also a Corian fan. With granite, if you knock over a glass it will break. Less likely with a softer material. (Granite is hard as a rock!)

    3. periwinkle*

      If you’re likely to stay in your home for at least another 5 years or so, I’d suggest picking a countertop you like rather than one you think will appeal to buyers. If it’s something particularly out of step with local preferences you can update the countertops when you freshen up the house for sale. Not as cheap as having something universal, but then again a popular look gets dated after a while (prime example: your kitchen).

      We’re planning to renovate within a couple years and rule #1 is “no granite” because neither of us like that look. He’s in favor of black quartz, I’m leaning toward a darker soapstone, and we both want modern-looking high gloss white cabinets. Resale value? Eh, we can do some minor remodeling when we put it on the market. We’re the ones living in it now! If you really like the local granite, get the local granite and be happy.

      1. TootsNYC*


        Also–you bought your home w/ a slightly outdated renovation–yes? If your home is lightly upscale, the people buying it may not want to pay that terribly much more for a “no renovation needed” kitchen. They may be figuring they’ll swap out the countertop on their own anyway.

        Keep the good bones, and go with something you like.

        I think that a more cohesive overall approach to the entire home is more likely to net you a quicker sale/higher price than one “wow!” element like a countertop.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I agree, do not create a house for some mythical future buyer. In all likelihood what ever you do will get ripped out. Make it to suit you, the continuity through out the house will be more of a selling point than what color the walls are or what your counter top is made of.

          Locals are saying do not use this granite for reasons. Before you decide on what to do, look at many, many examples of counter tops. The more you look at the more it will firm up in your mind what you would like to do.

          A while ago, I had to decide on lighting for a couple rooms in my house. I almost drove myself nuts trying to find something, then I realized that I had to look at hundreds of lights before I picked out something because I have NO reference points. I don’t know what is popular, I am not sure what I would like and I was not sure how to use lighting advantageously in a room. It took me a month to decide and I am VERY happy with my decisions.

    4. Cristina in England*

      Maybe I have lived in the UK too long but if a sales person said all that to me about the one thing I came into the shop to ask about, I would go somewhere else! Sounds like an upselling strategy. Ignore it and buy what you like. I doubt that “boring countertops” would put off a significant amount of potential future buyers

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        It could also be a supply issue. If it’s not popular, then they may not have a supplier that they can get it from, or they would have to register as a new vendor at a particular supplier. Also, if it’s not popular, there is a risk that they would have a bunch lying around in the back that they can never use again… or for a very long time.

        There’s a place here that has a bunch of different marbles/granites/stones. I stopped in one day just to see what was there and they had something that was like looking at the sea. It was this beautiful blue-green with swirls like kelp or something in it. If I had had all kinds of money, I would have bought that right there and redone my bathroom featuring it. I can totally understand the appeal of browsing for stuff like that.

        Another vote for buy what you like. You could be there 5 years, you could be there 20. If you like it and every time you see it it gives you a lift (or at least doesn’t annoy you), that’s the important thing. Whoever buys your house in the future will put their own stamp on things and you’re better off not thinking about that if you plan on selling and moving. I know that if I sold my house, the ink wouldn’t be dry on the contracts before there would be bulldozers rumbling to tear it down and build a McMansion. I do what I can and what I like for me. Unless things change drastically economically or I become super famous, I doubt anyone would buy my house to live in it — which is what I would prefer if I had the option.

    5. danr*

      As others have said… get what you want. If you want that granite, find a store that will do it for you.

      1. V.V.*

        Hi Soupspoon McGee, just wanted to let you know, I checked out the website you posted and *sigh*.

        Someday when I have a house in which I may do with as I please, I hope to have countertops this slick. Thank you, without you I wouldn’t have known of the existance of such things…

    6. Princess Buttercup*

      We did a full gut-job kitchen reno almost 3 years ago, and unless someone was planning a flip or definite quick turnaround (say in a year), I would say choose what you like rather than what you (or others like sales people) say is better for resale. Why spend $$$ and then potentially spend years not loving your kitchen? And who knows what be the current trend when you do sell?

      We did a modern kitchen with white high gloss cabinets, white quartz cabinets, and blue iridescent cabinets, and there were people who tried to to steer us to a more traditional style. But we stuck to our guns. It’s our house, our style.

      1. Princess Buttercup*

        * blue iridescent mosaic backsplash, not cabinets! (Trying to picture blue glass tile cabinets!)

    7. Kristen*

      I have no comment about the kitchen issue, but I laughed at your Trump comment since I’ve been telling my boyfriend that I’m leaving for Canada with or without him if Trump wins/steals/corrupts the presidency.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I heard on NPR a week or two ago that, in response to the then-latest Republican debate, Americans had crashed the Canadian immigration website several times. Lol.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          I became eligible to apply for Canadian permanent residence (green card equivalent) right around the time W won his second term. At the time (I think it’s different now), people applying from within Canada had to apply through the Buffalo office, which also handles all US applicants. My application took twice as long as usual because of all the Americans trying to get in!

      2. Catherine from Canada*

        If you guys elect him, I want to move Our Country! I don’t even want to live next door!

  11. Alice Ulf*

    Does anyone live in or have familiarity with the Santa Fe area? I’ve decided to spend a week there for my quarter break in April, but I’ve never been before (I have spent a little time in Taos). Any suggestions for food, museums, outdoor activities?

    1. MsChandandlerBong*

      I live in Albuquerque, which is about 55 minutes from Santa Fe. I’ve only been there a few times (I just moved here six months ago from another state), so I don’t know any restaurants, but Canyon Road is amazing if you like art. There are tons of galleries. Santa Fe also has the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Art, the New Mexico History Museum, and the Museum of International Folk Art.

    2. Hypnotist Collector*

      The Railyards area has taken over Canyon Road as the hot spot for galleries — both are great, though the Railyard is more mixed with hip new restaurants and shops. Either way, plan to walk a lot to see the city; it’s the best way. The Georgia O’Keeffe museum is wonderful, and if your only notion of her work is coffee cups and posters, visit with an open mind to understand how revolutionary she was, and how deeply she integrated the New Mexico landscape into her work. There’s great food everywhere too. My only complaint about Santa Fe is that the sidewalks roll up early; not much of a night-life scene.

    3. salad fingers*

      I have family in Santa Fe that we visited a lot when I was younger. I can tell you that the plaza was always fun (is that what Canyon Road is?) and that you should eat every green chile thing you can find. I was also going to recommend the Blue Hole (basically deep, clear blue body of water used for scuba diving training), but on looking that up it looks like it’s a bit of a drive. That was a big hit with us kids, except for my brother who was a bit scarred (pun … not intended but noted) from sitting on a particularly thorny cactus at the diving point.

    4. Morag*

      I’ve been in NM for 17 years, the last 12 in Santa Fe. Others have already mentioned Canyon Road has always had lots of galleries and the Railyard is the new area. The Shed and Tomasita’s are classic restaurants for New Mexican fare. The Plaza is the historic center of town bordered on one side by the Palace of the Governors, “the oldest continuously used public building in the United States.” Museum Hill has several relatively new museums. El Rancho de las Golondrinas is just outside of town and a great place to see how life used to be lived. For hiking near by, there’s Hyde Memorial State Park and the Santa Fe National Forest. Bandelier National Monument is about an hour away to learn more about the Ancestral Pueblo people as well as more good hiking. If you have an interest in the history of science or the nuclear age, Los Alamos is about an hour away with the Bradbury museum for a history of the national lab and Fuller Lodge for a history of the town.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s so funny — just yesterday I was thinking I should put together a compilation of crazy posts from the past that newer readers might not have seen and might enjoy.

    2. fposte*

      Oh, I definitely remember that. I hope that person has found a good job and a little more perspective.

      And I love rereading the columns, especially when I can’t sleep. I’ll just hit the Surprise Me! and proceed chronologically from whatever comes up.

      1. periwinkle*

        I’ve been known to hit the Surprise Me! button… repeatedly, for a half hour or so. There are some classics that I always enjoy re-reading such as the legendarily aggressive dietician (and the update thereof).

        1. fposte*

          I would have loved to see that made into an animated short. The old Xtranormal ones would have been perfect.

          1. GH in SoCAl*

            I am the person who asked for the “Surprise Me!” button when I first discovered the site and was going through old posts. I emailed Alison asking for a “Random” button and she liked the idea and made it so! She gave it the cute name. It tickles me that other people are using it too.

        2. FD*

          That entire setup just seemed like something that would happen in a sitcom. In my head, the LW is played by Dwayne Johnson. IDK who the dietitian would be played by–Zooey Deschanel maybe?

          You can almost hear the pauses for the laugh tracks.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        I spent an entire summer as an intern with hours of free time every day (literally- I was performing a process that had to be repeated every 10 minutes. In between, those 10 minutes were mine to use as I wished) and read every single post. I considered it “professional development”- great internship!

    3. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Oh my.


      What did I just read. What rabbit hole did I get lost in?!

  12. Oryx*

    I’m getting ready to move at the end of the month. I’ve lived here for 7 years and am a bit of a pack rat and oof I have a lot of stuff. I did a bunch of purging a couple months ago and am doing the same as I go, but man. Luckily I’m moving into my boyfriend’s place so I can take stuff over in waves.

    1. Jcsgo*

      I hear you. Packratness runs in my family so I’m trying to stay ahead of it. I try to regularly purge – difficult when I’m so sentimental and have an archivalist-like personality.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I totally get the sentimental part. As a kid, I couldn’t throw away papers because I thought they had feelings! But there is stuff I want to get rid of, but I don’t know *how* to do it responsibly, so it continues to build up. Gah! (Like a computer chair–the seat and back are perfectly fine, but the pumping mechanism part is broken. It feels like such a waste to throw it out with the trash! No one on Facebook wanted it–even for free. And old TiVos. What do you do with that stuff? (And the TiVos actually work, but only record one non-HD channel at a time–they are from about 2005!)

        1. TootsNYC*

          You throw it out.

          Look–it will all end up in the landfill eventually. It’s only a matter of time.
          So then what matters is how much good or evil it does along the way. (much like people–we all die; what do we do along the journey?)

          Sometimes things (much like people) can be rehabilitated. Given new life, placed in different surroundings, they can go back to doing good. But sometimes they can’t.

          If it’s useless and taking up space–and making you feel guilty and stressed–it’s evil. Throw it out as fast as you can, before its evil spreads.

          I call this the “Stop me before I kill again” theory of decluttering.

          1. the gold digger*

            I consider it a great victory that after eight years of marriage, I was able to convince my husband to throw away his Apple employee manual and his Apple earthquake guide.

            He quit working for Apple in 1992.

            We live in a place where they do not get earthquakes.

            The world has not come to an end with his discarding of these items.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          I have a computer chair that I’ve been trying to get rid of for about 5 years. It keeps breaking, and my husband keeps fixing it, including when I thought the pumping mechanism was finished. I’ve had it since jr. high, which makes the chair over 25 years old.

        3. The Cosmic Avenger*

          The old TiVos probably have to go, because they’re just so far behind. (Our older one records 2 channels at once, and it’s 3 or 4 models behind the current one.) I actually have 4 ReplayTVs in my closet, because when they stopped making them I picked them up really cheap for parts. I should probably offer them for a few bucks or even free, but for now they’re stashed away on a high shelf in a closet.

          As for papers, I scan in everything now, then shred it. Even tax documents, which freaks some people out, but I don’t even get some of these things mailed to me any longer! I can download them from my bank, so I do, and I keep a secure digital copy, with a few backups.

        4. fposte*

          Aren’t TiVos eligible for electronics recycling? I’d do that. I’d give the chair one last go on Freecycle and then put it in the trash.

          I’m another whose paper had feelings, so I know what you mean. But I do find the Marie Kondo theory of honoring your time with the thing really useful. I was just today weeding some seriously sentimental things from my youth, and I kept reminding myself that I got lots of pleasure from them over the years and nobody expected me to hang onto them for decades.

          1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

            KONMARI! yes! I have her illustrated guide (spark joy) on my bookshelf at work.
            so inspirational! you read like two paragraphs and you have to go put it down to try out her methods.

            used to only roll up my clothes for summer camp packing; now everything except a few dresses are folded and my closet can breathe.

            and you know her methods have sunk in with me when i’m using phrases like ‘my closet can breathe’.

            I refuse to give up my sock-balling habit, however.

            also, my manager had to ask me to stop using random discarded small boxes for storage. I got rid of the visible ones in my work area, but my desk drawer is so contained and organized.. I can’t.

        5. Not So NewReader*

          Someone just mentioned to me that Staples sells that replacement part. I have not checked it out but I trust my source to know her stuff.

          I know I have to get tough with myself here, so I tell me, “Fix it or get rid of it.” It’s amazing how much broken stuff there is after a few decades of saving this stuff. I started a while ago on a kick of getting rid of the make-do stuff that is not working out.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Ha, I’m trying to do this also. If I get stuck getting rid of something, I slap on an episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive and remind myself that if I don’t need it to live, I probably don’t need it. Still working on paring down the crafts stuff, though. That probably won’t actually go until I actually move (dear Gawd soon please!) and then I’m sure I can sell a lot of it. :)

    3. TootsNYC*

      Taking stuff over in waves is REALLY inefficient.

      Purge, purge, purge; pack, pack, pack; move it all at once.

      Good luck getting rid of stuff!

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I disagree – we moved last fall, and especially because we were moving out of a very small place it was pretty much essential to do it in waves. There’s no way all our things would have fit in our old apartment without being in drawers and shelves and closets. Even just taking all the books off the bookcases and boxing them up robbed us of our entire living room floor!

        We only moved a block and a half, so we actually did the whole move in my station wagon. I really liked being able to do it that way. We did do the waves in themes – first all the books, then all the camping stuff, then all the games and knicknacks… so at each stage we purged things on that theme. Also, moving in stages meant that I was able to mix up the stressful packing with exciting unpacking, which reinforced the feeling that I was going to live somewhere new, not just leave somewhere familiar.

      2. Oryx*

        I get what you’re saying, but as of now it’s just us doing this so if I am able to identify some small pieces of furniture and non-essentials that I can survive 3 weeks without, then yes, I’m going to move it over a few Saturdays early.

        1. Ultraviolet*

          When I was moving in with my SO I brought my fragile stuff over in waves like that. I just took one box with me whenever I was visiting him or going to the grocery store or whatever. Even though it was a pretty small fraction of my stuff, it was really a relief on moving day to know all the delicate things were taken care of.

          1. Oryx*

            Yup, once I get some more boxes I’ll probably take dishes over and eat off paper plates. My wine glasses went over yesterday.

      3. Liz in a Library*

        With adequate time, I strongly prefer moving things in waves. No boxes at the new place; I can unpack as I go!

  13. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Anyone want to share anything about their username/Gravatar here?

    I’ll start: I was looking for a pseudonym to comment with where I could say whatever I wanted without worrying about blowback. I think most of you have read enough of me to know that I wouldn’t troll, but I wanted to be able to be freer and…more vigorous with my comments than I am using my other username, which is based on my real name and on many boards actually shows my full name. (And I’m the only one in the US with that name, AFAICT.) So somehow I just came up with something ludicrously pompous and self-aggrandizing, just to sound a little less serious by sounding too serious, if you know what I mean.

    And the image I use is Eduardo from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. He looks like a big scary monster, but is neurotically afraid of almost everything. I can identify with that a little. :)

    1. Oryx*

      Oryx and Crake is my absolute favorite Margaret Atwood book (Gravatar is the cover). It’s set in the near distance future and there’s a whole substory regarding extinct animals and using them as online profile names so it was an easy choice :) (Though it should be said that in our current timeline the Oryx is still very much alive.)

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        It’s a running joke at my work the number of things people call me. The most common is Leslie, but I have also been addressed as Lucy, Linda, Lacey (?), and Daisy (??). My actual name is Lindsey. It’s more common for people to get my name wrong than it is to get it right.

      2. Beth*

        My name is Elizabeth. People constantly call me Melissa over the phone. I think it’s the “issa” that people are hearing and they missed the other parts? I don’t even correct them anymore.

      3. SLD*

        I have about 4 names I get called on a regular basis (that aren’t mine!). My name is usually a nickname (but is actually my legal name), so at least being called that name makes sense.

      4. TheLazyB*

        Haha my sister is Lucy and people always mishear her name as Lisa. Last time she met someone called Lisa hijinks ensued :)

      5. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My name is Tracy, and I get Chrissy a lot, and also Teresa and Tammy. I will answer to Teresa because that’s my mom’s name, or Tammy, because that’s my best friend from college’s name. I’m accustomed to being called those by people who actually mean ‘Tracy’ but just slip up because they know my mom our know my friend. Chrissy has nothing to do with me, so I don’t answer to it.

    2. Lisa*

      My real name is almost impossible for strangers to pronounce. I got so tired of it my first two years of college I went by Lisa – the simplest name I could think of that I didn’t know anyone with! I still use it online. The last name I use with it is Droesdov, a reference to Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “The Devils,” which was a favorite of mine as a teen for its themes of doomed youth culture in authoritarian Russia.

    3. Myrin*

      “Myrin” is an amalgamation of my middle name and my hometown and it’s my “internet name” (meaning, I use it everywhere online, unless it’s already taken, then it’s usually “myrin[verb]s”). I came up with it on a whim – or no, thinking about it, I didn’t, actually. I had thought about what my pen name would be should I ever use one for whatever reasons, and decided it would be my middle name as a first name and my hometown’s name as a surname. And then, when I had to decide on a username for an anime forum, I shortened that and mashed it together and that was it.

      My gravatar picture is also the one I use on every online space I can be found. I decided on it randomly – I had the picture on my computer and thought it was funny and cute and I used to have bunnies myself and love them and yeah, I feel like my online persona is that rabbit somehow. Rest assured that I’m not actually a bunny typing with its feet but… maybe I am?

      1. fposte*

        I would use a gravatar, but apparently WordPress has another fposte (or maybe it’s me from another email years ago?) and I couldn’t use that name if I wanted a gravatar. So you’ll never know what picture I’d use.

        1. Gravatar Test*

          I don’t think the name and the email have to match. I’ve seen others mix it up; I’ll test it here. I’m using the email associated with my Gravatar, so I’m betting the image still shows up.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, wait–are you saying you put your email in the Email field in the comment box? I thought that would make your name a link to your email. It doesn’t?

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                No, the Website field creates the link, the Email field pulls the Gravatar, and the Name field is just whatever text you want to appear. They’re all independent, apparently! Put fposte as your Name, and whatever email you use for Gravatar; I swear, I’m doing that, and there’s no link for my name, right?

                1. fposte*

                  I would have loved to do something Cold Comfort Farm-ish, but none of the images I liked worked in thumbnail size. So I chose the image to which GH slyly refers (speedy recognition there, GH!).

    4. Rocket Scientist*

      I am an actual Rocket Scientist. (The correct title is really Aerospace Engineer.)

    5. Elizabeth West*

      My username is my pen name, which is a shortened version of my real name. But there is already a writer named Elizabeth West (she’s Salman Rushdie’s third wife, I believe), so I may have to change it at some point. Here’s hoping it will be to a married name, and it’s not something like Mrs. Smitty Wermenjaegermanjensen. :{

      My gravatar was my blog picture, but I really need a new headshot. So for now, I just updated it to my hair selfie, LOL.

    6. Wrench Turner*

      Most of my jobs have been very blue-collar, hands-on work, even when it was office positions with nonprofits. Although I felt I had a lot to contribute, sometimes I felt dismissed as a simple wrench turner. It stuck.

    7. Hypnotist Collector*

      Sure! Mine’s from Bob Dylan’s song She Belongs to — the one that starts “She’s got everything she needs, she’s an artist, she don’t look back.” The relevant verse:

      She wears an Egyptian ring
      That sparkles before she speaks
      She’s a hypnotist collector
      You are a walking antique.

    8. Mimmy*

      I used to use some variation of my first name + something else (last initial and SW, to designate that I’m a social worker), but when Jamie (miss her!!) offered to suggest new screen names for people, I jumped at the chance because I wanted a bit more anonymity. She suggested Mimmy, the name of a Hello Kitty character, because she said I reminded of her this character.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Ha, I just caught that the SW on your old screen name was for ‘social worker’. I always thought of it as ‘southwest’.

    9. Gene*

      Mine is my name. My Gravatar image changes when I find something I like, the Titanic Kitties is getting a bit stale, but I haven’t come across the image to replace it, yet.

      1. LBK*

        Before I inspected it more closely, I spent a very long time thinking your Gravatar was a drawing of Chewbacca. The shadow between the cats read as a dark sash of some kind and then my brain just kind of filled in the most logical brown/tan creature around that.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oooh, see, to me that means so much more when we know that YOU made that! That’s awesome! :)

      2. FiveByFive*

        That’s beautiful. Is there a way we can see it bigger?

        My username (as someone pointed out a few weeks ago) is taken from Buffy. It’s a catchphrase of one of the characters. I’ve noticed there are a few others with Buffy-related usernames.

        I have no idea how to make a gravatar :(

          1. FiveByFive*

            Wow! That is truly gorgeous! People need to click on that link to see it close up.

            I honestly had never heard of quilling before until I read about it on your link. That is really neat. You’re very skilled at it.

            Thanks for the explanation on gravatars :) I’ll try it.

    10. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      My initial user name was Diet Coke Addict, which is (obviously) a play on “coke addict,” and the fact that I could not let my sweet sweet DC go. But I did! I kicked a tremendous caffeine habit and now I almost never have any, which is why I am a former DCA.

      1. LBK*

        Someone should make a documentary about people who have quit Diet Coke – my manager’s tale was so harrowing that you’d think she was coming off heroin or something.

    11. Blue Anne*

      My username here is completely unrelated to my real name or any other username I use anywhere else. When I first started using it, I had blue hair, but I don’t any more.

    12. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      No surprise, I am Cajun (well sort of). For those of you who don’t know, Cajun’s are ethic group of people who were first exiled from France and then exiled from Canada during the “French-Indian”/”Seven Years” war and later settled in what is now south central Louisiana. The “2core” part is short for “TO-THE-CORE” which means completely through and through. I was born and raised in south Louisiana and I am of 100% French descent (I can trace all of my ancestors back to France). I came up with this name decades ago. The ironic part of it,” is that I am not *technically* Cajun. My ancestors did not come from Canada but directly from France to south Louisiana.

      The “(Mr.) part is because on more than one occasion, if have been referred to as “she”,”her”, etc. To correct this, I started adding the “(Mr.)”. The “(Mr.)” is not technically part of my name, so feel free and please leave off the “(Mr.)” and just call me “Cajun2core”. I also don’t mind and will generally respond to “Cajun” or “C2C”.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Oh! I thought there were two spouses posting: the original user Cajun2Core and then her spouse, Mr. C2C. Good to know.

        1. Ultraviolet*

          I was actually worried that Mr C2C had accidentally driven his spouse away from the board and made it his own thing and she wasn’t enjoying it anymore.

            1. Ultraviolet*

              That explanation just came to me after seeing Mr C2C a few times, and thereafter I felt a little twinge whenever I saw him. “Oh, there’s Mr C2C…can’t remember the last time I saw original C2C.”

        2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

          LOL! I am flattered that both of you noticed the change. Didn’t realize my posts were that interesting.

          This is not the first time that people thought I was a female. Either I have to get another username or I have to start “masculinizing” my posts! :-)

    13. Carrie in Scotland*

      Mine is my actual name & country and my current picture is a pretty one of books that I found on pinterest.

    14. The RO-Cat*

      Since this is an international readership I thought it would be useful to declare my country – there were one or two threads where it was relevant to the topic. So, I wrote my country’s international code (RO for Romania) with a part of may name. The gravatar is an outline of the country, colored in the colors of the flag (and Jamie – I miss her, too – looked at it and gave me “Aww, cute fish!” I laughed a lot).

    15. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I got part of my user name from Jamie when she offered to do usernames for people on an open thread. I think Mimmy and I were the only two who did. Jamie gave me “Mallory” from the old sitcom “Family Ties”, which suited me because back then everyone always said I looked like Mallory.

      I added the “Janis Ian” part on when another user started commenting under the username Mallory. I didn’t want to discard the Mallory part of my name, largely from fondness for Jamie. I liked the Janis Ian character from Mean Girls, and fposte had to tell me about the actual Janis Ian (which I’m a little embarrassed to admit, but it’s true).

      Finally, my profile pic used to be the silhouette with pink background sitting on a rock and reading a book. Reading outdoors is one of my favorite things! The longer I looked at that picture, though, the more it looked like she was squatting to poop in the woods. So I changed it to the current one, which still looks like “me” but makes it clear that no pooping is going on.

      1. FiveByFive*

        I always really liked Mallory on Family Ties. I guess because she was always written off as being kinda dumb, but she was actually very smart, sweet, and sensitive. I remember thinking I was the only one who noticed that, but I was only like 12 at the time, and I didn’t understand that was kinda the point the writers were trying to make :)

        Your profile pic is very pretty. I really like it. I love the colors, and it’s very serene.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I always liked Mallory, too, and kind of identified with her when that show was on. Most people didn’t think I was dumb, but in my rural southern culture girls got treated like they weren’t too bright just as a matter of course. I could see that she wasn’t dumb, either.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I never thought your previous gravatar was ambiguous…but then, I use the Chrome plugin Imagus (and before that, HoverZoom) to get a quick preview of images. And I very rarely browse on my phone; if I want to use my phone to pass the time, I mostly play sudoku or do crosswords. The lack of an easy to use ad blocker for Android is still a barrier to me.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Thanks for the reassurance. :-) All of a sudden it occurred to me, when looking at my avatar, ‘What if they think I’m pooping o_o’.

    16. Lady Kelvin*

      Mine is my dogs name, she’s named after Baron Kelvin (William Thompson), the Irish scientist who developed the Kelvin temperature scale. My husband and I are both PhD scientists.

    17. Lillie Lane*

      I will never have kids, but if I had a daughter, she would be named Lillie Lane [my last name]. Lillie after my grandmother Lillian and also Lillie Langtry, and Lane after my father-in-law.

    18. Doriana Gray*

      Mine came from offhand comments I’ve gotten my entire life about my appearance. I posted a pic on Instagram (around the time I started reading/lurking on this site) of me and my brother taken when I was about 7. Several people commented, “OMG, you look the exact same.” My face really hasn’t changed since I was about 1. So that made me think of Oscar Wilde and The Picture of Dorian Gray, but I also wanted to make it clear when I started posting that I was a woman, so I added an A to the end of the first name, and that’s how Doriana Gray came to be.

    19. Soupspoon McGee*

      I used to post under my first name, but I didn’t want some of the salacious details of my uber-dysfunctional former workplace to identify me, and another poster started using the same name. So, I picked something random and goofy. I probably settled on Soupspoon because I was eating soup. The gravatar is from a neat imaged I found when googling “Wonder Woman” and cats. Because why not? My blog has a much cooler name, but I didn’t think to use it until I’d posted a lot under this name.

    20. Nye*

      Mine is my trail name from hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m a biologist, another hiker referred to me as “that Bill Nye girl”, and it stuck. It was effectively my name for 5 months, and I like being able to use it again now and then.

    21. Tara R.*

      In a shocking turn of events, my name is not actually Tara. I have a relative named Tara who I don’t really speak to, and I tacked on the “R” (my middle initial) when I noticed another Tara floating around.

    22. Dot Warner*

      ’90s cartoon fans probably already guessed this, but mine is a reference to the TV show “Animaniacs.” The three main characters were the Warner brothers, Yakko and Wakko, and their sister, Dot.

      1. Neruda*

        I used to have a different user name but apparently I was the third one with that name!
        I changed it to Neruda after Pablo Neruda. We read one of his poems at our wedding.

    23. Seal*

      Mine is the name of my late cat, who was an enormous fluffy gray polydactyl boy. He was very soft, sweet and talkative. I still miss him!

    24. Felix*

      Oooo I love this chain! I know I’m probably still an “unknown” as I don’t comment that frequently, but I am starting to get to know some of you a lot more! FWIW, I really appreciate fpostes comments!

      My screen name “Felix” is just a name I’ve always liked. I started using it here because it sounds nothing like my real name and I love the anonymity. However, I think it throws people off sometimes as it’s typically a man’s name and I’m a woman (and many of my comments are gender related as I’m a raging feminist). I really don’t mind the gender anonymity but hope it doesn’t confuse folks (it wasn’t intentional!). As an aside, my boyfriend and I have an ongoing convo where I’ll say oh, “Insert typical male name here” is a great name for a woman! And he’ll argue that it’s too confusing for people. My rebuttal is always Jane in Firefly. If he can be a Jane, than I guess I can be a Felix!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        In our household, speaking of The Man Called Jayne may cause us to burst into song:

        He robbed from the rich and he gave to the poor!
        Stood up to the man and he gave him what for!
        Our love for him now, ain’t hard to explain,
        The hero of Canton, the man they call Jayne!

    25. Jen in RO*

      Many years ago, when dial-up was becoming a thing, I realized that OMG I CAN MEET PEOPLE FROM OTHER COUNTRIES… and that said foreign people are very unlikely to be able to pronounce my real name. My name translates as “Jane” in English… but Jane sounded kinda plain, so I shortened it to Jen. I have since found out that Jen is short for Jennifer, not Jane, but it was 10 years too late. The “RO” means Romania and I added it to subtly remind people that I am not American, though it’s probably *too* subtle.

      The gravatar is Kenny from an episode of South Park where the boys became metrosexual. I don’t really remember why I chose it, but I’ve been using it for 10 years or so. I think one of the reasons I like it is that I’m not really a person you’d associate with pink – I’m more of a tomboy and I swear like a sailor.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        When I first started reading here, I really appreciated people putting their country in their user name. It helped me to get oriented to some of the names and I found it fascinating to see people from all over talking with each other. So thanks for the RO in your name!

    26. Glod Glodsson*

      So much fun to read these! I thought about making a thread like this when I was figuring our gravatar a few weeks back.

      Mine comes from a Terry Pratchett book. It started as a throwaway line about misspelled curses:
      “Bad spelling can be lethal. For example, the greedy Seriph of Al-Yabi was cursed by a badly-educated deity and for some days everything he touched turned to Glod, which happened to be the name of a small dwarf from a mountain community hundreds of miles away who found himself magically dragged to the kingdom and relentlessly duplicated. Some two thousand Glods later the spell wore off. These days, the people of Al-Yabi are renowned for being remarkably short and bad-tempered.”

      Several books later, one of the main characters in Soul Music was named Glod Glodsson, an obvious reference to that throwaway line. It still cracks me up and when I wanted to make a username that was completely unconnected to my other online stuff, I came up with this. Even though I suspect it’ll lead to confusion since I’m not a dude :D

    27. FD*

      FD stands for “front desk”. I was working at a hotel front desk when I found and started commenting on AAM, and user names have never been my strong point. I’ve thought about changing it but I’ve never come up with something I liked better.

    28. Blue_eyes*

      Blue_eyes is part of a handle I made up more than 10 years ago, and I have blue eyes (shocking, I know!). I wanted something here that didn’t have anything to do with my real name so I could feel free to share details and opinions in my comments that I might not want associated with my real name. My gravatar is a drawing that a friend did of me. I like having the drawing because it lets people know a bit what I look like without being clearly identifiable if you met me IRL.

    29. Short and Stout*

      I copied I’m a Little Teapot and used the next line along in the song. I like the running chocolate teapot gag a lot.

      (I like ongoing in-jokes in publications in general, especially those in Private Eye that have a whole explanatory Wikipedia page.)

    30. hermit crab*

      This thread has inspired me to add a Gravatar! (testing, testing)

      Hermit crab funfact: Most species are actually quite social, despite their name. They’re just homebodies (by definition). That’s something I identify with. :)

    31. Finny*

      Finny is an old nick I’ve had since my high school days. My real name is “Stefanie”, and because folks, relatives included, are always misspelling it, I always introduce myself as “Stefanie with an ‘F'”. My drama teacher at the local university decided to shorten that to “Finny”, and it’s stuck ever since. It also helped that A Separate Peace is one of my favourite books.

    32. Windchime*

      Interesting thread! I’ve been using the name Windchime online for nearly 20 years. I started using it back in the late 90’s when I was dating a guy who gave me a pretty wind chime as a gift. I didn’t want to use my real name, so I always use Windchime when I’m in a forum or need a pseudonym online. I still don’t feel very anonymous because I talk about NewJob and OldJob a lot, so I feel like anyone who knew me and read my posts might still know who I am.

      1. You Don't Know Me*

        My handle on Jezebel for many many years was Miss Scarlet in the Hall with a Revolver. Then they changed how long names could be. I shortened it to Miss Scarlet in the Hall then changed it all together because it wasn’t as fun.

  14. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Hey, has anyone noticed that the lines next to new posts have occasionally been missing this week? I believe it’s expected when you haven’t commented yet, but I’ve seen it a lot this week while commenting frequently, and my name and email were definitely already filled in.

    1. Myrin*

      Happens to me all the time. I regularly clear my cookies, like Alison suggests (and suggested in the past), but it still happens, and completely randomly, too – sometimes it’s like it should be whenever I visit, then there’s a whole day where the lines don’t show up at all, the next morning it’s back to normal. I’ve come to accept it and not rely on the lines too much when I want to find the new comments.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Hm, that’s interesting. I use it somewhat compulsively, and I only started having trouble this week. But that was mostly one computer, so maybe it is the cookies. Thanks Alison, I’ll give that a shot. (I actually do a lot of beta testing in my spare time for fun and profit, so you know I’m going to spend a lot more time than I should trying to trace this issue!)

      2. Ultraviolet*

        It happens to me probably several times a week, and I can’t detect a pattern either. Not a big deal to me though. If it’s a post I’ve commented in I just ctrl+f my name to make sure I don’t miss a reply.

  15. Don't tell me there's a reason*

    Hi. Just wanted to say I’m doing better—as my hormones balance out my anxiety levels are decreasing, and the depression has been mild. It’s tough, occasionally brutal, but one of the dominant emotions is gratitude. I’m glad the kid came while it did. I’m glad I have my husband to lean on. I’m glad we have such a beautiful community helping us. Thanks for all your encouragement last week. It’s helped a lot. I keep coming back to reread kind words and advice.

    1. fposte*

      I’m so glad to hear this. I know this will color your life for some time, but I’m really reassured to hear you were able to get some relief and that your husband has been a support.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You are forever changed but you are still you. All in the same stroke.

      You sound good. I am happy to hear that things are a bit better. You were very smart to not allow yourself to fall too deeply into isolation. I thought it was a very cool idea to talk online like you did. Thanks for letting us know how things are going.

    3. Trixie*

      Looking at your AAM handle, I remembered a youtube video I saw last year. (I’ll include link below.) Focusing on the power of words in times of loss or tragedy. Sometimes it’s so hard finding just the right words, then realizing often there are no “just” right words.


      I am glad to hear how you’re doing, and have a strong community/partner to lean on.

    4. Jean*

      I’m also glad that you’re feeling better.
      It’s strange but good that horrible experiences bring out so much kindness from other people. Human beings are strange animals.

  16. Wrench Turner*

    After jumping a lot of hoops to get licensed, repaired, registered and insured I now have my very first motorcycle. It was my father-in-law’s, who surprised me with it for my birthday almost a year ago but we didn’t have the money to get it fixed just then. Now I’m tooling around the neighborhood getting in practice before trying to take on larger streets, and eventually the highway.

    That and day job and art job and whatever. MOTORCYCLE!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have done well over 100k sitting on the back of my husband’s bike. I have lots of fond memories. Always take care, but have fun too.

  17. Obviously Anon*

    This is likely to be a rambling post, sorry.

    Feeling a bit thrown under the bus right now. Background: wife has had to have two surgeries for Bartholin’s cysts in the last 18 months. So we have had essentially zero sex life in that time; after recovery from the first one, penetration was painful for her, even with lots of added lube, so less than once per month. Then a year after first surgery, surgery to removed cyst on the other side, nothing since. Since about August, 2014 we’ve had sex less that 10 times.

    I’ve proposed non-penetrative playing, mutual masturbation, etc, but she’s had issues with anything other than PIV in our entire 20 years together, no oral, ever.

    Yesterday she saw her gynecologist who told her she needs more foreplay. Rather than telling the doctor that she doesn’t like foreplay, she told her that with me it is essentially, “some lube and straight in.” Excuse Me! I’m the one pushing for a playful sex life, she’s the one who won’t play along!

    I know this is a product of her upbringing, her family is one of those who will put up a happy front while their world falls apart. Her dad had to go through DTs and alcohol withdrawal in the hospital without help after his stroke because her mom wouldn’t tell them he was an alcoholic; going from a handle or two of gin a week to nothing probably badly set back his recovery. But it was more important to keep up appearances.

    She can’t give a reason for putting it all on me and now refuses to discuss it further. So I’m pissed. I’m not sure where to go from here.

    1. Rocket Scientist*

      It sounds like your next step is couples counseling together. Both of you might want individual counseling as well.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      I’m with Rocket Scientist. She definitely needs counseling, her family life was chaotic and toxic. If she’s never dealt with that, then she’s trapped in those messages.

      But I think that you could ask her directly what you could do to help her. Not help her in the sense of “what can I do to get you to have sex with me” but help her. Does she need you to listen without trying to “fix” the problem? Does she feel safe and comfortable enough with you to confide in you about things? To cry in front of you? Does she need you to just hug her without it leading to sex? Foreplay doesn’t necessarily start in the bedroom. I’m sure she knows you want to have sex, that it’s important to you. But what would happen if you were just loving towards her without any pressure? I don’t know what those cysts are, but any kind of health crisis can be extremely scary, bring up thoughts of your own mortality and just generally freak someone out (someone cut into *my* body!). I’m not saying you have to be understanding until the end of time and go without forever — that may be something that you can only decide with counseling, that you have to split up because she is not interested in changing. There’s something else going on here and if she’s willing to work on it — if you are — then you have a chance.

      1. fposte*

        Not that people can’t be upset about health stuff, but Bartholin’s gland cysts are generally no big deal; usually they don’t require surgery but drain fine with moist heat at home, and the surgery is generally pretty low-impact and heals quickly. From what Obviously says, Mrs. Obviously may not have been all that comfortable with sex in general before either, so this may have been a tipping point of sorts. If they’ve been together 20 years, it could be this is coinciding with premenopausal tissue thinning and drying that would be a challenge in their own right. It’s also possible that she’s dealing with some kind of vulvodynia/vulvodermal disorder–I don’t know if she’d be willing to consider checking that out with a specialist or not, though.

        So another vote for couples counseling, at least so Obviously isn’t feeling like he’s being blamed for the situation. (None of my business, Obviously, but you’ve raised the topic–has your wife even been orgasmic? It doesn’t sound like you’re the obstacle if she’s not, but that could explain why she’s not really inclined to work through this.)

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Well, you learn something new every day! I had never heard of this Bartholin’s gland thingy before.

          But yes, your point is taken that this could be something Mr. Obviously’s spouse is using to get out of having to have sex — something that she never really wanted to do or liked anyway due to whatever issues or hangups she developed/was taught/went through. Or maybe this is a new thing, as you say, brought on by the changes in menopause/her body/getting older and feeling unattractive or whatever. Whichever way the wind blows, this is definitely a job for a trained therapist, provided Mrs. Obviously is willing to deal with whatever is weighing on her.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            And I just turned on the TV and they’ve got a segment on W5 about “a pill that could possibly cure women’s sexual dysfunction.” Apparently Addyi (flibanserin) is available in the US but not in Canada for women with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD). Interesting that a side effect from a heart medication resulted in Viagra and this new drug was a side effect from a new antidepressant.

            1. Christy*

              Addyi has some real flaws, though–it’s mostly aimed at women’s desire for sex, not in any sort of physical change in the same way Viagra causes an erection. Plus you absolutely can’t drink when you’re on it, and it’s not exceedingly better than a placebo.

              IMO, you should only take Addyi if you really want to have sex but physiology is making you not want sex. (Like, say, if you’re newly on Lexapro…ask me how I know…) Someone who doesn’t emotionally want sex and doesn’t physically want sex shouldn’t take Addyi. Someone who emotionally wants sex but not physically–that’s who should try Addyi.

              1. Dynamic Beige*

                Interesting… I just thought it was a funny coincidence and had never heard about this thing before. You can’t escape the boner pill ads and that was something that was also addressed in the segment; that there has been a bias towards sexual function being a very large component of men’s health, but that hasn’t been a focus when it comes to women’s health (even though it is just as important for women).

        2. Felix*

          Agreed. I came from a very conservative/religious background and felt very uncomfortable with any kind of play beyond PIV for the first 5 years of my sexual life. Turns out it is VERY unusual for most woman to climax from PIV. It was a total catch-22 for me, because sex felt like it only benefitted my partner and the things I enjoyed made me feel ashamed, which made me not enjoy sex.

          It took counselling and a really supportive partner to help me move past the past and be comfortable exploring my body and my partners body sexually without experiencing shame or guilt.

          I agree with the suggestion for counselling, but be prepared to find out your wife may have a much more complicated relationship with sex than she’s let on.

    3. Not myself tonight*

      I can’t say anything about the Bartholin’s cysts, but let me tell you about my endometrial cysts for… I don’t really know what for. Maybe it will help, probably it won’t.

      I had horrible pains all my life, not only in my period but when ovulating too. Sex was very painful. It wasn’t painful every single time, it happened sometimes, no warning, which meant we could not avoid anything to make the pain less likely. So I was gradually more and more afraid of sex. I explained it to my husband, and he did what he could. But sometimes I hated him for making me feel forced to value his pleasure more than my (uncertain and terrible) pain. I could not see why he could not understand. It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever experienced, because even until this day, I’m sure he does not know some days I just wanted to leave him so I would not have to have more painful sex, while at the same time I couldn’t and can’t conceive a life without him.

      We were lucky, I guess, for at this point I told everything to my gyn. I guess I was very stupid and naive, so all the time I talked about the “other” pain, the one preventing me live a normal life, thinking that was enough to be heard and treated. I am somehow bitter because it looks like only when I told my doctor that my husband could not get satisfaction, my suffering was finally heard. Well, a huge 8cm cyst was removed from my belly, I was diagnosed endo and put in a depo provera shot course, and all the pain disappeared. And all the problems were gone with the cyst.

      I don’t have a conclusion for this story. My husband and I value to be able to talk about anything and this was beyond our abilities. Probably we would have gone to therapy if my cyst wouldn’t have been discovered then. I don’t know. I just wish you good luck.

      1. Not myself tonight*

        With some time to think I realize my comment is not helpful at all. Even worse, it can be read as I think you -or my husband- are to blame somehow, which is something I do not believe at all. I guess now I have the moral of the fable: you can’t know anything just by yourself unless the other person tells you. And your behavior, as in being understanding or patient, can not be really directly related with what she feels. She needs to talk to you, because no matter how hard we want it, people are not mind readers. So I guess therapy or counseling, either alone and with her, are your best options.

        1. BSharp*

          FWIW, I found your comment gentle and enlightening. That sort of honest look at the emotions “behind the scenes” is golden.

    4. Obviously Anon*

      I’ll fill in some blanks.

      We’re in our late 50s. Since she had a total hysterectomy over 10 years ago, we can discount premenopausal changes.

      Up until the first cyst started causing her pain (which she didn’t say anything about for at least a month), we had an active sex life. Stultifyingly vanilla, but active and orgasms for her haven’t been a problem. Every time since then has been at her initiation; I’ve done my best to not pressure her, though I have expressed my frustration a time or three.

      She’s been in counseling for most of the time we’ve been together. Nothing seems to change, but that’s another conversation.

      1. Christy*

        Hmm, I hate when someone’s in long-term counseling and nothing changes. Drives me bonkers. But! Your advantage is that she’s been in therapy for a while, so she’s probably more likely to try couples counseling.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I had a friend who had a hysterectomy and her doc told her that women still go through menopausal changes in spite of having a hysterectomy. I don’t have first hand knowledge so am just throwing this out for consideration.

        1. After the Snow*

          If the ovaries are still there you definitely will have symptoms. Even without them there are still hormonal changes as the ovaries are not the only factor.

    5. No one we know*

      I have had recurrent cysts, Bartholin’s as well as in the same area but not Bartholin’s. When I was “active” the Bartholin’s were painful, but cleared after several days of sitz baths and hot compresses, usually with an antibiotic. But don’t even look at me until it cleared up.

      In the years since, with PCOS I have gained weight – and find the cysts are less likely to be Bartholin’s but still are incredibly painful. I soak. I change underpants twice a day when it is winter, and I am wearing pants, spanx, etc and doing more sitting.

      I have no aversion in any way to an active wild sex life – but that’s not happening. Dammit. But take me very seriously when I have a UTI, yeast infection, cysts, etc. Back away when I am in pain (and I javelin a low pain threshold). When you’re heavy (and I’m claiming that – you said nothing able your wife) and sit a lot for work, your odds of problems go up.

    6. Allison Mary*

      Warning! LONG post ahead! (sorry! I have strong opinions on this!)

      Have you ever listened to Dan Savage’s podcast? He takes tons of calls from people in situations very similar to yours.

      Personally, I share Dan Savage’s belief that it is never okay to unilaterally end someone else’s sex life. In other words, if I’m in a monogamous relationship (I’m not, actually), and I wake up tomorrow and decide I’m never interested in having sex again, I don’t get to tell my monogamous partner, “Tough luck, buddy” on the end of his sex life. Either I need to be willing to meet those needs myself, or I need to be willing to let him go get those needs met with someone else.

      So my first recommendation to you, is to meditate on this a bit, to try to remove some of what I’m sure is a feeling of powerlessness right now (which I’m sure is incredibly frustrating). No one can unilaterally end your sex life without your permission. You are not powerless here.

      My second recommendation is to go check out the book Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg. If you’re a regular AAM reader, you’ll know that one of the most helpful things Alison does is suggest specific phrasing and verbiage, because often that’s the hardest part to overcome – figuring out how to say something difficult. Well, this book has a heavy focus on that. It has specific phrases and “protocols” that are designed to help state your needs in a way that will have the highest likelihood of eliciting a compassionate response from the person you’re talking to.

      Next, at some point, after you’ve invested some time in giving yourself some empathy & compassion (which is different from working yourself up into an angry stew – the self-empathy should help calm and center you) I imagine you’ll want to have a serious conversation with your wife. You know how Alison often talks about how there are times when a manager needs to have a VERY SERIOUS heart-to-heart with their employee? And say something along the lines of, “I need to be very clear with you. If you don’t start making changes in area X and Y within Z timeframe, your job here will be jeopardy” ? I think those conversations are just as necessary in committed relationships, when the relationship is potentially on the line over someone’s needs not getting met. I would strongly suggest having this type of conversation with your wife – in as compassionate and sensitive a manner as you possibly can manage it, but in a way that is also very clear that this need is NOT optional for you. Here are some examples of ways I would phrase it, if I were you:

      “I know that you’re going through some struggles with pain and discomfort when it comes to sex. I want to provide a safe environment for you and meet your needs around this however I can. However, I need to be very clear with you that a total, unilateral end to MY sex life is not an option for me. My first choice is to get those sexual needs met with you – but if you tell me that’s not an option, I need to be clear with you that I will HAVE to go get those needs met elsewhere.”

      (Or, alternatively, something like “… if you tell me that’s not an option, I need to be clear with you that our marriage will be in jeopardy” although that seems a little more scary to me) And then continuing…

      “I want us both to get our needs met here. How can we do that? Is there a way for us to have a regular sexual connection that will be comfortable and enjoyable for you and satisfying for me? If that’s not an option, can we talk about safe ways that I could get those needs met elsewhere? I’m willing to be discreet/use extensive protection/avoid forming actual relationships with other people and just stick to sex,” etc., etc., whatever things you are willing to do in this hypothetical arrangement to try to ensure both of your needs are met.

      It’s important that this conversation ends with you asking collaborative and cooperative questions, to try to find a solution that will work for both you. It probably won’t be as effective if you simply draw a line in a sand and stop there – it will likely feel more like an ultimatum to her.

      I hope that is helpful. It’s really, really hard to have these conversations, but I do believe they’re necessary – just like the difficult conversations managers have to have with employees are necessary.

      1. Christy*

        I find Dan Savage’s position on this rather harsh for most monogamous couples. Dan acts as though true monogamy doesn’t exist (just because he isn’t 100% monogamous?) and shouldn’t exist. It’s a thing. And I think Dan’s framing is unfair to the partner without a sex drive.

        That said, I strongly agree that the sex-wanting partner needs to state this as a need, as an emotional need, and as something that may be a relationship-ender for him. Then, the sex-rejecting partner can consider it like any other need, and either accommodate it or not. And like any other unaccommodated need, it can be a reason for someone to walk away.

        Dan’s advice feels to me like someone saying “have sex with me or I’ll have sex with someone else”, even if it’s gently and kindly put. I think it needs to be more of a conversation, where someone says:

        “Sex is important to me. Having a sexual connection with you is important to me (if that part is true). I need that connection with you. As I see it, we have a few ways to help my needs get met while making sure your needs get met. (1) We could try some foreplay-type activities with no pressure for PIV. (2) We could try more often for sex, and if it hurts, we’ll stop. (3) You could talk to your doctor about sex being painful. (4) You could be involved while I masturbate (really nice emotional connection, actually). (5) We could talk to a couples therapist about this. (6) We could see a sex therapist about this. (7) We could set up certain boundaries and I could have sex with other people.

        There’s lots of options here for us. And I really want to figure a way for this to work for us. I don’t want you to have sex that’s painful, I don’t want you to do things you don’t want to do, and I don’t want to live an almost sexless life. For me, the ideal would be sex (however often). I think I could be happy with sex (however else often). But if we don’t start working towards those, and if you don’t start taking this seriously as an (emotional) need of money, then I’m considering leaving you, because this is really important to me. And if my partner won’t even work on something that’s important to me, then our relationship isn’t right. But I like our relationship a lot, and I want to find a way to work on this together”

        Yikes, guess I wrote a book too. I think it’s important to talk about scale (divorce) when having this convo. And I don’t think saying anything about “a total unilateral end to MY sex life is not an option for me” is either fair or helpful. Because the partner who wants sex could always leave. And that’s their choice–I don’t think you can put that 100% on your partner for rejecting sex. I think it’s a mutual thing where you decide that’s the best option for both of you.

        Really, I think the most important thing is that this is a need for OP, and his wife doesn’t appear to be caring about his need, or not trying see if they can meet both of their needs at the same time. If you can’t find a way to meeting everyone’s needs (of any type) in a relationship, then maybe the relationship need some I ended. And I think it’s kinder to acknowledge that than to avoid it.

        (I did my best on typos.)

        1. Allison Mary*

          I like the way you phrased your own sample conversation – I think that’s a great way to approach it, too. And if I were in Obviously’s shoes, that might be an even better place to start the conversation – simply identifying it as a serious emotional need for him, and then trying to open up negotiations in a collaborative way, to try to figure out how they can both get their needs met.

          However, Mr. Obviously mentioned above that Mrs. Obviously is now “refusing to discuss it further.” And if Mr. Obviously starts out with the conversation in the way you suggested above, and Mrs. Obviously basically sticks her head in the sand and still insists, “I don’t want to talk about this!” then I think stepping it up a notch and framing it in the more intense way I originally suggested would be appropriate.

          I just hate to see sex-rejected people in marriages go out and seek extramarital sex partners without having made it clear to their spouses exactly what will happen if this need isn’t met. And even though it will certainly feel harsh and scary and ultimatum-like to the spouse to hear the sex-rejected partner say, “This need isn’t optional for me, and if I can’t get it from you, I *will* go seek it elsewhere,” I think it’s way, way better for that to happen than for the sex-rejecting spouse to find out later on that the sex-rejected spouse was cheating on them and to go through all of the devastation that that entails.

          I mean, for me, I see it as a really strong parallel to that “your job will be in jeopardy if this doesn’t change” conversation that Alison often talks about. As an employee, yes, it would be emotionally devastating to me to hear those words come from a manager, but it would be a hundred times worse to walk in and find myself fired and to be totally unprepared for it and surprised by it. And similarly, I definitely believe that it will be devastating to Mrs. Obviously to hear Mr. Obviously lay it out in the way I suggested it – but it’s necessary, in the same way that the manager-employee conversation is necessary. Because I think it would be far, far worse to be “surprised” by the extramarital partner, just like it’s far, far worse to be “surprised” about being fired.

          But, maybe your suggestion of making it clear that this can be a relationship-ender for him would do the same trick. Personally, I think that approaching it from “this could be a relationship-ender for me” is actually a lot scarier and far worse than “I will get this need met elsewhere, if I have no other option, but I still love you and want to be with you.” But that’s just me.

          1. Christy*

            Oh, your response helped me clarify my feelings! I think if you’re driven to the point of cheating, and you know your partner isn’t ok with you sleeping with someone else, then you’re the one neglecting needs too. And you should just end the relationship.

            Put more simply–if you’re done enough to cheat, then you’re done enough to leave.

            And in specific response–I think it’s fairer to give an equal choice between fix, cheat, or leave, rather than “if you won’t fix, then I’ll cheat, unless you prefer I leave.” I think it makes the leaving clearer as a consequence of not fixing as opposed to not allowing cheating.

            (Thanks for letting me figure out my feelings in my responses to your comments.)

            1. Allison Mary*

              Ohh, I like that, too. The idea of giving the sex-rejecting partner an equal choice between all the options available (change their sexual interactions, open up the relationship, or end the relationship).

              I liked that even though our opinions were a bit different, you and I seem to speak the same language around needs/feelings and how to articulate them. :)

    7. Mando Diao*

      There are a lot of nuances overlapping here. I don’t want to repeat too much of what has already been said, though I’ll state my position that Dan Savage’s approach is irrelevant to your situation. He’s not monogamous, and he doesn’t sleep with women. He can’t speak to the physicality of a male/female relationship in a meaningful or experiential way.

      You should do some honest soul-searching about whether your wife was ever comfortable with sexuality and if you married her with the thought that she would eventually “loosen up” and take on an appetite that’s more compatible than yours. If this isn’t the case, then you need to own up to the reality that she’s the woman you married and perhaps you’re not happy with that anymore. IMO it’s misplaced to “blame” this on her upbringing. If she (whether by nature or nurture) isn’t all that sexual, that’s not a flaw or a problem to fix; she’s perfectly happy without sex. You’re the one who needs it. For the sake of argument, why should she change for you? You’re not willing to change for her.

      1. Christy*

        I don’t know quite how fair it is to say that Dan Savage is irrelevant in part because he doesn’t sleep with women. I think I object to how you say “he can’t speak to the physicality of a male/female relationship”. I think you have a point that as a man who sleeps with men, he doesn’t encounter the challenges that women can face with sex. But I don’t think it’s fair to set aside the “male/female relationship” as something that he can’t speak to. As a lesbian, I have a pretty good sense of what it’s like to both have sex with a woman and as a woman. And I think what is needed here is empathy for the woman’s position.

        (Really, I think I’m just sensitive to your phrasing of “male/female relationship” when I would have been totally ok with you saying “a relationship with a woman”. )

        Separately, I think the response to “why should she change for you” is “because she should care that her husband is fundamentally unhappy”. She should consider changing because she cares about him and wants him to be happy. If they can’t both be happy about this issue at the same time, then maybe they shouldn’t be married anymore. But I think typically, on all issues, couples should both want to and be able to work to a mutually satisfying solution.

        And I think it’s unfair to say that OP hasn’t been willing to change for his wife. He’s had sex 10 times in 18 months, and not at all in like six months. That’s a definite change from his life before. I don’t really think he could have, in good conscience, done anything else, but he’s definitely changed for her in the past 18 months.

        1. Allison Mary*

          Okay, seriously, I think I want to be friends with you. Have you read the book NonViolent Communication? Because you certainly talk like you have – and if you haven’t, I think you would love it.

          (sorry, not to hijack the thread)

          Also, I agree with all of your points above.

  18. Mx*

    Hi all!!

    I’m a foodie who loves traveling and would love some recommendations for more off the beaten path destinations. My only restriction is I’m vegetarian. My favorite places so far are Santa Fe, Portland (OR) and SF.

    1. Wrench Turner*


      If you’re ever in Washington, DC you have GOT to check out Daikaya! They have a veggie ramen that is A-MAZE-ING so I’m told by my trusted green-eating friends. If you have non-veg friends, their traditional ramen is also A-MAZE-ING, OMG.

      It’s in Chinatown/downtown and super easy to get to, a very quick walk from the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro stop. I seriously cannot recommend this place enough.

    2. Stephanie*

      I will preface this with that I am not vegetarian…

      I was pleasantly surprised by the food options in Flagstaff. Houston has pretty much any cuisine you could imagine.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Garden Grille (and its sister bakery Wildflour Bakery) in Pawtucket, RI are definitely worth checking out for vegetarian/vegan fare if you’re ever in that area.

    4. You Don't Know Me*

      Come to Maine. We have a lot of seafood obviously but also vegetarian restaurants and I’ve never had an issue getting a vegetarian meal when I was following that.

  19. Mimmy*

    Ultrasound this past Wednesday went well! It did feel weird and even a bit uncomfortable at times, particularly when the probe first went in, but it wasn’t bad. At one point, though, she had trouble finding something, so there was a little extra prodding and….digging, lol. The tech (a female) was really nice though.

    I’m annoyed, though, because my doctor gave me the sense that I’d find out the results right then and there. I wonder if she meant that I’d be able to see the images because there was a small monitor mounted on the wall. The tech made no comments to me, however. I thought I saw something funny but it went too fast and I thought she’d tell me the preliminary results at the end, so I didn’t say anything. When I pressed a bit as I was leaving, she hesitated, then said “nothing major” was going on. I know techs aren’t supposed to give results, but I thought this place was an exception.

    Oh, and I TOTALLY overdid it on the water! When they were running late, I was dyyyyyyyyyying!! I said to the tech, “I was just following the directions!” She said, “haha, you OVER followed them!” But it wasn’t a big deal.

    Follow up is on Wednesday – I’m not worried that anything is seriously wrong–doesn’t sound like it at all–I’m just antsy since I thought I’d know right away.

    1. Coffee Ninja*

      I’m so glad it went well! It really is a bizarre experience. I never drink as much water as they tell me, because I drink a lot of it through the day every day. My mom works for an ob/Gyn and she said your usually ok if you drink a little bit less – the guidelines they give are on the high side because most people don’t drink enough or come with empty bladders.

  20. Carrie in Scotland*

    I used to have a large corner sofa but I got rid of it when I moved and have a much smaller one now. I am at a loss as to how to fill the space I now have and would love some ideas.

    I’d also like some suggestions of how to re-do my kitchen as there are gaps and things that I could now use. I’m finding hard to re-imagine the space.

    1. Marcela*

      My go to tool for that is floorplanner. It’s not a tool for ideas or anything like that, but a web app where you can draw your room (we’d measure and draw our whole home) and see if the furniture we see in magazines, tvs or stores fits in the space. We usually use it together with the ikea catalog, where we get inspiration and measurements. Another great place for ideas is Apartment Therapy, and they have a special section called Small Spaces.

  21. Bibliovore*

    The big take away from the heart attack scare last weekend is that my heart is fine. yea! Most of my tests were in the normal or typical range. The professionals concluded that I was dehydrated and run down and needed to lower my stress. So today…I had only one business related meeting (it actually lowered my stress to ask for help with an upcoming event) I took a long walk in the sunshine with the dog. Opened all the windows. I planned dinner with friends tonight at my house- Roast Chicken, Asparagus, Mashed potatoes, Salad and Sumo Oranges. Out to listen to Paul Cebar.

    Not really sure how a person is supposed to lower their stress. I thought my life here was less stressful than my NYC one. Short commute, no terrorist threats, flexible schedule, quality of life, better economic life.

    I have to say that it is truly relaxing to read AAM.

    1. fposte*

      That is excellent news! And it sounds like you do have pretty good ideas of how to lower your stress–take a walk, enjoy the air, ask for help, conviviate with friends. What’s not to like?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Dehydration causes stress. I guess I would start with more water and not letting dehydration set in. Learn the symptoms of dehydration, the list in quite lengthy– at least a thorough list of symptoms is quite lengthy. That alone could be the stress your doc thinks you should watch- don’t allow your body to become stressed out due to lack of water.

      1. take care of yourself*

        Yes, agree.

        Also want to add that significant or continued dehydration can cause serious, permanent problems with your heart. My mother in law recently died from heart failure that began months before due to dehydration. So this can be serious.

        But congrats on catching it early and making early, positive changes in your life. Please stay well hydrated?

        1. Bibliovore*

          Is this ironic?- years ago I was diagnosed with water intoxication after flushing out ALL my electrolytes from drinking too much water. The dehydration this time was caused by a stomach flu and too much travel. I am taking this seriously and will be meeting with a nutritionist to get my eating back in balance. Turns out the BRAT diet is outdated. Who knew?

          1. Mimmy*

            Ohh….I didn’t know you could drink TOO much water! I thought I had to drink a ton of it for a medical test last week….oops.

            Anyway, really glad that you are okay.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Mr. Bibliovore lived in Milwaukee before he met me. And we have friends from Madison. It was a great night at the Dakota in Minneapolis.

    1. Coffee Ninja*

      That is BEAUTIFUL! I can’t believe you did it yourself – you are very talented!

    2. Tris Prior*

      Wow, that is gorgeous. I really want to do a mermaidy blue/turquoise/purple mix but the last time I got bleached, the years and years of red box dye didn’t come all the way out. And my stylist thought I’d be risking breakage if she tried again (my hair is….. Not in great shape.)

  22. Nervous Accountant*

    I know this isn’t a medical blog but hoping to get some good advice here…. A little over a month ago I was notified by my insurance company that they won’t cover the type of insulin that I’m taking (Lantus). They advised that I pay out of pocket or switch to a new medicine (Levemir). Well I took Lev for about a month, my Dr did the blood draw and my A1c level went from 6.9 to 7.8 in 3 months. I worked super hard to get it down. I know diet is part of it and honestly I have slipped a little, but I’m not sure hte medication is helping much either.

    The insurance company wanted me to take the new medication and then they’d revisit appealing it. My Dr said he’d call them on Monday; he didnt’ really sound enthusiastic and i don’t know if he even will (I have a whole other list of issues w him but maybe that’s another post).

    Has anyone dealt with this? For most of my adult life I’ve been on medicaid/medicare, so never really had to payu for health insurance until last July when I became FT/eligible for benefits at my current job. My monthly premium is pretty decent compared to what I’ve seen in the marketplace, so this is all brand new to me. My husband says talk to my HR rep/company, I’m not sure she’s the best person to ask bc this is more of an issue with the insurance not covering a certain drug.

    Do ppl appeal medications? If it helps I have aetna.

    1. Nervous Accountant*

      and by appealing medications I mean appealing a decision the insurance company makes, and how to go about doing it. argh.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      Insurance companies love the lower cost generic. They fight tooth and nail for it. I’d rag on your doctor. You have clear evidence that one drug works better than the other. I would also appeal on the issue of blood sugar regulation and sugar swings. They are preventing future expen$ive problems by using a drug that works. We had to do that with my Dad. He also needed Lantus and he also needed Coumadin instead of Warfarin. It turned out that the binder in the Warfarin did weird things to his blood levels where the binder in the Coumadin allowed for a more even release.
      Data is your friend. The lab tests demonstrate what happens.
      I also would recommend that you try to see an endocrinologist specializing in Diabetes now that you have better insurance. I couldn’t believe what a difference it made for my Dad’s blood sugar levels! He ended up with 3 different insulin types instead of 1, but from that point on he never want beyond 80/120 on his blood sugar. Before that he’s swing up into the 400s.
      Use your lab results!

      1. PharmerTed*

        Levemir is not a generic version of Lantus. It is a separate formulation of a long-acting insulin.

          1. PharmerTed*

            Insurance companies will go with the less expensive option if published, randomized controlled trials fail to show a difference in safety and efficacy between the products in any particular medication class. They are required by Medicare to review the evidence not just pick something “cheap” and it is not accountants who are doing that it is doctors of medicine and pharmacy. Once Lantus goes generic, it’s a pretty safe bet that any insurance company that currently limits its subscribers to Levemir only (and not every insurance company does that, understand) will take another look at that decision.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Google for the side effects of this new drug. Some diabetes drugs cause a RISE in blood sugars in SOME people. It could be that the new drug is causing your A1c to go UP.

      Armed with that information, talk to your doc, collect his thoughts then talk to your insurance company.

      One of the things that I would like to know is why they will not cover Lantus. I have not been following maybe Lantus has bad press? My husband had problems with his blood sugar dropping to 40 in the middle of the night when he was on Lantus. And he had extreme hunger, so he would basically eat a Thanksgiving meal at 2 am. I watched him do this, and I believe he actually could not control himself. He had to eat and could not stop eating. I have heard others comment in a similar manner.

    4. TL -*

      People can definitely appeal medications – if your doctor is willing to fill out forms stating medical necessity, generally you can get what you need. I second talking to a specialist – they’re more likely to be invested and knowledgeable in you having the right medications.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If your doctor can’t get them to relent, try your state insurance commissioner/administrator. Just google “[your state] insurance” and it should come up. It will vary greatly from state to state; my state (Maryland) is fairly liberal, and has strong consumer protections, so the insurance commissioner is fairly proactive. They might not be in your state, but it can’t hurt to check. Having the state put pressure on Aetna or even tell them what to do is the quickest way to change their minds.

    6. Engineer Girl*

      Also remember that your doctor has the last word. Doctors – and only doctors – are allowed to diagnose. Everything else is done under standing orders. Insurance companies start to cross the line sometimes when they interfere with treatment. Make sure you read your summary plan description for the appeals process.

    7. BRR*

      I’ve appealed a couple including insulin (taking novolog instead of hum along). You might have to press but you tried the alternative and it failed. You or your dr might have to send in your lab results but from my experience you should be able to go back on lantus. i would first contact Aetna and find out what you need to do to have them cover it. If they say to keep trying it I would respond that you’re not going to continue letting your health get worse for their bottom line and ask again how you can get it approved. If they are jerks about it you can absolutely ask your benefits contact for help. Say you’re having a problem with your insurance covering a medication and alternatives aren’t working. Mine said she could put me in contact with a patient advocate (but she’s terrible at her job and never followed through, I ended up waging war to get what I needed). I also agree with the cosmic avenger that your state would be a good place to go to as a back up.

      Unsolicited advice, you might want to look for a new dr if you don’t think he will help you get the medication you respond best to. Also have you considered a pump? I’ve enjoyed it so much more than injections.

    8. Alma*

      Yes, do appeal it – the one to act is your Doctor.

      I think IMHO that insurers will deny a tier three drug or new drug thinking you won’t appeal. My Doctor appealed the Insurance Co’s denial of a medication for HBP – the Doctor wrote why it was the best choice for me, and it was approved.

    9. Love to learn*

      While your HR person cannot do much, she can put you in touch with the insurance person who sold the policy to your company. Our insurance rep comes out once a year to meet with folks and answer questions. And we are free to call him.

      1. TootsNYC*

        And your HR person might help you get info on HOW to appeal (forms, contact information, etc.) So it’s definitely a place to start.

    10. PharmerTed*

      Yes, you can always appeal. Honestly, though, it might be difficult to appeal successfully based on the data you’ve presented here. As you probably know, the HbA1c level is an indicator of blood sugar control over time, and by “over time” we mean 120 days, not 30. So I would expect your insurance company would say that this level was drawn too soon to really know whether the Levemir is/isn’t working. In fact, they *may* even come back and use that level as proof that the Lantus wasn’t working anyway or that there is some non-compliance involved to skew those results, since you yourself noted that. Second, your insurance company may also require some sort of proof that your doctor has adjusted both the dose and frequency of the Levemir before declaring “treatment failure.” You can blame insurance companies for this but honestly, the comparative studies on these two insulins have NOT shown a difference in the majority of patients and many of the endocrinologists I know agree. Others have a preference for one or the other and use it almost exclusively. What would be more compelling data in your situation would be if, despite several adjustments by an endocrinologist, you are getting inadequate blood sugar control *compared to your previous history with Lantus* OR you are getting frequent/severe hypoglycemia episodes, again *compared to your history with Lantus.* Don’t assume your doctor has final say, BTW. I don’t know how Aetna does it but for many insurance companies these decisions are made by a committee of…doctors.

  23. Persephone Mulberry*

    I am typically a thrifty clothes shopper – I stick to resale shops and clearance racks – but this morning I broke character and went to Nordstrom of all places to look for a new interview outfit. And it was amazing. It was like being on What Not To Wear. The stylist/shopper person did all the work, I just tried on what she brought me and gave her my feedback, and between us we had a winning outfit assembled in under 30 minutes. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to go back to picking out my own clothes, LOL.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Good for you! That place scares me. Somewhere along the way I got cheap on my wardrobe, which leaves me sitting here in jeans that are 10 years old and a free bike race t-shirt, lol.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I was kind of scared, too! Mostly that I wouldn’t be able to afford whatever she showed me. I did spend a fair bit more than I would on a normal outfit, but it was under my budget and I’m going to get a ton of use out of all the pieces.

    2. Noah*

      The personal shoppers at Nordstrom are amazing! I do that at least a few times a year. It is great if you are trying to shop for a special event.

      1. Allison Mary*

        Agreed! I mostly shop at thrift stores, but there are a few times when you really need something high quality and brand new and tailored to fit YOU! I had a personal stylist shop for me to find me a good interviewing suit about a year ago. I spent a crap ton of money, but it was worth it. :)

    3. GreenTeaPot*

      What fun! I would love to have someone help me find the right clothes. Can you describe what outfit you ended up with?

        1. GreenTeaPot*

          Great jacket, I agree. Perfect for the season, and a great contrast with the rest of the outfit. Good luck with interviews; for me, having the right outfit was always part of the process.

    4. Marcela*

      Was it too expensive? I’d love to do it someday, but I am deeply afraid I’m going to be shown $150 dresses or jackets, when I usually spend 10%-20% of that…

      1. Noah*

        The prices are typical Nordstrom. I’m a guy, but shirts are normally in the $50-$150 range. Pants are $80-$200. Jeans are $120+. Suiting options vary greatly depending on what you get.

        If you let them know what kind of budget you are working with they will try and stay within it. Normally the stylists I’ve worked with will ask you for an outfit budget and then pull some expensive and less expensive pieces to mix-and-match. Just don’t go in expecting Old Navy prices or anything. If you look at the Nordstrom website you’ll get a good idea.

        I’m willing to pay the higher prices because the service is amazing. If I won the lottery I would do it all the time. Also, shopping for me before meant wandering around forever and not really loving anything. Once you’ve done a few appointments and they know your sizing and fit they will have several options already pulled and ready to try on. Also they start to learn your style and what you’re willing to pay for. For instance, I’ve flat out told the stylist I normally work with that I will not be paying $80 for a t-shirt. I somewhat broke that last time when I paid over $100 for a hoodie, but it is the softest fabric and fits wonderfully, it is just not a normal hoodie. :)

      2. TootsNYC*

        A friend of mine—a guy who is short and slight—went to Macy’s and made an appt w/ a personal shopper. He didn’t spend more than he normally would at Macy’s, and the shopper service was free. He was really, really, really pleased.

        And things fit him! He was so happy with the clothes, that it didn’t matter that he might have been able to get something to wear elsewhere for cheaper.

    5. Trixie*

      My sister made the trip to closest Nordstrom’s and met with shopper person to get some help and suggestions. She made an investment just because she was desperate for clothes and second-guessing everything she found herself. She was happy to have a more functional wardrobe, and even happier to finda few pieces she really likes.

    6. Blue_eyes*

      This is why I love Nordstrom. Their customer service is a cut above any other department store I’ve been to (although it does vary a bit by location).

  24. Amadeo*

    I need some recommendations for a Windows PC. I have had nothing but Apple for the past 10 years or so and need a PC to run some software for garment decoration. I’m thinking probably just a little laptop, nothing so amped up as a gaming laptop, but ought to be able to handle some graphics software like Corel and Adobe and I think a 15″ screen at least.

    Because of my full time day hobby I can probably get a discount with Dell (much like I can Apple) but wondered about the other brands out there and what was considered better or worse lately.

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*


        Replaced my Asus with a Lenovo. I do not suggest Lenovo.

        FYI: Asus is not cheap, but they stand up well. Sony used to be good, but recent reviews seem to say otherwise. Dell is…affordable for a reason. Are they terrible? No, I don’t think so, but if you need more than an email/occasional word doc computer, look elsewhere.

    1. Observer*

      Why a laptop?

      For what you are doing, you want the screen real estate, I think.

      If you go with Lenovo, go with the ThinkPad / business lines. The consumer stuff is junk.

      I like the HP stuff, but also the business like their Elite- and ProBook lines have given me some really good use over the years (personally and the ones I purchased for staff.)

      1. Amadeo*

        Because of the setup I’ve got to deal with for my equipment, a laptop is just easier right now. Otherwise I’d just get an iMac and run Parallels or something. I have a MacBook Pro I do all of my design work on, so I deal well enough with the 15″ screen (although I do miss my dual monitor setup I have at work sometimes!)

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Yeah, does I have had nothing but Apple for the past 10 years or so mean “I’ve had the exact same Apple computer for the last ten years and am looking for a new computer anyway,” or does it mean “I have had a succession of Apple computers for the past ten years”?

            If you have a 3-year-old Mac laptop, buying a Windows license is far cheaper than buying a Windows laptop. Boot camp could work or even virtualization with something like VirtualBox.

    2. FD*

      If you’re using it for work, I would go with a Lenovo. I have a Think Pad E540 that I bought for work and business, and which I really like. I ended up spending about $1,200 with software (including MS Office Professional–I wanted to spend the extra money to get Publisher), but it’s been worth it. I can definitely see the difference in performance between that and my Toshiba, which is my personal laptop.

  25. Katie the Fed*

    Married folks –

    Here’s a thing I’ve been struggling a lot with. I love my husband. He’s wonderful in so many ways, but he’s just not a very thoughtful person. He’ll do whatever I ask, and he’ll do it without complaint, but I don’t want to be the one asking, ya know? Like, if he’s having a busy week or whatever I’ll make sure I pick up dry cleaning for him or make him a nice dinner or walk the dog when it’s his turn, stuff like that. Him – it would NEVER occur to him. I just had the week from hell and I ended the week as just a sad shell of a person, and came home last night at 8 as he was sitting there waiting for dinner. I will say I didn’t handle it well – the stress and exhaustion and frustration all came out.

    I just don’t get it. At all. I don’t understand how things don’t occur to him. It annoys me that I have to explicitly spell things out for him to do, or he won’t do them. It puts me in the role of planner and activities director which I hate.

    He’s like that with his own family too. It doesn’t occur to him to, like, call and check on his mother after surgery. Or remember his sister’s birthday.

    I DON’T GET IT. Please help me either understand it or fix it because I’m going to lose my mind.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Would it work to give him very clear guidelines ahead of time — like, “When I am having a stressful week, it would be so helpful to me if you would walk the dog and take care of dinner so I don’t have to think about those things.” I totally understand wanting him to figure that out on his own, but you might be able to solve it with just a few clear “here’s how you can support me” conversations.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        In theory, yes. But it would still involve a lot of planning for me, because it would be all “Wife, what do you want for dinner tonight? Oh ok. Where is the pot that I need to do that? Where are the ingredients? Look! I’m using a metal spoon on your beloved Le Creuset!”

        OK, a little much, but that’s sort of it. A nice gesture still ends up becoming mentally taxing, and that’s what I struggle with. When I’m running on empty, I just don’t have the mental energy for that kind of thing. And it would just be nice if he thought “huh, wife is having a tough week – what can I do to ease her burden?”

        He’s a freaking mystery to me.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Just here to commiserate. I also had a very long week, spent with my project team and client team halfway across the country. . .back in town and at work Friday. Got in a fight with husband because I refused to pick a restaurant for dinner. Like you, I already choose and make dinner most nights, pick up the house, etc. I have to say things like “the house needs to look like this when I get back” or it looks like a dump. I had already made 100s of decisions all week. It is exhausting. I don’t know a solution. My dad is a jerk, and a truck driver, so I didn’t grow up in a shared-duties house. My solution today was to go to the gym while my husband and sons did yard work in the drizzle. . .whatever it takes to not be resentful.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Thank you! it’s the mental part that gets me. I manage 24 people right now – I’m EXHAUSTED from making decisions all day and I don’t want to have to make so many more when I get home.

            And we’re going to have kids hopefully so I know it’s just going to get worst. Maybe I just have a limited mental capacity for decision-making and planning after a point.

              1. salad fingers*

                It totally is. Have we talked about it here or am I mixing this up with an IRL conversation?

                1. Shell*

                  We have talked about this before on AAM! I believe the term we used was “decision fatigue”.

        2. The Other Dawn*

          Maybe the cooking issue is solved by telling him that when you’re having the week from hell and are exhausted, that’s his cue to order food and pick it up so it’s waiting there when you get home. You can then just slip on the jammies and eat your dinner on the sofa.

          My husband isn’t exactly like yours; he does think of things once in a blue moon. But he is similar. It bugs the crap out of me that I make his breakfast and lunch, which both get taken to work, AND make my own Every. Single. Night. And even though I bring it up directly several times month, it never occurs to him to actually do it for me for a change.

          1. Ruffingit*

            Just a thought – perhaps stop making his breakfast and lunch and let him do it himself. Once he starts doing that, it will be an easier jump for him to also make his own. IME, people fall into patterns and his pattern is “Wife makes my food so I’m good there, no need to think about it…” He doesn’t have to think about making his own food so it likely won’t occur to him to make yours,.

            Or, you could just say “Listen, I need you to pitch in on the breakfast and lunch making so I’ll do it M, W, F and you do it T, TH” or whatever works for you. One of the things that often happens in marriages is the expectation that someone will just see what the problem is and take care of it. They won’t. You have to tell them specifically and more than once sometimes.

            1. Kate*

              Be prepared if paragraph one doesn’t go the way you want it to though.

              I’ve been trying that theory for years now, but it doesn’t sink in. If he doesn’t have one made for him, he buys one. Then he comes back months later, in piles of debt, because he eats out lunch and snacks every day and doesn’t pay attention to the price. Then the whine becomes “we wouldn’t have this problem if only you’d make my lunch for me!”

              That making his own %#*¥ lunch would solve both problems never sinks in.

              1. The Other Dawn*

                Yes, I find if I don’t do it then he’ll buy something from the cafeteria, which isn’t horrible but it’s unnecessary and gets expensive, or grab Ramen cup of soups, which can be horrible with all the salt content. (He’s the one who buys those, not me.) We’re middle aged now and although I’ve lost a lot of weight, he’s still overweight. I’m starting to worry about what he puts in his mouth. I feel like if I don’t make his food, he’ll just eat crap and eventually he’ll develop health issues. So I get really frustrated he won’t do it himself sometimes or do it for me, but also know if he does do it, he’ll likely just grab tv dinners or Ramen.

                1. Tris Prior*

                  Wow, you are married to my boyfriend! I am really at a loss as to why it never occurs to him to pack his own lunches and breakfasts.

        3. fposte*

          Get more specific–think more workplace :-). “Husband, I want to be free of the burden of thinking about dinner on M, W, F. Could you handle cooking and cleanup on those nights without asking me about stuff? I will walk you through it the first week, I promise not to care if you boil potatoes in the frying pan, and I swear I will eat the results without complaint as long as they don’t look dangerous.” IOW, make the request he administrate the task part of the discussion–be explicit that the goal is you not thinking about it, not just him putting food in a pan.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            ah ok, I like that. I’ll frame it like that. I don’t care what you do or how you do it – I just want some food on the table. Then I need to bite my tongue when he uses the goddamned metal spoon on the le creuset again. I genuinely like cooking, but sometimes it’s just too much.

            1. TootsNYC*

              It sounds like he’s not particularly great about thinking of it in the moment. So maybe making it scheduled will get you some relief from the constant responsibility.

              And also, having to do stuff like “think of dinner and cook it” regularly, in low-pressure, routine situations, will make it easier for him to think of it spontaneously when it arises, simply because it will be closer to the surface of his mind.

              You might also suggest that he schedule some of that sort of stuff. His mom tells him he’s having surgery, so he plugs into his phone that he will call her a day later. And when the reminder goes, he calls. Once he starts scheduling that stuff, it might be easier to think of it.

              (Oh, and hide the metal spoon)

              1. Katie the Fed*

                I’ll give it a try. I already plugged birthdays and anniversaries in to a shared calendar that gives him reminders.

            2. Observer*

              Well, yes, if you want him to do things for you, you need to not care how he does them, no matter HOW he does them. Even if you think he is nuts and it’s just “wrong.” Unless it’s dangerous, you just don’t care.

              1. Ruffingit*

                This, exactly. I have many times seen women who fall into the “He won’t do his share” mindset, but when he tries to do his share (with housework, kids, etc), he’s told he’s not doing it right and/or wife jumps in and does it her way. I wouldn’t bother doing anything either if I was constantly being told it must be done one specific way and my way is wrong.

                My feeling is that if the towels get folded, it’s fine if it’s not the way I would do it. If the dishwasher is loaded, awesome! Just because it’s not the way I would do it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Let him do his thing and move along. And, if the metal spoon with the Le Creuset is a problem, tape a sticky to the metal spoon that says DO NOT USE WITH LE CREUSET.

            3. Alston*

              If he’s uncomfortable with cooking you might try plated or blue apron a couple of times. The recipes are usually pretty easy to handle, and he might pick up some skills/be less helpless about it. There are a number of recipes that we remake that we’ve originally gotten through them.

                1. Kate M*

                  Or, specifically on the dinner issue, could you both sit down one weekend and come up with 5-10 recipes you both like and aren’t too hard to cook? Then put them in a notebook and keep them in the kitchen, and make sure you always have the ingredients for at least a few of the recipes on hand (even if it’s just pasta and sauce or something). You can include detailed directions with them (including notes to him, like what utensils to use with which pots!). And then maybe you have an agreement – whoever gets home first starts dinner. If he wants to cook something else, that’s fine, do that. But if he doesn’t know what to do, he goes to the notebook and chooses something. Then, you don’t have “I didn’t know what to do” as an excuse.

            4. Tris Prior*

              This has worked for me in the past. “You need to make food happen somehow without input from me.”

              Re the Le Creuset, that would make me crazy too. Is it an option to make that cookware off limits to him – do you have other stuff he could use instead where it doesn’t matter to you if it gets dinged up? Sort of like how Boyfriend isn’t allowed to use my expensive handmade bath stuff because he has no sense of portion control when using it.

        4. QualityControlFreak*

          In our household, my spouse is retired while I am still working, so they are the primary cook. We still have what we call Every Man for Himself nights. I’d tell hubby, “I’m toast this week. You’re on your own for meals!”

        5. temporarily anon*

          Just recently got from the library a book called What Could He Be Thinking? : How a Man’s Mind Really Works, by Michael Gurian. Not a recommendation, but I suspect there will be some explanations for this kind of non-caretaking behavior.

        6. Artemesia*

          This may be off base but I am also catching a hint that it is all your work and sometimes he helps you with it but only if you ask. It might be worth reflecting on making running the household less a servant/master thing and more of a partnership since you both work and presumably have stressful demands on you.

          Maybe if it is his week or night to make dinner and he has late meetings and needs you to step up he will gain some sense of what you need. Now he has to ‘do some of your work’ and he has apparently never been required to be considerate. Lots of men expect service and don’t think of what it costs the server.

          And I think a long exploration of how you manage that includes changing the structure to a partnership and him picking up significant responsibilities (responsibilities not just tasks) might help.

          If dinner is his responsibility this week, or Monday Wednesday and Friday then it is on him to plan not just carry out your plans. He isn’t your child, he is your partner.

        7. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

          omg yes.
          “Can you handle dinner tonight, I don’t want to think about it.”
          “Ok. What do you want?”

    2. fposte*

      Not married, but I’ve encountered it–kind but not thoughtful is how I describe it. To be honest, I think gender plays a role here–it happens in women, sure, but I think it’s more common in men.

      Not that it matters to what you do, of course. I think the first thing is to talk about this during a calm time, not when you’ve had it with this. I think another thing to do is worry about the stuff that *you* need from him and let the sister’s birthday and mother’s surgery go, because it’s not your problem. (There are partnerships where one partner, usually female, does indeed handle all this for both people, but it seems pretty clear you are not looking for that.) It’s kind of like the workplace–focus on the specifics, not about what kind of person he is or should be.

      I also think you’re–understandably–looking for thoughtfulness in specific ways that signify it to you; it might be worth considering if he’s showing it in ways that you’re not reading. This could be kind of like a daytime version of that sex situation where you do the thing to your partner that you want to have done to you and vice versa, and it doesn’t work because you’re pleased by different things.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        “There are partnerships where one partner, usually female, does indeed handle all this for both people, but it seems pretty clear you are not looking for that.”

        Thing is – I think this is where we’re headed. I’ve read that even though men do more chores than they used to, women are still pretty exhausted because they have to do all the planning and organizing. And I totally do. And I don’t want to. But it’s like managing someone who doesn’t have initiative.

        But yes, I’ll try to talk to him when I’m calmer and not frustrated and lay out parameters. What it sounds like is that he’s not going to be a more thoughtful person, but I can get the behaviors I want?

        1. fposte*

          I’m not doing predictions, but I’d say that’s the goal worth trying for. It’s not like you were born planning to pick up other people’s cleaning yourself :-).

        2. Ruffingit*

          Here’s the thing though – you don’t have to do all the planning and organizing. It’s a choice. If he doesn’t call mom after surgery or send a gift for sister’s birthday or whatever, let that go. Not your problem to handle that for him. Send cards/gifts to those you want to send them to and let his stuff go. He’s capable of doing it for himself if he so chooses. As for dinners, housework, etc – get a service like Blue Plate or Merry Maids or whatever applies so you can take some of the work off your plate.

          I think it’s really important to step back and consider the use of the words “have to.” So many of us think we “have to” do this or that, but do we really? If we don’t do certain things, will it really matter? No, probably not. Take a look at some of the baggage you’re carrying and see what you can put down. Travel light! It’s way more comfortable :)

        3. Artemesia*

          When my husband and I moved in together 45 years ago we sat down and worked it out. Both were working and in grad school and so we did things like: each does own laundry, we take turns cooking, he manages the car (later with two cars we each took care of our own), I do the taxes etc etc. All these decades and a family later we just naturally fall into patterns of doing the things that need done and touching base about areas that need done that noone is doing. And we sort of naturally take turns cooking after years of scheduling it.

          Part of the deal is you take responsibility for your part — you don’t get mommy to lay out your tools and your clothes for work etc — you get it done. You might think about tasks that fall on him if they don’t get done e.g. laundry is easy — everyone does their own. If he doesn’t have socks, he had better do a load. Dinner is easy if you set a schedule and then don’t tell him what to cook or do it. If he really passive aggresses and doesn’t step up there, then you have a bigger problem.

          Get out of the mode that you are mommy and have to cut his meat for him and make sure his nose is wiped and his clothes are planned — it is easy to fall into with a passive aggressive spouse. And someone who gladly lets someone else be his maid on top of her full time job is being passive aggressive. He makes it more trouble than it is worth to get him to do something.

        4. Kyrielle*

          *wry grin* This is a useful thread for me right now because my husband – who mostly does carry a fair load of household tasks without needing to be asked/told! – has twice in the past two weeks handed me a task – sewing up a rip in a t-shirt he likes (I am not great at sewing, so this is not a “you’re so good at it” – I would be getting a needle and black thread and manually sewing away) for one, and for the other he told me his mother’s birthday is coming up and, I think, just expects me to handle that!

          …she’s your mother. I love her. But she’s your mother. Perhaps you should get her the card and gift from us.

    3. katamia*

      Seconding what Alison said. I’m like your husband, and, to flip it around, I don’t understand how things DO occur to people who are more like you.

      I don’t know if this is the case for your husband, but for me, it’s that I’m often not paying that much attention to the world around me. I’m very much in my own head. So you remember that he has dry cleaning, you think, “Oh, he’s having a rough week, so I’ll be nice and pick it up for him.” Maybe he doesn’t always remember that you have stuff at the dry cleaners, or he knows you’re having a rough week but the dry cleaners aren’t directly on his way home and he doesn’t think of it until he’s already home and doing something else. And re birthdays, I often don’t know what day it is because I work from home and have a very bad sense of time. So I might know that someone’s birthday is April 23rd, but I might not realize without prompting that today is April 23rd and therefore I have birthday wishes to send.

      And, yeah, I probably should pay more attention to the world around me. And maybe for a little while, if I really tried, I would. But my natural state is to be in my own head, and that’s always going to be what I default to. At least for me, being clear with expectations would help in this situation because it would give me concrete possibilities to sort through instead of my having to reinvent the wheel each time (to you I’m sure this doesn’t feel like reinventing the wheel, but to me–and possibly also your husband, couldn’t say since I don’t know him–it kinda does).

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Funny thing is – I was actually more like this before I got married. But then it was like SOMEONE had to step up, or nothing would ever get done. I don’t want to be as Type A as my mother or my sister but I’m definitely getting a little more bossy pants, when I’d really prefer to just be lackdaisical about things like I used to be!

        1. BRR*

          I totally commiserate with this. My husband was gone for a week and I felt like it was so much easier to keep things running. Thinking for two is exhausting.

          1. Ultraviolet*

            “Thinking for two” is such a great way to describe it! And I’ve experienced the same thing.

        2. Beth*

          But why did you step up alone if you want your partner to share? You can’t just make decisions about how you want things to be and then expect other people to care, you are a team not a manager in this scenario

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I call this the difference between being selfish and being self-centered. I know several people who are both selfless and self-centered—meaning they’re like your husband… if you ask them to do something to help, they’re more than happy to and can be very generous… but it will just never occur to them to think outside themselves normally.

    5. LizB*

      Unfortunately, I think a lot of men are socialized to be this way — not all men, and not only men, but if you think of your stereotypical sitcom family this kind of behavior is totally expected from the husband, but would be shocking for the wife. In your husband’s family, does his mom do all/most of the household’s emotional labor? Because if that’s the model he had growing up, it would be pretty easy for him to fall into the same pattern.

      I guess my question for you is about his perspective in all this — what does he say when you question him about his thoughtlessness? What does he say when you point out the favors you do for him, or the phone calls and birthday cards and event planning that you always take care of? Does he recognize that there’s a disparity there? If not, that’s a problem, because you can’t change his ways FOR him; he has to see that there’s a problem, really want to do something about it, and take action.

      If he does seem to recognize that there’s a problem, I think a serious sit-down conversation about how you don’t feel supported might do the trick. You could go to a relationship counselor if you want a neutral third party or venue (sometimes it’s easier to lay it all out on the table when you’re not literally at your kitchen table), but if he might see that as an attack just try it on your own. Use “I” statements — “I’ve noticed I have to take care of a lot of the emotional labor in this household, or it doesn’t get done. When I’ve had a tough week, I want to feel supported. Being expected to plan dinner or run all the errands when I just want to relax makes me feel frustrated, exhausted, and unloved. I don’t want to be the person who has to plan every single social engagement we have.” Avoid generalizing language like “you ALWAYS” or “you NEVER,” and avoid “I” statements that are actually “you” statements (“I feel like you’re lazy and thoughtless”). Keep the focus on the fact — because it is a fact! — that your emotional needs aren’t getting met, and leave his perceived motivations out of it.

      Hopefully, if you have this conversation, he will apologize profusely, start looking for some concrete things he can do to support you, and really work at doing them consistently. You can’t expect him to immediately be as thoughtful as you are, because apparently these things just don’t occur to him naturally, but with conscious effort he can build habits that are indistinguishable from innate thoughtfulness. Whether or not he’s willing to do that is up to him, but he sounds like an otherwise great guy, so I have high hopes!

      1. Katie the Fed*

        So – he acknowledges it and recognizes it, ands says he wants to do better and will try. I just don’t think he knows how to do it. Like if I said, yup, I’m fat and I definitely don’t want to be fat. So, I’m not going to be fat. Like, there’s stuff between here and the goal but he doesn’t know how to get there. So I don’t know how to teach him how to be that way – it just doesn’t seem to come naturally. I’m glad he recognizes it – that’s HUGE because I know he cares. But…changing it is another matter entirely.

        1. LizB*

          That’s good that he wants to improve! I don’t think you need to teach him to be that way naturally, I think he needs to have some kind of system/checklist/mental flow chart that will help him do the right things. If the problem is that he’s unaware of your schedule, so he doesn’t know when you need extra support, can you both have a weekly or nightly conversation about what’s up in your lives that would give you an opportunity to say “This is going to be the week from hell, I need extra help all week”? Can he come up with some simple rules for himself, like “Katie has a deadline –> I pick up her favorite takeout for dinner” or “it’s Thursday and I haven’t done any errands this week –> I ask Katie what needs doing and do it”? Can you transfer some concrete, scheduled tasks to him permanently, and if he doesn’t do them, that’s on him? (I’m thinking here of remembering his sister’s birthday — obviously it’s fine for you to personally text or call her to wish her a happy birthday from you, if you two are friendly, but it shouldn’t be your job to get her a card/present/write her a message from the both of you. That can be his problem.) Focus on behaviors, give him lots of ideas, write up an actual checklist if you think that’ll help. He might not know how to get there, but it sounds like YOU do, so it should be possible for you to give him lots of ideas and him to put them into practice.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            That’s what my mom suggested. She said she and my dad have a meeting of sorts every Sunday and go over everything that’s going to need to get done that week and divide things up. So that might be a good approach. Like – the lightbulbs are out, the cat needs to go to the vet, car inspection is due, you need to get me a gift for my birthday, etc. It might help – I’ll see if he’s receptive. If it avoids him getting a blast from me like he did last night I think he will be. Oof. That was not my finest moment.

            1. fposte*

              I think what makes a difference in an imbalance like this is if he genuinely thinks it’s important enough for things to be fair that he’s willing to work harder. Not that the house is important, or lightbulbs are important, but fairness in his family is important, and right now he’s bowing out of that.

              And while I think this is a really, really common thing to deal with, your situation gets complicated somewhat by the fact that you’ve had different norms while you were still really hurt. So what would have been the old normal by now is a new change. A good change, because it means you’re doing well enough to be ticked at him about lightbulbs and the finish on the Le Creuset, but it’s still a change.

        2. BSharp*

          I think one component is acknowledging oft-overlooked work. Management is WORK, that’s why managers get paid more, and why often their whole role is managing vs production. So if you can point out the things he does do (noticing when the oil needs changed, or when the lawn needs fertilized?) then you can start to recognize the concept. You can point it out in the moment without having to shout, because it’s a known quantity. “Oh, this again—the question of managing dinner. I need to recuperate so can you handle it while I bathe for two hours?”

        3. V Dubs*

          Dr. Laura speaks to some aspects of this in her radio show and also her books, esp The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. Basically, be specific, tell why you are asking for such a thing, and tell your husband how he can support you.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Wow – that hits REALLY close to home. And scares me a lot because it’s going to get so much worse when kids are in the picture.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        I’ve shared this link before and it’s gotten some traction but if you haven’t read this guy’s blog, do it. http://mustbethistalltoride.com/

        The thing that you’ve described Katie is the exact stuff he writes about — from the perspective of a guy who didn’t “get it” until it was too late and his wife (now ex) was just out of *ucks to give about their marriage and left him, taking their young son. He just never thought she would ever leave, until she did. Posts like this one “She Feels Like Your Mom and Doesn’t Want to Bang You.” http://mustbethistalltoride.com/2016/02/10/she-feels-like-your-mom-and-doesnt-want-to-bang-you/#comments

        “But she didn’t want to be my mother. She wanted to be my partner, and she wanted me to apply all of my intelligence and learning capabilities to the logistics of managing our lives and household.

        “She wanted me to figure out all of the things that need done, and devise my own method of task management.

        “I wish I could remember what seemed so unreasonable to me about that at the time.”

        One of the commenters there has recommended the book Wifework which while written 20 years ago is still pretty relevant. http://www.amazon.com/Wifework-marriage-really-means-women-ebook/dp/B002TVSFAK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1457826100&sr=8-1&keywords=wifework

        Wifework is a fiercely argued, in-depth look at the inequitable division of labor between husbands and wives. Bolstering her own personal experience as a twice-married mother of three with substantial research and broad statistical evidence, Susan Maushart explores the theoretical and evolutionary reasons behind marriage inequality. She forces us to consider why 50 per cent of marriages end in divorce, and why women are responsible for initiating three-quarters of them. If family life is worth saving, and Maushart passionately believes it is, the job description for wives will have to be rewritten.

        1. fposte*

          Reminds me of marriage researcher John Gottman, who says he gets newly married guys coming in and saying with pride, “I’m never going to touch a dirty dish” and then a year later asking, “Why won’t my wife have sex with me?”

      1. Girasol*

        That’s what I keep thinking. You get a new intern on the job who says “What do I do? I did that, now what? Oh, I’m just playing Crazy Birds because I did what you said this morning and I’ve been bored for HOURS.” So you explain expectations for initiative. Interns have a limited time to learn how to show initiative and you don’t keep them around if they don’t. So why do people expect and accept that grown men should be acting like student interns even after decades of marriage? If they’re surviving in business surely they have the skills. Isn’t something wrong with this picture?

    6. The RO-Cat*

      Reading your story, I was wondering if it can be construed as a variation of “The Five Languages Of Love”. Other than that, I’m afraid I have no helpful advice – only commiseration, I can relate.

        1. fposte*

          You might also find John Gottman, probably starting with The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, enlightening. (The title is really cheesy, but it’s based on some really good work, and it’s very readable.)

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        +1 to Five Languages.

        If you Google, the test is available online for free, I believe. Even those not in relationships can benefit from this, as it shows you how you share your love with those around you.

    7. Engineer Girl*

      He hasn’t been trained for it. Are you willing to endure the overhead of training him?
      You can start with lists of what you need. Keep at it. Praise him when he gets it right. Keep your mouth shut when he tries and it is merely “meh”.
      You really need to look at this as a long term thing. He clearly does what you ask him to and that shows that he’s willing. But he has a blindness issue and you need to help him “see”.
      BTW, he’s probably also showing you something of himself. He doesn’t need people to remember his birthday (more or less) so doesn’t see it as a “need” in others. I also disagree with the “but I shouldn’t have to ask him” statement. People think differently so yes, you have to ask for what you need!

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Well, we’re still pretty newly married, so it’s probably worth it for my longterm sanity.

        Right now – the lightbulb above me is burnt out. He came in the other day and said “huh, the lightbulb is out.” And that’s where we left it.

        So then do I now:

        A) take it down and buy and install a replacement myself
        B) Tell him to replace it
        C) Sit here in dim light until he finally connects that the lightbulb has to be replaced?

        If I do A – then I’m resentful over time because I’m always changing the light bulbs and also I’m afraid of heights. If I do B – the lightbulb gets changed, hooray light! But it keeps me in the role of the planner/director/figurer-out-of-things.

        What I really want is C – figure out it needs fixing and fix it! But I could be sitting here in darkness for months.

        Or is there some mystery option D that I’m not thinking of?

        1. fposte*

          I get the dinner thing–this one, not so much. You noticed the light was out too, right? Why is it more a problem that he’s not doing anything about it than you’re not doing anything about it? (If this is a limited mobility thing, I’d change my query to “Is it possible he doesn’t remember that there’s stuff you still can’t do?”)

          My guess is that it’s because at this point it’s pretty clearly established that you notice things before he does and if you did everything you noticed he’d never have to do anything. But this particular thing on its own isn’t a miss on his part to me. What’s the gentler marital equivalent of BEC–WCL for wife changing lightbulb?

          1. Katie the Fed*

            This one is a mobility thing, specifically. But I’m using it as an example of the bigger issue – there are dozens of lightbulb-like things. Things that need to get done. So yes, theoretically I can get up on a ladder with my terrible balance and take this down. But what about all the other lightbulb-ish things? If I say or do nothing, nothing gets done. And things have to get done. So then it’s up to me to ask him to do it, or just do it myself. And THAT’s the heart of what bugs me. Meg’s post on Emotional Labor above really got to that.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I thought of the emotional labor thing too. I don’t know that I’d include stuff like the SIL’s birthday, but there’s still plenty left that both people agree need to happen and yet falls in the woman’s lap way too often.

            2. Engineer Girl*

              I remember reading something in Crucial Conversations. People really need to bring issues up sooner rather than later. If we put off discussion – even on minor things – we start to build up resentment and then explode over the little thing. The point was to talk early and often, before a lot of the emotion has built up.

        2. Regular - anon for this*

          Well, this makes me feel better. This can’t possibly be me, because I recently changed all the bulbs in the basement from incandescent to compact fluorescent, and I do stuff like that a lot. But I do defer a lot of things to my wife, including a lot of planning. That’s because when I do try to do things or plan things, I’m often overruled. I know there are control and trust issues on both side, but believe it or not, other than that we have a great relationship. I do make meals occasionally, or pick up takeout, and I don’t ever just expect her to make me food. But I’m fine with any of those, and she often has a strong preference or need for one of them, so I let her decide. I also bring home flowers randomly, and keep my own things neat and out of the way. She has said she feels stressed sometimes, but when I offer to take something over and do it my way, she often refuses, or sometimes tries but decides to do it herself when she doesn’t like what I’m doing or the way I’m doing it.

          I hope it works out for you, Katie. I’m going to renew my efforts to find a way to help on her terms after reading this.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Aw thank you. He really is a good guy and helps a lot in his own way, so I’m being a little harsh. I think it’s just one of those things we have to sort out and we’re still in the early years of marriage.

            I also need to work on loosening up when he does plan or do things. I see my sister do that with her husband in regards to their kids – you can’t complain he doesn’t do something and the criticize the way he does it.

            1. Observer*

              That’s going to be key. In fact, SO important, that I suggest you start on that before you do anything else. You really can’t realistically expect your {fill in the relationship} do {whatever task}? If the results are likely to result in complaints, questioning or criticism.

              You are talking about having kids. This is one area I see this a LOT. Like a woman is complaining about how her husband never helps with the baby and she has to tell him everything, and how when she left the baby with Daddy, and he had to change the diaper, OMG, he put the pants on backwards! (Real conversation, with only minor changes.)

              The point is not that this woman was an idiot for getting bent out of shape over an inconsequential issue. But, that her pattern – criticizing her husband’s parenting while complaining that he doesn’t do enough of it is very common. And, as bad as it is when it’s just the two of you, it’s even worse when kids (or even one child) enter the picture.

              And maybe get some other cookware that you won’t care so much about ;)

            2. Sammie*

              I don’t know. I’m a firm believer that people are not that complicated. When significant others don’t “notice” items (lightbulb, birthday, you having a crappy week, etc) it’s because they don’t want to. They’ll tell you they do because it’s easier–they’ll also let you do all the “noticing” because that’s easier too. I’m not convinced training someone to try to notice–or having weekly meetings where you anticipate all the noticing will make any difference.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                Well, executive function disorders are a legitimate diagnosis, and even run in families. I know someone who is a successful lawyer, but has to set all kinds of reminders and alarms because she gets absorbed in things very easily. Me, apparently I have a very strong executive function; I am always monitoring myself and reminding myself. It probably comes from having to do so from early childhood, as I found that my parents weren’t very good at it.

                I’m not disagreeing; I think if remembering something is important to someone, they could do what my lawyer friend does. But she’s also incredibly smart and hyperfocused. For someone of even average intelligence who has poor executive function, it’s probably extremely hard just to keep up with a daily schedule and keep the bills paid. They would have to work much harder than most of us realize just to keep up with the absolutely critical responsibilities.

                1. fposte*

                  I suspect I have a slightly impaired executive function when it comes to physical organization. I would say for me the “Oh, there’s a sock on the floor” circuit pings, but at a very low level, like “Oh, the sky is cloudy.” It just doesn’t register as actionable. I have to rely on a separate, more deliberate pathway, usually scaffolded by external lists, to get to “And you pick it up and put it away.” It’s not about wanting to or not wanting to, and I’ve been this way from birth.

                  At the same time my editorial ping for copy errors is at fire-alarm volume and I can hardly rest until the things are fixed. Which is why I say I’m both people in this equation. What’s weird is that even though I play both roles I can still slip into the “How could anybody not fix that?” and “How could anybody get exercised about that?” mindsets, like those two sides have never even met.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Ha! It’ll go nicely with the drink I so desperately need.

            I realize this is all making me sound insane. We’re lovely people, I promise. But people weren’t kidding when they said marriage is hard.

            1. the gold digger*

              Or you could curse the darkness. :)

              You sound perfectly normal. I love my husband and I like him but there are times he makes me crazy. It is so hard to live with someone else! That is why I laugh when people say they want to live with someone before deciding to marry. As if that will make a difference – anyone is going to make you nuts at times. When you marry, you decide you will get past that.

        3. Rebecca*

          This is a hard and depressingly long battle. BUT it is so important that I think it is worth working hard on it now. You can do it!

          Married for 3 years, cohabiting for 6. During different times of our relationship, our work commitments and so on varied, and the housework burden has shifted. But without substantive conversations about the tasks at a pretty detailed level with each shift, it’s a recipe for resentment. My spouse’s advice that he now gives out is that the male partner (in a hetero relationship) should feel like he is doing 80% of the work and it will probably be about even. :)

          Wrt your spouse’s learning curve, something small that really helped us was to make a list of a handful of recipes that we know how to do and are reasonably quick. Bonus points is they use long-storable ingredients. Bookmark those in the cookbook and always have the ingredients for those things. Whoever is supposed to be cooking can point blindly at the list and find something they are competent to make.

          I’m going to link in a reply to a piece that was published in 1970 (1970!) in a women’s lib magazine. It is caustic in tone–and importantly, it does not sounds like your spouse is like the callous husband addressed in the essay in his approach or motivation–but it cuts to the core of what this failure to share the burden really means.

        4. Ask a Manager* Post author

          My husband will happily do anything I ask around the house, or errands or whatever, but most of the time I have to ask him to (there are some exceptions, like anything related to the cats, trash removal, or dishes, where he is totally on top of things).

          I really don’t like asking him to do stuff around the house, probably for the same reasons as you.

          It occurred to me that if we had a shared to-do list app, I could add things to that and he would see them and do them, and it would sort of be like not asking. (Not really, of course; I’d still be identifying them as things that needed to be done, but I thought it might help as a compromise and let me avoid the “hey, can you handle the ___,” which I don’t like.) We tried this one:

          It worked for several days — he did the whole list of stuff in the app and then I think just never checked it again. But who knows, it might work better for you!

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Ha, that sounds like it went as well as our shared google calendar.

            But it might be worth a try. The good news is I think I put the fear of god into him last night because he has never seen me that angry. I have never seen me that angry. I didn’t know I was capable of being that angry. He claims he had no idea this stuff was an issue, but that’s bs – I’ve definitely told him before.

            In a way it’s good to know a lot of very smart, capable women deal with this. But it’s depressing as hell too!

              1. Regular - anon for this*

                See, I’m the organized one, and she careens from crisis to crisis. I actually have multiple Google Calendars, one just for our daughter’s sporting events. But I can’t get her to use them. Attempts by me to organize and divide things fairly are seen as attempts to take over or criticize, so then I offer to participate in whatever plan she comes up with, but then that never happens because she’s overwhelmed. She’s a grownup, I can’t make her compromise or cooperate, so I give up.

            1. LibbyG*

              My husband does not scan the environment looking for needs to be met, like you and I do, and he’s fairly flakey. However, he fully accepts that he should be doing half and he’s getting better and better at working them into his routine. I’d say we’re about 55-45. The daily and weekly stuff is pretty equal, like we each cook three nights a week and get takeout on Fridays, and we’re each responsible for gift buying and such for our own families. It’s still me who remembers that we need to schedule a kid’s appointment or call the gutter guy, and he never seems to notice when the kids are outgrowing their clothes and getting a little dorky looking. To really get to total parity, we (really, I) would need to make a giant list of monthly, quarterly, and annual chores and divide them explicitly. I’m down to feeling moderately annoyed a couple times a year from, like, weekly.

              Like others have said, it helps to abdicate the planning role. Like, Mr.G used to always ask for dinner ideas. I would have three good ones immediately in mind but still shrug and act like I didn’t have any. I still sometimes claim not to know things like whether we have birthday wrapping paper or AAA batteries or where things are. I’m still sort of training him that way. Good luck! If he’s truly willing, you’ll figure it out.

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            It worked for several days — he did the whole list of stuff in the app and then I think just never checked it again.

            This is just my theory and never having been married is probably not relevant but it has been my observation that men in general do not like to do repetitive tasks. I really noticed that when I was working full-time. Big splashy thing? Dudes lined up to do it, practically fought over it. Clean up 50 pie charts? They all took one step back, leaving me out there because I was “so much better at it.” Uh-huh. Riiiight. Because I got all the practice doing it.

            Anyway, it has also been something I’ve noticed that men — once again generally speaking — like to accomplish things and once they’ve done them, strike them off the list. There isn’t any “repeat” button or note on the task “must be done every other week on Thursday”. Ask to take the garbage out? Done. Next week, the garbage has to go out again but because it was done once, it was Done. And now it’s off the register of things that need to be done. Which then brings up the “did you take the garbage out?” and cue repetitive disagreement around nagging. On some level that just doesn’t register, he knows that there is garbage and he puts stuff in the garbage bin, so he sees it getting full, but taking that leap between “the garbage is getting full/stinks” and “I should empty it and put it out in the garage because it’s garbage day the day after tomorrow, so I should have this ready to throw out on the curb before I go to work” just doesn’t happen. Which is mind-blowing because at their jobs or hobbies they are capable of thinking and planning things out like that.

            Honestly, if someone could come up with a solution to this, that person would make a bajillion dollars.

              1. Katie the Fed*

                I don’t think anyone is. it’s just some of us realize things have to get done, so we might as well do them.

                1. Dynamic Beige*

                  Exactly! And also, you can’t achieve mastery at anything you don’t practice.

                  Though I will admit that there are times when I wish for something repetitive to do — usually when my brain has been overloaded by some other project that requires a lot of focus and decision making. I find it soothing on occasion to just turn the brain off and do the thing. If I had to do it all the time, I would go insane from pure boredom and lack of variety but every now and then, it’s kind of nice to have a break. It’s a shame I don’t feel that way about housework!

                2. AnotherAlison*

                  I was approximating how many items of clothing I’ve washed for my husband the other day. It’s around 30,000. (19×365×4-5 per day). Talk about repetitive. I didn’t used to mind as much as I do now. Sounds snotty, but I do pretty well for myself career wise, and I just don’t think I should have to fold other people’s underwear at this point in my life. But…he did just make me a Crown and Diet Coke. That totally makes up for nearly 20 yrs of laundry.

                3. AnotherAlison*

                  (To clarify, I took over most household stuff when I was a student/mom and my husband worked 70 h/wk. Even though I work more than him now, the balance never shifted.)

                4. Katie the Fed*

                  AnotherAlison –

                  That’s one thing I won’t do. I’m not doing his laundry. He doesn’t do mine. We still do our own, and we’re fine with it. Occasionally I’ll say “Hey, I’m doing a load of whites, throw in some if you have ’em” but that’s it.

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              Honestly, if someone could come up with a solution to this, that person would make a bajillion dollars.

              I don’t think there’s a solution for it.

              A lot of this has to do with conditioning. As was linked to upthread (PDF about emotional labor), women by and large are the ones who face the immediate consequences for not doing the emotional labor (from friends, family, het male partner).

              What you describe about men wanting to do the “[b]ig splashy thing”? I suspect a lot of that has to do with how popular storylines in fiction (or even non-fiction) are told. The male leader did such-and-such important thing. Good thing he had a woman to support him. The male protagonist did such-and-such important thing. Good thing he had a female love interest to support him. We’re starting to see some conspicuous exceptions to that (e.g., Mad Max: Fury Road, Zootopia), but for the most part the standard narrative out in popular media is the man doing “important stuff” and the woman doing things to support him.

              A lot of the shares here have been extremely personal and focused on “my husband…” or “my boyfriend…” but it goes so far beyond that. The husband or boyfriend didn’t end up like that by accident. Much as gender-prescriptive people like to argue evo-psych about how men and women are “hard-wired” certain ways, I never have to convince a cat to lick its butt or eat meat or punish the cat if it doesn’t. The cat is meant to groom herself and be a carnivore—it needs no extra encouragement/punishment to do things it’s hardwired to do.

              The fact that we punish women for doing emotional labor and reward men for not doing it is the primary reason women (in the vast majority of cases) do it and men (in the vast majority of cases) don’t do it. So the “solution” to one particular het marriage or relationship may be long discussions or therapy or something else, the only solution to the problem in general is all of us actively fighting ourselves from punishing women or rewarding men for maintaining the status quo. Did you not get the card or flowers? Call the man out on it. Do you see a father taking care of all the appointments for his children? Resist the urge to think he’s widowed or the mom is out of the picture (or to judge her for not doing those things).

              1. Dynamic Beige*

                I had a friend who had 2 sons, they were 2 years apart in age. I went to visit them once and the eldest got up early in the morning, turned on the computer and proceeded to play some kind of first person shooter game — he was 9 or 10 at the time. His younger brother helped set the table. When breakfast was ready, the older boy had to be dragged away from the computer. He sat down sulkily and I watched as his mother cut up his pancakes for him. She did not do that for the YoungerSon. I was dumbfounded. So later when we were taking a walk, I asked her why she cut OlderSon’s pancakes… and she said she hadn’t done it. I said yeah, you did and eventually she just blew it off as a “I guess I’m just used to doing it because it’s easier” kind of thing. All I could think about was that in 7 or 8 years, that kid was going to be in college, and he was going to be That Roommate who never cleaned/did laundry/knew how to cook. Who kept dirty dishes in his room that attracted pests (like my college roommate). That would expect everyone to cater to him and just be a nightmare in general… unless she did something to fix that shit and fast. I didn’t say that to her and frankly never saw her again after that (due to other reasons). I hope I was wrong about that but I just didn’t like seeing how that child was acting. And she was completely oblivious to it. Not trying to blame mothers… she was a single parent, the father was not in the picture. Maybe in another 50 years there will have been enough momentum built up to tip the scales away from what’s “women’s work” and not valued and what’s “men’s” and has more perceived value.

                1. blackcat*

                  My older brother is the same as that older son.

                  My mom still takes care of everything for him.

                  He is 32.

                  I do not see him moving out any time soon.

        5. Observer*

          You need D.

          A makes you resentful which us understandable if it happens all the time.

          B puts you in the “Boss” or planner role all the time, and that’s not where you want to be.

          C expects him to be a mind reader and think in a way that he’s not trained for.

          It seems to me that D is a mix of a lot of things that people have been saying. It starts with communicating. And one of the things that you need to communicate is that you do not want to have to tell him everything – AND WHY. Because that’s the only way he will know what you really need, which not just that the light bulb gets changed, but that you shouldn’t have to think about.

        6. Not So NewReader*

          I pick C. But I would go do something in a room that had light, while I waited.

          After the first ten years or so, I realized that some of the problems were things that I contributed to by leaving them unchecked for ten years or so.

          As far as the the fear of heights thing- lay that one right out. Tell him you need him to take over the lights because you are afraid you will get hurt. Tell him that will be an on-going thing as you really cannot climb up there and get that light bulb.

          There are some things you can nip/cut it off so it is not a recurring problem. In my marriage, ceiling lights were one of the understood things, they weren’t an issue.

          But by year 17 or so, I felt I was in way over my head. All though we did not have kids we had three sickly parents. We did a lot of going to the Hang Nail Doctor, the Broken Eyelash Doctor, etc. which would have been okay except their conditions got WORSE with drug side effects.
          I worked full time with an hour each way. He would leave the house between 6 and 7 and not get done with work until between 7 and 9 pm.
          I had to take a hard look at what life really is. Then I got sick. Before the dust settled I changed everything I was doing. We ate simpler meals with less ingredients and less steps in preparation. We felt better. I gave away a lot of stuff that we were just ignoring anyway. We were a tad happier. As the pets passed, I did not replace them. We had a little less stress over sick beings and we still had our sick parents.

          I think one of the most important things we did was take walks after dinner. It was in those walks that we talked out day, our plans for tomorrow, our sick parents and so on.
          For myself I stopped doing lots of things. He was in charge of getting cards for his family. When that did not happen, I decided it was not my worry, as this is another adult, not a child. I stopped going out of my way to get his scripts and I started asking for him to take a turn at picking up a loaf of bread.

          We were two average people having an average marriage. It was a lot of work. It took everything I had in me. He’s been gone quite a few years now and I am in no hurry to marry again, not after seeing just how much work it is. Yes, I do realize that you only go through the parents’ final illness once and then you do not go through it again. However, there is more to it than just that.

          Anyway, do not feed the problems by doing everything for him, keep it at the front of your thinking that this is a fellow adult, not a small child or invalid parent. Go instance by instance and ask yourself each time, “is it truly necessary for me to step in here?”

          Carry the expectation that he will bring his brain to the table all day long, just like you do. After all this is what we expect of adults around us. The brain drain is incredible in coupledom. Drag him into making decisions with you, don’t stop just because it’s like pulling teeth. Personally, I would tell my husband in some situations that NO one should make a certain type of decision for him- he should make his own decisions regarding his personal monies, his health and so on. No one else should be telling a fellow adult what to do in these matters. I mean I would not let him decide how to spend my inheritance or which medical treatment I should have. (He could offer his opinion/thoughts and that would be very valuable to me.)

          Realize that some things are just not of value to him. For over TWO decades I carefully paired up my husband’s socks so he had matching socks every day. He did not care that I did that. Seriously, he did not care if his socks matched. He said, “put them in a pile and I will put them in my drawer. That is all I want.” Really? Why is this news to me after 20 plus years?

          And recognize that some situations are just vulnerable points where arguing is almost embedded in the situation. Medical situations can sometimes involve arguing with a parent/doctor/receptionist. Remodeling a house almost has arguing built into the situation. Everyone is tense, everyone wants to get it right but does not want to shell out a million dollars to make it right. And everyone has a different idea on how to accomplish one stupid little thing. Just when you think you have heard all the angles, code enforcement stops by and the plan gets revamped AGAIN. Nerve-wracking stuff. Try to sort out how much of the problem is just because the situation itself is tense. I used the “if I were single, how would I feel right now” scenario to sort this one out a little.

          I love the links above because I love it when people articulate things that I think about. I mostly think in pictures so I do not always find words. Seeing people find words fascinates and relieves me. However, let me offer you one caution, the people in these articles are divorced. They did not make it. Divorce is hugely sad, in some ways it’s worse than being widowed. And I know there are people who desperately need to move on with separate lives. I don’t think that is you from what you say here. I would try to find stories about people who are working through these problems, what did they do, what did they stop doing, etc. See, you want an on-going story to figure out how to make it come together for you and you want to be able to share those positive examples with him.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Thank you so much for this – it made me think. I love the idea of after-dinner walks. We should try to institute that. The dog would definitely be a fan.

            Marriage really is a lot of work, huh? And I agree about those links – I liked them but they all depressed the crap out of me because it sounds so hopeless.

            1. overeducated*

              Those links are depressing but your marriage doesn’t have to unfold like that!

              I think this is something a lot of people have to work on, but actual meetings/check-ins could be a good way to get things started. Like, explicitly say, “let’s talk about what needs to happen this week – I want you to write it down because part of the entire point of dividing work is that me having to remind you about what you said you’d do IS work. Put it in your calendar if you have to.” Right now your husband doesn’t have a habit of making sure HE remembers to do things – forming the habit, instituting a system for self-training, is key.

              1. Dynamic Beige*

                The thing I like about mustbethistalltoride is that it’s written by a man. He’s not blaming his ex for how the relationship failed, calling her names and the sadly way too common stuff that seems to happens after so many divorces/breakups. He is taking responsibility for what he did — or more accurately didn’t do — and admitting it. Which I think if I man reads that, has more weight — because it’s coming from another man.

                Books about relationships are bought/read mainly by women. Women are more likely to suggest counselling. If a woman had written a column called “he left the dishes by the sink so I left him” there would be a completely different reaction to it. I think he’s opened up a very serious dialogue. I was listening to the interview he did and they’re right. People are always saying things like “the divorce rate is 50%” but there’s never much of “what’s going on here?” it’s all “Oh wow, that is terrible! 50%! Really? Are you sure? Well, that’s not going to happen to me when I get married!” And then Katie The Fed has a really horrible work week, comes home, finds her husband just passively waiting for her to cook for him and goes ballistic because why, for once, couldn’t he just make the damn dinner for them and take one. single. damn. thing. off. her. overloaded. plate. Because I would bet from Mr. The Fed’s perspective, he’s a good husband. He brings home a pay cheque, he doesn’t cheat, he doesn’t gamble or do drugs or kick puppies. Or any of a thousand other things that make someone a bad spouse. “Doesn’t she see or appreciate all these things I’m already doing? Why is she so mad that I didn’t make the dinner?” But the thing that Mr. The Fed doesn’t get is that Katie is *also* doing all those things… and planning, shopping, cooking, cleaning, picking up the slack when he’s busy etc. that he doesn’t notice but benefits from because his life runs smoothly. More smoothly than if he were still single. Sadly that information coming from a man may be a less bitter pill to swallow and viewed less as a complaint or criticism.

                1. Anonymous Educator*

                  Because I would bet from Mr. The Fed’s perspective, he’s a good husband. He brings home a pay cheque, he doesn’t cheat, he doesn’t gamble or do drugs or kick puppies. Or any of a thousand other things that make someone a bad spouse.

                  This brings in another related but still different issue, which is that the norm in the United States and similar countries (maybe in other countries as well) is for both men and women to have extremely low standards for men. Men: “Hey, I’m not horrible. I must be okay.” Women: “Well, at least he’s not horrible.”

                2. Katie the Fed*

                  I actually sent him a link to that post last night – the one posted above that says:

                  ““But I remember my wife often saying how exhausting it was for her to have to tell me what to do all the time. It’s why the sexiest thing a man can say to his partner is ‘I got this,’ and then take care of whatever needs taken care of.

                  “I always reasoned: ‘If you just tell me what you want me to do, I’ll gladly do it.’

                  “But she didn’t want to be my mother. She wanted to be my partner, and she wanted me to apply all of my intelligence and learning capabilities to the logistics of managing our lives and household.”

                  Because that really sums it up. I told him that’s what I’m struggling with.

                  But you guys! I think we’ve made progress as a result of this awesome discussion!

                  I asked him if he could take care of dinner on Friday nights now. I said I don’t care if we eat cereal or he cooks or takes me out of does carry-out – I just don’t want to think about it. Fridays I’m usually at my worst because the stress of the week is all piled up on me.

                  He was very enthusiastic about the idea and said I won’t have to worry about anything.

                  And we’re going to sit down on Sundays and go over everything for the week – what needs to get done, what issues are coming up, etc.

                  So I think we’re making progress! Thank you all so much for the useful advice.

                3. Dynamic Beige*

                  @KatieTF That’s great! It’s unfortunate that you had to have a meltdown in order to open up this discussion but at least now he sees the gravity of the situation. And that’s a great piece of writing that lays it out so simply and eloquently without blame or shaming.

                  The thing that occurs to me is that this Friday, when/if he makes the dinner, don’t compliment him directly i.e. “thank you for making dinner” but indirectly “this is so nice, to come home and spend time with you like this. I really needed this.”/”you picked up a pizza? That’s terrific! Mmm… so good.” Because — and this is my extremely unmarried opinion — it would set up a dangerous precedent, unless he’s willing to thank you every time you make dinner. I mean, you can express gratitude without throwing a ticker-tape parade because when the ticker-tape parades stop, then where’s the motivation? I know when I take the garbage out, no one is cheering me on or complimenting my recycling prowess :( I’m not saying this well, but what I’m trying to get at is this is a “normal” thing and it shouldn’t be celebrated as “above and beyond” because it’s not.

                4. Basia also a Fed*

                  Dynamic Beige’s post made me think of my husband’s family. Whenever the husband of any couple in the family does child care (takes them to a sport or other activity, or even just takes care of them at home while the wife goes to the grocery store, Mr also a Fed’s husband’s family says “Oh, isn’t it wonderful that Mr also a Fed’s nephew is baby-sitting! Isn’t he awesome?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “When it’s your own kid, it’s not baby-sitting. It’s parenting.” I’m always rewarded with puzzled looks.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              “…A dream that will need all the love you can give, every day of your life for as long as you live.” from Sound of Music.

              How we express that love changes as the years unfold. I hope you chuckle here, my husband and I became quite candid about our own foibles. If you were not used to seeing this it could be.. um… surprising. One thing we did on a recurring basis was this particular joke: One of us would be getting upset over some stupid little thing. The other one of us would remain level headed and work toward a solution. The upset one would say, “It’s your turn to have IT, isn’t it? You have it now!” And that was the end of the upset.
              IT was defined as remembering why we were together. We always figured if one of us remembered IT, we’d manage somehow. “Remembering IT” played out in real life by being kind when the other spouse was having a tizzy. It would have been the easiest thing in the world for the other spouse to accelerate to match the upset spouse. And instead, the other spouse chose not to, the other spouse chose to remember why we were together and just handle the stupid freakin’ situation.

              We both took turns play the role of the upset spouse, because hey, life IS upsetting. Call it grace under fire, call it having a level head, call it whatever you would like. But one’s quality of life is tied to the ability to handle stressful situations. People who get upset over a hang nail are not going to do well when a difficult crisis comes along. They can’t handle the hang nail, how will they ever hope to handle a crisis? Spouses are each other’s front lines in the journey of life. We have to balance the spouse’s perspective with the bigger picture; we have to look at both things to get to a resolve.

        7. BRR*

          Are we married to the same person? I tried delegating but what eventually happened is my husband didn’t like that it felt as if I was managing him. I started saying a larger list and suggested how we split it up. Will you do a, b, and c if I do d,e, and f or would you like to do b,c, d.

        8. GiantPanda*

          D) Ask “What are you going to do about it?”. In a genuinely interested, non-nagging tone.

        9. Kyrielle*

          Checklists! God help us, checklists!

          My husband knows there are a bunch of things I would like him to do if he notes the occasion to do them:
          * Light bulb is out? Please replace it. If there’s no replacement bulb, please buy one. (It is NOT a guarantee that he will notice it’s out, but if he does, it will get replaced. In a day or two, but.)
          * Dishwasher is not full of clean dishes, and not running? Please put your dirty dishes in it!
          * Dishwasher is full of clean dishes and not running? Please empty it. (This one doesn’t happen as often as I’d like.) And so on.

          Is there -any- chance he or you would enjoy Habitica? Because if so, setting up all sorts of things you want him to do as habits (that he can get XP for) would give him, indeed, a handy checklist.

    8. Thinking out loud*

      I have been married to pretty much the same person you describe for nine years now. I work and he stays home with our three year old days. On days when I work late, I’ll text him when I’m leaving to ask him to pick up takeout (and will give a recommendation of what I want, although it would be fine with me if he picked something else).

    9. mkb*

      My husband is kind of like this too. What has helped me is communicating about it with him and time. We’ve been together 11 years now (living together almost 9 and married 6) and he is much better than he was when we initially moved in together. He has specific “chores” that he always takes care of like taking out the garbage, recycling and cleaning the cat box. He also does all of the yard work and snow removal. In regards to things like cooking, if I want him to cook, I will text him in advance something like “please make dinner, anything is fine” and he will figure something out.

      I wish he would see messes like I do and know automatically to clean it, but unfortunately he does not so I will usually just ask him to clean something. Anytime I ask him he does it.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I really am. And after I wrote this all I started to think about the stuff he DOES do. It’s easy to focus on the negatives.

    10. Soupspoon McGee*

      Oh boy. That is so exhausting.

      A few things happened that helped me change perspective, be more directive where need by, and let go (still working on that).

      My first truly direct report, not including managing work-study students, was a man about 20 years older than me who’d had a lot of great experience, just not in this particular niche. I learned with him that if I asked him to do something and he did to the letter, but it wasn’t what I’d expected, I had to spell things out more clearly. I couldn’t assume he knew all the dots to connect because he was new to this work, and I wasn’t. I was able to connect those dots myself when we were shooting the breeze about relationships, and he was frustrated that his wife would get mad because he couldn’t read her mind. He did everything she asked, if she asked, so why was she so mad? We were able to help each other out there.

      I’ve had various relationships. The fella now is great at seeing all the little household things that need to be done. I’m the blind one when it comes to sweeping and other houseworky things. He is NOT GOOD at holidays. He panics because he knows he’s supposed to anticipate what people want, then he overspends on a bunch of random crap and hope something is delightful. I agonize and spend a lot of time trying to get the exact perfect thing for each person on my list. So, since I know this about him and I also don’t want a lot of random weird things to feel guilty about, I’ve tried to be clear. I really want a night at the beach, or a new porch light, installed. That kind of thing. It mostly works, because it reduces his stress and mine (though this last Christmas . . . he bought me a really expensive box of pre-made smores, which I don’t like and can’t eat).

      I’ve been going back to school, and because he has kids with ADD, he already knows that studying for exams brings stress, so he’s been wonderful about announcing we’re having Chinese takeout or homemade pizza or whatever he wants that means I don’t have to think about food. He’s also really good and reminding me to drink enough water, eat something with protein, take a break, take me Adderall, and do all the things I don’t think of when I’m stressed. That’s just the way he is–but I have trained him to give me Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups when I’m especially stressed.

      Oh, the third thing is that when he does things that drive me bonkers, like putting things in places they don’t go, I need to eat a peanut butter cup, calm down, and decide if it’s a hill worth having a fight on. If it is, I try to explain the logic. Sometimes that works. Often, it does not. He says OK and does his own thing. This has gotten better over the years as he’s calmed down, seen that sometimes my logic works and as I’ve calmed down and seen that some things don’t matter or will just not ever change. And sometimes I have a meltdown that makes him realize I really mean it. Time will do that to you.

    11. Dan*

      Hi Katie,

      Just out of curiosity, how long did you guys date before you married? Did you cohab together at all? Did your husband live on his own at all before you were married?

      What you’re asking is a really tough thing to answer. One of the things that I noticed is that women seem to be more bothered by “stuff” than men are. Save for roommates for a spell and college and what not, I’ve lived on my own for almost 20 years now.

      For me, I moved out of the house at 17, and am fiercely independent. I’ve learned how to live life on my own, and “little favors” don’t mean as much to me as my ex thought they should. Like one of the other posters said about matching her husband’s socks, somethings just don’t matter to the receiver. So they don’t mean much to me, and I’m not used to doing them for others, so…

      Another thing is, some people (like me) get really caught up in routine. If the routine is that Katie does all the cooking, then hey, that’s the what I’m used to. If meals specifically are an issue, one thing you really should do is get your husband into the cooking routine, such as alternating weeks or something. That way, he’s more comfortable pinch hitting when necessary. (And if he’s cooking every other week, that’s going to take a load off of you anyway.)

      Big pro tip on meals: With just two people, learn to cook meals that will cover you for two nights. Most recipes serve four anyway (try cutting them in half and realize how much you’re throwing out) so cooking three times a week cuts down on effort, costs, and cleaning. One of the best routines I ever got into.

      On to the chores… Yes, I know what needs to get done. But the big question is always *when* does it have to be done? That light bulb? It’s going to get changed when I feel like it. Trash? When I feel like it again. Dishes in the sink? Same.

      Granted, when I’ve cohabbing with someone, then “never” isn’t quite gong to fly. But that someone has to understand that “because I said so right now” isn’t going to fly either. Let’s be clear: I don’t expect you to do everything around the house, unless your expectation is that they get done the minute you notice them. Me? I have no problem cleaning up the day after a big dinner party, or coming home from a trip late, crashing, and unpacking the next day. My ex “had” to unpack the minute we got home, no matter how late and tired I/we were.

      Some things just come down to expectations, and having clear conversations about them. If he is truly driving you nuts, and he is really ingrained in his ways, then you have some decisions to make — preferably before you have kids.

      At the end of the day, this isn’t about right vs wrong. There’s always two sides to every story, and the truth is almost always in the middle. What it comes down to is what your deal breakers are.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I’ve been both people in this situation. That is, I think, a squishy bit in the “emotional work” theory, in that it doesn’t count as taking over the partner’s emotional work if it’s a task he doesn’t care about. I have known people who are definitely the squeegee guy (“I’ve just wiped your window at a stoplight and now you owe me a dollar”) of emotional labor.

        But it’s also not fair to opt out of household work in a shared household because you don’t care. That is where, as you say, figuring out the middle/compromise is the task.

    12. Just a thought*

      I read something in the comments over on captain awkward a while ago (unfortunately I don’t remember when) which really resonated with me. It was something to the effect of “planning and making decisions and organizing is *work* and it’s not fair to make one person do all the work. Many people don’t realize this, they assume it’s easier to let the other person plan it because they don’t conceptualize it as adding work and stress to that person’s life.” Maybe clarifying that would help – because then there would be an easily understandable reason why you don’t want to make all these everyday decisions. They add up to decision fatigue and that’s not good.

    13. Shell*

      Not married, but my parents are like this. In fairness, my mother doesn’t do all the stuff–just “regular” household stuff and stuff that comes up frequently (I want to make clear I do think that stuff she does is important, which is why “regular” is in quotes). So she will do anticipatory things in her sphere, and he will do so in his sphere, but ne’er the twain shall meet. So she’ll remind him to vacuum, despair that he doesn’t volunteer to help prep when she makes the meals, hates every crumb that he never wipes, he doesn’t ever do the laundry or dishes, etc…and she is the one to make favourite foods, they (she) makes interesting new recipes based on things they’ve tried in restaurants, and anticipate needs/make sure household stuff is in smooth running order. But she doesn’t so much as use a single screwdriver. (The other day I told her to tighten a screw and she accidentally grabbed a Phillips instead of a flat…)

      He takes care of everything from plumbing issues to broken hairdryers (I swear my dad can fix almost anything, and his garage is like a miniature Home Depot) to the majority of gardening (she helps with weeding, but he does most of it), and is constantly finding little things here and there to tool up. Any lightbulb that blows out gets changed within the hour. He checks the battery and tire pressure on their cars on schedule (and changes blown out bulbs on the cars too before she even notices). In contrast, I doubt my mother even knows where to find an extension cord.

      Part of the problem is that her “share” genuinely comes up more often–people eat every day, and it’s not every day the lawn mower needs to be oiled, the vacuum cleaner needs to be fixed, the drain needs to be snaked, the shorted hairdryer needs to be repaired, etc. But on the flip side, the stakes are higher with his things (e.g. broken heater) and his tasks tend to be more complex, and even his non-critical improvement projects she will write it off as “mindless tinkering.” And when they argue, I think they both don’t appreciate each other enough; my mother will snap angrily “well, if X is really broken, we’ll buy a new one!” and diminish his contribution while not thinking about it’s probably easier to buy take-out for a meal (which is her contribution) and that she has no idea how to find/choose/buy a new X. I’m not saying it’s feasible to eat out every day or have housecleaners every day or that her contribution isn’t important; it absolutely is, and her contributions do happen more frequently (see: daily meals). But I tell them they’re both blind to things outside of their own spheres. (They don’t listen to me much, though.)

      I don’t have any tips to fix this disconnect though–my mom isn’t going to learn his mechanical genius any time soon, and the rare times my dad tries to cook for her it genuinely falls far short of her expectations (she is a fantastic cook; he’s a tolerable one, and when she’s already stressed and grumpy–which is usually when he tries to cook–she doesn’t tend to hold back her complaints, which doesn’t incentivize his attempts to cook for her). So apart from the communication others have suggested, I guess the best I can offer is to step back and really see if your husband contributes things that you don’t notice and take for granted because they’re all in his sphere–just as he takes for granted things that he thinks are in your sphere.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I remember reading a study that showed the traditional division of household tasks puts men in charge of tasks that: (1) can be done at a time under their control (They can choose when on Saturday or Sunday, or even Friday, to mow the lawn; dinner has to be cooked at dinner time; (2) are one-time tasks, or every-now-and-then tasks (mowing the lawn is once a week, not 2x a day; changing the filter on the AC is once a season, etc.); (3) feel “done” when they’re finished (laundry, e.g., is never done; it’s just done until tomorrow).
        Oh, and on the typical male tasks, there either isn’t much in the way of “judging the quality,” but also, the person doing them is the only one who makes that judgement (but the person cooking the meals has other people complaining about the food, or complaining that their clothes are wrinkled).
        And repetitive tasks that don’t let you control when they do them are the most stressful of all.

    14. Elkay*

      As you can see from all the responses you are not alone, it’s exhausting to be the thinker and planner. I agree with all the advises of talk when you’re calm. I also found that if I was no longer the path of least resistance for him things got a lot easier for me. For example, if planning something its getting overwhelming for me (this ranges from planning meals for the next week to planning a trip) I say to him “You need to do this”, any time he batted it back to me e.g. “What do you want to eat/do?” I’d say “I can’t cope with this at the moment, you need to do it”. If he came up with something that I knew was unrealistic e.g. “Let’s have a meal that requires 3hrs prep on Wednesday” I respond along the lines of “How do you think that’s going to work?” basically getting him to do the brain work. He’s not actively trying to avoid the brain work but it’s the path of least resistance to put it back on me.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        When we got married I told him I’d plan the wedding because he had no interest in details (I didn’t really either, but it’s got to get done, and everyone expects the bride to do that stuff). But he had to plan the entire honeymoon, and he wasn’t to bother me with a million questions or decisions about what hotel and when. I ceded the ENTIRE thing over to him, and it worked well. I think I need to do more of that.

        1. Dan*

          Technically, you didn’t have to plan a wedding, you could have eloped. I thought about it when my ex’s family was being a bunch of jerk offs and weren’t really contributing financially.

          I tend to be a huge planner, and planned ours. It was only for family, which has its complications when it comes to venue size.

          It may help to establish your turf, his turf, and stuff you will fight over ;) I plan some monster vacations and do tons of cooking. I prefer that to be my turf. But if the ex wanted a meticulously clean place 24/7, that was on her because it wasn’t that important to me.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Funny you should mention that. I wanted to elope. HE wanted the wedding. Ha. And then did the derpy derby helpless thing when it came to planning. So this was the deal we made.

    15. misspiggy*

      This is a fascinating discussion. Our dynamic is much the same, and it’s interesting what tasks my husband has taken on automatically. It’s things that a)he cares about and b) I have proved I either can’t do at all – like taking the rubbish out (disability issues) or will always screw up – like caring for plants or the car. Unless he’s really ill he will do those things automatically without complaint. Everything else, it falls to me to either do, or motivate him to do.

      I’m reasonably OK with that. This is the way he was socialised, and I knew that before I married him. If I stopped taking care of food, he would find a way to eat and he wouldn’t blame me for not doing it. If I stopped reminding him about his sister’s birthday he would either miss it or he wouldn’t. I put those efforts in as my willing contribution to the work of the household, and make it very clear to him what I’m contributing.

      Having disabilities means at least I don’t fall into the trap of resentfully doing it myself because it’s less bother – he gets asked to do a lot of things and he does them. What I loathe is when he expects me to take most things on without appreciation: then there are explosions.

    16. FD*

      If your husband is like this with his family, then he’s probably never going to spontaneously think of things like this. Some people naturally think “Oh, Jane has this going on, I should do [xyz] so she doesn’t have to worry about it.” Other people just don’t think that way. It’s reasonable to feel frustrated, but he probably won’t spontaneously start thinking of doing things like this.

      That said, I bet you can think of certain guidelines that would help you both get what you need.

      One thing my wife and I have done a lot is we sort of trade off who’s taking on the bulk of the chores based on what’s going on. For example, there have been times when I was in a really intense work project and would get home late and exhausted. During those times, she’d take on more of the cleaning, laundry, etc. There have been times when she’s been in a bad mental health place and I’ve taken over a lot of the chores.

      One thing that’s helped us is to set it out in advance. For example, I usually know when I’m going into a more intense period at work. This just happened recently, because I’m starting a new job and am also starting a freelance gig. In this case, I asked if she could help take over the dishes for a while and keep the kitchen under control.

      If you don’t find he’s good at thinking of things on the fly, and if you don’t always know when you’re going to have a rough day, then it might be good to set certain conditions. For example, if you’re not home by 6pm, he should assume he’s on his own for dinner.

      1. TL -*

        I disagree – you can learn to be considerate and think of others; it is not a natural thing to a lot of people but they work at it because they care about the people they are considerate of. There’s no excuse if you just don’t think of things – you should work to figure out how you show consideration and how your partner receives consideration (and feels comforted). These are things that can be figured out and learned.

        And honestly, if you claim to really care for someone but the thought, “Oh, So-and-So seems upset and stressed. What can I do to help?” never crosses your mind – well, that’s not a great sign. (if that thought crosses your mind and you don’t know the answer – you can learn it!)

    17. Christy*

      So above I wrote a really long thinng about sex drives and needs within a marriage, and it actually mostly relates here. Basically, I think you need a coming to Jesus talk where you tell him this is really important to you, and you propose a few possible solutions, and you let him propose a few possible solution so, and you give them a try and check in on it. I suspect you can communicate about it well, but if you need help, a few sessions with a counselor might be all the help you need

    18. Mando Diao*

      Part of it is that you’re doing a lot of things for him that he appreciates but that he did not ask or expect you to do. He doesn’t understand that you’re trying to initiate a manner of “trading” kind, unasked-for but appreciated gestures, partly because you haven’t articulated this to him and partly because he might not care whether his dry cleaning has to wait a day to get picked up.

      I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t do things that people haven’t asked you to do, and then expect them to 1) be exuberantly grateful, or 2) to mirror that behavior. I don’t mean to be cruel but…this line of thinking is one of my mother’s more infuriating habits and it stems from her codependency. She goes out of her way to do people favors that are objectively nice but that no one actually really wants her to do and then gets hurt when people don’t LOVE LOVE LOVE her. It’s a weird form of guilt-tripping. Why would I return a favor that I didn’t want. You might just have to tell your husband to have dinner ready on nights when you can’t be home in time.

    19. CM*

      Google “emotional labor.” And click on the link that says “Emotional Labor – Metafilter Condensed Thread.” And then you will get it. And you will say “YES” out loud a lot while reading it. Because it’s all about how women are taught to do all the emotional labor — thinking about all the things that need to be done, taking care of the needs of everyone around them, maintaining the familial and social relationships — and how men are taught that someone else will take care of all this stuff for them, so it’s not even on their radar.

  26. SLD*

    I just tried and failed to get off a PPI (proton pump inhibitor) and now my chest is burning even after I went back on it. I’m pretty sure I don’t actually need to be on this stuff anymore (and I’m scared of the idea of being on it long term) but the acid rebound is horrible. My chest is constantly burning now. Time to continue searching for a new GI doctor I guess (my current one adds to my stress levels). Sorry- I got about 4 hours of sleep last night, and I’m just not really sure what to do in the meantime.

    1. fposte*

      Oof. Rebound from medication is so stressful–it’s like zombie disease. I definitely agree with getting a new GI, especially if you can find somebody who specializes in GERD. It’s a complex creature sometimes.

      I did PPIs off and on for a while; my reflux wasn’t like yours (almost never nocturnal, probably LES issues), but I did find that things did settle down after the rebound for me. Maybe a new GI can give you some management tips to get you through the weaning.

      1. SLD*

        Thanks! I’ll definitely keep trying. All I had at first was acute gastritis (intense nausea, but not pain), so gaining problems I didn’t have before is really frustrating.

    2. MsChandandlerBong*

      I tried to wean off Protonix, but I just couldn’t do it. I had constant heartburn, and it was so severe that I couldn’t even sleep. I believe my GERD is related to LES weakness, as it doesn’t matter what foods I eat or don’t eat. I would get heartburn just from drinking water.

      1. Al Lo*

        I read this as “I tried to wean off Pentatonix”, and I wondered why on earth anyone would want to do that!

    3. Merely*

      There’s the rebound… then there’s the fact that it takes PPIs about a week to get to max effect. Have you tried taking H2RAs or antacids in the meantime?

      1. SLD*

        Yes, I’m taking Tums at the moment. I think most of the pain is from my attempt (sore throat/esophagus from when the acid started up again). Or that’s my guess, anyway. I’ve got Zantac, but I wasn’t sure about adding it to the mix.

    4. Nicole*

      I feel your pain. I was on those for a decade and had to up my prescription with no improvement. What finally got me off them was talking a probiotic daily. I still get heartburn once in awhile but not daily. If you’re curious which probiotic I use let me know and I’ll provide the link.

    5. Observer*

      Without knowing your situation, it’s hard to say anything definitive. But, you may find it worth reading “Dropping Acid”. Your GI guy may not like it, because it’s written by a couple of ENTs. But, it’s well supported by studies by some studies, and the logic of what they say makes a good deal of sense. All I can tell you is that my husband’s GI doctor never mentioned the issue, but his GP did and now lends the book to patients who he thinks need to cut the acid content of their diets. Also that it was HUGELY helpful for my husband, more so that his PPI.

    6. PharmerTed*

      Hi, SLD-did you stop the PPI abruptly or did your doc have you taper the dose? Also, PPIs take a few days to kick in due to their mechanism of action so you won’t get immediate relief when you restart.

      1. SLD*

        Hi- I tapered a little but from the research I did afterward, not enough. I’ve got some better possible plans for next time, and will hopefully have a new doctor by that point.

  27. Bibliovore*

    I have no answers. Mr. Bibliovore and I have been together almost 30 years. Everything you say is true of our relationship. Hiring a housekeeper- first every other week and now every week did a lot to take down my steaming resentments. He is just NOT ever going to plan dinner. He is never going to pick up yogurt and milk on the way home because he will never notice that there is no yogurt in the fridge or that the carton of milk has only a 1/4 cup if that left in it.
    He will never set the table even if I am announcing that dinner is ready in five minutes.

    That said as my friends say- he has other gifts…so…
    Take care of yourself- If you need a balanced dinner- plan ahead. Have something that can just be thrown in the microwave. Roast vegetables on the weekend. Pick up take out. Don’t ask- tell. Tonight we are having dinner with friends. He just needs to know what time.

    Have a few friends that you can call to rant and then let it go.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      well, you made it 30 years without killing him so there’s hope for me!

      it’s kind of disappointing, but I guess it’s better to accept it than to be permanently bitter, huh?

      1. the gold digger*

        Only married years, but yeah, I have had no luck convincing my husband, who is taking a year(ish) off from working and hence is in charge of all the house stuff, that

        1. cleaning the baseboards is a thing
        2. when you clean the bathroom sink, you also clean the mirror. And you do the tub. You do all of these things at once so that the bathroom is entirely clean AT ONCE
        3. You don’t wait until the tub starts getting gross to clean it
        4. Please just clean the tub
        5. I should not have to ask you to clean the tub
        6. Vacuuming, especially when there are two cats in the house, is something that should happen at regular intervals, like once a week
        7. I should not have to ask you to vacuum
        8. I should not have to ask you to clean the kitchen sinks.
        9. You are in charge of the house. If it is DIRTY, THEN CLEAN IT
        10. No! Clean it before it is noticeably dirty! That is, ONCE A WEEK, CLEAN THE HOUSE

        And yet.

        I remind myself that he has so many wonderful qualities. He does the litterbox. He cleans the hair out of the bathtub drain, even though it is not his hair. When there are dead rodents, either in the basement of my old house or outside here because of the cat, he takes care of them. He takes the car in for service. He changes out the snow tires. He cleans the slimy nasty stuff from the humidifier.

        I remind myself that overall, his good qualities way outweigh the bad.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          We have a deal that he does the dishes when I cook. But he is, like, completely blind to anything on the counter. Crumbs, pots, whatever. There could be a severed head on the counter and he wouldn’t notice it. He won’t clean it unless it’s in the sink.


          1. Rebecca*

            We have had many a talk about the sink after shaving… And it got better! There is hope!

            1. K.*

              I lived with my brother for a bit in a two bedroom, one bath place and OH MY GOD THE HAIR IN THE SINK. And he has black hair and the sink is white, so it’s not like it was hard to spot. I think he thought the hair would get washed away eventually with the natural order of sink use, but I had to be like “Look, I just really need you to clean the sink – and by that I mean that there should be no hair visible in the sink, at all – after you shave. And ‘after’ means ‘in the same bathroom trip.'”

            2. Snazzy Hat*

              Our bathroom mirror currently has notes from me to my s.o. displayed on it:
              “You are gorgeous no matter what style of facial hair you choose. Please clean up the sink & cabinet ledge after you shave.”
              “p.s.: This is a low-priority reminder note, so it doesn’t count as passive-aggressive.”
              “p.p.s.: I love you!”

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              Ha! Too bad something like that is too big to fit down the garburator… not that I have ever tried to do something like that [looks around shiftily]… I don’t even have one! A garburator, that is.

              Or maybe a note in the sink “Please clean the severed head off the counter… and also any crumbs etc. that may be there that shouldn’t be there. Also, if you are reading this note, the sink needs to be cleaned because notes don’t belong in the sink.”

              1. Jean*

                >[looks around shiftily]
                [Moves past LOL to outright cackling]
                At one point my then-local newspaper got hold of a story about a family in which person #1 got totally fed up with person #2, committed murder and then began stuffing the deceased down the garbage disposal. I think the entire readership had the same I’m-slack-jawed-but-can’t-take-my-eyes-off-this-disaster reaction. Thanks for reviving those memories. Oy.

          2. Colette*

            Well, in his defence, a severed head is not a dish ….
            I’m kidding, of course. I know this is a frustrating problem.

            My advice:
            – be clear about what you want. (My response to “what do you want for dinner” is “I want to not have to worry about it”). This includes defining what doing dishes means. (Wash all dishes that are not in the cupboards, wash down counters, etc.) This shouldn’t need to happen every time, but you do need to do it once.
            – Once you’ve explained what you want, you don’t get to complain about things being done the wrong way. So if he uses more soap than you do/runs the water constantly/ lets things drip dry, you think “yay, the dishes are done” and go about your day. You get a vote about the standard, but not about how he gets there.
            – don’t rescue him if something that is his responsibility doesn’t get done. He’s an adult, he can take care of it.

            If an app doesn’t work, create a list he walks past every day. I have a whiteboard in my kitchen for reminders – not just chores but things like “dentist Monday at 8”.

            1. Jean*

              Re all the spouses (wives) above who are currently flashing up a storm of sparks from grinding their molars about their spouses (husbands) who couldn’t find a dirty sock / icky dish / burned-out lightbulb / overflowing trash basket etc. to save their souls…
              Been there, done that, had the fights. It’s exhausting and demoralizing. These days I try to streamline routines and to convince myself that it’s worth cleaning because it allows me to come home to a comfortable place.

              I also remind myself that my DH has many good qualities that (usually) outweigh his bad ones. I, of course, am totally perfect in all aspects of life, always: 24/7/365. If you believe that, I have some swamp-front I mean beachfront property to sell to you.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Every single marriage I know has it’s strengths and weaknesses. I have seen spouses do things for each other and I have been overjoyed watching their care with each other. And yet, those same spouses can major league, BIG TIME drop the ball with each other too, they can totally fail each other.

                NO marriage offers the comprehensive package because no person does everything that they should do or is necessary to do. I remember a bat got in the house. We decided not to kill it, but release it outside. By the time my husband got it scooped up my nerves were totally shot. He said, “will you hold the door open for me so I can get this outside?”

                And I said NO.

                Not a shining moment for me. I failed him in that moment. He was dealing with the darn bat. I should have held the door. I am not saying this because I beat myself up over it, but rather to show a point. No one is the perfect spouse. Ever. In this case, my husband was dealing with a squealing bat, an over-friendly dog AND a shortage of bat scoops. He had a full plate. I dropped the ball. It happens.

                If we are lucky, our spouses hit the main needs we have. Notice I say needs, not wants. I do not believe that any one gets every thing they need from their marriage, ever. I think we learn to work through it, or learn to focus on what is right or we find another way to get a need met. I have a friend whose husband does not like to go any where. She has found several women friends that she travels with and does things with. She has not “killed” her husband yet. I don’t think she will, either.

          3. hermit crab*

            OK, so, it’s been less than 24 hours and the severed head on the counter has already become code in my household for “what is this mess!?!” :)

    2. FD*

      He is never going to pick up yogurt and milk on the way home because he will never notice that there is no yogurt in the fridge or that the carton of milk has only a 1/4 cup if that left in it.

      /giggle/ My wife is like that. I enjoy grocery shopping anyway, so I do most of the communal shopping because she CAN. NOT. keep track of what is in our pantry to save her life.

      For example, we currently have three dozen eggs in the fridge because she thought we might need eggs. Twice. Last week. We usually go through an average of three to five eggs per week.

      I’m doing a lot of baking and making a lot of scrambled eggs right now.

    3. Cristina in England*

      I am the one in our house who is bad at seeing stuff that needs to be cleaned, and also, bad at cleaning. Unfortunately now that I am home with children, I am the one doing most of this stuff (badly). I TOTALLY love clear direct requests like: “could you please wipe off the counter before I come home so I can put my bag on it as soon as I come in?”. I am not a mind reader! I am happy to add almost any task into my rotation but I do often need to be explicitly asked unless you want me to wait until it is visibly dirty.

  28. Sunflower*

    How do I get over my fear of mice? I live in an old walkup in CC Philadelphia and I’ve now seen and heard a mouse. Somehow I got lucky at my last apt and never saw or heard any although I could hear them in the walls. Pretty much all of my friends have mice and it seems like something I’m just gonna have to learn to deal with unless I want to fork over half my rent and move into a luxury building(I don’t). Part of what freaks me out so much is that I live in a studio so I feel like I can’t escape them since my living space and kitchen are all one. I found droppings about a month ago and sealed up all my food in plastic bins in cabinets(I haven’t seen any evidence of them eating my food) and am trying to do a better job cleaning up crumbs and such. I haven’t seen dropping since and then the other night i heard one russling around in some bags I had on the floor. I bought a zapper trap and will probably pick up some snap traps. I will also be planting peppermint oil around and my friend has volunteered her cat to stay with me for a night or two.

    My landlord is going to plug up the holes/check the walls on Monday but it seems like this might be a thing I just have to learn to get used to. Any advice for overcoming this fear and of course, getting rid of them!

    1. Katie the Fed*

      My cats don’t do anything but alert me to the presence of mice. I got traps because I just found droppings on a counter and saw they ate into my walnuts. Traps are probably your best bet.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I had an apartment w/ lots of mice in the walls, and I finally couldn’t take it. I’m not afraid of them, but it was just unnerving.

      I got a cat, and they went away. He never killed any, but they stopped scritching in the walls and trying to live under the stove. I think the smell of the cat made them decide to avoid my corner of the building.

      1. catsAreCool*

        You might ask your friend with a cat for any cat fur that the cat has shed and put the fur in places you think mice might go – the smell of cat should deter them, at least somewhat.

    3. Is this a thing?*

      What is it about them that you fear? The size, the sound, the unexpectedness, the fact that they’re a pest? If you know what it is that squicks you out you can focus in on that.

      You could try visiting a pet store that sells mice and spend a bit of time looking at them. Before you go pick a reward for yourself. Something small that you can look forward to as a reward. In the store the mice will be in containers, so you can look at them and remain in control. You may feel uncomfortable. That’s ok. Allow yourself to experience the discomfort. After awhile focus on relaxation techniques – like meditation or breathing exercises. When you’ve reached a calmer/more comfortable state leave and claim your reward. If you do this a few times it can help to automate the relax its just a mouse thoughts. You may even work up the nerve to hold one (it’s ok if you don’t).

      When you think about mice, specifically mice in your place, what are the thoughts that go through your head? If you stop to examine them you may notice that some are improbable, unrelealistic, all or nothing thinking etc. challenge each of these thoughts and replace them with something more realistic. Eg the mice will get in and spoil all my food gets replaced with, my food is safely stored, the mice can’t get at it and it removes a temptation for them to even come in.

      Or you could just watch a bunch of mouse cartoons, any mouse documentaries. Maybe get a stuffed toy or figurine – something that you can control.

    4. Stephanie*

      No advice, but I commiserate. When I had mice in my old group house, I used to sleep in a different room because the scurrying would keep me up.

      My boss told me we have mice in our office and I’ve been on edge ever since.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Get a Pest A Cator. global dash industries dot com
      There are different manufacturers of these products. In discussing these things with other people, I am seeing that certain brands work and certain brands don’t work or work marginally. I cannot speak about other brands, because I bought this and solved my problems.

      This one works. It’s just a box. You plug it into your wall. Done. Around here they are about $35.

      We are close to a river. We have rats. While I keep a pretty clean house, the rats still need to get in out of the snow/rain/etc. They worked their way into my hand-laid 180 year old stone foundation, imagine that. I was beside myself. I went to the store and asked for a recommendation. Of course, it was the most expensive one on the shelf. But I thought, if it saves my house from burning down, it’s VERY cheap. I saw they had a money back guaranty.
      I got one. I plugged it in. No more chewing. After about 3 days of no chewing, I noticed that my pup had stopped chewing on the woodwork/floor, also. I went and bought a second one just to make sure I had enough coverage in my house.
      That was six years ago. Currently, I managed to set some money aside and I am getting those walls repaired, getting the wiring checked and so on. My friend, who is doing the work, was amazed. There is NOTHING in my walls, attic or crawl space. NO bats, rats, mice, squirrels, all of which are common problems here, none of those critters are anywhere in my house. My friend is a contractor, he said he has never seen anything like this. He went out and bought one for his house.

      Fear comes in part because of feelings of powerlessness. If this suggestion does not appeal to you, then keep going until you find another idea that does. Taking steps to help ourselves is the way to respond to any fear we may have. I totally hate infestations of any type so I feel ya on this one.

      1. Sunflower*

        I’ve heard mixed reviews about these things but I’m going to try it out. Gonna check at home depot and make sure I can return it in a few months if it doesn’t work!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You should know fairly quick if it’s going to work. You won’t hear the little feet scampering about at night and there won’t be any droppings.
          There is a money back deal on it, so it’s no risk, really.

          I was lucky to have a pup at that time, because I could see that he had permanently stopped chewing on the walls, trim work, etc. (I have an old house, so the stuff has to be replaced anyway. It’s just that he was ingesting this stuff. Ugh.)

          Let us know how it goes.

    6. Alma*

      Oh H E L L no!! I’m going to look at a small and inexpensive apartment Tuesday. One thing I will not abide is vermin. We will have this understanding in writing – as we will agree that in case of severe weather, if a HVAC person is not available immediately, the landlord will pay for overnight stays for me and furry child until it is fixed.

      Several apartments ago, I notified the property manager immediately about “the roommates ” and their droppings. After two weeks, I went to visit the owner of the property in his very professional office, introduced myself, and told him everything was fine *except for the rodents*. He reached around me and closed the door to his office.

      They did no plugging of holes, just put down bait (which can be poisonous to pets even if they don’t get to the bait – stepping in their “trail” and linking paws can be poisonous) .

      Do not hesitate to call Zoning Enforcement if you are not vermin free in a relatively rapid time (2wks is more than enough to wait for an exterminator and someone to seal places they may be entering).

      1. Girasol*

        We can’t poison because of the cat and I can’t trap every mouse in farm country but I learned that around here folks stuff cracks with steel wool. So I tried it. Ever since I saw Cat chase a mouse into a hole I’d never seen and I crammed that spot with steel wool the mouse problem has dropped 90%. I suppose if I had a landlord I’d expect him to do that but if all else fails it’s an easy thing to just do.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          We used “handy foam” in the cracks and holes. It’s an expanding foam. They hate how it tastes so they won’t eat it. It also blocks drafts because all those holes are drafty in the winter.

          1. Alma*

            I’ve used the foam, too, and it helps a great deal.

            Peanut butter? Meh, my infestation wasn’t interested.

            The most successful and humane way, according to my research, is electric traps that kill instantly. This is the kind of thing a landlord or exterminator would have and move around as needed.

            And what do you know, I checked out the apartment, the lack of storage, and started to ponder how many belongings I would actually have to downsize. I walked out to my car, and as my friend called to me “let’s go get a cup of coffee,” I watch as a mouse crosses the street towards me, then turns a bit and skirts around the rear drivers side tire, and continues on his/her way.

            We will discuss this tomorrow when I go into the office. “But I didn’t see any of those little archway holes in the baseboard that indicates mice live there…”

      2. Sunflower*

        So maintenance is coming to plug the holes tomorrow but I just talked to the tenant upstairs and she said they did the same thing in her apt a few weeks ago but she thinks they are still getting in. She basically said the building needs to be doing more. I have to agree- I lived in an even older building in my last apt and I only heard them in the walls once or twice in 2 years. My roommate saw one because she was leaving food out and none once she stopped.

        I brought up escalating it and she thought it was a bad idea. I also don’t want to get on the landlord’s bad side but the other tenant was clear that the building could and should be doing more.

        I would just move but, like I said, mice are pretty common here and my rent is super cheap. FWIW my lease renewal is in June and I should be getting the renewal at the end of the month so I’m wondering if I can use that to make leeway on this.

    7. FD*

      Peanut butter is good mouse bait. My family had a problem ten years ago and the exterminator said that it’s the best way to entice them.

        1. Sunflower*

          Thanks! Yes the guy at Home Depot told me to mix that with poison and add draino to it to really make sure they’re dunzo.

    8. Hypnotist Collector*

      I’m sympathetic – I am SO squeamish and revolted by mice. I’ve had them in a couple of places. My last building was near some forest/open space (in a lovely town) – the building got infested and they had to re-side the whole building to put an end to it.

      In my current apartment I thought I saw a dead mouse under the stove and I could not deal with it at all – I got a more fearless friend to come over to help me and it turned out it was only fake mouse toys from the previous resident’s cat. I was highly embarrassed but it was hilarious!

  29. The Other Dawn*

    Thanks to everyone for giving me personal trainer tips last weekend. I’m happy to say I start this coming Wednesday. :)

    I chose a place close to my house. The owner, Ryan, opened the place last April. He also owns a group strength training studio next door. I like the place: it’s very clean, it has two private training studios (it’s not a gym), and there’s a nice variety of equipment. I’m sad there’s not an eliptical machine, but I can go to the gym for that. I’m a little nervous that there are no weight machines, as that is what I’ve used any time I’ve gone to the gym. I’ve never used the barbells or free weights. He mentioned a pull-up bar and all I could think about was elementary school; I could never do even one pull-up.

    The owner is very nice. He’s been a trainer for 10+ years and is a former Cross Fit trainer. I had no idea what Cross Fit was, so he explained it. He said there were some things he didn’t like about it, but others he liked. He created his own program at the group studio next door, which basically follows a 4 week program, with week 5 being a “rest” week. Not actual rest, but a break from the 4 week program where people do a variety of things.

    Anyway, I checked the place out this week. I thought it would be a quick look around, but I was there for almost two hours! We talked about my diet, my past weight loss efforts, physical ability, etc. Ryan didn’t try to sell me anything, and actually said that I don’t need to come three to four times a week. He feels two is best, because it can get very expensive very quickly. He said as long as I supplement with at least two other days of exercise, two days with them is enough: I’ll learn what I need to learn in order to move on, I won’t get overworked, and it won’t be super expensive. He said the only way I should do more training sessions is if I’m completely unmotivated to exercise by myself. He also explained that he has several trainers and he wants to make sure it’s a match on both ends, so I shouldn’t feel bad if I want to switch for someone else.

    When I emailed Ryan initially asking for pricing information, I totally expected him to tell me I have to come in and we’ll talk about. Nope. he actually gave me the information. That impressed me and gave me the sense that he’s not going to give me a hard sell. And he didn’t. Didn’t try to sell me supplements or anything like that either. Best part was that a Groupon came up in my email that same night. Plus, Groupon gave me a promo code for 30.00 off. So I get 5 training sessions for 70.00 total. Then after that I’ll start paying the regular rate.

    Ryan paired me with another trainer, since he’s not available at the same time I am. I’m a bit nervous: the trainer trains the state police every morning! But I had a nice long conversation with him on the phone and he explained he’s not one to work his clients so hard they puke or can’t move at all the next day. He said he doesn’t do that, because then no one would want to come back and they would probably give up.

    So, yeah. Ass kicking starts Wednesday.

    1. nep*

      This sounds fantastic. How great that you took that on and went for it. I want to go to this place.
      There are a lot of exercises you can do with that pull-up bar, other than/prior to pull-ups. And one of the benefits of free weights is your body has to provide the stability — something I see as a huge plus for overall fitness. Keep us posted — looking forward to hearing about how this goes with the state police trainer. Love it.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’ll be posting my adventures on my blog, but for those who don’t read I’ll make sure I recap here, too.

        I’m excited. Just knowing that I will be going has caused me to really stay on track with my diet. I don’t think I posted it here, but I visited the dietitian at my surgeon’s office last weekend and the tips she gave me really made me get into the swing and refocus. If you’re interested in reading about that, here’s a couple links:


        I was very happy, also, that the owner didn’t try to revamp my diet at all. A 1/2 hour of nutritional counseling was included with the 5 sessions, and I got the interrogation about every morsel I out in my mouth that day: how much? what kind? flavored or unflavored (protein)? how much sugar? He probably didn’t say anything because I’m seeing a dietitian and I’m a gastric bypass patient; the dietitian trumps him. All he said was to try a different yogurt–Chobani Simply 100–because there are no artificial sweeteners in it.

    2. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

      I have to share this after reading your post.

      In elementary school, part of the fitness test or whatever was to do a few pull ups, using a bar that was screwed in and held out about a foot from the wall. Ok, so I totally thought I could do it – I wasn’t athletic, but I was really into a sort of falling-down gymnastics that must have looked like dumb-child parkour, like I liked to jump over stuff and take the corner around the couch by vaulting over the armrest really fast (read: most of this stuff involved a running / jumping start; not much weight on the ol’ skinny arms). So when my time came I jumped up and grabbed the bar.
      And swang right into the wall, lady-parts first, in front of the rest of the line of kids and anyone else in the gym who happened to be looking over.
      I remember crumpling to the floor, and I remember the strange look on the face of the gym teacher/assistant, who was trying to mask sudden, lung-quivering, completely-justified-but-also- laughter with the only other emotion that could probably come to mind – bewildered disgust.
      And I remember being asked if I wanted to try to complete the requirement.


  30. Coffee Ninja*

    Has anyone ever done one of those “escape rooms”? We have an offsite conference coming up and my boss wants that to be our team building activity (his first choice activity, which I also would have preferred, can’t accommodate our group). I like the sound of it, but I’m severely claustrophobic. Boss has done them before and says they can’t actually lock you in the room, because, you know, fire code. I can’t decide if that makes me feel better or not :) have any of you done them? What was your experience?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I did one with my team last year! It was 7 of us, and we had a blast. It was good for teamwork, and it was just really fun. You can leave anytime if you’re feeling claustrophobic, but it wasn’t that small either.

    2. Cruciatus*

      I haven’t, but just yesterday a good friend of mine did it with some friends and LOVED it! Someone else I know did one in another city and they also had a great time–and both groups nearly beat the record time for escaping. But I can’t speak for the claustrophobic part, but I just know they had a lot of fun doing it.

    3. Natalie*

      I did one with my office last fall and it was REALLY fun. The rooms aren’t generally all that small, and you’re being monitored by an attendant so if you needed to get out they’d let you. If distraction helps, focus on the puzzle!

    4. Felicia*

      I did it and it was fun! If it helps there’s a person who is in there with you the whole time, and at least the one i went the rooms were quite spacious and it didn’t feel like being locked in. At least it’s not small! The one I did was in teh towers of our local castle which is cool

    5. LizB*

      I did one and really liked it! I’m not super familiar with claustrophobia, but a few thoughts: first of all, the room we were in was a very large space, physically. We had twelve people in there and it wasn’t even remotely crowded. The room can’t be too small because they need to be able to hide clues and tasks all over it. Second, our room had an exit at the back that we could leave through for bathroom breaks/medical needs/time outs/whatever at any point. Third, even the “locking” doors we came through weren’t actually locked — when we finished all the puzzles, our guide (who was sitting quietly in the corner the whole time, available to answer direct questions) just pushed the doors open. They weren’t even latched in any way. So while we were theoretically trying to “escape,” in reality we were free to leave by several exits at any point in time.

      In terms of the actual experience, it was super fun! I really like puzzles and mysteries, so I loved hunting for clues and fiddling with the different pieces of equipment they had set up. The theme of our room was a spaceship; we were the crew, something had gone wrong with the ship’s systems, and a monster had gotten on board and was trying to find us and eat us. We had to do I think 10 different tasks to get all the systems back online and kill the monster. My boyfriend and I didn’t know any of the other people, so it was kind of awkward trying to work with them; I think if we’d had a group of twelve of our friends, it would have gone even faster, because we would have been more comfortable talking through puzzles and assigning tasks within the group. I’d really like to do another one sometime and bring more friends along.

    6. Alston*

      They are so much fun! I’ve done a few of them here in Boston and they’re great. The rooms aren’t THAT small, so hopefully they’ll help. If it’s one of the zombie escape ones (where there’s a zombie in one corner and you have to stay away from it) that might not mix well with your claustrophopia, but good luck!

    7. Jen in RO*

      I went once and loved it! It was just a regular-sized room with 5 people in it – I don’t know if that would trigger your claustrophobia, but it didn’t feel crowded at all to me.

    8. Liz in a Library*

      I loved it! I can be mildly claustrophobic (planes and elevators are worst for me), but the one I went to was pretty roomy, and I always knew which door was the emergency exit, so I was fine. Different places are run differently though, so I’d check out reviews of the specific one you’re visiting.

  31. Stephanie*

    So it’s citrus season out here and we have an over productive lemon tree. So I have something like 40 lemons at my disposal. Favorite recipes? Bonus points if it’s something savory/healthy/an actual meal.

    1. nep*

      Drinking lemon water right now. Gotta love lemons. No recipe ideas…I use them primarily in water, on salads, and sometimes throw in a couple pieces when making banana ‘ice cream’.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Look at Middle Eastern and North African recipes – they use a lot of lemon. Tabouleh, fattoush, various tagines. You could also preserve them – I LOVE preserved lemons in a north african style.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Second this! I love preserved lemons and always have a (homemade) jar on hand. It’s so easy. I don’t season them, so I use them in Middle Eastern dishes, Italian dishes… Anything that needs a pinch of briny citrus. My bf infuses tequila with them, too.

      2. Yetanotherjennifer*

        I was just going to suggest preserving them. That’s on my list of things to try. Also, homemade limoncello would be a good use of lemons.

    3. KS*

      Only thing that comes to mind is lemon meringue pie but that might be because my dad made a few today

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      You could juice them and freeze the juice for later. An ice cube tray would make a convenient way to portion it out.

      I drink a glass of warm lemon water every morning. Lemons are something like $9 for a dozen at Costco and that yields about a litre of juice. I wish I had a lemon tree. But: snow.

    5. jpixel*

      A friend told me to use a squeeze of fresh lemon as a garnish/flavoring instead of adding additional salt to a dish. I started cutting up lemons to keep on hand and I use them all the time, especially on leftovers. It makes a big difference, especially when I bring my lunch to work and don’t really feel like eating the same reheated food AGAIN.

    6. Alma*

      The Greek lemon spinach soup -Avgolemono Soup. Really a lovely take on every ethnicity ‘s “penicillin”. Easy to do.

      I also recommend squeezing and freezing the juice. (I grew up in FL.) I often use lemon juice as seasoning (in the poaching water for chicken or fish) or I highly recommend chicken or grouper (or mild white fleshed fish) piccata. If you pound out your chicken cutlets they cook up very quickly.

      Before you juice: zest (a microplane grater is very speedy) your lemon rind onto a square of parchment or waxed paper. The zest of one lemon is a quantity often called for. Then fold the paper in on itself to securely contain the zest and oils. Put all your little square packets into a airtight plastic container or zipper bag in the freezer. Use a packet to toss with plain rice, or add to berries, or a pound cake recipe, or pasta primavera, or over a bowl of canned chicken soup. So many uses.

    7. mander*

      Roast chicken with a cut up lemon stuffed inside the cavity is a nice way to get a bit of lemon flavour and it helps keep it moist.

  32. KS*

    Any Netflix recommendations? I’m about to finish up Mad Men and will not something to fill the void!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Oh, so many…

      Alex of Venice
      The Big One
      Cinema Paradiso
      Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: Extended Edition (much better than the non-extended—actually makes sense!)
      Eyes Wide Shut
      Heavenly Creatures
      Justice League Unlimited
      The Little Death
      Master of None
      Muriel’s Wedding
      North & South
      Oldboy (Korean original, not remake)
      The Paradise
      Ping Pong Playa
      The Shipping News
      What Happened, Miss Simone?

      1. KS*

        What were your thoughts on Master of None? I watched it and I found it to be okay. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. It was light, easy to watch, and moderately funny. I just don’t understand how it is so popular/getting perfect ratings.

        1. Stephanie*

          I’m glad I’m not the only one! It was mildly entertaining, but it wasn’t anything I felt compelled to pick back up.

          1. KS*

            I’ll probably watch next season just because I enjoy Aziz Ansari but I’m glad someone else feels the way I do! I couldn’t get into Making a Murder either so maybe I’m just weird?

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          It’s not the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope that doesn’t turn you off from my other suggestions…

          1. KS*

            No it won’t! I’m open to anything. I’ll probably watch the next season of Master of None. I love Aziz Ansari!

        3. The IT Manager*

          I watched the first ep of Master of None and it was very disappointing. I really can’t decide if I should even bother to give the second episode a try given it was so bland.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      P.S. I’m not a huge Judd Apatow fan, and I actually didn’t love the Love series as a whole, but episode 5 (“The Date”) is hilarious.

      1. CharlieCakes*

        I really disliked Love. I wasted 8 episodes of my time on that show hoping and hoping it would get better. And I really like Judd Apatow. So many people really enjoyed it and I just found it so obnoxious.

    3. CharlieCakes*

      Looooove Mad Men. Have you watched House of Cards? Better Call Saul? Although you might appreciate it in a different way if you watch Breaking Bad first. I not interested in it, but my friend has insisted that I watch Sons of Anarchy.

      I just watched a documentary on Vivian Maier. That was good.

      Also, I started watching the Netflix Food thing with Michael Pollen…it’s four episodes Fire, Water, Earth, Air.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        SOA is so good. The first five episodes of season 1 are kind of boring, but if you stick with it, the show becomes addictive.

      2. KS*

        I’ve watched half of Breaking Bad. I started watching it with my roommate but then we moved into different places and I never finished it. This might be the perfect opportunity to finish the show..

    4. katamia*

      Kung Fury and Danger 5 if you like weird.
      Better Off Ted
      all the various Star Treks (but especially DS9)
      Shaolin Soccer and other Stephen Chow movies

      Also, they have some good Bollywood movies up right now:
      Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
      Band Baaja Baaraat
      Mere Brother Ki Dulhan
      Kal Ho Naa Ho, but only if you like sappy stuff
      Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
      Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham
      Hasee Toh Phasee
      Shootout at Lokhandwala

    5. Coffee Ninja*

      I recently discovered (and quickly binged) The Man In The High Castle – loved it!

    6. Felicia*

      I’m obsessed with covert affairs lately! If you like any of the spy/actiony shows especially. Also it was several season so a good length of comittment.

      1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

        I found the concept to be as interesting as it was unexplored in-plot (which is to say I wish there had been more exposition on it? left with too many questions, and not in a good way; in an “afraid there won’t be a season 2 for it to get more developed” way). And honestly, though I love bodies and lookin at ’em, and considering myself prudish would be a stretch of the imagination, I found the sex (and yes, considering what aspects of the relationships between the characters the sex was illustrating) gratuitous and cheapening.
        Overall I enjoyed the show and would definitely watch a season 2 (obviously I have not done the cursory google search to see if the show is being offered a second season – it’s a Netflix original, I believe?), and found its psychological aspects prodding more toward the inventive and unique side, which I love in a show. But bad dates can be unrelentingly mysterious as well, and the payoff has to compensate for the coy ride.

    7. Elkay*

      Short Poppies
      What We Do In The Shadows
      The Mighty Boosh
      Breaking Bad
      Better Call Saul
      Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
      Wet Hot American Summer (movie & series)

    8. Mando Diao*

      Fringe, if you haven’t seen it. The people behind Lost learned a lot from fan feedback and we saw that play out on Fringe. It’s a really great narrative that tricks you halfway through when you realize you’ve been paying attention to the wrong story all along. It’s ending was planned and WONDERFUL, with an utterly perfect final image.

  33. Ella*

    Sort of work-related, but sort of not: Looking for resources on how to prioritize tasks. Or ways to explain how one prioritizes. I’m having trouble answering this question in interviews, partly because I’m bad at prioritizing, and partly because I tend to prioritize instinctively, and I don’t think that the answer, “I do the most important stuff first” is a very good one.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think the key is articulating how you identify something as “important.” When looking at a list of tasks, what factors do you consider? Urgency, who’s affected by the decision to do or not do, ease or difficulty of the task, etc.

    2. danr*

      Maybe think of how to prioritize a non-work project. Cooking a big family dinner, like Thanksgiving. How do you break down what needs to be done and when. There’s no one right answer since everyone does it differently, but in the end you all sit down to a good dinner.

    3. LizB*

      Can you look back at a time period/project where you’ve prioritized pretty well, and analyze how and why you chose which tasks to do first? Prioritizing instinctively is definitely a thing, but there’s probably some pattern that your instincts are picking up on that guides your choices. Is “the most important stuff” most important because more people depend on it? Because it takes the most time? Because you dislike it and want to get it over with? Whatever pattern emerges, you might be able to talk about that in an interview.

  34. Dear Liza dear liza*

    I’m going to Dublin, Ireland for work next week! I will have an extra day to check out the city. If you’ve been to Dublin and have a favorite museum/activity/restaurant/experience, please share.

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      You can tour the Guinness brewery https://www.guinness-storehouse.com/en which I did and enjoyed a lot — you get a free pint when you get to the top and the room has fabulous views of the whole city.

      Or the Jameson distillery https://www.jamesonwhiskey.com/ie/visit-us

      Trinity College was beautiful and has the Book of Kells on display http://www.tcd.ie/Library/bookofkells/ (the actual Book of Kells! I wanted to pass out. But sadly, only one spread.)

      And I went to Christ Church Cathedral, which I think you have to pay to get into which was kind of weird because I was used to churches in Europe being free. There is no fee to go into Notre Dame, for example (but there is if you want to climb up the belltowers).

      And of course you have to walk over the Ha’penny bridge. Just walking around is very cool. But be sure you’ve got an umbrella!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Trinity College library = amazing.

        One of the most interesting things we did was touring Kilmainham Gaol, the old prison where many of Ireland’s political prisoners were jailed and often killed. It’s pretty overwhelming.

    2. Colette*

      There’s lots to do, and just walking around is a good way to spend the day …but, if you want to get out of the city, I did a day trip to the hill of Tara and I’d highly recommend that.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I did a day bus trip that took us to Tara, as well. Then we went to Newgrange and I loved that, it was so cool. http://www.newgrange.com/tours.htm

        But since Dear Liza x2 is only going to be having one free day, I was sticking to in-city sites to see. After walking around the city for a couple of days, it was a relief to be able to sit down on a bus for extended periods of time ;)

        1. Colette*

          Yeah, t was actually newgrange that was awesome, but something ate it when I posted. I agree the city is a good way to go if you only have one day.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Honestly, after all the build up about Tara being the “seat of Irish kings” and everything, I was kind of disappointed. Maybe it was a thousand years ago, but now it’s a hill covered in grass with sheep.

    3. IrishGirl*

      I’d second the recommendations for the Guinness brewery tour and strolling around Trinity College.

      Personally I really like the National Museum of Ireland in Collins Barracks (nearest Luas stop is Museum on the red line).

      I’d also highly recommend the Garden of Remembrance (central Dublin) and the War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge. The Garden of Remembrance is dedicated to those who died for Irish freedom (essentially those that fought the British), while the Islandbridge gardens remembers those who died in Allied armies in World War One.

    4. Susan C*

      Second what Dynamic Beige said (although I was underwhelmed by the Jameson distillery), and would add: Kilmainham Gaol. A bit on the morbid side, but sooo interesting! Especially if you’re a bit of a history nerd like me. And if you don’t mind a bit of whimsy, go to the tourist center across from Trinity main gate, and ask about the Storytelling Bus. It’s an evening activity, and it’s brilliant (although we had the good fortune of being on it with a very small group).

    5. Swoop*

      oh awesome! Dublin is _full_ of museums and things to look at, but these were my favourites (I think :) ):

      Trinity College – The Book of Kells and The Long Room
      The National Museums – the Archaeology and Decorative Arts museums in particular
      The Dublin Writers Museum
      Dublin Castle & the Chester Beatty Library
      Dublinia (ok, it’s for kids, but it was fun :) )
      I think in the same area as Dublinia (if I’m remembering rightly) there are the Viking houses they discovered when digging for one of the newer buildings marked out on the ground, which is kind of cool (and also not because they built on the site anyway)

      There’s a lovely little park at the end of Grafton Street, and Phoenix Park is really pretty (and large for a city park, which is nice)

      Other than that, I always recommend the Hop On/Hop Off tour :) Partly because it gives you a sense of where you are in the city and where everything else is, partly because of the bad jokes (live-narrated tours are always better :) ), and partly because it’ll take you to many of the locations above :)

  35. Hair Cut*

    Haircuts…I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a good haircut in the US.

    I really, really just want to go to a hair salon and have someone look at my face, feel around my scalp if need be, and cut my hair. Work you magic! Does anyone know of a place in southern California? I am willing to drive!!! As long as it’s not on the west side of LA…f that! :)

    1. temporarily anon*

      Carol L at Michelangelo Hair House in Woodland Hills. I have loved every cut she’s ever given me. Or anyone else, for that matter.

    2. Noah*

      I don’t have any suggestions for SoCal because I live on the opposite coast. However, I feel your pain. It is easier for me to find a doctor than a hair stylist. Not only does the cut have to look good, but I want someone who will just shut up and cut my hair. I can only make so much small talk. The guy who used to cut my hair before I moved understood this perfectly. We would spend a few minutes catching up at the beginning and then he would just be quiet. I loved it, so relaxing.

    3. Hellanon*

      Ecco Salon in South Pasadena. I wandered in there about 8 years ago and made an appointment for a consultation with the owner. He figured out what my then-stylist was doing wrong and set up a phased plan to fix it – he let me know that it would look better right away but the whole thing would take about 6 months. All the stylists seem to know what they are doing & the place is *busy* – highly recommend it.

  36. Soupspoon McGee*

    For people who blog anonymously (or not), how do you decide how much to share? I don’t want to be identified (at least not now, but maybe some day, if I’m interesting, I can publish a novel and retire to a private island). I have crazy stories from my job-before-last. I have touching, funny, and frustrating thoughts from working in a nursing home. I have a large, crazy family. I’ve had a few adventures. Some of this stuff is just interesting to me. Some is a way to vent and process.


    1. the gold digger*

      I don’t write about things that could hurt me professionally (ie, I do not write about my current job, not that I would need to because I finally have a decent boss again), but personal stuff that my husband’s crazy drunk family does?

      That’s all fair game. (Albeit with changed names.)

      If you’re being a drunken jerk, then you are exposing yourself.

      And anything I want to tell about myself is fair game.

      I don’t tell my friends’ stories.

      1. Soupspoon McGee*

        I was hoping you’d comment :-). You have a nice balance between the craziness of your in-laws and tidbits of jobs, travel, and life. I don’t have dysfunctional in-laws, but my crazy workplace has sex, drugs, and scandal, and a lot of oblivious, inept people. That, however, is freakishly common.

        1. the gold digger*

          Yes, but interesting, well-written accounts of common things we all experience (everyone likes to know they have company) are not so common. As long as it couldn’t come back to haunt you, write away, I say!

    2. Jillociraptor*

      I don’t blog but my partner does, with his full name attached. We’ve had a few moments where he shared something about me that I wish he hadn’t (and we’ve had some creepy trolls say creepy things about me as a result). They weren’t even nefarious things; we just have different preferences related to privacy. Even if you blog anonymously, inevitably you’ll tell someone who will tell someone and eventually it gets back to someone who’s life is reflected on your blog, through your eyes. If it were me, I’d write assuming that the person you’re writing about could eventually read it. That doesn’t mean don’t write about them, necessarily, but just an encouragement to ensure that you talk about their lives with appropriate respect for their perspective.

  37. Noah*

    Interesting goings-on at the airport tonight whereI work part-time at as a gate agent.

    We were on lock-down for awhile because some idiot tried to bring a loaded firearm through the TSA checkpoint in his carry-on bag. Loaded with one in the chamber. He was arrested and taken to jail.

    Without going into the security procedures in detail. We had to clear the concourse. Rescreen all the passengers. Perform security searches on all the aircraft. Crazy and delayed several flights.

    The guy says he forgot it was in there. He was traveling with a 2 year old child. I’m comfortable with guns. I have a concealed carry permit, although I never carry. It seems irresponsible to me to have a loaded weapon that is not locked up or on your person. Especially if you’re going to forget it is there.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Reminds me of the story I read this week about the woman who was all kinds of pro-gun and posting on Facebook about how her 4-year-old knows how to shoot. He sure did and made use of that skill when she left a loaded gun in the backseat and he shot her through the back while she was driving. I just cannot understand why anyone would leave a loaded gun near a child.

        1. FD*


          Even in the old days when children were regularly taught to use weapons, you wouldn’t have just left them loaded around children! IIRC it would have been common to keep them out of reach, take them down when teaching a child to operate them safely.

          1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

            I live pretty close to the hardcore country, where guns are often more plentiful than people, and everyone owns a pickup truck. While there are some class-A morons (because those are everywhere), most folks have a serious gun safe or even a gun room.

            If you own a gun, you should own a gun safe, period. People assume “it won’t happen to them”, but why take the risk? I just can’t fathom giving a kid open access to a weapon of any kind.

            1. FD*

              Yeah, and guns shouldn’t be left lying around loaded, for goodness sake.

              My dad learned to hunt when he was young and was allowed to go solo from the time he was 14, but like you say, when the gun wasn’t in use, it was unloaded and secured out of reach of small hands.

            2. Natalie*

              Ayup. My grandpa was a big hunter, but his guns were locked up in a safe unless he was currently hunting.

    1. mander*

      These incidents scare me. I fall more on the side of gun control but I’m not completely against gun ownership. But this kind of thing (and the two stories of women being accidentally shot by their own children) that I have heard make me question whether some people who have permits should have been allowed to have them.

      1. Observer*

        Some time ago, I read a good article about the idea of treating gun accidents more seriously. The idea was that if a child got hold of an unsecured gun and caused harm, the owner of the gun should be held legally and possibly criminally responsible. They claimed that such laws have a better co-relation with real gun safety (ie lower rate of gun related accidents) than gun control. I don’t know if that’s true, but it does make sense that laws like this change the norm, and that when reasonable safety precautions are the norm, even idiots are more likely to do sensible things.

    1. danr*

      Worst: our front steps were just about destroyed this winter (they were getting bad after the previous two winters).
      Best: we called a mason, got an estimate and two days later we have new front steps. Bluestone treads on an earth colored brick. With the same brick on the sides. It looks wonderful.

    2. Mimmy*

      Not worst, just unpleasant: My ultrasound on Wednesday

      Best: Rail strike by my state’s transit system has been averted. Had it gone forward, it would’ve been an absolute nightmare for commuters.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Best: Work has been going well, the weather is beautiful, and if my landlord approves, I’m having a garden built in 3 weeks.

      Worst: Right now. I had a rehearsal then came straight to the airport to pick up my bf. His flight is late, I have a headache, and people are weird. Hurry up, honey.

    4. Tara R.*

      Best: Turned 19, went clubbing for the first time, had an absolute blast. Almost 20 people showed up to my birthday dinner and most of them came out with me to the club afterwards, which was lovely because I was so worried earlier this year about making friends. Oh, and the bartender gave me a free drink for my birthday.

      Worst: Drinks are expensive. Plus I had an awful hangover this morning.

    5. overeducated and underemployed*

      Best: uh…had an interview for a job I thought I didn’t really want, but sounded better than I expected, and think I would take if offered? (I’m not sure I actually did well in the interview though, I didn’t feel as polished and enthusiastic as I have at some others.)

      Worst: I’m just so overwhelmed by working AND parenting AND job hunting simultaneously, it’s starting to really have a negative affect on my attitude and energy levels, and I think it’s also making things rougher for my spouse. I’ve spent many hours over the past two weeks prepping a presentation for an interview tomorrow, but I still don’t feel like it’s very good, and doing that in addition to applying for two more jobs, setting up informational interviews, and prepping for my other interview meant that I was totally drained and a little bit in despair by Friday. Can’t wait until it is over.

      I also got asked to another interview next month, but that will be a 3 day trip during the one week we were thinking of going on a family vacation, and it will also require a completely different from-scratch presentation. It just seems like a lot of time and work for a job and location I’m really not sure about, when I’m feeling like geez, this work thing sucks, I don’t want to move and spend less time with my kid, maybe I should just be less ambitious, keep doing local, seasonal stuff, and not worry about a “career” for a few years….

      1. overeducated and underemployed*

        Oops! I was confused and thought this was the work thread! Feel free to delete….

    6. Doriana Gray*

      Best: My mom bought me a new mattress because my old foam one was on its last leg, and OMG, it’s so much better. It’s pretty high up like hotel mattresses, so that’s kind of weird for me since I’m used to sleeping pretty low to the ground, but it’s got just the right firmness I needed to ease my joint pain, and I haven’t gotten out of bed all weekend even though I have a million things to do. I’m glad I let my mom talk me into letting her buy this thing now – this is one of the rare occasions where she was right.

      Worst: I still haven’t found a therapist to help with my obsessive thoughts and anxiety issues. I need to hurry up and get on this because I had to skip a training class at work Thursday because I knew the guy I had a thing for (the one who caused my last panic attack) was going to be there, and I spent the days leading up to it sick to my stomach at the thought of seeing him again.

    7. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Bad: Mom tried guilt-tripping me into spending every weekend with her
      Good: I refused
      Bad: Mom ordered me to make dinner reservations for her/bday and buy a purse for her
      Good: Dad will partially reimburse me for any/all expenses b/c she’s so stubborn

      Also: bf gave me a surprise card b/c of the ick-ness above, we watched a movie, and did some Eastery ornate egg exhibit fun. He said in the card that I make him a better person *inner squeal*

      And I baked him a yummy dessert as a thank-you.

    8. Perse's Mom*

      Don’t really have a Best this week.
      Worst: The nasty crud going around work turned into pneumonia for me.

    9. ginger ale for all*

      Best – extra hours at one of my part time jobs that I love. They are all good people there.

      Worst – my ex wants to get back together because “no one else wants to go out with me”. Before hearing that sentence, I would have given anything to have him back. After that sentence, not so much. So I am better than nothing in other words. Pffft.

    10. Tinker*

      Worst: Kicked over a latte on my living room rug, beanbag chair, ottoman, pillow, and laptop. Fortunately my personal one and not the corporate laptop that was sitting next to it. Spent a large portion of Saturday doing things like washing all the furniture covers, rinsing hazelnut smell out of the rug, finding out how much it costs to do liquid damage repair on a laptop, and buying a new laptop.

      Best: I really rather like my new laptop and found out that washing my furniture covers isn’t nearly as horrible as I thought it might be (they have to be line dried, and I have little space for that; fortunately, they also dry quite quickly). Also, fortunately, I’d recently signed up with courtesy Internet service from my corporate overlords (they’re… uh, a known name in this field) and in the process of setting up the new service I fixed a problem with my backup device — up until a couple months ago I hadn’t had a backup for a year. Whoops. So I was able to restore cleanly and am now essentially moving forward with the same computer in a new (smaller and lighter and faster!) container. My wallet is also lighter by quite a lot, but I’ll contemplate that horror later.

  38. Courtney*

    I’m heading to Milwaukee next week. Any suggestions for activities, sites, restaurants, ect.? I’m up for anything!

    1. the gold digger*

      The Public Market is kind of fun. Walk along the gorgeous lakefront. You can rent skates up by the marina. (Not sure if they are open yet, though.)

      If you care about art, then visit the MKE Art Museum. I think Art in Bloom is this week, where bunches of famous paintings are recreated in flowers.

      The MKE Public Museum has a cool display recreating old Milwaukee. The Lakefront Brewery tour is good if you like 1. factories and/0r beer.

      Depending on what you have to spend on dinner – these are all $$$ but also very good
      1. Hinterland
      2. Bavette
      3. La Merenda
      4. Amalinda

      Make sure you eat some frozen custard. It’s like ice cream, but with fat.

      Clock Shadow Creamery has tours sometimes. More like speeches while you look at the operations room, but hey, it’s cheese!

      If you have time and a car, the Kohler factory tour in Sheboygan, where you can watch a bathrub being poured, is fascinating. Their bathroom and kitchen display is also fabulous – they are the bathrooms and kitchens you would have if money were no object.

      Historic Milwaukee does some walking tours of downtown, but again, maybe not yet.

      (It is still winter here.)(So bring warm clothes.)

      1. Bibliovore*

        If you get up to Sheboygan, I second the Kohler design center. Mr. Bibliovore calls it the “toilet museum” There is a waterfall shower we lust for. We also always go to the Spice House for presents and mixes that you can’t get anywhere else.

    2. Snazzy Hat*


      Then after that, the science museum (Discovery World), which is just south of there.

      I went to Milwaukee for a conference a few years ago, but travel arrangements (once-a-day train back to my hometown) forced me to stay an extra evening and day. On the post-conference evening, I went to the philharmonic at the Pabst theater. The next day, I checked out of my hotel and took advantage of the hotel’s luggage storage while I went to the aforementioned museums. The hotel was pretty close to the train station, so going back there just to get my bags didn’t take me out of the way.

      Milwaukee is a gorgeous city.

    3. Colleen*

      I second all of the recommendations. Have fun! It is a beautiful city (although I am biased).

    4. Agile Phalanges*

      I went there on a weekend trip when I’d seen enough of Chicago from prior work trips. :-) I loved it! I just walked around taking in sites (and geocaching) some of the time, and didn’t have a ton of time there, but two highlights I remember were the Domes (Mitchell Park Conservatory–botanical gardens inside very large domes), including walking around outside a bit, and a very cool restaurant called Safe House. Google both of them to see if you’re interested.

  39. Anon For This*

    I’m mainly looking for a bit of tea and sympathy here. I have HUGE issues around friendships which start somewhere around age 11 and continue to this day, basically I’ve never held on to a friendship group, the group will continue without me and no-one ever reaches out to me even if I reach out to them. I made an effort to make a friend this weekend and that went pretty well, I was proud of myself for doing something that made me anxious. Then I log onto Facebook and realise that I’ve been un-friended by someone who was part of a friendship group I was in at university, they’re still friends with all our other mutual friends. That’s made me feel really shitty for two reasons
    1) It’s Facebook, why do I even care?
    2) What did I do that they un-friended me but no-one else? My Facebook feed is basically photos of things/places posted maybe once a month.

    1. FD*

      Honestly, you probably didn’t do anything. I go through and cull out my Facebook regularly, and I clean out people that I no longer talk to regularly and who don’t post stuff that interests me. Most likely they just talk to other people in their group more often.

      I’m sorry you’re feeling lonely. It can be terribly isolating to feel like everyone else makes friends more naturally than you do, and not really know why.

      I have generalized anxiety and some ASD-spectrum issues (not on the spectrum myself, but we have it on both sides of the family and I have two diagnosed siblings), and it took me a long time to learn how to make and keep friends. Based on what you’ve said, you might need some practice in that area. The good thing is making friends is actually a skill you can practice and learn! One thing that helped me with my particular blend of mental stuff is realizing that social skills actually follow certain unspoken rules and it’s possible to learn the game. Once you start to learn the game, for me, it was less scary to handle social situations.

    2. Christy*

      I unfriend people all the time if I find I don’t really care about them on Facebook anymore. Or if I dislike what they post. Really, I unfriend a lot. Your unfriender may still hold fond memories of you but not really care about your life now.

      Also the whole “I don’t have (local) friends” thing–I’m working on that myself in therapy. Therapy–really helpful with this crap. I cried in therapy for a solid hour about this like two weeks ago, so I empathize.

      1. Anon For This*

        That’s the hurtful part, the not caring. It hurts to constantly be reminded that I’m a person people don’t care about.

        1. Colette*

          I think you’re taking it as a commentary on your value, when it’s really not. There are billions of people who don’t care about you (or me, or any of us here) – just like there are billions of people you don’t care about in anything other than an abstract way. That doesn’t mean that no one cares about you, just that people have a lot going on and there is a limit to how much they can actively care about at one time. They can remember you fondly, hope that you are happy, and still not want to actively engage in your life.

          Since this kind of thing bothers you, are you checking to see who unfriends you? That’s usually a conscious choice and encourages you to be hurt.

          I agree that you should talk to a professional counselor about this – it sounds like you’re unhappy, and an outside perspective would be helpful.

        2. Christy*

          Crap, I wasn’t clear enough and kinda contradicted myself. I still care about them as people–I just don’t care about their Facebook presence. And so I don’t stay Facebook friends with them.

    3. Jen in RO*

      I unfriend people who never post on Facebook. I figure why clutter my friends list with someone who might as well be invisible… Nothing personal, I just do this periodically.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      I wouldn’t read much into it. People have different standards for who they keep on their friends list. Mine is “does this person add value to my life?” If not, they’re out.

    5. overeducated*

      I’m sorry! One thing I’ve had to accept as an adult is that a lot of people are happy to be and have friends, but will just never initiate contact or plans, so to hold onto that friendship, I have to do it. People are just busier with life than in school or college, it’s not an insult, and most really do appreciate you making the effort. (This is probably true of the majority of my friendships right now.)

      About friendship groups, do you try to maintain individual friendships within the groups, or just float along as a part of the group? One on one connections make much stronger links than seeing each other at parties, and if you’re a few years out of college, maybe your friends aren’t even thinking in terms of “the group” anymore.

      1. NicoleK*

        Yes….that is so true. I have a couple of friends who initiate plans and contact. The rest of my “friends” if I wait for them to initiate contact years will go by. So like you, I’ve also accepted that I’ll need to reach out and initiate plans. And that while I see these individuals as friends, I’m probably only a friend/acquaintance to them.

    6. NicoleK*

      Please focus on the positive that you went out of your comfort zone and possibly made a friend this weekend. The person that unfriended you, it may not have been personal, maybe she just didn’t feel as close to you as the other members. Spend your time and energy with people who want to be with you.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh, this stuff is so hard.

      A few things that helped me:
      That poem, friends for a reason, a season or a life time. Very seldom are people life time friends. We may think of the warmly every so often but never call the friend, I think this happens in most cases. People who have an ACTIVE friendship last a life time are very, very lucky. It’s unusual.

      If that one thought is hard, this next one is mind-bending. Sometimes we can get so lost in “Does this person like me?” that we forget to figure out if we like THEM! What’s up with that. It seems pretty straightforward, but it’s not. Sometimes we hang with a person for awhile and they change. They get into different stuff, we don’t think about how they have changed or how we have changed. All we think about is “This friendship used to be okay, now it’s not. How come I can’t keep friends?” That’s a huge leap in logic, it’s not about keeping friends it’s about the fact that they have changed and/or we have changed.
      When you analyze these things be careful to look at the full story, with eyes wide open.

      Lastly maybe it is time to change what you are doing. In high school I hung out with a group of about 24 women friends. After high school the group membership went down but it was still a large number of people. One by one they drifted away. It was so sad. I was feeling kind of rudderless, anchor-less. I was in college, working, juggling family matters and my friends faded out. It took a while, but I decided that I liked one-on-one friendships as opposed to hanging out with groups of friends. I got more out of going to see a couple friends than I did talking with 18 people all at once, anyway. The new strategy went better and I was much happier. Turns out I am not a group person that much. Maybe you just need to make a couple tweaks to what you are doing and you’ll be okay.

    8. Snazzy Hat*

      {pours hot chocolate because I am not a tea person}

      I had a group of friends in middle & high school with whom I was very close, but by junior year it seemed as though I was on the outskirts of the group. Not quite outside-looking-in, but something just wasn’t right. Then we went to college. A few years later, Facebook started and I got to reconnect with my old friends; it was then I realized I was the less-than-stellar student of the group. In high school, my friends took all honors classes; I took three. In college, my friends (some of whom had gone to Ivy League schools) were becoming doctors, scientists, lawyers, graduate students; I was on my third major due to almost failing out of the first two, and I went to a public university & lived with my father.

      I’ve maintained close friendships with a couple of them, but the others are “we don’t talk, but we used to be close, although i don’t have anything against you personally, and if we see each other again we’re going to give each other big hugs and possibly reference old jokes.”

      For the past few years, I’ve flitted between ~no job & no money~ and ~decent-paying job with very little time to myself~ and my social life has taken a dive from that. But I’ve recognized toxic friendships (e.g., jerks or people who no longer have anything in common with me) and shaky-but-understanding friendships (e.g., people who also barely have any free time), and I look forward to getting back to a more normal environment wherein I can plan events or socializing with people I like who also like me.

    9. AnotherAlison*

      One thing I have noticed about FB is that I no longer “like” many people I was close friends with in high school. I have only seen most of them a handful of times since HS graduation in ths 1990s. I don’t unfriend, but I have 95% of all people unfollowed. It’s not that anyone is bad or unlikable, but they’ve just grown in a different direction in life and I don’t have a lot of interest in them. If I hadn’t known them when we were 15, I would not cross paths or be friends with them now. Now, some of them have grown in the same direction, and it makes sense that they will maintain relationships with each other but not with me. I am not a popular person by any stretch, but I would rather be completely alone than hang on to friends that don’t fit.

    10. Mando Diao*

      Adult friendships are really tricky. A lot of people get to a point where they’re not interested in making new friends. They might think you’re cool and it’s nothing personal, but they’re content with things as they are.

      Friendship feels different than what you expect. I’ll feel really lonely but then when someone reaches out to me, my first instinct sometimes is to indulge how tired and lazy I’m feeling. I make a point to show up whenever someone invites me out, even if I don’t really want to.

    11. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

      I hung out with the same people every day (literally, one of them lived next to a bar and we were there playing pool/being regulars almost every day) for two years. When it came out that my best friend in the group had a crush on me, I was devastated. Were all these people hanging out with me just because they were his friends first, and they didn’t want to ‘hurt his chances’ so to speak?
      When another year went by and it came to be that we couldn’t be friends any longer because of the crush, guess how many of that group stuck by my side and insisted that he was being irrational? None of them. Guess who suffered the consequences of the stupid crush? I had a year left before I moved from OldCity and I had to spend it without my support group, my entertainment posse, my partners in crime, my freaking *friends*.

      Do you ever watch that show Girls? (showtime, I think)
      It’s got some pretty interesting takes on friendships, growing out of them, and what happens when people are people that have made me a little more accepting of my own faded away/burnt out relationships.

      I think the thing to take away from it is that as we grow older, our actual lives and also the lengths and bounds it takes to maintain them become more and more focused on ourselves; we become less dependent on our friends, and, sometimes in a completely unrelated way and sometimes not, the avenues for self-improvement and growth begin to take on challenges that can only be solved alone, or that are more fulfilling to accomplish oneself (like I’m not going to bring my friends to sit with me while I go get my power turned back on).

      One thing I have learned is to take good friendships where they come, and not to get hung up on their origins or nonsense goings-on that occurred at some point. I met my best friend because I worked with her (she was my manager, which may make you gasp in a second) and her fiance, and they were both trying to have a threesome with me (they did not, ever). My professional mentor and I, once upon a time when we were in the same high school class, talked trash about each other regularly; now she guides me on what to say and not say in the office. One of my other best friends is an ex from over a decade ago, and my boyfriend of seven years is totally ok with it. He actually texted me to tell me about the girl he’s started seeing recently.

      Be yourself, and be ok with yourself. You’re your best friend, and fan! Don’t try to hold on to changing people, and also let yourself do some changing.

  40. Not My Regular Name*

    I have some positive news, even though it’s taken 9 long months to arrive. I first posted about my desire for a divorce last June (weekend free for all, June 27/28 2015). I haven’t been able to file for divorce because I simply can’t afford the spousal support. I would not have had enough left out of my paycheck to support myself, and of course, no raise again this year for anyone. My options were to try to find a friend to move in with or to move back in with my elderly parents. Great.

    I have no idea how he managed this, BUT he has gotten a non contractor job, and just started. Allegedly, it pays $850/week before taxes, more than my job! I have to get back in touch with my attorney to see if there’s some stupid rule about how long I have to wait to file. I plan to walk away from our house, it’s really small, in need of a lot of repairs, and not worth anything past it’s a warm dry place to get out of the weather. That’s what happens when one half of the partnership exists as if he’s the only one in the pair, gambles and lies, and just lays around like the grasshopper in the fable. It’s like trying to bail out a canoe with a teacup when the other person is at the other end pouring water in by the five gallon bucket.

    Please, please, please send good thoughts my way. After all these years, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. I still have to find a place to live, but now at least I’ll probably have at least most, if not all, of my paycheck to support myself with. This has been so unbelievably miserable for me.

    And yes, I will figure out if this is real or not, but I don’t have access to his bank account, this company does direct deposit, but he gets mailed bank statements here. I’m not above steaming open the envelope to see the deposit amounts.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      I remember you! I really hope it works out for you – please come back and update us again.

    2. salad fingers*

      So many positive vibes sent your way. I remember you too, and your situation sounded really unfair. Sounds like this is potentially a great development though. Good luck!

    3. Hellanon*

      All the best. I divorced a useless husband (long story) 15 years ago. It was hell at the time, but I finally managed to escape with my finances & my friendships intact – best thing I ever did was getting rid of that festering source of anger. It definitely gets better.

    4. Dan*

      He hadn’t been working for years, right? In my state, they would “impute” income, which is a way of saying that you can’t just sit on your ass and expect a big pay day when you’re perfectly capable of working.

      Iirc, I remember thinking that either your state or your attorney sucks… The things you were getting hung up on shouldn’t be show stoppers. More legal work perhaps, but not show stoppers.

      1. Not My Regular Name*

        He “works” when he feels like it, and as an independent contractor paid on a 1099, so even though he earns money, he operates at a very low profit after expenses. It was a stupid job, and I have no idea legally how companies get away with this crap. My state, PA, sucks swampwater. My attorney does not, and that’s why I chose him :) I cannot wait for the day I am gone from this house.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I am not in your state, but a friend had a similar situation. Take heart! The judge saw right through the situation and my friend does not pay support! Sometimes the system works the way it should.

          Lots of good vibes heading toward ya!

  41. Rebecca*

    Fun church stuff continues. My foray into “temporarily” leading the choir has stretched from “the end of October” to Mid March, with no end in sight, but I am going to put an end to it. Normally we do choir until the first Sunday in June, but I said at practice the other night I’m ending it on Memorial Day Weekend, if not sooner. No is a complete sentence. I agreed to help temporarily, but I really feel like they’re taking advantage. To top it off, I haven’t been happy about this for several years and had planned to withdraw from choir and eventually the church, so now I feel like I’m in the Godfather movie “just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in”.

    Our pastor has swerved into some really weird stuff lately, like saying that people are living to be 140 and as old as 160 years in places where they don’t ingest chemicals in their food, an embalmed man came back to life after prayer in Africa, people have regrown amputated limbs after prayer, and one notable case where someone’s intestines grew back too, after major abdominal surgery, all thanks to the power of prayer.

    I am a rational, practical person. This flies in the face of reason. I think I rolled my eyes so hard I hurt them.

    I plan to take a summer “break” for biking, etc. and just not go back.

    1. Jean*

      More power to you! One of the best pieces of religious advice I ever received is that YOU are the final authority in deciding what and how you believe and behave. (This concerns only dogma and ritual. It was not a license to rush out and rob banks or otherwise inflict pain, suffering, and/or injustice!)

      So, go in good health! I hope you either find a more comfortable congregation or find peace as an unaffiliated person.

    2. TootsNYC*

      As a church organist who quit, I find myself wishing you had said you’d bail after the Easter festival. Though maybe it’s too close to that date for you to feel comfortable. (I gave notice through Christmas; the day after Christmas, I was done.)

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      So here is the phrase that my wise women’s circle leader gave me when I spoke with her today about my not-wanting-to-lead-the-youth-group problem: “Upon further reflection . . . ” and then you tell them the dealio: My last day will be ___; I’m not able to serve; etc.

  42. mander*

    Has anyone bought a knockoff fitbit type device? Any recommendations for a cheap (less than £20) one?

    Lately I’ve been very sluggish and I want to get more exercise, but I’m really bad at motivating myself. I was thinking that maybe keeping track of what I actually do every day might both motivate me to do more, and reduce some of the guilt I feel about not doing enough if I have some sense of progress to measure. But I have a history of trying and failing to start this kind of initiative and I don’t want to spend much on a gizmo that sits in a drawer.

    I’ve had a look at several devices on eBay and the like — has anyone tried one of the cheap ones? Ideally I’d like one that also functions as a watch.

    1. Jen RO*

      I bought a cheap one that just counts your steps and converts to kilometers (I think the watch ones are more expensive). It seems to be pretty accurate (I compared with what my Google Fit and my boyfriend’s Google Fit said) and, even though I didn’t use it a lot, at least it didn’t cost too much.

    2. Kyrielle*

      I tried one that was okay, but the pain was charging it – I’d set it to charge and then forget about it. My latest phone seems to track steps pretty well and I’m much more careful about having it on me. Read up on how long it takes to charge, or come up with a routine that works for you, and it shouldn’t be an issue tho.

      If you have a Facebook account, you might also join your local Buy Nothing group (if there is one) – I can imagine a ‘hey, does anyone have one of these they don’t want/use any more’ request might get a reply or two.