weekend free-for-all – March 19-20, 2016

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

Book recommendation of the week: A Spot of Bother, by Mark Haddon, a dryly hilarious account of a dysfunctional family, related by its stiff-upper-lip patriarch.

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

{ 759 comments… read them below }

  1. LawCat*

    Your best spring cleaning tips and ideas?

    We’re having beautiful weather and I want to get some cleaning and purging done this weekend, but feeling kind of overwhelmed by it! I can’t believe what clutter magnets certain surfaces have become (easy chair, coffee table, kitchen table, kitchen counter, desk, dressers… argh!)

    1. Christy*

      1. Marie Kondo’s The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up. It really is life changing and can really help you get rid of stuff.
      2. UFYH for a timing method and inspiration. It’s short for unf___ your habitat, and it’s a really great website/tumblr.

      1. LawCat*

        The UFYH has an app so I downloaded it, omg it’s awesome! :-D :-D

        I have been using it in the living room. The motivational quotes are awesome. It just told me “THE INTERNET IS NOT THAT INTERESTING.” Ahahaha!

        I’ve heard a lot about the Marie Kondo book. I started reading it a while ago, but didn’t get that far. Need to finish it. I’ve heard many good things.

        But for today, that UFYH is working! Thanks!

      2. Snazzy Hat*

        A few years ago, someone on UFYH’s FB page suggested AAM as a great source for unfouling your job search. I love UFYH so dang much.

    2. BuildMeUp*

      It always seems so hard to get started! I would say to try and focus on one thing at a time. Instead of thinking, “I need to clean every inch of the house!” just look at the closest thing that needs cleaning. That’s all you’re going to do – just clean off the kitchen table, for example. Or even just a corner of the kitchen table.

      Feel free to take breaks! And don’t worry about completely finishing each thing once you’ve started it. If you clean a corner of the kitchen table, take a break, and then start cleaning the coffee table even though the kitchen table’s not done yet – so what? You still end up with more clean than you started out with.

      I also saw a post on tumblr recently that said to get a trash bag/can and a storage container before you start cleaning, and then just start picking things up one by one. If it’s trash or you think you’ll never use it again, it goes in the trash (or in a bag to be donated). If you want to keep it but don’t think you’ll use it again within a week or two, put it in the box. If you’ll use it within a week or two, put it away wherever it belongs.

      1. Alice 2*

        The problem I have with the point of focusing on one surface at a time is unless I make a conscious effort to PUT IT AWAY, I end up with a travelling pile of “Stuff”.

        1. BuildMeUp*

          I definitely do the “But I might need this so I should leave it out!” thing a lot. It helps if I focus on one single item at a time. I’m not cleaning the whole table – I’m just picking up this one thing that’s closest to me and deciding what to do with it.

    3. Kit*

      I want to elaborate on Christy’s Marie Kondo recommendation because I thought the concept was really silly until I read the book, and then I thought it was fairly silly while I read the book, and then I actually did what she told me to and it literally changed my life. Kondo has really great tips for mentally recategorizing your things so you can get rid of the ones you don’t need or want but are keeping for some other reason. I thought I was pretty good at getting rid of that stuff until I really looked at my belongings and realized how many things I was keeping because I felt like I should or must, not because I wanted them.

    4. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      Box and bag!

      Have a trash bag and a box next to you as your tidying. If it’s trash, it goes straight into the trash bag. If you’re not going to use it in the next two days, put it in the box (you can put it in its proper place later). If you are going to use it in the next two days, take the time to put it back in its proper place.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is a great hint. I try to do this whenever I de-clutter. Then the box goes out into the garage, where the stuff in it can await either a re-homing back in the house, or going out the door in the donation pile.

    5. Emilia Bedelia*

      If I’m cleaning one room (my room, the kitchen, etc), I like doing one category of thing at once- pick up a trash bag and grab all the trash, then grab a hamper and pick up all the dirty clothes, then put away all the clean clothes, then books, etc… It helps me more than focusing on one area, because then I don’t fall into the trap of moving all the stuff from my desk onto my bed or onto my chair.

    6. Rebecca*

      I find it so hard to get rid of things. There are things I never, ever use, but I was raised with the “you might need that someday” mentality, and it is physically difficult for me to throw something away. I’m more apt to donate it if I think someone else could use it. I did a huge clothes purge last year after my weight loss stuck, so as a bonus I won’t be able to gain weight unless all I want to wear are 3 pair of sweats and a few tee shirts.

      I have been making it a point of trying to either put it away or get rid of it, instead of just laying things on whatever horizontal surface is handy, and that helps. I don’t like clutter, and find it more relaxing to come home from work to a tidy space than a cluttered one.

    7. Cruciatus*

      In case it gives anyone any motivation, I just did one thing today that I have been putting off for years. I didn’t even realize it had been that long…I took the magazine pile I had been saving for NO GOOD REASON to the recycling place. The oldest magazines were from 2014. I had no idea it was that long since I had last done it. So for years I’ve been working around this 8.5X11 foot high pile in my bedroom. It just became part of the room. Seems like just a little space but the action of getting rid of it feels good and it’s nice to see that spot of carpet again. Altogether it took 30 minutes from start to finish–why was I putting off 30 minutes of easy work for 2 years? Sigh… Now, onto all the papers around the place!

    8. NDQ*

      I purge weekly. I fill my trunk and then drop off/donate at a center after work either Monday or Tuesday. They give taxable donation receipts that I store in my annual tax file. This works best for me because I get it out of here quickly rather than store it up in the garage for months.

      Go for visible areas first. I usually start in the kitchen, then living room, then bedroom. This is the order I see rooms when I come home, so the kitchen sets my mood for the rest.

      Marie Kondo is definitely an inspiration. You will never fold clothes the same way again!

      Play music, open doors and windows, get the air moving. Fill a bag or box with stuff to move out and walk it out to the car. That’s my routine and it seems to be working. Just keep doing it every week.


  2. Saucy Minx*

    I am seriously considering departing the MS overlord’s dominion & transferring my loyalty to open source. Unfortunately I am not an IT expert.

    Any advice or info for me?

    1. The RO-Cat*

      I use W7 and Linux Mint (dual boot) on my laptop. I find Linux Mint quite user-friendly, and their MATE desktop environment similar to what I was used to (W7, specifically). Departing the MS kingdom comes with a learning curve, expect things to not be as (or where) you thought. But – for me, at least – it was worth it.

      Before switching, I played a lot – and I mean several years – with live versions of several Linux distros. I “graduated” to USB-with-persistence (kinda whole-PC-on-a-USB thingy) and finally to dual boot (and it saved my derriere several times, when W7 would go AWOL on me), getting used to how things are done in Linux. It’s a different paradigm, one where you have total control over your PC. Downside is, you *have* to know what you’re wanting – and doing. Since, the long playtime.

      Take your time, I’d say, and get familiar to the most well known distros. Choose one, play with it securely (that is, on a non-critical machine), try a different one… until you find what you’re looking for.

      1. Marcela*

        Yes to all of this. But do not choose Centos or Debian. I’ve exclusively used Debian for the last 20 years, and I’ve never needed Windows, but I can’t recommend it for a newbie. It would be too easy to get frustrated. I’d recommend Ubuntu or Mint. Maybe more Ubuntu since they have a fantastic documentation and forums everywhere.

        1. The RO-Cat*

          If Unity is still the default Desktop Environment for Ubuntu, I’d stay away for a while. It’s a very brusque departure from the cozy familiarity of Windows. MATE (even Cinnamon) are closer to the feel of the ole’ Windoze. I had to gather all my courage when I first tried Unity.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Honestly, I found the Windows 8 and Windows 10 interfaces far more jarring from Windows XP/7 than I found Unity. To each her own, though.

            1. The RO-Cat*

              Yeah, I decided to stick with W7 and forgo the following glasses-holes-in-walls (:-D). So, no idea about W8 and W10 (and not planning to, either)

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I would say make the transfer slow. Try to use as many open source applications on Windows as possible—LibreOffice, Thunderbird, FileZilla, Firefox, etc. If you dig those, play around with a live USB of Ubuntu or Linux Mint for a while or pop it in a virtual machine. Set up a dual-boot, and then if you find yourself more on the Linux side than the Windows side, just wipe Windows out completely.

    3. mander*

      Check out the possibilities at Linux distro watch (google and you’ll find it). Are you considering jumping to Linux wholesale, or do you want to just try out open-source programs (e.g. LibreOffice, GIMP, Inkscape) that also run on Windows?

      1. Saucy Minx*

        Thank you all so much for your info. It makes me realize anew that I don’t even know the terminology, plus Mander’s post reminded me that what I really want is an open source version of Office Suite, so I’ll start w/ that. My laptop currently lacks MS Office Suite, & I will need a word processing program if I take the route of online proofreading & copy editing. But those inquiries are for the other open thread, once I solve my open source dilemma.

        I am relieved to know that I can stay w/ Windows 7 (as long as Windows 10 doesn’t download itself willy-nilly onto my laptop, as it did last week on my sister’s!). If there’s a way to eternally block it from doing that, I’d like to know; I don’t know how to rid my laptop of the icon for downloading W10.

        1. The RO-Cat*

          Well, I turned off Automatic Updates. That keeps W7 as it is. MS says it prevents security updates from installing (which is technically true, but in an ocean of useless updates the few truly about security can be downloaded separately or replaced with a combo of AV / firewall), but I, being a little paranoid, have a good AV always up to date, a malware scanner and at times I completed with a firewall. I’ve had this configuration for 3 years now and I never had any trouble and never had to reinstall W7.

        2. Menacia*

          I use OpenOffice on my home PC. Has a similar suite of apps (word processing, spreadsheet, etc) and they are constantly improving it. It’s also compatible w/Office apps.

        3. Lore*

          If you’re intending to do electronic proofreading and copy editing, I would strongly recommend that you check with the publications/publishers you intend to work for before making this decision. I’m just one data point, but I work for a major trade publisher and we absolutely require our freelancers to work in Word. We’re not particularly happy about it nor do we love its capabilities ourselves, but we use a very complex template to structure our files for later conversion to XML and import to InDesign. Going in and out of OpenOffice, Pages, or any non-Office program really does a number on the tagging. Also, the multi-user commenting functions don’t transfer well in and out of non-Word programs; you don’t lose comments but you do lose the unique color flag for each user.

    4. Miko*

      Start by considering why you want to change, perhaps. If it’s because you think MS Office is really clunky to use, LibreOffice (while lovely) isn’t going to solve your problems. If it’s because proprietary software is evil, accept that you’re probably still going to need proprietary drivers and such unless you want to abandon all hope of ever using your printer/scanner/graphics card/whatever again. If it’s because of money, great but this is likely to be a journey where you spend (a lot of) time rather than $$.

      What do you mean by not an IT expert? I often find there are… ‘levels’ of a kind.
      1) Literally just want email and internet and a program to read recipes your friends send you like my grandparents – Linux is great
      2) Comfortable-ish with computers and have a few favourite programs/games that are really useful and you’d find hard to live without – probably need Windows since many specific programs esp games don’t run on Linux
      3) Software developer or something where your favourite tools actually run better on Linux and you’d find it hard to do work on Windows – Linux is great

      That said, open source is a wonderful world to live in as well as a really fun hobby, but it probably won’t be easy. Most major Linux distros make it super easy to set up a live USB and get started – the difficulty will come when you need to print something from your non-Linux-friendly printer or whatever, but if you make sure to keep access to Windows for moments like that you’ll avoid heartbreak. Also, learn to back up your stuff, especially once you start dabbling in terminal land… there are very few “are you sure?” prompts to save you ;)

      Start with a distro that’s popular and aimed at new users, because the help forums will be tailored to people like you.
      Example of a post in the “Newbie Corner” for Arch (a distro aimed at experienced users): “grub-mkconfig makes linux-lts default”. (???)
      Example of a post in the “New to Ubuntu” forum for Ubuntu (a distro aimed at new users): “What to learn?” – a post about next steps after installing Ubuntu after using Windows.

      If you live in a populated area there might be a Linux user group you could hang out with. YMMV though, the first time I went to mine (as a young woman alone) I was confronted by the stares of thirty old men who didn’t say a word until I started backing slowly out the door. Keep trying though or go to a different group, or find a group online, because it can help a lot having other people with the same goals as you when you’ve just wiped your hard drive, you can’t scan a document you need for tomorrow and your dad’s standing over your shoulder saying “I told you Linux was a virus!”

    5. Nye*

      I switched from Windows to Linux about 5 years ago. Second Miko’s comment that it’s easy for very simple things, a pain for slightly more technical things, and a dream for much more technical things. I’m not super-techy but have to script for work, so needed something UNIX-based. I use Ubuntu, and like it, but it can be frustrating to work out little kinks that would be practically invisible in Windows/iOS. Example: not sure if this has changed, but when I started using Netflix it wouldn’t run on Linux without some back-alley tweaking. If you’re not an IT whiz Linux will cost you some time in figuring out how to make things work. On the plus side, there’s a wonderful open source community, so Google can usually find you answers.

      Also, I’ve always bought computers built for Linux, so haven’t had trouble with driver compatibility. Zareason and System76 are two main US brands (still pretty small businesses), though I hear Dell now offers a pretty attractive option too. None will be as slim and sexy as a Mac, but they work and may make the transition a bit easier.

      1. dancer*

        OK, I’m really really late for this, but im pretty sure chrome is in the Ubuntu repos now and it runs the html5 Netflix player by default. Yay, no more pipelight, wine or some unholy combination thereof.

        1. Nye*

          Yay! Thought this might have changed but haven’t used Netflix on my laptop for quite a while. It was surprising and frustrating when I first ran into it, especially after I called Netflix to complain (they never said they didn’t support Linux), and the customer support guy commiserated and said he ran Linux, too.

    6. Rebecca*

      I’d like to do this, too, but have no idea how. I am so disappointed in Windows 10. I have no idea why the home group feature doesn’t work, it just doesn’t, and all I want to do is share a printer with my Win1o desktop, and Win10 laptop. Nope. I have to unplug the USB cable from the desktop, plug it into the laptop, print, then put it back. At least the start button works again, that problem is solved and hasn’t reared its ugly head again.

      I’ve heard a lot of good things about Linux. I would love to have a simple OS.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Printer sharing is fairly simple in Linux (which uses CUPS—same as Mac OS X does). But, honestly, any time you switch operating systems (Windows to Mac, Windows to Linux, Mac to Windows, etc.), there’s always a learning curve and an adjustment period no matter how “intuitive” things are supposed to be in the new operating system. Habit trumps intuitiveness any day.

        The good news is that you can try Linux without damaging your Windows installation. The bad news is there is at least a little bit of technical know-how you need to get it up and running. But there’s more good news—if you’re anywhere near a small or large city, there is very likely a Linux User Group near you that does “install fests,” and you can have a Linux geek get you up and running for free. She or he will probably be super enthusiastic to get you up and running as well.

        Just Google “[name of your city” Linux user group.”

  3. regina phalange*

    Watching basketball right now. Anyone else lover March Madness as much as I do? Who are your teams??

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Jayhawks all the way. Fan since birth. This has been an awesome tournament. I loved seeing Northern Iowa sink that 3 against Texas last night, although I can’t support NIU since they knocked out KU a while back. Still a great game. And Michgan State getting stunned was pretty unbelievable.

      1. Dot Warner*

        Another Jayhawk fan here! But because of their history of choking, I never pick them to go past the 2nd round anymore. Every time I do, we’re one-and-done.

    2. Jen RO*

      I am not American and I don’t know what March Madness is, just that it’s delaying my shows for 2 weeks :(

      1. Ms. Didymus*

        It is college basketball national championships. We call it a lot of things like “The Big Dance” and ‘March Madness” It starts with 64 teams and whittles down to 32, the The Sweet 16, The Final Four, etc…

        Coworkers all over the US fill out brackets trying to guess who will move on each round. Every year there are tons of upsets.

        It is literally the only sporting event many people watch every year.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq*

          Yep! I care deeply about March Madness and my fantasy football team every year, but that is the only sportsball I engage in.

    3. Tess McGill*

      Yes! This is my favorite sports time of the year! I grew up in an ACC family (before teams like Boston College, Notre Dame, Miami, Louisville, Pittsburgh, etc. were invited in). Die hard UNC fan. Also a big N.C. State fan and UVA fan, thanks to family members who attended the schools. I will only root for Duke if they are the last ACC team standing in the tournament. I’m pretty jazzed about MTSU upsetting Michigan — the school is on my son’s short list for this fall, so why not root for them too? I’m the only person in my immediate family who likes college basketball (lots of extended family members watch religiously as well), so they really don’t get it, but they are kind to tolerate my watching in March. On year, when I was very young (early 20’s), I was so obsessive about the entire college basketball season that I actually felt confident enough to enter the workplace bracket competition. I worked for a major DC law firm at the time, with 400+ attorneys and 1,000 support staff … and I won! It was hilarious in the days following the final game to watch loads of curious attorneys and employees come by my desk to find out the identity of the winner … someone completely unknown to them. They couldn’t believe it … that a 20-something secretary could win the entire thing. Joy!

      1. Ms. Didymus*

        They played really hard, though. Honestly I thought they were going to whip my Zags.

    4. Ms. Didymus*

      I’m a Gonzaga Girl all the way.

      You know them. The team that should do really well, but refuses to BRING IT at the Big Dance so they lose in the first few rounds every year for lack of trying.

      1. Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!*

        But they are doing well so far! They have had a solid program for years!

    5. Sunflower*

      I went to Penn State and we are never good so I like rooting for most of the Big 10 teams. Michigan State, my second favorite B1G team, really blew my bracket for me! I’ll be rooting for Wisco(my 3rd fav)

      1. Cass*

        PSU alum here too! They are still hyping basketball to increase the popularity here but it doesn’t seem to be working…

    6. Ang*

      Yeah, my bracket busted Day 1. I hurriedly wrote it out on Thursday afternoon (before seeing scores), then starting watching – it was irreparable within minutes. :)

    7. Kimberlee, Esq*

      I just examined my brackets for the first time in a day or so, and they are soooo broken. BUT, I did call Hawaii over California in both my brackets, and N. Iowa over Texas in one of them, so I guess I have some bright spots still. Not enough to bring me out of the bottom quarter of my bracket pools….

  4. Christy*

    Let’s talk about public schools. Do you send your kids to public school? Did you choose your neighborhood based on the schools? How highly ranked are the schools? Do you live near good schools and send your kids to private school anyway? Why? Do you live near bad schools and send your kids to public school? Did you go to public or private schools?

    I’m asking because I’m thinking of moving to KCMO, which by my understanding has just awful, like 1/10 ranked schools. I believe strongly in public school and in supporting public schools by sending your kids there, and I believe strongly that well-off, well-supported kids will succeed regardless of where they go to school. But the schools in KCMO are just so, so bad.

    So let’s talk about it!

    (Oh, and I went to catholic school and I would definitely not send my kids there–though I don’t know that they’d take kids with two moms anyway.)

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Based on what I know, wouldn’t sent my kids there. I know people I worked with who sold their cute little Brookside homes or whatever to move across the state line to avoid sending there kids there. A few who did have kids and stayyed there sent the kids to private schools. Are you from the area? I’m from the KS side, but most of the MO families I know live in Lee’s Summit or other surrounding towns, not KCMO proper.

      1. Christy*

        No, I’m near DC and I’m from Baltimore. My fiancee and I are looking to move to KCMO eventually because we really like it. She hates Brownback and probably wouldn’t move to KS while he was governor.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Yeah, no one likes Brownback. The schools are really the big problem with KCMO. They only have provisional accreditation right now, and it seems like they always have a new superintendent. I don’t know much more than that, and just a couple people I knew who taught there years back, but the accreditation thing would be a deal breaker for me. But living in the burbs is not the same if the city is what’s drawing you in.

        2. Dot Warner*

          Everybody hates Brownback, but luckily he can’t run again due to term limits. The Johnson County KS (suburban KC) are some of the best public schools in the country; I know many people who went there and had excellent educations. As AnotherAlison said, if you need to be on the MO side, stick with Lee’s Summit. KCMO schools were actually *unaccredited* a few years back and show few signs of improvement.

          1. DCtoKC*

            The schools on Kansas side are very decent , however, no matter what the locals may think, I would not say they are some of the best public schools in the county. Schools in the Missouri suburbs of Lee’s Summit or Parkville are very similar.

    2. Artemesia*

      My kids are well grown now but we made the choice to send them to public schools in a city in the south where most upper middle class people choose private schools. We did take care in living where the schools were pretty good and they were at that time fully integrated. (since the courts have ruled racism no longer exists, schools in cities like that one have now pretty much re-segregated) My kids got very fine educations; both were national merit scholars and both have told me as adults that they very much appreciated the experience of going to schools where they had many minority friends. They felt better prepared to live and work in the world as a result. I am very glad we did it.

      My daughter lives in a large northern city with struggling schools; her child is in a public school near her home and they chose where to live based on the schools. She seems to be getting an excellent education.

      Kids with good parental support and cultural opportunities will do well in most school settings that are at least ‘okay’. The things they gain by not being surrounded by wealthy entitled brats are pretty valuable too. We had one child who spent middle school in the poncy girls private academy in that southern city because of some serious issues in her public middle school — we moved her mid year and that was where we could find a place. She oddly became a raging feminist partly because of her experience of upper class sexism — the school did a lot of things with the local boys academy. The politics of her classmates and the attitudes of the boys she met through that experience turned her from clueless about politics and feminist issues to highly engaged and ardently feminist. Not what we had expected. I will say that drug problems, theft and general awfulness were rampant in this top drawer #1 elite prep school at a level we did not encounter in the public schools our kids went to. (not that they weren’t there — but we didn’t encounter them) Kids from the private school were also involved in a couple of anti-semitic graffiti incidents.

      1. Cristina in England*

        There are plenty of kids in “poncy” private schools who aren’t “wealthy entitled brats”, like me, a lower-middle class kid who was on a scholarship. There were lots of kids like me, and lots from g&t inner city programs too. Private schools are just as varied in their quality as public schools. Some are great and some are not.

        1. TL -*

          In America, private schools are much more likely to be upper middle and upper class than in England, I believe. I went to a fairly good university and work in academia and I don’t know a single person who went to private school on scholarship.

          1. Aurora Leigh*

            I went to a private college on scholarship. And I think most church schools have some kind of assistance programs for students.

              1. Cristina in England*

                Well now you do know someone who went to an American private primary school on scholarship! You may know others as well, it is a pretty weird thing to mention in conversation I think. If I hadn’t gotten a scholarship then I wouldn’t have been able to go there.

          2. Cristina in England*

            Though I live in England now I lived in the US until I was a working adult, and that is where I went to private school, on scholarship. Back to my earlier point, private schools are varied. Some are hard to get into and are absolutely unbeatable on academics and the breadth and depth of extracurricular activities on offer. Some have almost no entry requirements beyond money.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        Someone I had gone to public schools with since kindergarten kind of went off the rails in high school. We weren’t friends, so I don’t know exactly what happened. The official story was that her grades were not acceptable, but I had heard things that had nothing to do with school/grades. Her parents sent her to a private girls’ Catholic school and, I just gotta say, when the school closed down a couple of years later due to poor attendance/not enough tuition coming in, she came back a completely different — and much nicer — person. I don’t know what those nuns did to her but man, I wish her parents had sent her there for Grade 1, she was a right nightmare in kindergarten!

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Same thing happened with a girl from one of my home town’s prominent families. They sent her to a private Catholic school for junior year to line her out, and she came back for senior year a changed person. I wonder if the knowledge that the parents will take strong measures to correct their behavior helps as much as the change in schools. She had to earn her way back to her public school through good behavior. My boss did the same with his son when his grades were very low, and it was the smaller class sizes and careful attention from teachers that helped him. But he also wanted to earn his way back to his public school where all his friends were, so he started making more of an effort.

      3. Pershing48*

        Huh, your description sounds so similar to the private boys school I attended in a southern city I’m almost think we’re talking about the same school. Then again, maybe every large Southern city has a private boys school that used to be a military academy, has a few congressmen and governors as alumni, and is a training ground for upper-class douchebags. The high school Frank Underwood probably went to.

        If we are talking about the same school, you might remember the kid was kicked out for a going to another school’s campus and starting a fight that ended with a few arrests. A few years later that kid shot and killed a friend at a party literally to watch him die.

    3. Emily*

      I went to public schools, and am pretty sure that the quality of my education was as good as or better than that of my peers who went to private schools. However, my middle and high schools both had strong magnet programs, and my high school in particular was ranked in the top 100 high schools in the US (by Newsweek) for the entire time I was there. So I don’t have a good perspective on what it would be like to go to a crappy public school.

    4. anonnnnn*

      I don’t have kids, but I went to the public school in my hometown because…well….there’s no way my parents could have afforded to send me or my brothers to private schools or afforded to move to a town with a better school district. It became such an issue in our town and surrounding towns that school choice was cancelled for a lot of towns so instead of living in Town X and going to school in Town Y, you had to live in Town Y to go to school there.

      My public school was always on the verge of losing accreditation and because we were way out in the rural suburbs, we got very little state funding compared other school districts. I’m from MA and there was a time when Romney kept on bragging about how much he did for the public schools in MA, but those were for the richer suburbs’ public schools or the city public schools. Everyone out in the sticks had a worse time of it because funding wasn’t fairly allocated. All the “good” schools were “good” because they had support from middle class families or businesses or local/state government.

      Public schools can be great, but I’m forever bitter about them because poor public schools are given the worst resources and being made fun of for having to go to a “bad school” because of money is not a great thing for a child. I’m honestly lucky enough that I learn quickly and our local town library was so, so accommodating about getting me the books and resources from other libraries. A lot of my former classmates didn’t find much success after graduating.

      /end rant (sorry but I just have such an issue with the unfairness of how public schools get funding or attention or pick their students)

      1. Cristina in England*

        Yep, the fact that many if not most public schools get funding from property taxes means that wealthy areas have well resourced schools an poor areas do not! It is unfair.

    5. PsS*

      Listen to the ratings. If a school sucks that bad, dont send your kids. I am in a 2/10 school district and the amount of stuff I am teaching them outside of school is astounding. I dont have other choices.

      If I could afford the catholic school, my kids would be there.

      1. Christy*

        I really appreciate your perspective. Would you mind saying more about your kids’ schools and what they’re missing? Thank you for sharing.

        1. Treena*

          This is the perspective of someone without kids, but who has worked (as a contract educator, so not as a FT teacher) in all kinds of schools, from urban to rural and “good” and “bad.” The “bad” schools basically have two major issues working against them. The first is there is never enough money for special ed, so a lot of kids that don’t belong in mainstream classrooms (at least without an aide) are there, being ignored unless it’s absolutely necessary to interact with them (usually because they’re disrupting the class).
          Second, the student population has a higher need level all around (general trauma, domestic violence, hunger, poverty), again without proper funding.

          So basically you end up with a single teacher in charge of 30 kids who has to manage them all on their own that and the “normal, easy, smart” kids tend to get ignored. The amount of time spent on discipline (sending to the office, calling the school resource officer down, yelling about cell phone use, having students switch desks, etc.) takes up more time because the children are often openly defiant. All that is what leads to less classroom time on learning/attention for your child. Curriculum ends up getting rushed through because it’s better to cover the basics of everything on the test than to actually make sure the class understands concept A before moving onto concept B. In the really bad schools I’ve worked in, students weren’t expected to bring a pencil to class or ever do homework–big assignments were to write a paragraph on a piece of notebook paper. It’s really hard to strive for excellence in that kind of environment because it’s not good to be smart or answer the teacher’s questions or read or do any of the things you want kids to be doing at school.

          *Side note–I want to emphasize that I work with these “bad school” students in an alternative sort of way, and I have the privilege of seeing them for truly beautiful, smart kids that they are. When asked what they do for fun, they tell me they write poetry and ride their bikes. They spend their afternoons take care of their younger siblings and working instead of doing homework. They come from a tough background, but I know that their school could make a huge difference if it were properly funded/staffed.

    6. Myrin*

      I’m always fascinated by this topic whenever it comes up because where I’m from (not the US), basically every school is a public school. I mean, private schools do exist, but they’re few and far between, generally quite expensive, and have a reputation of people sending their children there because the children aren’t clever enough to make it in a “normal” school and the teachers there will be more lenient and give better grades because of the parents’ money. So, yeah, not a substantial comment but it’s super interesting to see these really stark cultural differences.

      1. Tau*

        Same! I went to a public school because really, who in Germany sends their children to private schools? It was super-fascinating to hear some of my coursemates at university in the UK talk about their private school backgrounds, very much an alien world for me.

        That said, the three-tier secondary school system is a huge difference on its own that makes it hard to compare like with like between the US/UK and Germany, unless you’re comparing to a Gesamtschule which AFAIK are still very much in the minority.

    7. Cristina in England*

      For me it would depend partly on WHY the schools are failing. If it was just poor resourcing or poverty or a high percentage of non English speakers, that is one thing. If there are huge problems with gangs and violence, then no thanks, I will try to live elsewhere or try to get a scholarship for my kids to a private school. Right now I am lucky to be near a good public elementary but not such a great high school. I will have to make this very choice in a few years myself.

    8. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      I attended an integrated public school K-12 in a once-great district that had lost its luster by the time I was a student there. For an average-rated district, I got an excellent education including exposure to arts, international travel, other cultures and a wide socioeconomic range of kids. I still appreciate the education I received. There were 3 excellent private schools right in the town and several others within 20 min. drive. When I had kids of my own I moved back to my hometown and enrolled my kids in the same district. We only lasted three years–too many years of neglect and mismanagement resulted in too many obstacles toward my kids getting even an acceptable education. The final straw was when my then 2nd grader got into trouble for giving the answers to the small group of students that the teacher put in charge of leading through the math lesson (!). Because it’s not like you need to go to college to be a teacher…
      The year prior I met my husband and he owned a home in a city with excellent public schools. We decided to get married before the beginning of the next school year. There is an incredible difference in a district that is well supported by the community vs one that has been all but abandoned.

      1. Christy*

        Thank you!

        A question/musing, mostly to myself, if you don’t mind–how can the abandoned schools ever improve if those with options continue to abandon it? I totally understand and respect your decision to change schools. But how can that public school situation ever hope to improve?

        1. Cristina in England*

          I am having trouble articulating exactly what, but something about this question really troubles me. This line of argument, that well-off, well-educated people with options can turn around a school is at best impractical, but it also implies that poorer or uneducated parents without options are somehow dragging down the schools. Schools need proper resourcing, good management and great teachers. Schools also need community support but handfuls of well-educated, well-off, and well-meaning parents cannot solve a complex and longstanding web of socioeconomic problems.

          1. Christy*

            Oh, I totally agree that a few rich parents can’t turn a school around. And I am in no way saying that parents without options are dragging schools down.

            I think I’m thinking about when people move out of school districts, taking their tax dollars with them. It specifically takes away some of the resources that struggling schools need.

            1. Cristina in England*

              Ok, I take your point about tax dollars. On the other hand, if property taxes are the main funder of schools (they are where I’m from) then from that point of view, where you live rather than how much you earn is what determines which school gets your tax money. Your income tax will go to the state and the feds. If you want to send your tax dollars to local schools and also have your kids in a well-performing school, then buy a house in the KCMO district, but send them to private school. The local public schools will still get your property tax money but they won’t be spending it on your child. Best of both?

              1. NacSacJack*

                except here in America, we cant force people to move “there”. and with low-performing schools comes, in my observation, more crime and a lower quality of life. who wants to deliberately live in a higher crime, low income neighborhood. eventually you have to sell the house. several of my acquaintances have bought houses in north Minneapolis only to sell them a few years later when the bullets get too close for comfort.

        2. Greggles*

          As A parent though, you have to weight your time with fixing an educational system and your kid getting the proper and well balanced education. If the school is lacking in finances, lacking curriculum, doesn’t have a community or parents that care, I don’t have time to fix that culture. I can work on it I can engage in it, but how long do I let my kid miss out on maybe a better school system that might result in better success down the road. While it’s noble, I can’t be everyone else’s rescuer. I don’t mean to come off as not caring, because I do, but ultimately I have to do what I believe is best for my kid and sometimes that not being the guy that changed the school district.

          1. Cristina in England*

            Yes, this. I don’t think it is uncaring or hypocritical to support public schools but not send your own children to one, especially the one nearest you is performing at a 1/10. There are other ways to contribute to schools, such as DonorsChoose projects for instance, or political support. You have to do right by your own children first and foremost, whatever that means in your own circumstances.

        3. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

          Christina from England said it well: to succeed, a school needs more than committed parents. My old town has some parent resources but zero community backing (failed levies for the last few decades), pitiful vision and leadership, overwhelmed teachers (40+ students, violence, behavior). My younger sister’s 3rd and 5th grade girls are suffering under her experiment of helping to “save the schools.” Two friends who remained in the district–one who works for the schools and the other a former city council member are also nearing the point of throwing in the towel because they are at the school every day + basically home schooling their kids.
          Before I paint too bleak of a picture, let me just say that this is a suburb of an otherwise declining area. There just aren’t many resources in general and there no longer is much of a middle class.
          certainly there must be education research which has demonstrated what districts have done to successfully turn failing schools around.

        4. Observer*

          Before I get to how the schools can improve, I want to point out that the parent’s first obligation is to their child. It’s one thing if a kid will get a decent but not top notch education. But, it is simply not appropriate to knowingly send a child to a school that can’t provide a decent education is a safe environment if there are any other accessible choices. (Some parents really don’t have a choice – they can’t move and either have no other school to send to or really, really can’t afford the alternatives. I’m not talking about them.)

          Sometimes the only that can be done is to close a given school. But, very often what works is getting resources in. Then, get good staff in and give them the tools and the ability to do what needs to be done.

          For example, a few years ago on of the most dangerous schools in NYC got a new principal. He turned the place around. But, one of the things he needed in order to do it was to get permission to expel kids who were dangerous. I mean kids who were active gang members, bringing gang warfare into the school, bringing guns to school, etc. He also needed to get permission to dismiss teachers that were just not doing what they needed to. He also needed to get permission for many of the major moves he needed to do. But, in many schools that doesn’t happen. The rules in so many places hamper the ability of schools to operate.

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      I believe strongly in public school and in supporting public schools by sending your kids there, and I believe strongly that well-off, well-supported kids will succeed regardless of where they go to school. But the schools in KCMO are just so, so bad.

      I hear this a lot from friends of mine with kids, and I just don’t get it. I went to a rich public school. I taught in poorer public schools. I’ve taught in well-funded private schools and less-well-funded private schools. There are private schools that cater to low-income students. And a lot of private schools are actually more diverse (socio-economically and racially) than rich suburban public schools. There is nothing especially noble about “public schools” in the U.S. As long as we have rich public schools and poor public schools and everything in between, “public schools” doesn’t really mean anything. Most public schools in rich suburbs are essentially the same as private schools.

      1. Christy*

        Point granted. I’m particularly looking at moving to a city, and one with awful schools, so this part of the conversation is less relevant to me. But I’m certainly here to listen to it!

        Fwiw, the difference between the private schools in my rich suburb and the public schools is largely size of school. And the size seems to affect a lot about the schools, from what I can tell.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That’s a very good point. I went to a Quaker school in the city near where I grew up. The public schools in my suburban neighborhood were very, very good, but they were 95% White and Jewish, like me. I attended school with kids from all over the city and county and from all kinds of backgrounds.

      3. blackcat*

        “And a lot of private schools are actually more diverse (socio-economically and racially) than rich suburban public schools.”

        This is a large part of why my parents sent me to private school for grades 6-12. When my mom realized that there was not a single black child and only three hispanic children at my elementary school of 900, she was pretty appalled.

        The private school where I ended up was FAR more diverse racially, economically, and linguistically (it had a reputation for being welcoming to immigrants & had an ESL program, which is unusual in private schools). Had I stayed in the public schools, I would have continued to be surrounded by upper-middle class to rich white kids.

        I also taught at a prep school in a relatively poor (but rapidly changing) city. While the education the kids got there was wonderful, there was a pretty toxic “rich kids do what they want. scholarship (read: black) kids get expelled for sneezing in the wrong direction” atmosphere. I would have sent a child of mine to the public schools in that city, at least for high school (and, tellingly, many of my coworkers did. The tuition benefit was great, but being a middle class kid at that school was miserable). The public schools, particularly a couple of the high schools, really weren’t *that* bad.

        So it varies tremendously. You may also find that even if a district has a terrible reputation, particular schools can be quite good (even if test scores are low). If there’s been one principal for 5+ years and there’s low teacher turn over, it’s almost certainly a good school. Teacher/administrator turn over is a FAR bigger red flag than ratings based on test scores (which say more about the students there than the quality of teaching).

    10. pieces of flair*

      We live in the “poor” section of a super rich county. I have no qualms sending my kids to the neighborhood school because the county schools overall are really excellent. The difference between my daughter’s school and the county’s “best” schools are based on demographic factors, not the quality of the education. So she gets a high quality education in a diverse setting. That’s cool with me.

      Sadly, when I tell people from wealthier neighborhoods where my daughter goes to school, I sometimes get a reaction of “oh, don’t they have a lot of, um, problems?” where “problems” is basically code for “non-white kids.” I just say we’ve been very pleased. My child has access to amazing opportunities and resources, she loves going to school, and her academic progress has been awesome. She started kindergarten barely knowing her letters and is now in 1st grade voraciously reading anything she can get her hands on (including my books about how to parent her, which has made for some interesting conversations).

      On the other hand, I’m a bit of an academics snob and I wouldn’t want to send her to public school if we lived in a terrible district where I didn’t trust that she could get a high quality education. Personally, I probably wouldn’t move to KCMO unless we could afford private.

      I also think there’s an argument to be made for private school for some kids that isn’t based on academic quality. My local public high school growing up was (still is) ranked one of the best in the state, but I went to private school because I couldn’t stomach 4 more years of the bullying and harassment I dealt with in middle school. I totally flourished in the smaller, more supportive environment. I went from “performing below potential” to academic superstar. I don’t think this would make a big difference for a lot of kids, but it can for some. I was fortunate to have parents who could afford to give me that choice.

      1. TL -*

        My little cousin had a hard time in a more regimented, smaller private school but did well in the more lax, larger public school. He’s a good kid but he had a lot of energy that the public school just dealt with better.
        Sometimes it makes a huge difference to the kid regardless of quality.

    11. Lucky charm*

      I live in a town similar to KC in that our public schools here are downright awful. There are (very few) okay public schools in the city but they can be difficult to get into. Most people I know in the city send their children to private Catholic or Christian schools – the families run the gamete as far as wealth, background, etc. The public schools are just THAT bad here.

      Coincidentally, the county next to my city has the highest rated public schools in the state. My fiance and I decided to buy a home in this county because of the school system. A lot of people I know have done the same.

      1. steeped in anonymtea*

        I love “run the gamete!”. I picture a tiny zygote running about. Doggone spellcheck.

    12. Aurora Leigh*

      I don’t have kids, but I went to Lutheran school one year, then to public school for one year, then homeschooled the rest. Lutheran school was a good school, my cousin went there and the kids I’ve known from there were for the most part good kids who got a good education. It was just too expensive and too long of a commute.

      The public schools in my area aren’t horrible, but they’re badly underfunded and don’t tend to attract the greatest teachers as a result. My mom had some pretty bad experiences in public schools and I think that’s ultimately why we didn’t stay there.

      Now homeschooling can come with its own bag of issues, and I wouldn’t do some things the same way my parents did. There’s more resources and generally more acceptance now than there was in the 90’s though so if/when I have kids I think it would be my first choice.

    13. Sunflower*

      I grew up in the Philly burbs and went to public school. 25% of my neighborhood went to private school and I don’t believe any of them ended up at exceptionally better colleges than most of the kids at the public school. It’s really funny(?) because usually the wealthier neighborhoods, had more kids going to private school but their public schools were so exceptional.

      I plan on sending my kids(if I have them) to public school. I don’t think I could move somewhere I couldn’t send them to public school.

    14. the gold digger*

      1. We bought in an excellent school district even though we don’t (and won’t) have children because we care about our most expensive investment.

      2. My friend is a teacher in KCMO schools and lives in the district. She sends her kids to Catholic school.

    15. Andraste*

      I went to an integrated public school in a middle class suburb in the south. It was a good school, and I did well and enjoyed it. Not that my parents had options, really–they could not have afforded to send me to a private school anyway.

      My fiance and I are starting to think about these issues too as we are starting to kick around the idea of setting in some location and buying a house. We love the part of town we live in now (still in the south, different city), but could not send our kids to the public school here. My fiance is an alum of that school, but it’s gone so downhill from when he finished–there was a recent scandal where administration had embezzled millions of dollars out of an already very underfunded school. Teacher turnover is super high, management is poor, and extracurriculars have been mostly cut to make up for the funding gap. If we stay in the area, we plan to move across town to the more “suburban” area so that we could send our kids to a decent public school. Neither of us are religious, so we’re not too keen on religious schools. All the private schools in our area are religious-affiliated.

    16. Felix*

      Canadian here. I went to two private schools – one was religious (Protestant-based) and unisex, the other was non-religious and only girls. I went on half scholarships. My family was mid-to-upper middle class.

      The only thing I have to say about the religious school is that my science background is particulalry lacking. I have copies of my old exams and let’s just say it makes me angry to realize I was taught religion and not science/history/geography in all my classes.

      Now, the all girls non-religious school. While the education was phenomenal, I literally had/have nothing in common with anyone I graduated with. This shouldn’t matter 10+ years out but is tied to why I had no close friends in school. Classmates would invite me on ski trips, weekend getaways, shopping trips etc and I couldn’t afford to do those things so I wasn’t able to spend time with them outside of classes.

      Now, we live in different social classes. They go on weekend sailing trips to family cabins on remote islands, received $25,000 cash graduation presents, ski trips every weekend, tropical vacations to family owned villas, Buying brand new condos in Toronto and Vancouver… It’s hard maintain any kind of relationship when I put all my extra cash towards my student loans. Pretty sure they all see me as the poor cousin.

      I’m not complaining, it just set me up to feel much less valuable/economically sufficient when my comparisons were based on a reality that would never be mine. I have other friends now, these things don’t matter, but they sure do when you are young.

      FWIW, unless you can keep up with the joneses, or make sure your kids have friends and exposure to how most of society experiences life, they’d be much better off in public school where fitting in is difficult but not impossible (most of the time).

    17. Observer*

      and I believe strongly that well-off, well-supported kids will succeed regardless of where they go to school.

      That’s really not necessarily true, ESPECIALLY if the school is also dangerous. Just keep in mind that trying to counteract the effects of a place where you child is most of his waking hours is not so simple, and many children just do NOT succeed in really bad schools.

      1. Poor boy*

        This is ridiculous, and frankly insulting. Most injuries to kids at schools come from (1) falls – accidental playground injuries (2) sports (3) bus accidents. Actual school violence is low, even in the worst areas in the country. In those areas (I come from one – very poor school with lots of gangs), the biggest physical dangers to kids are their own families, and they are safer in school than they are out of it. For me and for many of my friends, school was a safe haven from the hell that was our home lives.

        Are there some violent kids in bad schools? Gangs? Yes. I knew many kids who regularly carried weapons to school. I know of at least one incident involving a gun. But you know what? Nobody died in school. Nobody took serious injuries in school from gang violence. There were occasional fights, but they’re largely symbolic posturing – bloody and loud, but nobody gets permanent injuries. If serious violence was going to happen, it’d happen after hours off school grounds, where it is an order of magnitude easier to get away with. Schools have too many cameras, too fast of police response time, too much security, way too many witnesses.

        Were there drug dealers? Oh yes. They don’t get violent at schools, though. There are more than enough customers to go around compared to kids who can and will sell – no need to do serious harm over the best corner to sell from. Violence just scares away the customers; the kids with money to burn on drugs are relatively wealthy and have little tolerance for violence.

        The only kind of violent crime you should be worried about at schools is rape. That one is a problem everywhere.

        1. Observer*

          Sorry, nothing you have said responds to anything I said.

          I don’t know what your school is like. And, I can believe that for some kids a school such as you describe might be safer than their homes. So what? It doesn’t make it a reasonable place for a kid to get an education. Expecting a child to do well there if he has the “right” kind of parents is silly.

          By the way, guess what. Apparently, your school is NOT the most dangerous. In NYC, when they talk about dangerous schools they mean kids winding up dead or in hospitals. And, no rape is NOT a problem in every public school.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            And, no rape is NOT a problem in every public school.

            Um, yes… rape is a problem at every school (public or private).

          2. Poor boy*

            More to your point, I succeeded. I was not well-off. I was not well-supported. I was determined to make a better life for myself, though. And the school, flawed though it was, did give me the education I needed and the resources I needed. It was a haven in the middle of hell. We had some students who were well-off and well-supported; they were bused in via a program and had parents who saw value in exposing their precious little kids to people who were very different than themselves. Those students all did very well for themselves, without exception.

            The wrongest thing about your comments is that you just fundamentally have no idea what “gang violence” even is. It’s some word you hear on the news, some phantom boogey-man to you. That’s not what it really is. You just have no idea what it’s like to live in a place like that; it’s so foreign that you can’t even speak the language properly. You have no insight into the problems or the solutions or the community; you just look down your nose, dismiss our kind as savage animals. Gangs exist in that world because the community values them and perpetuates them. Gangs don’t target people at random, and have sensible and predictable motives and operate under a set of rules. Random kids don’t generally get targeted by gangs. Kids who are well-off especially don’t get targeted by gangs unless they do something egregious by the rules of the community.

    18. Alison Read*

      You don’t need to sacrifice your children to support public school. Your tax dollars support them whether you enroll your or not…

      I understand that a community has the responsibility to ensure quality schools … I’m just not sure if I agree that requires sending your child to a sub par school.

      Schools often get burdened with marginal teachers that are difficult to terminate so instead are transferred or just plain tolerated. What if it is your child in their classroom? That’s an entire year’s education potentially lost.

      1. Greggles*

        Some teachers don’t succeed because they are being tasked with doing other things besides teach. The purpose if the school and school teacher and other workers has gotten a lot broader than it used to be.

    19. J.B.*

      I believe in public education and live in a well thought of district and put my kid un private school after a year. Budgets have been cut to the bone and she is a little outside of neurotypical. This was a more secure choice for her, her class still has some racial diversity but a lot less economic diversity. I would not ever go for a flat out bad district, too much violence and discipline problems without the support. An ok one or a school considered lesser within a good district might work depending on the kid.

      From our experience, teacher assistants are huge. 20 plus kids with only one adult is really limiting and stressful for everyone.

    20. Noah*

      I went to private schools growing up. I will probably send my own children (if I ever have any) to private schools. I generally think they provide a better education, but that is likely due to parent involvement, smaller class sizes, and a variety of other factors not just the simple fact that they are private schools. Of course there are also many, many horrible private schools, so it is not a universal truth that they are any better.

      Also, in general I hate the fact that public schools think they can make up whatever rules they want. My niece’s school has a ridiculous policy on how children are picked up that involves checking ID of parents or whoever is picking them up. This happens everyday. It has gotten so ridiculous that many parents just tell the school their children are now walking home and then pick them up a block away rather than wait in an hour long line of cars. Not saying that something like this couldn’t happen at a private school, but I would want the ability to vote economically and take my children elsewhere.

      1. Jean*

        >policy on how children are picked up that involves checking ID of parents or whoever is picking them up.
        My understanding is that these rules are meant to keep kids out of the middle of horrible custody battles or other unpleasant domestic/family situations. It may be inconvenient but it’s better than abduction or abuse.
        It’s also possible to override the system if, say, there’s a family emergency so somebody not already on the “these people can pick up my kid” list can pass muster if the parent
        – alerts the school that X person will be picking up little Chris or Pat
        – alerts X person to show up with his or her picture ID.

        1. Cristina in England*

          If it is so inconvenient that parents are circumventing it entirely by having children leave the school by themselves, then it isn’t really working. It sounds to me like these are CYA rules.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        The problem is a lot of well-intentioned but badly implemented legislation. For example, if you have free lunches for students who qualify for them, and you have leftovers (even an unopened, unexpired milk carton), you’re required by law to throw those out. Also, if a child doesn’t finish her free lunch, she cannot take the rest to go, because the government is worried about the child providing food for her family members (God forbid they should be able to eat).

        Sometimes ridiculous rules show up at private schools, but at least someone at that school agrees with them (head of school, dean of students, etc.). If no one at a private school agrees with a rule, the rule can change. But if you’re at a public school and you have ridiculous rules even the teachers and administrators don’t agree with… they still have to abide by those rules by law.

        1. Observer*

          Also, if a child doesn’t finish her free lunch, she cannot take the rest to go, because the government is worried about the child providing food for her family members (God forbid they should be able to eat).

          There is a very simple reason for this. There are unfortunately enough children who will be pressured into not eating their lunch so they can bring it home, that something had to be done about the problem. I don’t know that this was the best way to deal with it, but it’s not as stupid as it sounds.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            As I said before, well-intentioned but poorly implemented. I fully understand the “logic” behind it, but that doesn’t mean it’s a ridiculous rule.

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              As I said before, well-intentioned but poorly implemented. I fully understand the “logic” behind it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a ridiculous rule.

  5. abankyteller*

    I’m almost out of my foundation (Makeup Forever Hd) and will be needing a new one. What do you love for skin that’s kind of dry, but gets a bit oily with makeup on as the day progresses?

    1. Tess McGill*

      Have you tried No. 7 skin products? I have the same problem as you. I discovered the product while living in the UK, and I’ve recently discovered that Target has started carrying it in the U.S. I also really love both Clinique moisturizers and Olay moisturizers … they moisturize but don’t turn into an oily mess.

      1. Cristina in England*

        I think you can also get No. 7 online at Boots.com in the US. (I can’t check the US version of the website from here, sorry). It’s supposed to be very good.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          Boots No 7 serum. I save my loyalty points and No 7 vouchers for this, and use the 2 for 3 offers because it isn’t cheap. But it is the best thing ever.

    2. Violet_04*

      Makeup Forever HD is my favorite foundation, but it is expensive. For drugstore brands I really like Cover Girl Ready, Set Gorgeous. Revlon Color Stay and L’Oreal True Match are also good. I’ve never found one that keeps me completely matte during the day so I use the Clean and Clear Oil Absorbing sheets.

    3. Erin*

      I have issues with oily skin and use the tarte finishing powder with Amazonian clay in it over a simple bare natural tinted moisturizer. My skin is dry so the moisturizer is nice and gives decent coverage, but the finishing powder keeps me mostly grease free! It’s pricey but worth it. Lasts me about 3-4 months of every day use (I got the full size one).

    4. super anon*

      I have dry skin and I adored the MAC studio waterweight foundation. The finish was gorgeous if you only need light-medium coverage. But, there was something in it that didn’t play nicely with my skin and it gave me a terrible rash. I’ve never heard about anyone else having an allergic reaction to it though, so ymmv.

    5. Stachington*

      I love Makeup Forever HD, but it’s expensive and makes me break out so I can only wear it for when I’m going out. For work I just started using Physician’s Formula CC cream. It corrects the redness, covers my dark spots, and has SPF. I also get an oily face after a few hours so I need to put a little bit of loose powder on my T-zone.

  6. Christy*

    More frivolously, what color should I get my nails painted for my wedding In two weeks? My dress is knee-length, my shoes are multicolor, my fiancee’s dress is royal blue, and her shoes are red.

    I love Essie polish and I’m pretty familiar with their color names. I typically paint my nails either teal or grey, but idk if that’s what I want for the wedding. I’m pale with pink undertones, and I have short nails.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      One thing to consider is how your nails will look in photos Vs normal light. Most likely there will be photos of your hand and the ring. I know that one cousins pink nail polish looked red in the photos.
      Can you do a test run?

    2. overeducated*

      What about matching to a color on your or your fiancee’s shoes? I love red nails.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq*

        I think this could be good, but I would admittedly be reluctant to do red on short nails. I think blue is a great color for short nails, but I agree that matching Fiancée’s dress is less awesome than matching to shoes… this is indeed a conundrum.

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      It sounds like from the colours you have going you could go with something a little more dramatic if you wanted–you could get a nice royal blue to match your fiancee’s dress, or a nice red to match her shoes, or another nice bright colour to go with those, or if there’s a colour in your flowers (if you have them) that you like, or a colour scheme in your decor, you can try to get close and match that.

      Essie colours specifically? I like Midnight Cami for a pretty royal blue. or Aruba Blue for a brighter one. For reds, I like Jelly Apple and Really Red and Limited Addiction (although I prefer blue undertones–for yellowy undertones they have an appropriately-named Happy Wife Happy Life polish!). Do a trial run, take some pictures, see what you like!

    4. Anonyby*

      Congratulations! I hope it’s everything you want it to be!

      My vote would be for having the color match something either your or your fiancee are wearing, or perhaps match her nails if she’s getting hers done as well? Either way, I hardly think there’s a bad choice!

    5. Ultraviolet*


      It could be fun to match your nails to your shoes or your fiancee’s shoes. I think I’d be cautious about matching them to her dress. I can imagine it looking a little odd in photos (or maybe in person too) if your nails blend into her dress when you touch it, like if you put your arm around her.

    6. Kimberlee, Esq*

      What about white, or like an eggshell? I think they would set off wonderfully against the blue dress, look great on short nails, and be bold while still sort of neutral.

  7. Grey*

    Does anyone else have an Amazon Echo? Ask Alexa how old Melissa Etheridge is. Weird. Even weirder if you can speak any French.

    I’ve had it for about 3 months now and overall I’m happy with it. I don’t like that Alexa mispronounces my city (Traverse City) every day, but I suppose it’s not that big a deal. I tested her on Sault Ste. Marie and she got that one right. Go figure.

    I guess my only real issue is with Amazon Music. I uploaded my music collection to the cloud for listening on Echo and Amazon was “kind” enough to replace every explicit song they could with the clean, censored versions.

    Is there anything you like/dislike about your Echo?

    1. Nicole*

      How f***ing dare they do that! Haha. How much space does Amazon give you for music? I uploaded a good portion of my collection to Google Play. It’s free, the amount of storage is crazy, and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t tamper with the music in any way. Not sure whether you can integrate it with the Echo, though.

      Don’t have Amazon Echo, by the way, but it sounds interesting. My husband wants it.

      1. Grey*

        Amazon Music allows 250,000 songs for $24.99 a year. It’s not a bad deal but there’s a few limitations to the Amazon Music software that you’re required to use, most notably with playlists. Plus there’s that “matching” problem.

        Unfortunately, you can’t synch Google Play Music with the Echo.

    2. Cruciatus*

      I don’t have one, but on Stephen Colbert’s show the other night he spoke about how people were talking about Alexa on NPR (I think?) and every time they said Alexa and a command listeners with one had their Alexas dimming lights or turning on TVs or whatever. I thought that was kind of funny (and then Stephen commanded Alexas in listening distance of the TV to record his show forever).

      I know the idea of the product but I guess I don’t know what I would use it for that my computer/phone/tablet couldn’t already do. What do users like it most for?

      1. Grey*

        We got Wemo devices that allow the Echo to control various lights and appliances. It’s convenient to just say, for example, “Alexa, turn on the basement light”. Plus you set rules for these devices. Our living room light comes on at sunset even though sunset comes a few minutes later each month.

        We keep ours near the kitchen. When cooking, we can tell her to set a timer, ask her how many teaspoons in an ounce, or ask her to play whatever music we want to hear while cooking. The rest of the time it’s good for random questions you’d otherwise have to search online, such as, “Alexa, how old is Melissa Etheridge?”, or “Alexa, when is the next episode of Bar Rescue?”

        I just asked her who Alison Green was. Her info was slightly outdated, but she still got it right.

        I think it’s more of a novelty than a necessity but it still makes a lot of things more convenient.

        1. Nicole*

          I was trying to think of uses for that device when my husband expressed interest in it a few months back and I like all those you named, especially controlling the light and getting help when cooking.

    3. Noah*

      I have one that Amazon gave me at a greatly reduced price when they first came out. I really only use it for music, setting timers, playing around with the Phillips Hue lights, and asking for a traffic report before I leave for work in the morning.

      Sometimes it will just say “sorry, I didn’t get that” when no one said Alexa. I’m considering a second one for my bedroom so I can have it set wakeup alarms and play music in there.

      Oh, also shopping lists are nice. It is way easier to say “Alexa, add eggs to my shopping list” than it is to pull out my phone and type it in. When I get to the grocery store I just open the Alexa app and it is all right there. You can do a bunch of cool things with Alexa and IFTTT but the only one I have setup is find my phone.

  8. evilintraining*

    Baking banana bread. One loaf with chocolate chips and one without. Oh, and…”Bueller? Bueller?” Loving this lazy Saturday!

    1. Snazzy Hat*

      Marge: I knew you had your hands full with the [eight] babies, so I baked you some banana bread!
      Apu: Oh hallelujah, our problems are solved; we have banana bread.
      Marge: Maybe you two should get a nanny.
      Apu: Yes and what would I pay her with? Banana bread? Sorry, sorry, it’s just that we haven’t slept in days and we’re running out of money and– BANANA BREAD! What the HELL were you THINKING?! *Banana bread.* Apologize, apologize again. As a token of forgiveness, please take this baby.

  9. Glasskey*

    This one’s a rant–a rant of the highest order to the following:
    1. To the person who rear-ended my 89 year-old mother while she was stopped at a stop light, sending her careening into the intersection and giving her a concussion and whiplash, totaling her car, and who it appears was uninsured;
    2. To the police officer driving by whom my mother then tried to flag down with her emergency lights and by laying on the horn, and who kept on driving;
    3. To my mother’s town clinic that, when I called and said she needed to get seen, said, “We don’t have any appointments today, do you want me to see if we have any openings tomorrow?”
    4. To the Urgent Care clinic we then went to, that was completely full on a weekday because NObody can get appointments to the clinic above and who told us that they couldn’t get her a CT for 4 more hours and said if we went to the ER we would have to start the wait all over again and then, after having us wait another 45 minutes following the CT to get the results asked me, when I went to see about the delay, “Why didn’t you tell us you were waiting?”
    5. To the clinic (again) that, after I placed two calls asking for a neck brace for my mother, did not call me back for FOUR DAYS and did not return my mother’s call yesterday asking for medication for the post-concussion headache;
    5. To her attorney’s office, who still had the title to my mother’s car from last November in order to document her assets in order to help get my father into assisted living, and did not return my two phone calls to ask for the title back so she could get a salvage title for her car;
    6. To the jerk who pulled a road rage on me as I made the exhausting, 5-hour trek home from my mother’s house, worried sick about her, flashing his lights 3 feet behind my car at high-speed (he could have gone around), then when pulling in front of me blocked my attempts to changes lanes 3 times before driving off just to show me who’s boss.
    There, I’m done. Except for this: Thank you to the kind man at my father’s memory care facility who brought my poor Dad a nice hot cup of tea and asked me if there was anything else he could do for him. YOU NEVER KNOW when the smallest kindness will make all the difference.

    1. Hypnotist Collector*

      Yikes. This sounds absolutely hellish and painful as you tried to help people you care about deeply and ran into horrible obstacles at every turn. I’m so sorry and I hope your mom is all right and that you’re taking good care of yourself too.

    2. Mimmy*

      BOOOO to your mom’s clinic, the urgent care clinic, and the road rage dude; KUDOS to the staff at your dad’s facility. Good to know that there are still decent people out there.

      Sending up healing thoughts to your mom and hugs to you. Wow, what a week!

    3. Emily*

      I’m sorry to hear about your mother and about all of the rude or unhelpful people you encountered when you were trying to get help for her. I hope that your mother is/will be okay.

    4. fposte*

      Oh, how frightening and draining! I hope your mother is doing better now and that the rant has helped you a little. What a horrible sequence.

    5. gsa*

      I have lists.

      The are currently as follow:

      The DB list,

      The S list,

      The FTG list,

      The the people I’d like to slap list.

      The initials are hopefully obvious.

      If AMA had a swear jar, it would be fuller after I hit send!

    6. GreenTeaPot*

      Glasskey, I am so sorry. I’m glad there was a kind person somewhere. You sure met up with a lot of idiots. Hope your mom is OK now.

    7. the gold digger*

      Glasskey, what a horrible time. I hope your mom is feeling better and that you can resolve the car situation soon.

      May I ask where you live? You wrote, “couldn’t get her a CT for 4 more hours.”

      When I was in the ER after I fell off my bike (against my will – my doctor’s office said they would not see me for a head injury), they could not give me the CT scan fast enough. I discovered later it’s because they charge about $1,500 for the scan (and more for the radiologist to read it) – it’s a nice profit center for them. (All the money I was going to save by riding my bike to work, gone in one $4,500 ER bill.)

    8. Not So NewReader*

      The only time it’s not tough out there is when it’s down right impossible. Assholes abound.
      We just never know the kind of day/week/life the person we are talking to is having at the moment.

      OP, I am so sorry for all this rain in your life. It sucks. May you meet more and more good and kind people very soon. Let us know how it’s going with you and your mom.

      1. Jean*

        Sympathy and a minor threadjack. Glasskey, sorry to hear that your week included the Hit Parade of Glassbowls* (to use Carolyn Hax’s fit-for-a-family-newspaper synonym)!
        Feel free to mutter this phrase if it helps ease the sting of your miserable encounters with these misery-sharing people. And give yourself credit for not responding in any unhelpful, destructive, or murderous way to their obstructionism.

        > The only time it’s not tough out there is when it’s down right impossible. Assholes abound.
        >We just never know the kind of day/week/life the person we are talking to is having at the moment.
        I may write this on a sticky note to post on my mirror beside the one that says “Embrace the imperfection.”

        NSNR’s second sentence reminds us to pass up the self-righteous snark in favor of kindness.

        Again, good advice. But I would add a third sentence about praying for the strength to address the injustice in the moment that it occurs. There’s a difference between resisting immediate gratification (and thus stifling the urge to utter a smart-aleck response, make a rude gesture at the other driver, or reach across the service counter to shake the person by the shoulders) and/or diverting the desire for justice/courtesy /respect (e.g. instead of demanding decent treatment, one chooses the cupcake or slice of layer cake with sweet & gooey frosting or buys the umpteenth frivolous possession). Not that it’s easy to speak up when one is already frazzled and unravelled by the circumstances! It takes time and practice to be able to quell one’s own disregulation and/or that of the other party AND then to speak calmly and clearly. No, I’m not yet an expert at it.

        OP, I hope things get better for you and your family. Good thoughts to the kind man who brought your distraught father a calming cup of tea!

    9. Doriana Gray*

      Man, it sucks you had to go through that. I hope your mom’s okay. And yes, small acts of kindness go a long way in times like this.

  10. overeducated*

    I’m out of inspiration for cooking! I need ideas for vegetable-heavy meals that you can make quickly after work (so not something requiring chopping for 20 minutes and then roasting for 40). I am even eager to find more ways to use frozen veggies because they’re so convenient. What are some of your favorite go-to weeknight meals?

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      I buy frozen chopped onions and frozen chopped mirepoix blend (onions, celery, and carrots) and always have some in the freezer. Fantastic weeknight time saver.

      1. overeducated*

        Where do you get the frozen chopped mirepoix? Don’t think I’ve seen that at Stop & Shop.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          I buy mine at Kroger too (although it’s known as King Soopers in Colorado). It’s in with the other frozen vegetables. I had to really look for it the first time I bought it, but now I know where it is.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I’m so mad they pulled Kroger from here. It’s been replaced with a locally owned chain ironically called Price Cutter, whose prices then shot up. >:(

    2. Violet_04*

      I made cauliflower “fried rice” recently. The recipe is on The Kitchn. Their recipe involves bacon and fresh chopped veggies, but I omit both of those. I shred the cauliflower in my food processor and use frozen mixed veggies.

      You could make a frittata with frozen veggies. I would probably cook the veggies in the microwave first before adding them in.

      Sometimes I’ll spend extra to buy pre-cut veggies. I love butternut squash, but I don’t want to lose a finger trying to cut one up.

      1. Nina*

        Cauliflower rice is amazing. I made cauliflower “bread” from it and it turned out great, even the cheese-less batch I made for my lactose intolerant relative. :) Got the recipe from The Iron You.

        Trader Joe’s used to sell cauliflower rice but it got so popular that it’s been on back order since June of last year! It’s not hard to make the rice yourself, just time consuming. Draining it was a major PITA.

        1. VolunteerCoordinatorinNOVA*

          I just saw it at Wegmans (if anyone has one of those around them!) so I think it’s making its way to other types of stores now!

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      My quickest, easiest meal using frozen vegetables and a rice cooker: cook rice in rice cooker while simultaneously steaming stir-fry veggies in the top and baking salmon fillets in the oven. The salmon and the rice and veggies all get done at the same time, and I toss the veggies with a little soy sauce and sesame oil.

    4. themmases*

      Lazy curry. Buy a jar of Patak’s curry paste in whatever flavor you like, you can put it on anything.

      My favorite is chickpeas, frozen peas, and diced tomatoes. You can dump a can of each and about a cup of peas into a pan and eat as soon as it’s heated through. Buy premade naan and you don’t have to cook rice. My partner and I split it and top with yogurt since the meal is nearly fat free otherwise.

      Black bean soup: can of refried black beans, half can of broth, chili powder, hot sauce. Or make beans for rice and beans by using whole black beans and adding frozen mixed Western veggies (corn and diced peppers and onions). If you are covering leftover rice with something boiling lava hot that you just made, you don’t really even have to heat the rice back up separately.

      Also, just make baked potatoes. They are surprisingly satisfying topped with just yogurt and hot sauce.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Oh, the baked potatoes! If your oven has the proper settings, you can put the potatoes in before leaving for work and set the oven timer to have them done just as you arrive home. A friend does her ‘baked’ potatoes (or sweet potatoes) in the slow cooker. I haven’t tried that yet.

        1. Overeducated*

          I would be scared of burning the house down! My oven is gas and just has your basic knobs, so whatever the settings are, it probably doesn’t have them :)

          1. Paige Turner*

            My mom bakes a dozen and freezes them; then you only have to microwave them for a few minutes (I am not crazy about baked potatoes so I can’t comment on the taste for this method).

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            My oven is electric, and it has a delay start timer. So I set it to start cooking about an hour before I get home, and the potatoes are done shortly after I arrive.

      2. Overeducated*

        Curry is a good idea. Not familiar with Patak’s, but I can find (and like) Thai curry paste and coconut milk. That could be an easy dinner with some frozen veg and tofu, done in the time it takes to make rice. Thanks.

        I also love soupy black beans, I tend to make them in big slow cooked batches and freeze. I like them as soup by my husband prefers them with rice or tacos.

        Not a potato fan but baked sweet potatoes could be a good easy meal. Yogurt and curry spices, or cinnamon and sugar for dessert!

    5. BuildMeUp*

      I do a lot of stir frying as well – you can chop a bunch of veggies if you have time on the weekend and store them in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to use them.

      I tried a stir fry with portobello mushroom caps recently – if you search “Portobello Mushroom Caps and Veggies” it should come up, on All Recipes (their site is down for maintenance right now but you can view the cached page via google). It says it takes 30 minutes total, but only 15 of that is cooking and if you prep the veggies in advance or use smaller veggies that don’t need as much prep, it should just be 15-20 minutes total. I don’t think it took me a full 30 minutes when I made it, even including prep.

    6. LibbyG*

      Quesadilla on a whole wheat tortilla. Season canned black beans with salt, pepper, and gatlic powder. Heat em up. Stir some salsa right into the beans. And a squeeze of lime juice if you have some. I usually cut the quesadilla in wedges and scoop up beans with it. 15 minutes, tops.

      1. Theguvnah*

        I make veggie quesadillas at least two nights a week

        I just use whatever veggies I have – could be fresh spinach, peppers, whatever (always onion) or frozen mixed veggies – with some black beans and a sharp cheddar in whole wheat tortillas.

        Done in under 20, with half of that time being me changing into non work clothes while the veggies cook!

        My other favorite is sautéed chopped brussel sprouts browned In a little butter with a small side of pasta. (Obvious addition of some EVOO and salt pepper garlic). Bliss.

      2. Overeducated*

        Quesadillas are one of the foods I always try to have ingredients for, just in case :)

      1. V dubs*

        I probably make this recipe once a month! Love it. I use diced tomatoes instead of sundried, and I’ll switch up between Jake and spinach.

    7. Yetanotherjennifer*

      This one doesn’t need a recipe. add lots of shredded Sumer squash and a can of chick peas to pasta sauce. You want it thick enough to stand on its own. Serve hot over sliced and fried polenta rounds. Top with a little Parmesan or other cheese. I’m sorry, I’m describing it badly but it is fast and delicious. You will find polenta in the pasta aisle. Would also be good with gnocchi.

    8. Soupspoon McGee*

      Can you eat gnocchi? You can cook them in a large saute pan, wok, or even a large saucepan with broth, frozen veggies, and herbs in about 20 minutes. Add beans, tofu, or other protein of choice. Leftovers are even better.

      Lately, I’ve been making an Asian-style sauce. I use mushroom broth, soy sauce, sugar or agar syrup, chili paste or sriracha, a little lime juice or rice vinegar, ginger, and garlic. Bring that to a low boil, add your most dense veggies (like carrots), then add your more tender veggies and gnocchi. If you like edamame or peas, throw those in for the last five minutes or less. Add any fresh herbs.

      You can vary the sauce quite a bit. Try it with mushrooms, sage and fennel for an earthy, wintery flavor. Try cheese and broccoli with basil. Add tomato paste, spinach, garlic, basil, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, and capers for an Italian sauce. Keep it light and springy with dill, green onions, peas, dressed with parmesan at the end.

    9. NDQ*

      Awhile back, I subscribed to the NY Times cooking email list. I love it. I’ve made a few items, they always turn out great, and if you read the comments, you get some great ideas for substitutions from users. You may get some new ideas there.


    10. No Longer Just a Lurker*

      Black Bean Tacos!
      Mash a can of black beans with some cumin and place a scoop on a corn tortilla along with your cheese of choice (I like the crumbly queso fresco) and cook for about 3 minutes per side. I make a slaw with a bag of cole slaw mix and add some green onion and cilantro, olive oil, salt, pepper and lime juice to taste. Serve the tacos topped with the slaw, sliced avocado, and salsa verde. Usually have roasted corn (just use the frozen kind and throw it on a small sheet pan with some oil , salt & pepper at 350 for about 8-10 minutes) and pineapple with it.

  11. Katie the Fed*

    I just wanted to thank everyone for the long thread last week about marriage. It was really helpful and helped me articulate exactly what was bothering me.

    We’ve come up with a few ideas to make things work a little better. I’ve ceded total control on dinner to him two nights a week – he can cook, take me out, order chinese, whatever, as long as I don’t have to think about it. And then we’re going to try a little meeting on sundays to go over anything that needs to be done during the week and divvy things out.

    1. Snazzy Hat*

      Awesome! I’m glad you were able to make progress. Sounds like you have good plans for making things easier. Best of luck with tomorrow’s meeting!

    2. Liza*

      Katie, I’m so glad! And I’m glad you mentioned it here–I’ve just spent the last several hours reading some of the things that were recommended there.

        1. AFT123*

          Me too! I learned a lot and really loved that thread. I appreciate you bring brave enough to ask the tough questions and get that conversation started.

    3. Jubilance*

      My husband and I do the weekly meetings and I love it! I couldn’t imagine running our home without it.

      Glad to hear you guys have found some solutions!

  12. Mimmy*

    LOVE that video Alison!!

    Regarding my female stuff: I was telling a friend of mine what I’ve been dealing with (screwy cycles), and she’s wondering why my doctor went straight for the ultrasound and biopsy. Apparently, there’s a special blood test to determine if you’re going into peri-menopause. I actually thought about this myself, but trusted my doctor’s judgment.

    So now I’m kicking myself because I had the biopsy on Wednesday and, ho. ly. crap, that hurt like a B****!! What’s worse is that there’s a chance I may have to do it again under anesthesia because I am super-tight *down there*, so she had some difficulty getting the sample. I’ll know sometime this coming week.

    Any thoughts? I appreciate her being diligent, but now I’m wishing I’d insisted on getting a blood test first :/

    FTR: I do like this doctor and her staff very much. She is very highly rated and is experienced.

    1. evilintraining*

      Wow. I’m curious about your age, maybe sort of young for menopause? Other than that, no ideas. I’ve never heard of skipping straight to something so drastic right off the bat.

      1. Mimmy*

        I am 42 years old.

        I think what may’ve triggered the more invasive testing is that I mentioned that my last period (first one in 3 months!) was extra long; first part was my normal pattern, but then I had spotting and icky discharge for a few days after that.

        I’ve actually had that for a few years off and on, and another doctor told me that was normal. Hmm.

    2. Jem*

      I’d ask her about it, especially before having further biopsies. If she’s highly rated and you trust her she probably has a good reason but it’s always a good thing to ask questions about your medical care.

    3. Alma*

      Mimmy, I’m apologizing for not immediately recalling (or maybe not reading) your last week post with the details.

      Was it a “punch biopsy” you had where a piece of your cervix was taken for examination?

      I was in my early 40’s when I had two irregular pap smears (I don’t think they used the word abnormal so as not to scare me. Nice try.).

      My doctor was amazing. She explained the changes one’s reproductive bits go through as we age. It wasn’t unusual, she said to see irregular results due to thinning, and for lack of a better word, atrophy that is part of the joy of aging. Yippee.

      The next step was a “punch biopsy” which would provide a larger piece of stuff to look at, rather than a swab for cells. She told me she would send me home with a pad, in case there was any spotting after the procedure.

      I think I may have gone back on BCP, low dose, to regulate my periods. When I for real began menopause in my early 50’s, I had gone off the pill again – and quickly realized, for the sake of everyone who came in contact with me, looked at me, or drove past me that I needed to even out the hormones and went back on then for a year or so until I had no periods. Another year of no periods was the end of that.

      Ultrasound was probably a good idea too.

      I hope to hear you have clear results. And I hope you hear soon!

      1. Mimmy*

        Nope, this was BEYOND my cervix!! I had what’s called an endometrial biopsy. I’d mentioned that, after my normal period (which was the first in 3 months), I continued to spot for several days after that. She was concerned about polyps, hence the transvaginal ultrasound. That was clear, but she decided to do the endo biopsy just to be sure.

        She was worried that she didn’t get high up enough into the uterus since my cervix is really tight (my tensing up in fear of the cramping was probably not helping either :( )

        I’m hoping I’ll have results by mid-week and will let you guys know in the next weekend thread.

  13. Al Lo*

    I am currently very, very seriously considering my Fug Madness votes right now*, and I think that, rather than the end-of-year “Worst Manager” poll, Alison should do a March Madness tourney of the worst managers of the year.

    *It’s the only March Madness thing I take part in, but I think my favorite meta-madness phenomenon is the “Best Alternative Tournament” March Madness tournament. It’s really hard to Google, but it pitted all the various pop culture tournaments against each other. I can’t remember who it was – maybe Vulture?

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Yes! I love alternative March madness brackets. I did one a few years ago from Garden and Gun magazine, which was to determine the most iconic Southern food ever (shrimp and grits), and I’m currently in one that the Unitarian Universalist Association is doing to determine the most UU thing ever. An AAM one would be awesome!

  14. Al Lo*

    I have a friend from grad school who’s starting an initiative called The Brave Millennial, having conversations with women about their (our) work, relationships, joys, challenges, etc.

    I’m super excited for her, and can’t wait to see where it goes. If you’re in Seattle, New York, Orlando, Toronto, or Dallas, they’re holding events in those cities over the next year. I’m an old millennial, born in ’82, and I think this will be an interesting conversation.

    (I’m going to Seattle for a few days for this – I’m very excited! My husband isn’t coming this time, so it’ll be a fun little solo getaway, and I’ve got absolutely nothing on my plate except for the Brave Millennial event. Other than that, I’m just exploring and enjoying.)

    We talk a lot around here about what should and shouldn’t be attributed to a generation, and what is attributed to personality, but if you’re a woman in your 20s to early-ish 30s, it would be awesome to add your voice to this conversation.

  15. INTP*

    I have kind of a heavy two-parter today. Feel free to just answer the first part and ignore the tl;dr personal part (or vice versa).
    1) Is it considered emotional/verbal abuse when someone does not have frightening outbursts, name-call, scream, curse, etc, but maintains a consistently confrontational, condescending attitude day after day over small things? Examples are speaking in a clearly angry tone, angry sarcasm, criticism, sighing, and eye-rolling over very small things. (Things like someone leaving a light on after leaving the room, needing to use the bathroom on a road trip before he wants to stop, running 5 minutes late from his self-appointed schedule for a non-time-sensitive leisure activity, not wanting to eat at the restaurant of his choosing, cooking a food he doesn’t like the smell of which is any sort of vegetable or allium, etc – things that happen every day.) If it matters, we’re in a culture where families are generally less emotionally expressive, and things like yelling are pretty uncommon. If someone decided to dig their heels in and not let him have his way on certain things, there would definitely be yelling and a heated argument, that just rarely happens. The people who live with him walk on eggshells, hide things from him, and/or just disengage emotionally.

    2) So, the person described above is my stepfather. I moved back in with my parents last year to save for a condo and because my job is flexible but low-paying and I wanted to start up a freelance business on the side (it’s the norm in my industry for people to work freelance, and it’s more lucrative than most in-house positions). I’m 29, and had lived away from home since I left for college except for a few months here and there. I haven’t made much progress with the freelance business because I just wasn’t good at prioritizing it among other craziness, but I am setting deadlines for myself now – however, it can take months for the work to start coming in. If I can stay here through the end of the year, I will have enough savings to purchase my condo and be in a good place financially. If I move out now, I will have to push that back by a few years, and I will be back to living on a shoestring budget, spending up to 50% of my net pay on rent just to find a place suitable for working from home. (I can’t live in a building that is super loud or where people can smoke inside or right under the windows, and if I move I will move to another city because I don’t like this one at all and apartment complexes are not very safe here.) Getting a better paying but less flexible job would mean putting my freelance plans on hold. Financially, it’s the best situation.

    The problem is, living here is dredging up all my childhood issues that I had improved on a lot in ten years out of the house, and bringing up new revelations that I have to work through (i.e. I had seen my mom as just as much of a victim as I was, but now that I’m an adult she will vent to me about his selfishness and tell me she thinks he has a personality disorder – she knew all along that he wasn’t normal but instead of getting away or making him go to therapy or at least acknowledging it, she just convinced me that the reason I had such a hard time with him is that I’m also confrontational and a control freak as well as overly sensitive so we clash – I should add that no one else in my life has called me overly sensitive). After 10 years, I had learned to like people in general after finding out that most of them like me too, and think it’s cool that I’m adventurous and creative instead of just regarding those traits as anxiety-provoking, to and accept my parents for what they were and be okay with the fact that they just won’t be emotionally nurturing people for me, but now I’m angry at them all over again. It’s especially hard this week because my little brother is in town for Spring Break, and my stepdad will enthusiastically take him to places where he wants to eat and watch movies he wants to watch because they share the same tastes, but I had to do all that stuff by myself because we don’t have the same taste in food/movies/TV/anything.

    I just don’t know what to do. I’ll feel fine for a week, and then very upset for a few days. I don’t want to give up my financial goals over a few months of angst, and I also think that something might be going on with me medically that I will need to stabilize, so I may need to be around the same doctors for a few months and it may cost a lot of money (as it was, with several insurance changes in the past year I couldn’t get in to a doctor until late May). At the same time, it’s not emotionally healthy for me to be here. I don’t like that I am doing things like meekly apologizing for needing to use the restroom in the car or hiding in my room because I am too tired to make up a lie about why I am crying. I’m basically stuck between giving up one dream (condo ownership or self employment) or another 9-ish months in an emotionally unhealthy environment.

    Any advice or thoughts? What would you do?

    1. Lizabeth*

      Several things jumped out at me…
      1. Your health should come first, see a doc, get back on track and perhaps see a therapist to get some new tools to deal with your stepfather and mom. You can’t change the way people behave, you can only change the way you react to them.
      2. Returning home as an adult is hard, hard, hard for any reason.
      3. Set up daily goals for getting the freelance going.
      4. While owning a home is a good thing; should it be a priority right now?
      5. What would Alison say if what you describe was your work environment?
      Food for thought and a hug.

    2. Lizh*

      Personally, I would look to get out immediately. What you are describing is abuse. It may take you longer to get a place of your own, but the stress you are subjected to now is not worth it. You have options. Have you thought about maybe renting a basement or room from an elderly person who does want to leave their home, but may need help around the house? Maybe you could trade helping with household chores for lesser rent in a quiet community.
      He is not going to change, neither is your mom. Ask your friends, maybe they know someone who is looking for a room mate and live in a quiet neighborhood. If you have any colleges nearby see if they have any housing options that migh meet your needs. You may have to wait a little longer to get your own place, but you want to be able to enjoy it. Buying a place can be very stressful, and if you are already stressed out, it may just add to it.
      Good luck, and please give us an update. I wish you the best in this situation.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      You need to disengage or get out. You can’t change step dad and it is his house.
      I would suggest finding multiple roommates (that has its own set of problems) and move out. I’d stick to your city and job for now even if you don’t like it. Personally, I think you have too many big goals going on at the same time which is making you stress like crazy. Your rigidness over the condo timeline is adding pressure.
      You are not giving up your financial goals if you modify them in the light of new data. It’s clear you shouldn’t stay with step Dad so defer the house by a year or two. There will be plenty on the market then. Really.

    4. Dan*

      I’m sorry you are going through that. TBH, this was rather TL;DR for me.

      I understand that when people ask “what would you do?” that they’re looking for different ways of thinking about a situation. It’s easy enough when there is an “obvious” right answer that you’re just not seeing. But, most of the time, I always want to respond to these kinds of questions with “it’s your life, not ours, you know yourself better than we do, and you have to do what’s best for you.” The reality is, different people place different weights on different things. Me? I rent in a high COL area; owning something (particularly a condo) isn’t high on my list. I mean, I’ll consider buying when the numbers make sense, but if they don’t, I’m fine renting. Employment wise, my job is very good and I have absolutely no desire to become self employed.

      I’ve chosen emotional happiness over financial security, and in some ways, I’m behind the curve. (Living alone in a high COL area means lots of what I would have saved towards a down payment goes to rent.) Maybe I could have bought at 35 instead of 40. Or even 30. But I live my life in a way that makes me happy, so I don’t care that much. Your priorities are different; I can’t tell you what to do. I just know for me, that if I have choices that allow me to take less of people’s shit, those are the ones I pick. Even if it means I rent and have a W2 job.

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      1) Yes, that is abuse. Absolutely.

      As for what you can do about it: pretty much nothing. I mean, he’s a jerk. He’s been one all the time and he’s not going to change. Anyone trapped (or feeling trapped) in a situation where they were stuck around someone who behaved that way would find their self-esteem being eroded away in bits and pieces. The only thing you can do is learn how to let go of your expectations. It’s not his behaviour that’s causing you pain, it’s that your expectations of how a normal person should act are not being met. You’ve had 10 years where you’ve unlearned most of the unhealthy crap that you were brought up on and you’re a healthier person as a result. You can’t stand being around someone who is toxic any more and you realise that it’s him, not you. Your mother has mostly released her expectations, but not her resentment, and is using you as a toxic dumping ground to fob off her own shit for a time. So, if you can accept him as he is, that he will never change, that he will always treat you this way because you’re not male/”his” child/you remind him of a person he doesn’t like/other undefinable reason and that is all about him — not you, then you can start to train yourself to not be hurt when he’s being himself. If you’re on a car trip and you have to go to the bathroom, him rolling his eyes is not your problem. He has a choice, pull over or deal with a pee-stained seat. Him rolling his eyes and sucking in his breath and sighing isn’t going to magically empty your bladder. That your mother — for whatever reason(s) — has chosen to remain with him and she will never be on your side (which is the suckiest part) then you can let go of the hope that This Time, Things Will Be Different. I mean, if this guy was someone you met at a coffee shop or worked in your office, you’d be thrilled to never have to speak to them again. You wouldn’t be upset that he was a jerk, because he didn’t matter to you. It’s harder when it’s your parents or parental figures. It’s one of the worst clubs there is to belong to, the My Parents Suck and Will Never Change Club.

      As for your second problem: it’s nine months. If it is truly intolerable and you can’t stand another minute, could you split the difference and find a roommate? It might set your buying plan back, so you have to decide how much it is worth to get the hell out. Can you arrange to not be home as much? Work in a library or coffee shop? While it is an expense, you might be able to find a co-working space that is reasonable. Out of sight is out of mind, as they say. In situations like these, I tend to think of Harry Potter when he had to be present for one of “Aunt” Marge’s visits and how he was trying to think about his broom-polishing kit to get through her abuse. Can your future condo be your broom-polishing kit? Or maybe the way you want to decorate it, using a vision board? Can you put a calendar somewhere (like under your bed where no one will see it and get offended) and cross off each day to remind yourself that it will all end soon? Can you make a point to have low-cost activities with positive people to give yourself an outlet?

    6. fposte*

      INTP–wow, that sucks. On #1, I’d say it doesn’t matter whether somebody calls the behavior abusive or not–the question is whether you feel it’s damaging you or not. I guess the rough math would be how bad you feel there x 9 months vs. how you’d feel about not having the condo or the business and living tight to save up x [3 years or whatever]. That being said, I wouldn’t live in a situation like that just to save up to buy instead of rent. You can rent your whole life and it’s fine, and it’s likely to be cheaper than owning. (And a condo isn’t proof against noisy or smoking neighbors either, unfortunately.) And since it sounds like you feel you could pretty easily get a job that wouldn’t put you in financial straits, I’d go for that and collect more connections for a couple of years.

      The one thing that would slow me down a little is the medical stuff, but usually doctors know somebody they could transfer you to in a new town mid-treatment, so that might not be the bar it feels like. It might be worth talking to your doctors about this possibility (not “should I or shouldn’t I?” but “if I do, how would that go and do you know anybody?”).

      So my vote, as you’ve probably guessed, leans toward leaving. I know some people feel they have to stick a situation like this out because they feel like they should be able to tolerate the situation, but it’s okay not to be able to tolerate it, and while it’s good to think of your life later, right now is your life too.

    7. AcidMeflux*

      Being self-employed AND saving to buy a home, for a young self-starter or even a more experienced person, is a lot and probably too much at the same time. Living on your own may be rough but how productive as a worker can you be when someone is making you miserable every day? Get gone and see how much better you feel when the troll is off your back.

    8. Christy*

      I would move out ASAP. What’s the real harm in renting for a few more years?

      What would you regret more–continuing to live with your emotionally abusive stepfather or buying a condo at 33 instead of 30? If it were me, it would be a no-brainier.

    9. BuildMeUp*

      I don’t want to tell you that you should definitely move out or definitely try to stick it out – I think that is something that you ultimately need to decide on your own. Is dealing with your stepdad for the rest of the year worth it, if you get to buy the condo you want in the end? If your freelance work doesn’t pick up the way you expect it to, will you need to extend your stay longer?

      I highly, highly recommend checking out the archives at Captain Awkward, and possibly sending this in as a question to be answered. CA is really great with advice on dealing with difficult and emotionally abusive family members. There’s a lot in the archives that I think would help you, especially if you do decide to stay through the end of the year.

      Are you able to see a therapist with the insurance you’re currently on? If you are, in addition to seeing your doctor for the medical reasons you mentioned, I think it would be good for you to start seeing a therapist regularly. Especially when you’re living in a house with someone like that, it can be difficult to really recognize how toxic and abnormal your stepdad’s behavior is. You can see it now because you spent time away from home for a while, but the longer you spend there, the more “normal” it might seem. A therapist can give you a little bit of objectivity and coping mechanisms, whether you decide to stay or not.

    10. Cristina in England*

      I’m sure someone will have beat me to it, but captainawkward.com has excellent resources (search the archives) about coping in situations like these. She typically will recommend having a survival mode/escape plan that minimizes the daily friction until you can get out. Good luck. And yes, that is abusive.

    11. NicoleK*

      I would treat this situation the same way I would treat a toxic job. It’s not worth my health to save a couple of $$$.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      If you move out. my bet would be that your health will improve. Yeah, this is like saying, “Go ahead, jump the Grand Canyon, you’ll make it, it will be okay.” It’s a huge leap in faith, counter-intuitive and all that.

      Yes, it is easy to regress back to former states of mind, no matter how long you have been away. The dynamics are still in place and the toxins are still there. You know, if you haven’t got your mind in a healthy place everything else is vulnerable to falling like dominoes. This means everything including your health, your savings, your plans and your dreams.

      If a friend said to you, “I have decided to live in an outhouse to save money for a condo.” What would you tell them? You’d probably start talking about how unsafe an idea this is for your friend. And you’d describe all the ways it was unsafe.
      Granted, you have a house not an outhouse. But this is such a polluted place that it is not safe for you. Frankly, it’s not safe for anyone- but I won’t digress.

      You have a couple of ways of telling us that you have a clever/kickin’ attitude or way about you. This is an asset. Use that clever/kickin’ attitude to get yourself out of there and find new paths for the same goals. If you look for those new paths, you will find them. The paths are there. And no, it will not be as hard or as scary as jumping the Grand Canyon. Once you are out, decide to stay out forever.

      PS. Yes, those are abusive behaviors. Please google bullying behaviors. You will find a few familiar behaviors on that list.

    13. TootsNYC*

      If you decide not to move, can you simply greatly minimize any interaction?
      Regard them as roommates, not as family. I don’t go on road trips w/ my roommates, and I don’t go to the movies with them. (well, when I had them)

      Don’t go on road trips at all. Never leave the house w/ them, esp. him, for any any reason at all. Not even a run to the grocery store.
      Spend your time in your bedroom with the door closed. Be vague and pleasant when you do come out.
      Make and eat your own meals at a slightly different time–and eat in your bedroom. In fact, move stuff around if you can so it’s more like a little studio apartment.

    14. Sunflower*

      You have a lot of big goals. I think you need to decide which is the most important to you and go from there. Living with my parents was hard and I was financially strapped. I got to a point where I said I would work 3 jobs if it meant not having to live with them anymore. I would have saved a lot of money had I stayed living with them but who knows what my emotional state would have been like. And if your emotional state is in the crapper then are you really producing your best work anyway?

      Kind of like what Dan says, everyone has different goals so I don’t know how much weight you put in yours. Home ownership has never been a goal of mine so I don’t see the big deal in renting for a few more years but it might be a big deal to you. I also have no desire to be self-employed.

      I would probably try to find a friend or family member I get along with and see if I could live in a spare room for super cheap. That seems like the best way to get where you want to go the fastest but if that’s not possible then I’d go for putting home ownership on the back burner and worrying about your freelance career.

    15. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      What worked for me:
      -Getting a full-time job asap (no matter what it is, for several months).
      -Then, network a ton and get a telework-friendly job so you can do freelancing on the side (my friend does this and self-markets because she can afford to–she was a teen mom decades ago who rose above difficulties to be amazingly successful).

      For money:
      -I took money out of the atm, $20 at a time.
      -If you don’t have money, type up a Microsoft Word printout of your skills, and tutor people for $x/hour, even if one or 2 days out of the week.
      -Repeat step 1 ($20) until you have $300.
      -Go to your local bank and open a savings account for $300.
      -Insert more money you make.
      -When you reach close to $2000, open a checking account. (The lady who helped me called later for feedback on her performance–I told her how my mom previously used to remove 49% of each month’s paycheck–the lady was horrified!)
      -Do direct deposit on the checking account
      -When you have enough for a deposit+rent or buying a place/whatever works asap, move out asap.

      (I did all of the above steps after living with my parents for a couple months. After my mom locked me out of the house at 26 yo, yelled at me because I was her target practice, and drove me mad, I moved out asap and haven’t looked back).

      Now, I have a lovely charming apartment, a beautiful view of the city, a lot of books I got for limited price used, an antique or 2 I got for free from a friend who moved. Plus flowers from the bf.

      Life can be very beautiful on the other side…..if only you have the courage to make the first move.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        …not to say I still don’t struggle. Because I do–at times. But I have online therapy, amazing friends, my bank knows the crazy that is my mom, my bf provides moral support, and AAM is here.

        It gets less into your head–the negativity–once you move 45 minutes/more away and are far away from the crazy. Even if its weekends of crazy, its not every minute of every day-type crazy. It gets better.

  16. themmases*

    Not sure if I need advice or just to vent about family/wedding stuff.

    My beloved grandfather died last fall at home after an illness that went on longer than we all wanted. In one semester I traveled halfway across the country twice to help take care of him and once for the funeral. My whole family has never gotten along well with his partner of 13 years but she took awesome care of him and it felt like we really patched things up at that time.

    She was terrible at the funeral and has been ever since. She has been very judgemental about our relationship with my grandfather which is just very hard when you’re losing someone regardless of the source of the judgment. She made us all go through the house the day before to pick which of his things we wanted and then nagged us the whole visit about boxing, labeling, etc. the personal possessions of the loved one we hadn’t even buried yet. She came up to my mom literally at the funeral to give her a deadline to hire movers. She accused us of stealing when one of her sons borrowed some tools. The estate still is not settled because she will sell things she can’t prove belong to her and demand money from my family (she has a lot of her own and she and my grandfather made a conscious decision to keep their money separate for their own families). When she doesn’t get her way she calls my mom and yells at her. She threatens to not come to my wedding as a way of disowning us basically.

    My mom is really torn about whether to invite this person because tying up the estate will keep them in contact for a while. Of course, no one wants to see her. I’m grateful for the care she gave my grandfather but I have living relatives to give my loyalty to now. This day is special to my parents too and I want them to be able to just enjoy themselves without this painful situation. I think my mom will probably be blamed if an invitation is not forthcoming. Since this person has such a short fuse I suggested that I invite her and then my mom try to offend her… Shouldn’t be too hard. But I feel bad about the whole thing.

    1. AnotherTeacher*

      I can’t tell from the last paragraph if it’s you or your mom who can’t decide whether to invite your grandfather’s partner to your wedding. Either way – and please don’t take this the wrong way (it’s typed with a concerned tone) – why are you even thinking of inviting her? It doesn’t sound like inviting her, or not, will change anything. From my own, my partner’s, and many friends’ experiences, I’ve never seen people make amends with someone who acts like this.

      1. themmases*

        It’s no problem! Just trying to condense the drama. :)

        When things were going well she asked if she could still come and I said yes. And after these outbursts at my mom, she will often call or email and apologize and at those times she will often say she is looking forward to being there.

        My wedding is pretty small and casual but she (I’ll call her Mean Jane, haha) clearly thinks it’s a more formal thing where my mom has a lot of input and an invitation is as much from my mom as from me. Due to the way my grandfather left some things, my mom will have to have some level of contact for a while yet and is hesitant to make it harder by snubbing Jane.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      Your relationship was with your grandfather. You have no obligation to invite her to the wedding.

    3. Jean*

      Years ago I heard of a company called Friend of the Family that hired out people to keep the peace at social functions. The hired peacekeepers were told to identify themselves as “a friend of the family” if anyone asked who they were.

      If through whatever circumstances it becomes clear that your grandfather’s partner (GP) is going to attend your wedding, I recommend that you follow a similar plan. Quietly designate two people who are utterly reliable, unflappable, socially adept, and tactically brilliant to be GP’s Undercover Chaperones (UCs). Don’t pick anyone who is going to have any other wedding-related responsibilities (e.g standing with you during the marriage ceremony, keeping track of rings or other ceremonial items, making a toast)! Your designated UCs need to be sufficiently sociable to be able to sustain chit-chat with GP and also sufficiently iron-willed to do anything at any time to quell a potential disruption, including quietly but firmly grabbing both of GP’s upper arms, removing her from the scene, and detaining her somewhere where she cannot be heard if she refuses to be civil.

      Hopefully nothing will happen except that GP may wonder why those two particular people are hovering near her at all times. If she’s susceptible to flattery, you can tell GP that “they found you absolutely fascinating.”

      I am probably going to need to repent of this advice in this life or the next one, but it’s worth it if it helps you (or anyone else) have a wedding without a ruckus!

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        I would totally love to do something like this. I am a pro at people-wrangling haha!

        But also, yes. Find good friends who either already know, or who you can be candid with. Tell them to treat her like a child who needs babysitting, and watch her like a hawk.

    4. BuildMeUp*

      I’m so sorry about your grandfather.

      I can’t tell if the current issues you’re having with Partner are the same issues that caused your family to not get along with her in the past. If these are new issues since your grandfather passed away, it does sound like she might be grieving badly and taking it out on other people. That doesn’t make her actions okay, but it might leave open the possibility of reconciling later.

      Either way, I don’t think you’re obligated to invite her to the wedding. I do think if you definitely don’t want her to come, someone is going to have to explain that to her, because it sounds like she’s assuming she’s invited. You (or your mom) can say that because your ceremony is very small/there are space constraints at the venue, you’re not able to invite everyone.

      If you decide to invite her, I second Jean’s recommendation. Your wedding day is not a day that you want you (or your mom) to be worrying about or babysitting Partner. Designating people you trust to deal with her will leave you free to enjoy your day. Captain Awkward has posted about this before – try searching the site archives for “wedding” and you should be able to find it.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I’d think about inviting her. Not because I felt I had to, but as an olive branch of sorts. And I would also plan that she won’t show up. I honestly believe that you can go ahead and invite her and she will not show. She’d have to spend money on a present which probably won’t happen.

      This could give you a little bit of an upper hand on a situation that seems out of control. “Well, we are including you, we invited you to the wedding… blah, blah, blah.”

      I’d invite her. Line up 3-4 discreet people to watch her, and then not be surprised when she does not show. I would expect her to tell me repeatedly that she is coming and then cancel the last day or just not show. Frankly, your wedding would take too much time out of her agenda that she is running. And she would not be the center of attention.

      I had a situation at my wedding. I invited Sue and Jane. These are two people who DO NOT get along, to the point that they cannot even be in the same COUNTY with each other. Jane, by far the more vocal of the two, said she would come. Surprise! On my wedding day she was not there. “Well you should have known if you invited Sue I would not come.” No, I assumed I was talking to a fellow adult, you said you were coming so I assumed that meant you were coming, oh well.
      Squelch the drama by insisting everyone have adult-like behavior. It’s a wedding, for pete’s sake. “Put aside your differences and celebrate a couple’s life time commitment to each other.” jeepers.

      1. Overeducated*

        I agree with this. Unless you think she is likely to show up and actually make a scene, your lives will probably be quieter and less dramatic if you do invite her. She’s said she looks forward to it and your mom is worried about the appearance of snubbing: if you invite her, you won’t give her a reason to freak out, and if she doesn’t come, it’s no skin off your back.

        Similar story at my wedding. My mom insisted we invite an entire side of her family, including someone we all hadn’t spoken to since she said awful things after my grandfather’s death, as well as a couple others I haven’t seen in decades and am not close to. She said not inviting these people would be world war 3 in the extended family, but none of them would come anyway. I argued because venue space limitations meant inviting them would require excluding others we wanted there…but my mom was right. None of them came. The olive branch was extended at no cost.

        1. AnotherTeacher*

          I see where the above (both) advice is coming from and agree that it’s better to be peaceful and mature. If themmases invites Mean Jane, though, they need to imagine what will happen if she shows up. We had a similar situation to Overeducated’s in my partner’s family. Awful people were invited to a wedding because the bride thought it would be a way to make amends. Awful people, including one who is afraid to fly, came as an f.u. to the other members of the family, who were visibly miserable.

          A wedding is an important day, but it’s still a day. If Mean Jane isn’t behaving well now, it’s unlikely she’s going to tighten up because she’s at a wedding. I’m sure all of us have stories of people acting worse at weddings, especially if they’re drinking. Perhaps I’ve seen too much bad wedding behavior, so my take on this is heavily skewed towards only inviting those you sincerely want to be with you. Of course, themmases has already verbally extended an invitation, so it may be too hard not to follow through at this point.

    6. TootsNYC*

      “She threatens to not come to my wedding as a way of disowning us basically.”

      Invite her, and then have someone piss her off so she boycotts. You guys get to say, “but we invited you,” but you don’t have to put up with her.

      Also, get your mom to start having all communication about the estate go through a lawyer somehow.

      Or, don’t invite her and tell her it turned out to be a VERY small wedding.

  17. Cath in Canada*

    I need some good (and not too pricy) group costume ideas!

    The background is that I went to my first Rugby Sevens tournament last week with a big group of fellow ex-pats, and had a blast! Between us, we’ve been to hundreds of regular (15-a-side) rugby games, but none of us have ever been to a 7-a-side tournament. All of us – including the guy who’s travelled to three world cups – were therefore unprepared for the fact that group costumes are a really big deal in the sevens world. We felt seriously underdressed on the Saturday, even though my friend and I each brought three different rugby shirts (me: England Canada Scotland; him: Scotland Canada France) and were constantly changing depending on who was playing next (games only last 16 minutes, and the tournament ran 9:30 am – 7 pm both days, so this was a lot of changing). Someone who had to leave early that day stopped by a party store and bought a batch of matching silly clown hats and bow ties, which we wore on the Sunday, but we need to do better next year.

    So, any ideas?

    1. Elkay*

      Walking through Waterloo on a Rugby Sevens day I saw loads of costumes. One guy dressed as a Crayola box and all the people he was with were dressed as crayons. Other groups were dressed as astronauts and cowboys/girls, don’t some tournaments have themes?

    2. Colette*

      Think garbage bags -you can cut arm holes and a neck hole so you can wear them. Black garbage bag with white cotton balls – sheep. Yellow bag with black duct tape – bee. Orange bag with black duct tape – Fred Flintstone.

    3. TootsNYC*

      I know you’ve already decided to participate, but if you had decided not to, I’d reassure you by saying:

      All performers need an appreciative audience.

      Being the plain-clothes folks who marvel at and admire everybody else’s costumes is a legitimate way to participate in something like that.

  18. Amber Rose*

    Weird thing: I bought new glasses a couple weeks ago and they’re in, but they accidentally made two sets of lenses. They say they’ll give me the lenses free if I buy frames.

    Frames are about $200. My lenses cost four times that (my eyes are the worst). But I’m hesitant to spend hundreds on a second pair of glasses that I don’t really need. It feels wasteful either way.

    I don’t know what I should do. Also, any glasses wearing folk: do they still treat lenses to make them shaded? Maybe if I could turn them into sunglasses it would feel better.

    1. Al Lo*

      I would imagine, but I’m not 100% sure, that the tinted lenses would be done when the lenses were made, not afterward. I can’t speak to your budget, but I will say that the one time I splurged and had 2 pairs of glasses, I loved it. I got two very different frames, and I loved being able to switch them or line any other accessory, depending on what I was wearing.

      I’ve since gotten LASIK, and I also wore contacts at the time, but that was my last glasses purchase before the surgery.

      In my case, I got them from Clearly Contacts, so it was quite inexpensive, even with my crazy strong prescription. Still, getting the lenses for free sounds like an awesome deal, and a great chance to have a) a backup pair, and b) some fun with the look of your frames.

      1. junipergreen*

        Al Lo – debating getting Lasik – are you happy with your results? I developed chronic dry eyes this year and can’t comfortably wear contacts anymore.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      If your eyes are really bad it might be nice to have a spare set of glasses just in case you break the first pair.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        When they were running a BOGO on glasses, I got sunglasses as my second set. I don’t believe they were coated, it seemed the whole lens was coloured. And I got LASIK so now I just have to worry about reading glasses.

        However, when I did have glasses, I remember thinking that if something ever happened to my glasses, like I was in an accident, I would be legally blind and helpless until I could get a new pair. I also think a second pair might be useful, a more dressy version for going out or something like that as an example. Otherwise, there are organisations that take old glasses and send them to underdeveloped countries. Perhaps you could donate those lenses?

      2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Oh my gosh, yes. I have terrible, terrible vision, and although I wear contacts now, I have backup contacts and glasses. If I wore only glasses and had only one pair, if they broke, I would be incapable of even driving myself to go pick up another pair. I wouldn’t be able to do anything unless it was eight inches from my face. I’m a huge stickler for always having backups for vision care.

    3. super anon*

      Until I got my new prescription I had 3 pairs of glasses. My sight isn’t that bad, so often I find I’ll forget to wear my glasses when I leave the house and then be driving and realize everything is blurry. I would keep a pair in my car, a pair in my house, and a pair in my office so I would never be sans glasses. I also did the same thing with sunglasses.

      So, I’m team “get another set of glasses” – but I like to have backups of things anyway because I’m horribly clumsy and forgetful.

    4. BuildMeUp*

      I would say it depends on how fast your vision changes. I have really bad vision but have had the same prescription for about 5 years now, so my glasses have lasted me for a while. If your prescription isn’t likely to change in the next few years, it might be worth it. But if you’ll need to get a new set of lenses next year, I don’t think you should pay extra now.

      Also, even though it feels like you’re getting something for free, keep in mind that depending on your prescription, they might not be able to sell/use the lenses if they don’t give them to you, so you might be able to negotiate a deal on the second set of frames.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      My husband had a pair of glasses with a rose tint which cut down on the glare. I think they put tint on after they cut the lens to specs, so this might work for you. Or maybe you can use them as computer glasses if that appeals to you– I think that is also a tint.
      The other thing to consider is how long do glasses usually last you? If the frame does not go out of style (i.e. they still make blanks for that frame) you could probably get your next script in the spare frames to recoup some of that $200.

      Call and ask. I would expect to pay for the tint plus the frames.

    6. Mkb*

      Can you buy frames from somewhere else cheaper and still get the lenses? Frames have really gone down in price the last few years with the introduction of places like warbyparker

    7. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Their mistake is not your problem to solve. If a second set of frames is a financial stretch for you then you shouldn’t do it. And if lenses are expensive for you, do you think you can afford updating both sets of glasses each time your prescription changes or would this be a one-time-thing? How often does your prescription change? $200 is a lot to spend for a one time thing. And what is your off-set to afford this? What won’t you be spending money on to buy these frames?

      I have a set of prescription sunglasses and I love them but they are a pain. Great for driving long distances but on errand day I’m constantly switching between pairs and half the time I wear the wrong pair inside.

    8. Persephone Mulberry*

      My husband is a retail optical lab manager – he makes glasses for a living. He says it is so unlikely that a lab would make an exact duplicate set of lenses by mistake that he bets dollars to donuts that the “extra” lenses don’t actually exist and that the shop is trying to pull one over on you. (Unless you’ve personally held them up to your face and looked through them, in which case he apologizes for doubting the integrity of your shop.)

          1. NacSacJack*

            Where? Both my local optical shop as well as a major retailer trying to become a super store had frames ranging from $250-$500. It seems the money is not made in the lenses anymore. I have a question on W-Parker. How do you get lenses for frames you buy off the internet?

            1. Nye*

              I have W-P glasses, and have been very happy with them. They make the lenses after you pick a frame style (they’ll send 5 “empty” frames for you to check out). They just need you to send them a prescription. I got an eye exam at LensCrafters and then went to W-P for nicer, less expensive glasses.

    9. Treena*

      Agreed that it could very well be a scam. Definitely go in and see the lenses first before putting any more money in. That said, if you don’t have a spare pair of glasses, I strongly urge you to get a pair.

      I had always kept my older pair of glasses because that’s what you “should” do, but it was a pain in the bum to keep them around/keep track of them since I move all the time. Just last week, I lost my glasses after my first fall while trying stand up paddleboarding (not terribly difficult, but it’s not that fun for me). I’ve dived into lakes, pools, oceans with glasses and it hadn’t been an issue in all my 15-20 years of wearing glasses. I just happened to have my spare glasses in a suitcase in the car (we were on a between-apartments vacation) and was SO HAPPY I hadn’t put the spares in the stuff getting moved by the pros. I would have been practically blind, unable to drive, have to wait for a new pair, etc.

      1. the gold digger*

        stand up paddleboarding

        That is the exact reason I stayed on my butt when my husband and I went paddleboarding on vacation! I was terrified of losing my prescription bifocal (hence more expensive) sunglasses. When we went kayaking last summer, I improvised an ugly glasses holder with a chain of rubber bands. I was not interested in diving into (freezing)(and deep) Lake Superior to try to retrieve them.

        Maybe I should get some official holders. Or – better – not let myself get talked into sporty activities I never wanted to do in the first place. :)

  19. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    So, since my dad called and I refused to apologize, no weekly phone call. Easter is next week, (ugh, family time).

    Besides that, all I feel is irateness. I guess its that my mom can’t be a normal human being that is nice to others (besides putting up a Martha Stewart perfect family image to her coworkers). So I’m taking a breather, watching a movie, relaxing, and ixnaying on the phone.

    And a week ago…
    My mom said she wanted to get to know bf more (HAHA. All she did before was demand I get fixed up with a doctor–even though bf/I are together–how he wasn’t a lawyer/dr/rich). She insulted his looks/his parentage (telling me all divorced folk are bitter/poor). I said she was the bitter person, not them. I told her that his mom was on superb terms with me–that my mom was missing out on so much.

    So–what now? I might just wait till Easter to say happy Easter, but I can’t be in the same room as her, can’t stand her voice, and I just. I guess it hit me just how atrocious her behavior has been. I told her so a week ago which precipitated her crying. She literally disgusts me, and now all I feel is apathy and weirdness. I know she won’t change. Can’t change.

    Has anyone ever had a family member be so atrocious like this? Any happy/sad/meh outcomes? What happened?

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I have a sister with BPD. Cards and texts are wonderful low contact solutions.
      I’m in low to no contact. There is nothing wrong with taking a time out when you are emotionally exhausted.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Thanks….that’s what the bf suggested too.

        Akin to an earlier thread, I feel like Harry Potter confronting Aunt Marge and I can’t control my temper around her once provoked.

        My bf’s annoyed at my mom at this point (and his mom knows how crazy my mom is), and now my bf’s annoyed at my dad because my dad’s (really) passive and doesn’t stand up to my mom. My dad never really stands up to anyone because he’s got such a mellow personality.

        When my dad asked me to apologize “just because she’s the way she is” I countered with how, if you poke an injured puppy, the puppy won’t lie still–it’ll bite back if provoked enough. I kind of feel like Amanda the protagonist from Revenge tv show meets V for Vendetta.

        How do I shake this rageyness? I’m still working on that :/

        1. Engineer Girl*

          Rage is a normal part of realizing you have been mistreated. I would now ask you to move on to grief and acceptance of what can never be. The parents won’t change until they want to. Feel sad that you can’t have that contact. Feel sad that they are ruining their own lives. And then learn to forgive. When you have forgiven them you’ve taken that last step to disconnect from them emotionally. They can no longer control your emotions. Forgiveness does not mean that what they did was right. It means you’ve gone through the grieving process and moved on.
          On anger – you keep getting angry because you keep expecting them to act rightly. Stop that!! View this as them having a disability like blindness. It ain’t changing short of a miracle.
          Do not confront. Move on instead. It isn’t your job to cure them. As long as you engage you stay emotionally subservient to them.

          1. TootsNYC*

            On anger – you keep getting angry because you keep expecting them to act rightly. Stop that!! View this as them having a disability like blindness. It ain’t changing short of a miracle.
            Do not confront. Move on instead. It isn’t your job to cure them.

            This is so true.

            Not that it’s easy to do…

            But you need to give up the expectation that they will change, that it will be different.

            That is the source of this pain, your anger, etc.

            you are doing, in a way, exactly what your mom is doing. You want her to have reactions that make YOU happy. Let her be the way she is, and disengage when it’s too much for you.

            Having VERY little contact is good for this. This silence, leading up to Easter? Very good for you. Get used to it.

        2. Engineer Girl*

          BTW being kind in spite of things puts you in the power seat. Let your actions be without meanness.
          Honor your father and mother even though their behavior doesn’t merit it. Speak kindly to them. Say no in love (this gets infinitely easier the more you practice it and the more you disengage emotionally).
          I really enjoyed the book “Boundaries” by Townsend and Cloud. I also found the book “Crucial Conversations” to be very helpful with wording and thought processes.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            Also – honoring your parents has nothing to do with who they are and everything to do with who you are – a person that respects others.

            1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

              I agree–to a certain extent. That day, I cleaned out the fridge and the pantry at their house, wiped it, cleaned it of rotted fruit, outdated yogurt, rearranged things. Then my mom flipped out on me while sitting on the couch feet away bc I told church folks I’d been dating the bf 2 years. Aka: why’d you tell them that?! I’m trying to push/fix you up with doctor folks at work (who she’s been pressuring to fix up with me).

              …Then the whole thing blew up. I mean, I spent that afternoon slaving away (I’m semi-vegetarian and allshe had were meat) so I was starving and had to skip lunch then my mom blew up that I was still dating bf of 2 years.

              She’s a spoiled brat who got everything she ever asked for and uses it as an excuse to trample on others. Luckily, my dad’s problem now, not mine.

              1. Engineer Girl*

                Ah it looks like you had expectations that if you treated her nicely she would reciprocate. If you are going to do things like it you need to consider it a gift. If she trashes it then it doesn’t matter – it was a gift.
                To the question why did you tell others that your answer would be: “That’s how long we’ve been dating, Mom”. No emotion. And when she replies that she’s trying to fix you up just say “please don’t”.
                You really need to ignore the implied conversation and only respond to the actual one. It takes away a lot of her power.

        3. Anon for this*

          People here have recommended therapy to you a lot in response to this kind of question. Are you considering it?

          1. YaH*

            THIS. Alison doesn’t want us to be armchair psychiatrists and diagnose others, and it’s equally inappropriate that any of us are being asked every single week by the same person to act as armchair therapists. It’s unfair and unkind of the OP, and it’s time for a real-life, in-person therapist. Full stop.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Honestly, I am not a psychotherapist and I don’t play one on TV but your mother sounds like a Narcissist, only valuing the surface/appearance of things and what she gets out of the things around her, rather than what she gives. If you haven’t read any of Raised By Narcissists on Reddit — which I know has been recommended to you before — do it. Beyond Easter, there’s Mother’s Day and that unleashes a torrent of “stuff” there, which will also be something that you will have to deal with. I think you would find it enlightening, educational and also somewhat depressing. You would also find that you are not alone in having this problem.

      As Engineer Girl said, cards are a nice low-contact solution. You can pick the stupidest flowery card full of things you don’t really feel or just “wishing you a Happy Easter” and put it in the mail. You could send her some flowers with a note, as well. You don’t “have” to be with your family for Easter or any other celebration unless you want to.

      I would definitely recommend that you talk to your boyfriend about long-term plans. Such as, would he be interested in moving to a different area/further away? Would you? Because it’s easier to avoid toxic family when you’re physically distant from them. Of course, if your mother has enough money, you may find that they pick up and follow, too.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*


        I have looked at RaisedbyNarcissists but its kind of a trigger too so I read it only if absolutely needed.

        We’ve the bf and I, talked. We’re interested in moving to the Carolinas potentially. Closer down south.

        The mom knows that all the family’s on the West coast and is trying to convince me to go there. She even tried to order me to have my (future, not even planned) wedding in Hawaii. I laughed in her face and said no way. Maybe a vow renewal but that’d be stretching it.

        (Sidenote: I know this probably makes me out to look like a mean daughter, but I’m actually not. I’ve just reached my breaking point with her and I’m done with her BS. That, plus I have enough savings to live on, and I live on my own unlike 2 years ago when she made my life loads more miserable. I mean, I had to withdraw $20’s out of atms until I could afford to start my own savings acct, then months later, my own checking account, move out, then just. Be normal. AAM was a godsend that time too).

        1. Cruciatus*

          I actually don’t think anyone who has read your posts thinks you’re a bad daughter. I know family stuff can be so difficult and when you’re used to something and it’s all you know initiating change to get to a new place is scary (even though you will most likely come out of it happier and healthier all around). I think most are in agreement that your mother…sucks. But you’re an adult now and you can control your own fate and it sounds like you’re starting to do that. There will be pains–especially if you continue to let her be in your life in some way. She will always try to test you and poke your boundaries, or maybe even mow them down. I liked what Engineer Girl said about grieving how things will never be. Sometimes it seems like you keep hoping she will change so you initiate contact again–but then get sucked back into her vortex. Grieve that she won’t change. She doesn’t deserve the optimism at this point. But you do you! Do what makes *you* happy and fits your own goals. The less you care about what she thinks about anything about you (or your boyfriend), the higher your confidence and happiness levels will rise. You are worth more than your mother lets you think you are. You might not have everything figured out (and who does!?) but you will get there.

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          Yes, I remember some of the things you posted about her “borrowing” your money and other things. None of which were kind, loving or empowering to you — her child.

          I don’t think you’re a bad daughter, I think you’re a responsible adult who wants to make her own choices and have her parents honour and respect her decisions — except that they are not capable of that. You keep trying to jump through those hoops, only to have them be raised higher mid-jump, then set on fire, and you never “win.” It’s exhausting. And you keep thinking that *this* time, they’re not going to pull away that football… and then they do. So you’re mad at them for being jerks, for not treating you with respect/as an adult, you’re mad at yourself for falling for it and you’re disappointed that you’ve failed yet again to get what you wanted. What you want is perfectly normal and reasonable. Who doesn’t want to have “normal” parents and that whole Norman Rockwell style family all getting along around the table? Even your parents want it, they just want you to pay the price for it, by marrying who they choose and being what they want you to be. Because they think that then they will be happy, except they won’t. Happiness doesn’t come from external things like that but that’s another thing your mother will never understand — that she is responsible for her own emotions and the energy she brings to any situation. Not you, not her husband or whoever, herself. It’s sad actually. She must be really miserable to be constantly pursuing something she can never have. Still, not your fault.

        3. catsAreCool*

          You sound like you’re at the point where the fact that your mom is mean and controlling and isn’t going to change is really sinking in and hurts. Anger is a perfectly normal reaction to this. I think
          sometimes anger is like your mind trying to protect you. I’d advise staying away from your parents when you can. Try to remember that your mother’s issues are about her not about you.

        4. Dynamic Beige*

          I have looked at RaisedbyNarcissists but its kind of a trigger too so I read it only if absolutely needed.

          I get that. After the initial “OMG… this happened to other people?!” and reading some of their stories, many of which I completely related to, I got frustrated by the lack of action. It was also depressing because there were so many people trapped in situations with no idea how to get out.

          Anyway, due to other things that have popped up in my life, I ordered some books on Amazon this week and I started one of them last night, “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents — How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents” There was a bit in there that made me think of you, I should have bookmarked it because I can’t find it this morning. The client was experiencing a lot of rage she didn’t know she had and expressed to the therapist how it wasn’t “right” somehow, but the therapist responded that she thought rage was a perfectly normal way to react against someone else trying to control her unreasonably. I haven’t gotten through the whole book yet but I think you might find it applicable to your situation. At another point, a client talks about how they feel like they are betraying their parents and the therapist says that you’re not betraying them, you’re looking at them objectively. It is not a betrayal to look at your mother, see someone who is unreasonable and decide not to interact with that person as much as they demand you do. It’s self preservation.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My mother had some pretty weird behavior. She hated me and told me repeatedly. When we were alone. No one else ever saw her do that. Turned out she was terminally ill and in those days it took a loonnng time to diagnose it. But part of your answer as to how people can be so outrageous is sometimes things go wrong inside their brains- I mean physical problems, things doctors can see/examine.
      The problem here is that she is not getting help AND she is hurting you. It’s the type of hurts that can last a LIFE TIME.
      Grieve that she cannot be a mother to you. It’s a loss and it is tear worthy. You are a fine daughter and many, many women would be SUPER PROUD to call you their daughter.

      Take a look around. There are probably older women around you that would be delighted to spend time with you. Granted, these women are not your mother. But we all need our elders, we need that voice of experience and reason. Find these older women who like spending time with you and go spend time with them. Let them show you things about life and let them tell you their stories. They will help you fill in your gaps.

      See it is one thing to back away from a toxic relationship, but one should also make some plans of what TO DO. Hang out with one or two older women who can be positive influences in your life going forward from here. Chances are pretty good that some wise woman has picked up on where things are at with you and she is just waiting for you to befriend her so she can be your port in a storm. Look around. If you do not see her right now, keep checking.

      As far as Easter is concerned, she will call you. Her drama quota will be running low by then and she will need to restock. So, just wait for her call. And use the down time to decide how you will handle it.

    4. ExceptionToTheRule*

      For a lot of reasons that are personal, I made the decision to cut my father out of my life when I was in my early 20s. My mother insisted I invite him to my college graduation & I employed the strategy someone mentioned to themmases regarding her grandfather’s partner at her wedding: a couple of people who agreed to keep an eye on him and toss him if needed. That was the last time I saw him or talked to him.

      There was no big declaration of intent, I just ghosted out of his life & never updated him on where I was or what my phone number changed to. It was exactly what my mental health needed.

    5. Belle diVedremo*

      The best outcome is for you to live your best life.

      For those of us with controlling, abusive, or otherwise difficult parents it’s generally hard to find our ways out of the definition of the world that our parent/s provide or demand.

      One of the first things many of us do is to focus on opposites. But that usually means that we’re still allowing them to define the world, because what we can see is framed their same way, just with different individual choices. Because those individual choices get flak from said parent/s we often think we’re done, that we’ve freed ourselves. Instead, we’re often still in that same pattern we’ve been chafing under – just with a different expression.

      Distance is a common tool for learning to recognize how out of bounds family behavior is. Anger is very informative and can be useful: See, I learned how bad it was and am I ever mad at them! I’m so mad I can finally step away. What does the anger illuminate? Anger left unchecked can also damage you; let the anger be informative but not consuming.

      How, then, to find our way/s to healthier options?

      Most of us need to see other options to begin to recognize them in others as real and possible choices. Having friends with open, warm, respectful and supportive friends and families can be a revelation. It’s great to have others in our lives who can point out when we’re replicating patterns we claim to disown, as that seems to be a universal phenomenon. Many of us benefit from time with others with a much broader outlook than we do, and who have suggestions on how to recognize places we get hooked into the old ways, suggestions on ways to move forward, beyond our own experience. Depending on how much work we have to do, many of us choose to go to therapy to get some of that help. We still have to do the work, but we can hire perspective and tools without wearing out our friends and chosen family – and it’s typically a much faster process than figuring it out on our own.

      A couple possibilities for dealing with the anger you have:
      * Recognize it as valid.
      * Write about how angry you are, and why. Set it aside, but keep it somewhere.
      * Exercise, spend the anger on physical release.
      * Use it review your current choices, and test them against your anger.
      * Choose to break the pattern. Your mother may be trapped in her need for a family she doesn’t know how to have, demanding that you fit into the image in her mind to make her feel ok. Do you need others to fit the image in your own mind to be ok?
      * Remember that the ends don’t justify the means. This is your life, every day, not just when you get to X, Y, or Z.

      You’ve taken some big steps toward moving out of your mother’s influence. What can you imagine for yourself?

      How can you live your own best life?

  20. More Anonymous Than Usual*

    I know other people have more serious marital issues, but I’m concerned that my spouse and I, as we get older, have increasingly divergent interests. I know, to a certain degree, it’s healthy to have different interests and a life outside of each other. But there’s a balance… and sometimes you don’t get that right balance.

    We’re both introverts, but she seems far more introverted than 15 years ago, and I feel a little more extroverted than I was 15 years ago. So it means there are a lot of weekends or evenings when I want to get together with people or go to church or go to an event, and she would rather stay in and stream movies. Again, that’s fine once in a while—it’s good for every couple to have time apart (so every once in a while, I’ll go and meet people without her, and she doesn’t have a problem with it)—but it definitely feels as if it’s straying more into the too-frequent category. And it’s not her fault. And it’s not mine. Sometimes I like to stay in curl up with some Netflix… just not as often as she does.

    Even for vacations, there are so many great areas around where we live that we haven’t visited yet (and we’ve lived here for years). We have a particular favorite vacation spot, which I love going to… but, again, she would be perfectly happy just going back there again and again and again… and I’d love to branch out more.

    She’s also not much of an exerciser or into public transportation. I love to run and go for walks, and I love taking public transit. Sometimes, she’ll grudgingly take the bus around with me. And sometimes I’ll grudgingly drive with her.

    It hasn’t bubbled up into a full-blown argument, and we’re still happy together, but I guess I have two questions:

    1. For people who’ve been in fairly long-term coupled relationships, have you struggled with this as well?

    2. What has helped? Or is help even needed (perhaps it’s not that big a problem in the grand scheme of things)?

    1. Christy*

      Would she also be happy to branch out with you? Like, sure she’s happy to go to the same place, but would she try other places?

      What helps me and my fiancée is to be clear when something is a must-have vs a nice-to-have. Like, I need to travel, but I don’t need her to travel with me. I often travel alone.

    2. Anon for this too (not sure why..?)*

      This is a GREAT question – or two great questions. And I’ve heard them from others in long relationships.

      1. I wouldn’t say we’ve struggled per se, but we are aware of the issue. We have very different interests and are happy doing our own things, and not bringing down the other through reluctant participation in their thing. BUT there has to be a shared centre where we share experiences and not just recount them to each other. :)
      2. What we do about it? We notice and negotiate together/apart time on a fairly regular basis. Once a year, we plan out a list of things we’d like to do together in the next year. These are big and small, i.e. , trips, visiting local sites, going to a concert, trying a restaurant. The planning is a big part of the fun! Checking them off the list is fun too.
      Basically, we are parallel players so we need to be very intentional about planning shared fun. I think everybody can benefit from planned fun. :)

    3. Jen RO*

      Sounds familiar – I’ve gotten more social in the past few years and he’s become more of a homebody… even if I am the introverted one and he’s extroverted. I haven’t found a solution so far, except going out without him, but it *is* something that has been on my mind.

    4. Glod Glodsson*

      Hm, my SO and I basically live separate lives – we consciously didn’t mix our friends and as a result I’m out a lot more than SO, and usually on my own. SO also has srs sleeping problems, meaning I spend most of my days off on my own anyway.

      I have periods when I’m 100% fine with this and periods where I get mopey about it. I need a lot of personal space and me-time but sometimes I do wish we would be able to take more trips together. At this point, when I want to go and see a museum or do something I automatically go to friends first without considering SO.

      However, this isn’t a threat to our relationship. I think what works for us is that we spend swathes of time TOGETHER. Like, not me playing a game and SO watching netflix, but we take walks around the block, eat together without other stuff in the background, and chat every night before I go to bed. It really helps me stay connected, because I do think the risk of starting to live completely separate lives is lurking in the background. Most long term relationships seem to have a large component of compromise. If you’re otherwise happy and well suited together, I’m sure you two can work something out!

    5. misspiggy*

      The grudgingness sounds like the biggest issue. Could you talk through the things that each of you values doing with the other, and the things that stress either of you out if you do them together?

      My partner hates going to the cinema, and would resentfully sit through it after I emotionally blackmailed him into it. It took us years to get clear that the reason he hates it is the popcorn crunching, which distresses him horribly. So now I expect to go to the cinema on my own, but I invite him in case he feels up to it, and on my birthday I ask him more seriously to come.

      He aims not to feel pressured if I ask him, and I aim not to feel disappointed if he says no. That kind of approach has taken a lot of the stress out of our many incompatibilities!

      1. Setsuko*

        ooh, i have the same problem with popcorn. Suggest to your partner that he try wearing well-fitted in-ear headphones (earbuds). I don’t know why, but they seem to block the sounds of people in the audience talking and crunching, but you can hear every nuance of the film. Maybe it is just because theaters are so loud, maybe its something to do with what noise frequencies the headphones block.

    6. Kimberlee, Esq*

      Yeah! I’ve been with my teammate for about 11 years now, and I’ve gotten more extroverted over time (and I’m also more ambitious, so it’s a bit inevitable that I’d end up doing more things like grabbing drinks with co-workers after work or maintaining lots of friendships). I think it was a bit rough at first, but I think it’s gotten much better with time, mostly because we humans are adaptable creatures. Like, I feel free to go out without him when I really want to, and I don’t feel bad about it because he has things at home he’s perfectly happy to do. Going out without your partner and having fun initially feels like betrayal, or at least some idea that because you’re having fun, you’re sad that you’re partner isn’t, but it’s important to remind yourself that she *is* having more fun chilling at home than she would be if you’d made her come out with you. It’s totally OK to like going out and spending time with friends and going on adventures, and your partner might well appreciate having time to chill at home and do her own thing.

    7. More Anonymous Than Usual*

      Yeah, I’ve talked to her about it. She doesn’t seem to think it’s a big deal (and maybe it isn’t—that’s why I wanted to crowd-source it a bit). The “grudgingly” part is just about the public transit vs. driving—there isn’t a ton of bitterness in our relationship. We do little compromises here and there, as you have to do in any relationship, and there’s no score card.

      I’m glad to hear at least a few others are in similar situations. It’s comforting to know that, even if there isn’t necessarily a “solution” to this. I’d love to keep hearing others’ experiences…

    8. NacSacJack*

      If you’re still happy with it, then it’s okay. It works for both of you. If you’re not happy, then you need to change it in some way. That change might not make you happy and therefore you might revert back, but change for change is a good thing. As for increasingly divergent lives, I’d recommend reading the chapter in Jack Welch’s autobiography where he describes the reasons and amicableness of divorcing his first wife.

      That being said, I made the ultimate decision to break up with my other half. We never did anything together. He never wanted to see a movie the first three weeks it was out (almost never saw the movie unless we bought the DVD). We never traveled together and with that said, part of traveling as a couple, is having someone else to depend on, share experiences with, share expenses, share driving. Courage can be a shared experience. reading the responses above has led to see other people can live this way. just not me.

  21. Tara R.*

    Ahhh quick adulting advice! I’m going to look at a place to potentially live in September in… 3 hours and it’s super cheap and really close to campus. It’s one bedroom in a downstairs suite with 3 bedrooms, I know one of the other tenants is a guy– not sure about the other (s?)– everything included, WEIRDLY cheap for the location (to the point that I’m bringing a friend on the off chance this is sketchy as heck). What do I ask? How do I make a good impression if this is legitimate (the ~$300 less than average rent would probably save me from having to work extensively during the next school year)? How do I say “So… do you throw a lot of parties/have really loud sex constantly/wander around naked/never clean up after yourself” but nicely?

    1. Forget T-Bone Steak, Let's Eat T-Rex Steak*

      Is it a rent-controlled building? I live in a rent-controlled apartment that has been continuously occupied for 7 or 8 years at this point while rent in the neighborhood has exploded. Consequently, we pay around 50% less on it than someone brand new moving in would. Unless the entire apartment turns over, we’re protected; one person moving out and being replaced doesn’t affect it.

      Ask what the social situation is, if people bring guests, throw parties, etc. Do they have an agreement to ask the others beforehand or what. Legitimate questions I’ve always asked and have been asked of me. No one thinks it’s weird.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq*

        ^^^ I live in a rent controlled building and while it’s not 50% what others are paying, it is dramatically cheaper, and it’s a nice apartment and nice building with nothing in particular wrong with it.

    2. Hellanon*

      Try this: “So, what I’m looking for is a place that’s quiet and where my study time will be respected. I’m not into… but I do like…. Can you tell me if that’s a good fit, or if the house has more of a parties and overnight guests kind of vibe?” I rented out my second bedroom for many years & just found it was easier to get it all out up front. The one or two people who didn’t believe me when I said that no smoking of anything was an absolute rule – well, them I kicked out.

      You’ll be okay if you’re firm and pay attention to red flags, especially if there’s so many of them it’s like a parade….

    3. LizB*

      It’s not weird to ask questions about things like parties and cleaning. “Do you have a lot of parties? Do people have overnight guests often? What’s your system for dealing with chores? Do you do food communally, or separately? Are you all students? How do you split up utilities — do you alternate months, does everyone write a partial check, something else?” I’ve lived with strangers several times, and I wouldn’t find any of these questions inappropriate. Honestly, you could probably say, “I’m amazed at how affordable the rent is! What’s up with that?” and it wouldn’t be inappropriate. Actually I would expect the people showing you the place to offer up this kind of information upfront; when I was showing some potential roommates around my previous house, I gave them the scoop on what I liked and didn’t like about the place, and we talked extensively about living preferences. It didn’t prevent 100% of roommate weirdness, but it certainly helped.

    4. NicoleK*

      Other things to ask about: over night guests, laundry, parking, yard work, if the other renters are night owls, morning people, pets, notice period, and etc

    5. LisaLee*

      There could be a ton of reasons why the rent is so low, from the bedroom being small or not really up to code (in the US, you can’t technically call a room a bedroom unless it has a window, for instance) to it being a loud street or just a rental company that hasn’t updated their prices. Some questions to ask might be:
      -How do you divide up utilities, food, and cooking utensils? Do people share things like pots and pans, or is it “hands off my stuff”? Are the appliances in working order?
      -How do you feel about guests?
      -How does cable and internet work?
      -Where is the laundry? Is it coin-operated?
      -How is rent paid (online, check, etc)?
      -Is the rental company responsive to maintenance requests and reasonably easy to work with?
      -Does anyone have a pet?
      -How is communal space used and cared for? Are there “quiet hours”?

      Another thing to be careful of in a house share like that is making sure you’re on the actual lease. Unless you’re subletting under the table, try to have your name on the paperwork somewhere. I’ve heard of a few stories where people got in crappy living situations and didn’t have much recourse because they weren’t actually tenants.

      1. the gold digger*

        Ask how cleaning is handled. If you are the only person who cares about a clean bathroom and a clean kitchen (as I was when I was in a group home in DC), then you will be the only person doing any cleaning. That becomes a drag very quickly.

      2. Florida*

        On the other hand, it could benefit you to not be on the lease. When I was in college (years ago), I lived with two other people for a few months. It became unbearable. I was able to leave because I was not on the lease.
        There are benefits and responsibilities to having your name on the lease (or any other contract). It’s always a gamble as to whether it will benefit you or restrict you in the future.

    6. Tara R.*

      Late, but thank you, everyone! I took everyone’s advice and was very straightforward in my questions, and I think it sounds like a great fit. Fingers crossed!

    1. Mx*

      best: I got a working holiday visa for Australia!
      worst: I am pretty sure my current company is about to implode spectacularly and everyone seems to know it.

    2. Mimmy*

      Best: Attended a really awesome conference yesterday. The icing on the cake was that Temple Grandin was the closing keynote speaker. I got my picture taken with her and had her sign one of her books they were selling.

      Worst: Painful biopsy on Wednesday – see above thread.

      Worst 2: Crap with one of my councils.

      1. Mimmy*

        Adding to my “best” above: Call me crazy, but I got such a kick out of all the excited squeals and reactions I got on Facebook, lol.

    3. Claire (Scotland)*

      Worst – my grandpa’s funeral was on Wednesday.

      Best – my BFF arrived to visit on Wednesday evening and we’ve been catching up and having a good time together.

    4. Elkay*

      Best: Excellent day with the group I volunteer with
      Worst: Weird headache that only happens at work

      1. catsAreCool*

        Could the headache be related to florescent lighting? Some types of florescent lights give me headaches. Wearing a hat with a wide brim helps.

        1. Elkay*

          Could be but it’s only been the last week or so and nothing has changed in the office in the year I’ve been at that desk.

    5. StudentPilot*

      I’m in one of my favourite places in the world (Adirondacks) so that’s definitely a best.

      Worst…..I am so out of shape, and my hip hurts.

    6. Jen RO*

      Both best and worst:
      Tiring week at work, but got a lot of things done:
      * The big release is out the door and it drained me, but we managed to finish on time.
      * My boss visited our local office and chatting to him in person was so much better than on the phone. I still don’t feel like he quite gets some of what I do, but he did show me that he values my opinion a lot, and I enjoy that warm fuzzy feeling.

      Best: Took said boss out to dinner with the team, and my best work-friend joined as well! (I’ve talked about her in the past – her baby was diagnosed with cancer at 9 months old, but treatment was successful and now she is considering her options for coming back to work.)

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Worst: I got knocked on my ass with some kind of sinus/upper respiratory infection. I still don’t feel well enough to go out. And I had to work through all of it. And I fought with my boyfriend because he wasn’t being helpful to me AT ALL.

      Best: Got to talk to a good friend today who lives in London. Had a few good wins at work, despite sickness. Boyfriend actually listened when I was upset and did exactly what I asked, plus he’s been rather nicely solicitous ever since and I’m pretty ok with that. Oh, and I made a lemon pie.

    8. Lizabeth*

      Getting off my tush and walking more.
      Even better:
      Found a new way to walk home from the bus stop that isn’t along the street with no sidewalk.
      Maximum best:
      Meeting more of the local dogs and getting to scratch their ears!

    9. Snazzy Hat*

      Best: Keeping up with house work, yard work, personal upkeep (e.g., holy cow my hair looks fabulous today!), laundry, dishes, and job search!

      Worst: Since my interview in mid-January (interview went very well but they chose someone else), I have applied to eight jobs and not heard peep one about any of them, save for a confusing voicemail message that sounded like static mixed with hold music and I never got a follow-up call or e-mail after calling them back for clarification.

      Other worst: I honestly have no idea if I’ve qualified for unemployment for the past three months, since I left my last job semi-voluntarily due to major depression, so I’ve been without income since the beginning of January, living off savings which are running out.

      Amusing among the worst: Today I applied for a job with the same company as Lastjob but in a different department, but possibly in the same building. O_o

    10. Doriana Gray*

      Best: I received my bonus at work for my company and precious division’s fantastic financial performance last year. I took that money and was able to purchase a premium pass to this year’s Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender event this June in Vegas, and I’m so excited! I’ve been dying to go for the past couple of years, but something always came up (exams or brokeness). Now I have the opportunity to go (my boss gave me the time off weeks ago, yay!) and the best part is I’m staying five nights for only $350! June can’t get here soon enough.

      Worst: I only got to see my niece for a couple of hours today. She was sleep all morning when I went over my mom’s house and then I had a hair appointment that took a couple of hours. I can’t wait for her and my brother to move back to my city in June. I miss them :(

    11. Ann Furthermore*

      Best: Took Monday and Tuesday off to recover from chairing the school auction last weekend. We raised $16,000 for the school, which was much less than the target, but that is money they didn’t have before. It was nice to have a couple days to chill.

      Worst: Finally resigned myself to having to find another job. I’m pretty sure my department is going to be outsourced in the next couple years, the most recent round of raises were pretty pitiful, and I think my boss has completely checked out and is just waiting for the company to offer early retirement to long-time older workers. Blech.

    12. Overeducated*

      Best: find out via Facebook that a friend who moved last fall was near my husband’s work for a conference Friday, leaving a comment, and managing to join her and a couple of her work acquaintances for drinks and appetizers. It was great to see her, I almost never do anything spontaneous anymore, and even falling asleep at 9 pm due to just one glass of wine felt kind of fantastic.

      Worst: had an all day interview on a day I normally had off, so I missed my kid, and also found out that two people I graduated with last year got permanent job offers after…way more interviews than I’ve had. I thought I was doing well, but if it’s a numbers game it seems like my numbers are not high enough.

    13. nep*

      Best: Finally was able to go see a friend who’s in an assisted living facility. It had been too long, and I’d been unable to reach him by phone in the meantime. Just good to let him know we’re not forgetting about him. It was a nice visit.
      Worst: Some health-related things; can’t complain… it’s to me to turn it around and make things better.

    14. mander*

      Best: my husband got a new job offer (starts in about a month), which means he gets more money and gets to leave a company that is rapidly sinking, we can move into a bigger place, and maybe he’ll be a bit happier than he has been.

      Worst: my elderly grandfather had a severe fall on Friday and is currently in the ICU with a broken hip, pneumonia, and bleeding in the brain. It’s not certain how critical the situation is, and I’m trying to decide if I should fly out there this week from overseas. It might jeopardize my job if I do, but I’d like to see him before he dies if this is the end. :-(

      1. Doriana Gray*

        I’m sorry about your grandfather :( If I were you, I’d go see him, job be damned. You don’t get those moments back.

        1. mander*

          You’re right. I booked the flight. I was hesitant because my boss didn’t respond to my text; turns out she was away for the weekend and was very nice when she got back and saw it. Now I just have to pack for a week away and a possible funeral.

    15. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: I needed a new hairdryer with a cool setting, and Ulta is having a sale on them! Woo hoo! Got a purple one that came with attachments. I’m learning how to do my own blowouts because my natural frizz REALLY shows up on this blonde hair. But touching up my own roots did not go to plan, so I made an appointment for next week. However, I think I’m getting the hang of taking care of the new hair. :)

      Also I went to the flea market and found a cute little owl ring and a rectangular vintage Tupperware thing full of cookie cutters that also had some biscuit cutters. I really only wanted the latter, but I can use the others and the Tupperware thing will come in handy. I like shopping.

      Also, I wrote a couple thousand words on Secret Book the other day (oh shit that reminds me; I have to write a blog post for the A-Z theme reveal on Monday.). :)

      WORST: Bored. Bored bored bored bored bored. And lonely. *sigh*

    16. NicoleK*

      Best: It’s been pretty easy sticking to my low carb diet
      Worst: Haven’t seen the results I’ve been hoping for

    17. Colette*

      Best: I spent much of today at a sugar shack (where they make maple syrup). It has been years since I’ve done that and I really enjoyed it. The best part was that we got to use hot coals to make wooden spoons. They had the wood pieces, and we piled hot coals on them to burn the bowl of the spoon. Is mine great? No. Do I need a wooden spoon? No. But I made one with fire and I love it.

      Worst: the time change. Monday was brutal.

      1. GreenTeaPot*

        Best: A couple of awesome workouts and spring comes in soon. In a matter of hours.

        Worst: Time change.

    18. KR*

      Worst – Really bad anxiety week. Multiple panic attacks.

    19. Gene*

      Both are the same thing.

      Got word this morning that the cruel, controlling harridan who birthed my wife (aka, my MIL) died this morning. It’s been coming, but still…

      Best because now my wife can give up trying to make the relationship become what it has never been. MIL hasn’t talked with wife for two years, even though cancer has been killing her (MIL), because wife didn’t give her a ring wife had gotten from MIL’s mother.

      Worst because, she died.

    20. Panda Bandit*

      Best: My birthday is coming up soon and I’m picking out my presents – mostly cool t-shirts. They make me happy.

      Worst: It looks like my work schedule will be really messed up for the next week, at least.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Best: Got in my chocolate supplied all ready for next Sunday. I have done quite well this year with Lent.

        Worst: An important event was scheduled at work and kept getting postponed for reasons outside of our control.

    21. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: I got out of leading the youth group at my church! I went to the membership committee meeting, when and the subject of chairperson succession came up, I said that I had been considering what my service would consist of and segued into all the reasons I don’t want to head up the youth group.

      Worst: I missed a women’s wisdom circle meeting yesterday morning that I was supposed to lead, and then I showed up last night for a potluck dinner that isn’t until next Saturday. So now I’m going to have to spend all that money again next week buying more fancy cheeses from Whole Foods (I’m assigned to bring a cheese and fruit spread). Maybe I’ll cheap out on the cheeses next week.

      1. Jean*

        Is there a Trader Joe’s near you? I’m always amazed at their cheese display. (Truth in advertising: I’ve only purchased one or two because we keep kosher at home and most of the TJ cheeses aren’t marked kosher. I’m guessing that this won’t be an issue for you unless someone in the group is a strict vegetarian who only eats non-animal-rennet cheese.)

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          No Trader Joe’s. :-( Our Whole Foods just opened two weeks ago. I’d have been more excited over a Trader Joe’s.

    22. Merry and Bright*

      Best: Apart from new job (on work thread), my dentist gave my teeth a clean bill of health which always makes my week.

      Worst: My home printer packed up so I have to rejig my budget for this month to get a new one but things could be much worse.

  22. SL #2*

    Gonna go see Deadpool today (finally!). It’s rare for me to wait this long on seeing a superhero movie (I have Thursday night premiere tickets for Civil War, if that gives you any indication of what my interests are). But real life and busy weekends got in the way. I’m excited, though! I’ve heard really good things about it, mostly from people who weren’t expecting it to be very good at all.

    1. Jen RO*

      I hate superhero movies, and I loved Deadpool. But then again, I am a sucker for smartasses who swear a lot.

      1. SL #2*

        I like the character of Deadpool and I’m so glad the studios finally took a chance on him, but I didn’t love the movie as much as I hoped I would. I thought the writing was pretty weak. But I loved the opening sequence!

  23. Windchime*

    This is a strange request, but I’m desperate. My house is five years old and has “can lights” everywhere. Because they are the new type of lights, they are just starting to burn out. I have googled for the same type of light, but apparently things have changed in 5 years and there is a terrifying number of flood-light type bulbs, but nothing that matches my bulb! Can someone help me find replacements? The people at Lowe’s and Home Depot just shrug and point me towards the light bulb section.

    My bulb says “Sylvania Capsylite 45W 120V Flood”. The flat side of the bulb (where the light is emitted) is almost 5″ wide and the bulb is 5″ tall. I’m realizing I’ll probably have to order it online and I’m fine with that, but I don’t know what to order. I don’t want it to look silly and small inside the can.

    1. The RO-Cat*

      The Sears online shop seems to have something that – maybe – looks like what you search. Also iqlightbulbs[dot]com. Hope that helps.

    2. Electron Whisperer*

      Could be a PAR 38 type lamp, the PAR series have a number which is the diameter in 1/8th of an inch so a PAR 38 is 38/8 = 4.75 inches in diameter.

      http://www.bulbs.com have good pictures of the likely candidates, and it may be time to seriously consider am upgrade to LED (If you do this pay attention to the colour rendering index, and you probably want a warm white, also pay attention as some LED units are not dimmable with a conventional wall dimmer).

    3. danr*

      If you have a lighting store or electrical supply store nearby take one of the bulbs there and find out what you need to replace it. The folks in those places are a little more knowledgeable than Home Depot or Lowes.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Yup! There’s bound to be a local store that just sells lighting. I have a halogen lamp that I can’t get bulbs for unless I buy them from a lighting store.

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      Take one of the lightbulbs with you so you can be sure you’re getting the right thing. Try Ace Hardware, if there’s one in your area. My husband buys a lot of stuff there instead of Home Depot or Lowe’s. They’re smaller, and I think he told me most of them are independently owned. He likes the store in our neighborhood because the customer service has more of a personal touch. I bet if you take one with you and they don’t have it, they’ll be able to tell you point you to a place that does.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I love Ace. I don’t have to walk a mile and I can find someone who will look at my intended purchase with me. I get out of the store with something that I will actually use.

      2. Windchime*

        I love my local Ace, but they also didn’t have the bulb. That was a couple of years ago, though–maybe they would have it now that these types of bulbs are more common.

        I did try an LED in the kitchen and I like the way that it doesn’t need to warm up, but the light is somehow sharper or harsher or something.

    5. Mephyle*

      We switched to LED lighting in our house, and our electric bill went down to about 1/3 of what it used to be. Yes, we are paying 2/3 less than we were before. Our rate is based on consumption, and apparently the change from compact fluorescent energy-saving bulbs to LED tipped us under the limit into a lower rate category.

  24. Jen RO*

    This is somewhat work-related, so I will keep it short – I’ve sort of decided to start a blog about my industry. As far as I know, there is no one blogging about it in Romanian, and I think I have a few things to say… now, the big question is if I will manage to write even one post without deciding it’s shit and scrapping the whole thing!

    1. The RO-Cat*

      I can’t tell if you’ll write consistently or not (and if you wonder about that yourself, I guess even Mama Omida would be powerless…); but if you decide to go for it, I can promise you’ll have (at least) one reader!

      1. Jen RO*

        I will message you on LinkedIn if I decide to make it public :) I don’t think I will link it here.

    2. Girasol*

      Could you spend a week or two writing blog posts that you don’t publish, just for practice and to see if you’re really up for the daily discipline? I’ve tried that a couple times only to find that my great idea about blogging was just a handful of burning thoughts to share before I ran dry. I was glad I hadn’t started with obtaining a blogging platform.

      1. Jen RO*

        Yeah, I’ve started doing that already. I had the domain already and I’ve worked with WordPress before, so I don’t have any issues so far… but let’s see. My main problem will probably be posting images – I know I need them, but ugh, they’re a pain.

  25. Anon Anon*

    Let’s talk about crushes and infatuations. How long ago was your last crush? How long did it last? Who were you crushing on? Did you tell him/her? And what helped to make the crush fade away?

    My crush is on a former coworker at a former employer. I’ve been infatuated with him for a year now. I haven’t had any contact with him since I left former employer. So I can’t understand why the crush lingers. I never said anything to him as I was too embarrassed. And I don’t plan to do anything about it (besides pray that it finally goes away).

    1. Jen RO*

      Someone at work, but it only lasted for two weeks or so, thankfully. I work closely with him and it would’ve been super awkward! I didn’t tell anyone about it. I guess it just faded away on its own after I realized that I was actually crushing on a certain type of person and not him specifically and that a relationship with such a person would get tiring after a while (also, he is married).

    2. Cristina in England*

      I have never, nor will I ever IN A MILLION YEARS tell someone I have, or have had a crush on them. Because I do not want to die of embarrassment.
      My last crush was a celebrity, which is embarrassing in itself. I realized at some point that I was just unhappy about a few things in my relationship and that’s why I had become fixated on this sensitive and soulful person. Sorry that’s probably not helpful! But maybe you see something in him that you think is missing from your life?

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      Yes, I had a crush on someone I met through work and, after wrestling with it for a few weeks, decided to ask him out over the phone, kicked it old school. He… was not keen, which was kind of confusing but hey, I’m not the first person to misread signals and intentions. Yes, it sucked horribly and having to see him again on the occasional job is Ugh. But, it did have one upside: I no longer have a crush on him, so I haven’t wasted 2 years on something that will never be. Wishin’ and hopin’, as it were.

    4. themmases*

      My last crush was terrible! It was an instructor who was pretty nice and encouraging to me at a time I was very depressed, and I became infatuated. I wasn’t interested in doing anything about it because I have a partner and he was my instructor, but it still took a long time to get over. Because I had been so depressed, the awkward feelings didn’t go away–they just shifted to worrying about whether I’d seemed really weird in that one class.

      I have him as an instructor again now and I hate it. He is actually not a very good teacher–noticing that helped me get over my crush. But it’s hard for me to tell now if I’m being too harsh. And it’s hard for me to take grades and comments in stride and figure out if they’re really unhelpful or I’m being too sensitive (probably both). I just feel very uncomfortable being evaluated by him at all and I can’t wait to hopefully never work with him again after this semester.

    5. ee*

      Still currently waiting for my crush to fade (it’s been close to a year, yikes). Former flatmate and good friend of my partner’s – we all lived together but the house broke up recently and everyone went their separate ways. for obvious reasons, keeping this to myself!

    6. Doriana Gray*

      Lord, I wish I could say mine was over because it’s extremely embarrassing (and the guy is now married), but my last crush was a coworker who works in a different division. I met him two years ago when I was in a training program and spent three weeks working in his division. I obviously didn’t say a word to him because he had a girlfriend (his now wife) and even if he was single, he wouldn’t have been interested anyway. *shrug* If you figure out a cure for your affliction, please pass it along. I saw him twice last week and almost had another panic attack.

    7. nep*

      On a married person. So of course it lives just in my mind. Used to see the person regularly via my work but not at all anymore, which is good.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh, I had one last year. I did propose a coffee date and got blown off. Over it now and SO glad (plus he’s gone). It wasn’t a full-on OMG-I-LOVE-YOU thing, just an infatuation but annoying AF. I want to be crushing on someone who is crushing back at me. Dammit.

    9. Shell*

      Coworker who sits in the next cubicle. It lasted about a month (starting from when I started this job). He’s a bit older, we’re in different life stages, I work closely with him, and oh, he’s engaged (I never asked him, I figured it out after I noticed a particular name kept coming up in conversation when he chatted with other coworkers), so I had no expectations because it would’ve been a terrible idea. It was purely because he was good looking, and a fun distraction.

    10. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I had crushes on my last two bosses. I don’t think anyone ever noticed anything about either of them because I just kept the crushing quietly to myself. It went away when they weren’t my boss anymore; something about working closely, one-on-one, with handsome, authoritative men was doing a little something for me that faded when the proximity was gone. My current boss does nothing for me that way. I think the designers were sexier.

    11. TootsNYC*

      Years ago I had such a huge crush on a guy at work. He was cute in a boyish way, and he was whip-smart in the way that I really admire.

      I was always so excited to talk to him at work, etc., that I actually wondered if I should worry about my marriage.
      I decided I was safe bcs I didn’t think about him when I wasn’t at work.

      Then he got a buzz cut, and it made his eyes look like they were bugging out, and the crush was over, just like that.

    12. YaH*

      Oh gosh, I’ve had a crush on someone at work (different location, so I don’t see him very often) for several years now. It’s calmed down from pink-cheeked awkwardness, but I still have dreams about him, I still respond to his emails immediately, etc. He’s married and so it wouldn’t even occur to me to do anything other than just enjoy the burst of energy it gives me whenever we interact.

      1. TootsNYC*

        “just enjoy the burst of energy it gives me whenever we interact.”


        (and, per the comment below, I’ve had crushes on women at work–I’m perfectly straight, so it’s not a sexual crush at all. It springs from admiring them)

    13. very anon*

      In the grip of one just now, on a coworker. We are both female – I’m not out at work (and nobody would ever figure it out). I’m not sure how she rolls but I assume she’s straight since percentages. Anyway, I’m in a serious relationship so it won’t ever happen. Most of the time I enjoy it, it helps motivate me to drag my ass into work, but sometimes… I feel such longing, although I don’t know if it’s really for her, or for the courage to be fully me.

    14. Tau*

      I have been crushing on a very good friend of mine for, um… *counts*… six years at this point. :(

      I haven’t told her, not least because she had a boyfriend when all this started. (Which, yes, was relentlessly uncomfortable oh my god.) That said, I’m worried about ruining our friendship but I’m starting to think I need to tell her or else I will never get over this. At this point I’m not even sure if “her reciprocating” or “her saying she’s not interested so that this crush can finally go away” would be the better outcome.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Go for it if you can. The not knowing is the worst part for me – if I had just said something, one way or the other I would have known what guy at work was thinking. Now I’m left to obsess over every little interaction we ever had trying to piece together clues that might not actually be clues, and maybe things would have turned out differently, or maybe they wouldn’t have and I’d be embarrassed – but I’ll never know. And that will eat away at me for a while more.

        Get some closure.

  26. Jessen*

    Very slightly work related: how does one respond to relative’s bad advice on job-searching, especially if they check up on it?

    1. Cristina in England*

      Depends on how bad the advice is. I always like giving a positive alternative. “No, I didn’t go to the company in person with my resume and a box of chocolates in-hand because I found some promising job listings on (website)”. The term “promising” can be used loosely here. Also, don’t complain about your job search to relatives.

    2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      You can either:

      1. Lie your pants off and say you did it but not sure of the outcome.

      2. Follow danr’s suggestion.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      Uh… what are they checking up on? “Here, call my buddy Sal, he’s got the perfect job for you, I’ve already told him all about you!” kind of thing?

      I think you’re going to have to bone up on some noncommittal phrases like:
      “Hmmm… that’s interesting.”
      “I’ll take that under advisement.”
      “I see, that is one way to look at it.”
      “I hadn’t thought about it that way before.”

      I’m sure you can Google a bunch.

      And then change the subject.
      Relative: You just need to not take ‘no’ for an answer! Gumption! Camp out in their lobby to get that interview! They’ll like your moxie! That’s how I got my job back in the 60’s, I wore out a lot of shoe leather!
      You: Hmm… that’s an interesting take on it. BTW, how is Great Aunt Mildred doing with her shingles?

      1. Jessen*

        Well, I live with them and it’s about clothing (not just what I wear to interviews but what I wear around town – they worry that if I’m seen around town looking weird it’ll weigh against my job chances).

          1. Jessen*

            Small city? I think a lot of it’s just the “you look weird and I don’t like it” going on covered by “you’ll never get a job looking like that.”

            1. Snazzy Hat*

              Unless no potential employer cares about how you dress outside of work…

              If my non-work attire was such an important topic to my interviewer, I don’t want to work for a micro-manager to the extreme, anyone who’s that petty, or anyone who thinks my “weird” clothes have anything to do with my work performance, so I would be fine with being told “I’m not hiring you because I saw you in the coffee shop yesterday wearing a shirt with a giant helm-clad skull on the front.”

            2. Dynamic Beige*

              Well, you’re just going to have to prove them wrong.

              It’s *your* body and you get to decide how to dress it. What your Parental Unit might be stuck on did apply at one point and still does for certain jobs. You won’t get hired as a makeup consultant unless you obviously know how to wear makeup and enjoy doing so.

              I think a lot depends on what kind of jobs you’re applying for and how you usually dress. You won’t get a job as a mechanic in a twin set and pearls, but that might be just the look a law firm would want in a receptionist. If you really want a job as a receptionist, then you would have to dress for the part to match their expectations. But a mechanic with perfect nails and no dirt on their hands is probably not going to make the grade.

              If you need help with style — I plead guilty there myself — there are lots of websites that can help you like Corporette http://corporette.com/

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          What constitutes “weird”?

          In a way, I can kind of see their point, if you live in an area that is a very small, tight knit, conservative community. In a case like that, being known as the “Goth Kid” would hurt your chances of getting a job at the 7-11. Because for some people Goth = Satanism and etc. People who work with the public may be held to a higher standard of appearance, either outright or unconsciously by the one doing the hiring.

          This is about the fact that in order to perform at your best in an interview, you need to feel comfortable — as comfortable as you can. Even better if you’ve got an outfit that makes you feel great. If wearing a skirt and sweater set is going to make you feel like you’re wearing a costume than wearing clothes, that’s not the right choice for you, no matter how comfortable it makes your Parental Unit feel. Also, it will set your potential employer up for a surprise when you never wear that outfit again.

          Unfortunately, I think this is an argument that will never be solved. Parental Unit is always going to want you to present yourself as their definition of “feminine” for whatever insecurity they have. Even when you get a job by being yourself, P.U. is going to fret that you aren’t getting paid enough or whatever because you didn’t walk in looking like Donna Reed. The only way to limit this kind of thing is to get a job, save up and move out. You’ll hear it less often then, but you’ll still hear it.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If you give examples we can come up with more responses.

      If it was someone I was close to and thought warmly of, then I would take the time to show them AAM and tell them this is where I get my job advice from. Then I would cite examples of how job hunting has changed and doing it the old way could cost a person a job opportunity.

      My advice here is based on someone who truly is interested in you and cares how life goes for you. This person would be a thinking person who would kind of realize that when you showed them this site that you were sharing part of your life with them.

      1. Jessen*

        It’s mostly someone with their dress sense firmly in the 1950’s who think that women need to be wearing appropriately “feminine” clothing for interviews, and who is scared that if I’m seen around town looking “abnormal” that it’ll mean I don’t get hired.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ah… tell them not many women from the 50s get hired now. Assuming a person was 20 in 1950 that would make them 86 years old now. Probably they are not looking for a job.
          Seriously, though, you probably look like many other people. They have jobs and so will you. Tell them pink colored garments with ruffles and bows will not get you job. Or tell them that you don’t want to work for anyone who judges people solely by the way they are dressed.

  27. Cristina in England*

    Awkward kitchen rant. We’re hoping to do some minimal kitchen refitting this summer, but the size and layout of the kitchen makes planning really hard. There are doors in 3 of the 4 corners of my 9’x9′ kitchen, so I have ONE corner making an L shaped area for appliances. The short side of the L is 65 inches (5′ 5″)/165cm and the long side of 86 inches (7’2″)/220cm. In addition to your normal sink/oven/fridge I also need to fit my washing machine, because it’s the UK. Right now I have no countertop, I do my food prep on top of the washing machine and fridge, which are next to each other (it’s a hip-height fridge, and the freezer is in the pantry). There’s also a big window on the longer side of the L, meaning no cabinets or wall appliances can go there. Argh!

    We can’t leave it as it is because rewiring the house left long strips of bare plaster in the walls, and the floor is uneven with 4 layers of ancient individual vinyl tiles (but there’s no mysterious leak anymore, as hubby found it under the sink), but planning to improve something so limited is frustrating.

    TL;DR no question, just… annoying kitchen.

    1. LibbyG*

      Oof! Three doors! My kitchen has three doors too, and when I was planning the renovation I spent hours measuring, sketching on graph paper trying to create a different layout. After all that, ended up just reproducing the existing layout. I love it now, but, man, all those hours of trying!

    2. fposte*

      No answer, just hey from somebody else with a three doors out of four corners kitchen. It’s an interesting design, that’s for sure.

    3. Cristina in England*

      I am so close to just giving up and saying we will just repaint and level the floor and leave everything else as-is. Unless we knock out a wall I just can’t make it work to have all of the appliances in one space!

  28. Aurora Leigh*

    How do you retain a relationship with your siblings as you grow up and grow apart?

    I’m living on my own for the first time, 3 hours away from my parents/sibs. My (close in age) sister and I were growing apart before, and we don’t seem to have anything in common anymore.

    On the other hand my 14 years younger than me brother and I have great conversations, and share common interests.

    I think this hurts my sister, but I don’t know how to correct it.

    1. Elkay*

      Casual contact. I wouldn’t say my brother and I have ever been super close but we share enough tastes in tv/music/books that I can drop him a text out of nowhere to say “I saw this show and it’s good, you should check it out”. We’re never going to be best friends but we’re good siblings.

    2. Cruciatus*

      Could you invite her for a weekend once in a while? Maybe even with your brother? Maybe with all three of you together there will be less pressure (and no one is left out). If one of her interests doesn’t seem like one of yours maybe you could try it and vice versa. You might not get into it, but maybe just trying will be fun and something to talk about. Or maybe you just need some space right now. Sounds like you may be close in age but she may be in a different place in her life at the moment. My sister and I are 5 years apart and really didn’t become friends at all until she left for college. She got to be more independent (from me, from our parents). I was out of her shadow a bit at school and at home. When she came home we had more to talk about and catch up on. Eventually we realized how alike we were and that it wasn’t that horrible (seemed like it as kids) and could spend weekends together (she would invite me to her place). But having that space and catching up every few months was better for us. Or you could try calling every few weeks consistently and see how that goes. She might appreciate the effort. Is there really nothing in common–no books, movies, favorite actors/actresses, how annoying you find your parents at times, etc.?

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Yes we’re both in different places in out lives now. I’m gaining independence and becoming my own person, and she’s . . . not.
        She’s not working, not going to school, not making her own friends . . . So I think that might add to the weirdness.

        As far as common interests, all I can come up with is pets. And even I run out of funny stories about my cat eventually! And we will all play board games together.

        I’m really hoping to get my brother for a weekend when he’s on summer vacation, and inviting her too is probably a good idea. It sounds mean, but she can be very negative and judgemental sometimes, so I worry she’d sort of ruin the fun.

        1. Cruciatus*

          Sounds like she may be depressed (and depending on her age, that might be something to mention to the ‘rents, especially if she’s still on their insurance at all and/or can handle this information). But you may be a bigger role model than you know (for your brother, too) and maybe seeing you thrive on your own may light a fire for her life (but maybe not).

          She may bring the party down but I think it’d be good to invite her, at least once in a while (and especially if she still lives with your brother and knows where he is going when he visits you and she wasn’t invited!). And try phoning or emailing every so often. If you run out of cat topics, talk about someone else’s cat! Or a cool new game you heard about and want to try when you’re all together. These calls/emails don’t have to be epic in length, but will help foster connectedness (and it’s just a guess, but I would bet you have to be the instigator for now). I was in a similar situation as her once and just being included in something, even if it was in the future, was nice to hear. People did want to include me! Hopefully with time you’ll get back on track.

    3. Love to learn*

      Relationships wax and wane over time as you each go through different phases of life. Don’t stress too much about it or try to force it to be closer than feels natural at this point in time. Sometimes I go ages with little or no contact, then something will happen, and we connect again with renewed closeness.

    4. NicoleK*

      Make an effort to spend more time together. My sister and I are five years apart. Growing up, we were at very different stages in life. I went out of my way to spend time with her. While we’re not best friends, we’re pretty close.

    5. TootsNYC*

      Get together for a project of some kind? Then the project will give you something to talk about–both during and after.

      I don’t know–maybe rebuild the back steps for Mom & Dad–something that’s a bit of a stretch and has some “fun” element to it.

      Or ask/offer help painting a bathroom or something.

  29. Sunflower*

    I’m having major anxiety regarding mice and roaches in my apt.

    I heard the mouse last week. This week I bought a zapper trap, a pest-a-cator and the maintenance guy came and sealed up a hole behind my stove. The trap has gotten nothing and I haven’t seen or heard any signs(haven’t even heard them in the walls). I talked to one tenant who has never seen one. It seems unlikely there is an infestation.

    I talked another tenant and she said in the 1.5 years shes lived there, she has only seen 2 mice(and both were in the last 6 months). She also asked me if I’ve seen roaches. I saw my first one last week and didn’t think much of it. She said she’s seen more than a few and has had the property manager spraying every 2 weeks for a while. She just resigned her lease and said that so far any of the issues aren’t enough for her to try to move elsewhere- FWIW she seems like a reasonable person.

    I’m freaked out and feel out of control. I can barely sleep and I’m semi-scared to be in my apartment. I’ve taken all the steps like sealing up my food, keeping my kitchen dry and I feel like there’s nothing I can do since the property manager seems to have taken care of the problem and I’m just letting my anxiety work me up. Also, living in the city(an old city at that), I’m scared to also move to a new place in fear the problem will be worse somewhere else. Any advice?

    1. Sunflower*

      Side note- it very clearly states in my lease that rodent/pest issues are the landlord’s responsibility

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      It sounds like you have a good landlord who’s responding to these things and getting them taken care of. I’ve always lived in older houses so this kind of thing is kind of par for the course. I wouldn’t move just for the reasons you’ve listed! (I’m lazy.)

      It sounds like you need a new focus. A new hobby? A pet? A movie? A new book?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      When I have a hard time letting go of something that I should let go of, I try getting some electrolytes into me. A tired mind will replay and replay and replay a bad scenario over and over. Maybe you have a mineral loss due to stress.

      Additionally, you can eat some foods that tend to be downers, or in cases of worry, they tend to be calming- such as turkey, cauliflower, broccoli.

      I am glad you got the pest deterrents in place. My friend who is helping me with my house bought a pest-a-cator this week. He said he had to buy one after seeing what happened here. He tore apart the worst wall and said he could tell the damage was OLD, OLD, OLD. Well I plugged the pest-a-cator in five years ago. He said based on what he saw, the damage just stopped happening one day and he estimated it was greater than four years ago. (He’s used to dealing with these types of situations so he has basis for what he is saying.) He could tell by LOOKING. wow. So he brought his pest-a-cator home and plugged it in. A while later he noticed a chipmunk in the yard. It’s the first one he’s seen this year. He believes the pest-a-cator pushed the rascal out of his house, within hours of plugging it in.

      If you’re not interested in minerals or calming foods/teas, the next thing I would suggest is reading up on mice. Sometimes learning more about what we are afraid of tends to push the fear out of us. I do remember how I felt that day driving to the store to get the SOMETHING/ANYTHING to help here. I was on a very tight budget so the item HAD to work. It was kind of nerve-wracking at that time.

      I think you are wise to realize that moving is probably not a solution. When I first came here we had all kinds of visitors. My solution was to spring clean every year. I moved everything and cleaned under it and behind it. Any holes I found got plugged up with foil. This is another technique that works for calming fears. make yourself look around your home and verify, “No, no droppings or holes here, nope, none over here, either.” What this does is it replaces the pictures in our imaginations with what is going on in real life. It’s hard to do this, but no harder than what I imagined in my head.

    4. TootsNYC*

      Are you working with anyone on anxiety issues? Even if you don’t normally have them, this particular one sounds strong enough that some coaching might help a bit.

      Maybe if you did some things yourself, it might help you a lot–give the adrenalin somewhere to go.

      When I had mice and roaches, I bought boric acid in the big squeeze bottle and laid down a line under the baseboards; I bought a small whisk broom and brushed it back under them anywhere I couldn’t get the nozzle (wera a mask). And I used a screwdriver to jam steel wool in some of the cracks.

      I don’t know how much those things helped, but it sure made me feel less helpless!

      1. Christy*

        Yeah, your level of anxiety about this sounds like it’s closer to clinical anxiety than to normal nerves. (Said someone with clinical anxiety who treats it with CBT and medication.) Not sleeping and being afraid to be in your own apartment are pretty outsized reactions. I’d find someone to talk to about this anxiety–I did therapy for a few years before getting on meds, and both helped me a lot. Even a few sessions to talk about this specific situation would likely help you.

        Also exercise always helps me when I’m hyped up about something specific.

        1. Sunflower*

          I have a therapist but most of our talk surrounds my relationship problems which are also anxiety driven. I could talk to her about this. I also have an EAP through work that covers a few sessions if I wanted to find someone else? I think this is covered?

          1. Christy*

            I would definitely talk to her about this.

            What kind of therapy is it? I’ve found CBT really helpful for me because it gives me tools to manage my anxiety. I find that my friends in other types of therapy, ones less focused on self-managing anxiety, have had less success than those in CBT or who do EMDR (for trauma).

        2. TootsNYC*

          Well, when I had mice, it was pretty unsettling; I didn’t want to be in my home. And at that time, I didn’t any anxiety over ANYthing. I was probably at my most confident and healthy, emotion/mental-wise. Ditto roaches; that was just pervasively icky.

          But it tended not to last for days; just short bursts.

    1. littlemoose*

      If you don’t have a storage space at your apt, could you maybe pay a friend with a garage a small amount to store them for you?

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      The place where I bought my snow tires would also store them for a fee. Where, I don’t know.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Yeah, a lot of places I know that put on snow tires will store the opposite tires during the wrong season (i.e., the all-seasons in the winter, the snows in the summer) for a monthly or yearly fee.

      2. Not Karen*

        I did ask the dealer if they would store them, and they acted like it was a ridiculous question.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          The dealer, you mean where you bought your car? Yeah, don’t get me started about car dealerships.

          I bought my snow tires at Active Green+Ross. They were the ones willing to store them for a fee. Since I bought my snows there, with full rims, they put them on every year — and take them off — for free.

          I have a garage, so plenty of room to put them in but that person who was talking about putting them under their bed… I have seen that you can buy special heavy fabric bags for your snow tires. Active gives me my tires back in a big plastic bag. If you could get a set of those fabric bags, you could put the tires in there, and scoot them under your bed… provided you don’t use that place for storing wrapping paper and bows like I do. In Tupperware! I’m not a heathen!


          1. Not Karen*

            Yeah, I bought my snows at the dealer also.

            Sounds like you got a great deal with that Active company. I like the under-the-bed idea, but unfortunately I don’t have a bed frame so I don’t have an “under the bed.” :P

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I wish there was a trick. We’re lucky enough to have a small storage closet in our garage, so that’s where we keep the snow tires.

  30. Cassie*

    What’s the name of the type of test question that gives you a list of items and a set of stipulations, and asks you to put them in order? Like there are 5 boys sitting in a row – Tommy is on the right end, Jeff is not sitting next to Billy, Danny is between Jeff and Tommy, etc. I did a quick google search and one site (test preparation in India) called seating arrangement questions.

    Is there a different term for this type of question? I’ve also seen it used for questions about scheduling appointments or arranging items on shelves. My mom is looking for sample clerical test questions and wants to practice those types of questions.

    1. littlemoose*

      There were some questions like this on the LSAT, and they were in the logical reasoning section. Maybe that term might yield some results?

    2. Laura (Needs a New Name)*

      I had a book of them in 6th grade that called them matrix reasoning problems.

  31. nep*

    Anyone have experience with vitamin D deficiency, and seeing an impact from taking supplements?

    1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Taking vitamin D supplements was one of the best things I did. I was in severe pain and if I drove 2 hours (1 hour there and one hour back) for a doctors appointment I was exhausted by the time I got home and in severe pain. After a few (sorry forgot how many) weeks of being on a Vitamin D supplement (1000 IUs) I could make the trip without any problems.

      Strongly recommend it.

      1. Heartlover*

        Yes! Vita D really helps my mood (and the small stuff doesnt’ bother me any more). Be certain the type you take is D3. I take two 2000IU tablets daily.

      2. Girasol*

        Me too. Cod liver oil is my mood vitamin. It’s not bad with a swallow of milk for a chaser. The combination of fish oil and vitamin D works wonders.

    2. fposte*

      I got low from my Crohn’s but can’t say I noticed any difference when supplements put it back up; it’s probably harder to tell, though, when it’s secondary to other stuff that overshadows it.

      1. RKB*

        I also take mine for my Crohn’s and it really made a difference when I finally got on the right meds and went into remission. I feel awful on the days I forget my Vitamin D. In the summer when I take my supplements and I’m outside for a ridiculous amount of time, I feel like I was never sick at all.

        1. nep*

          (Asked the doctor to include it in some blood work last week — I’ll be interested to know my levels.)

    3. Glod Glodsson*

      I had a very serious deficiency a year or so back. I became so listless I felt like a zombie, going through the motions. I was tired all the time. Not really depressed, just numb. I went to my doctor and she ran some tests, and it turned out my vitamin D levels were around 15 while they’re supposed to be around 100-150. I got some vitamin D-shots that I took once a month, they made me super dizzy but they fixed the issue quickly enough! I really noticed a difference personally.
      However, the bill was INSANE, it was like EUR 250 for the vitamin D-shots alone. I’ve started taking vitamin D supplements (about 3 times the daily dose) and that seems to do the trick too.

      Where I live about 70% of all people apparently has a vitamin D deficit. We’re not really into sunshine and all :P

    4. MsChanandlerBong*

      Supplements have helped immensely. My vitamin D level was 11 when I started, and now it is up to 29. I started off with 50,000 IU per week for six weeks, and now I take 3,000 IU per day. The difference is amazing.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Yes, yes and big differences also. I have used it for muscle pain in the past but currently I use it for SAD. Some brands are better than others, try to stay away from synthetics, if you can.

      1. TL -*

        When I lived in Texas and got at least an hour+ of intense sunshine a day, my vitamin D levels were borderline low. (And dropped to actually low when that stopped.) And I drink an unreasonable amount of milk. My doctor was really surprised, actually.

          1. TL -*

            Oh for sure. The only time I’m not anemic is when I’m at my parents’ house and eating meat for every meal.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      I didn’t have a major deficiency, but at one point I had a slight one. My doctor prescribed supplemental pills, and they were great. Eventually I just got back on track without the supplements.

    7. Nina*

      I have extremely low Vit D (my Dr. told me mine was a 12 when the min should have been 20) and I usually take 2000 IUs from the OTC brand. The doctor may prescribe more (like 10,000 IUs) but only 1x a week.

      Honestly, I never notice any difference. Same with multi-vitamins. I’m sure they’re helping and I know I need them, but they don’t make me feel any better or worse.

    8. AcidMeFlux*

      Please get expert advice before dosing yourself with vitamins (and by expert, I mean a real doctor and not the owner of the local vitamin health food store.) It is possible to overdose yourself to the point of toxicity. See link in next comment.

      1. AcidMeFlux*

        “Doses higher than the RDA are sometimes used to treat medical problems such as vitamin D deficiency, but these are given only under the care of a doctor for a specified time frame. Blood levels should be monitored while someone is taking high doses of vitamin D. Although vitamin D toxicity is uncommon even among people who take supplements, you may be at greater risk if you have health problems, such as liver or kidney conditions, or if you take thiazide-type diuretics. As always, talk to your doctor before taking vitamin and mineral supplements.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/vitamin-d-toxicity/faq-20058108

      2. nep*

        Of course — I get advice from a few sources (including a physician and my blood) then decide. Certainly not going to go on the advice of a person selling a product.

    9. VolunteerCoordinatorinNOVA*

      I have super lower levels of vitamin D and at first my doctor prescribed high levels of vitamin d from the pharmacy. It didn’t make a huge difference and my PCP suggested lowing the prescription and adding in an over the counter as your body processes these differently. I’d recommend talking to a medical professional as there may be a good combination that works well for you!

  32. Persephone Mulberry*

    Minneapolites! Come say hi to me at Artistreet at Calhoun Square, next Saturday, noon-4pm. All the artists in attendance (15 or so) will be creating art live as well as displaying/selling completed work.

  33. MsChanandlerBong*

    I’m feeling a bit bummed. The house next to my MIL went up for sale ages ago, and the bank just dropped the price to $44,300 (it was a foreclosure). All it needs is a kitchen sink, kitchen counters, and appliances. We went to a mortgage broker last night, and he said it will be at least a year before we qualify, even though we have someone with excellent credit ready and willing to co-sign for us. A few years ago, I developed acute kidney failure after having a cardiac catheterization (from the dye they use during the procedure), and I was unable to work for several months. We got into a lot of debt without my income, and I have several medical bills in collections. I wasn’t in love with the house or anything, but the loan payment would have been around $300 per month, even with PMI and taxes, so we would have saved hundreds of dollars in month on rent that we could have used to pay off those medical debts and get into a better financial position.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Would your cosigner qualify to buy it on their own, and be willing to do a contract for deed (basically a lease to own) or rent it to you for a fixed period and then sell it to you when you qualify for an outside mortgage?

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I just signed up there last night! Good to know it’s a reputable place. Unfortunately, we found out this morning that someone already put in an offer on the house. The person willing to co-sign is my MIL. We don’t *need* to move right now; it’s just that the house was so affordable that we wanted to jump on it and save money on rent. I actually like our current house better; we’re going to work really hard on our credit scores and then approach the owner about buying it from her. She rented to us because she retired and bought an RV so she could travel the country; she got rid of all of her stuff, bought an SUV to tow the RV, etc., so I don’t *think* she’ll change her mind after our first year here is up, but I don’t like the uncertainty of not knowing what’s going to happen.

        1. TootsNYC*

          If it’s just the uncertainty that’s a problem where you are, maybe you could approach her about signing a longer lease, before this lease is even up. Now that she knows you better, she may be game for it.

          I have friends who are renting a house in what must be the sweetest deal ever–the landlord inherited it and doesn’t want to sell, but lives far away. They treat it like their own (doing repairs, etc.), and she gets all the equity gains of it waiting to sell it. And she gets a profit. She keeps their rent lower than market rate because they’re such great tenants, and she really likes the stability.

  34. ApartmentDweller*

    I’ve always rented apartments because of school or being in a high cost of living area (think SF/NYC high). I’m now moving to new state where for the first time it is actually cheaper to buy versus rent. I ran the numbers and basically I could trade my current $2k studio for either a $1k/mo 2bed/2bath rental apartment or a $500/month 3bed/2+bath house. My instinct was to keep renting because I don’t know anything about owning a home. But some other part of my brain is screaming “all that space!” and reminding myself that I am actually pretty handy at fix-it things. I know I’m not thinking clearly about the whole thing (because my brain has been squashed in this shoebox apartment for too long) so I turn to you all, pros and cons of either option that I am likely not thinking of?

    1. Doriana Gray*

      If you buy, you’ll have to pay property taxes, pay for homeowners insurance (and I’d suggest getting an excess and/or umbrella policy for higher liability limits just in case), and pay for any and all appliances that break. When you rent, you don’t have to worry about these things. Also, if (god forbid) you become seriously ill and/or lose your job, your bank still wants their money. I used to work in the foreclosure industry, and banks really have little sympathy for major life crises – they want their money. If you’re renting, you may be able to work out a payment arrangement that’s agreeable to your financial situation depending on how you’ve been as a tenant (my building has given months of free rent to people who suddenly lost their jobs).

      1. ApartmentDweller*

        Wow… that is amazing of your apartment to do that for people. I’ve never heard of such a thing!

        The property taxes/insurance were factored into the $500 mortgage calculation fortunately. I’ll look into the costs of appliances though, I’ve been doing my laundry at the laundromat for too long.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          The people they did that for have lived in this building a loooong time. So that was very nice of them (even though I’m sure the rest of our rent increases were partially in response to that). And yeah, it’s great that your insurance and property taxes were included! If you can work out the rest, it may make more sense for you to buy.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Will you have time/energy to do the upkeep? It’s either that or pay someone to do it for you. I do most of my own regular work and hire out the repair type work. My neighbor does the opposite- he hires someone to mow and plow and he rips apart walls himself.

      Does it bother you to be tied to a place, do you like to be able to move every so often?

      The existing stuff always expands to fill the available space. Would you have time to enjoy your stuff if you owned a house? I have stuff here that I have to get rid of, there is no time for it. And it’s a bummer to see it laying there unused. So rather than get more bummed, I am getting rid of it.

      I do like having a dog. And I do like having say over how my places looks and having say in how problems are handled when they come up.

      1. ApartmentDweller*

        I’m actually more concerned about not having enough stuff to fill a house coming from a studio!

        1. catsAreCool*

          Don’t worry about that part. If you’re like most of us, this will eventually turn into too much stuff :)

    3. Cruciatus*

      Lots of people know nothing! There are great articles all over the web. I’m looking to buy a house and trying to think of all the possibilities. I don’t make a lot (and have a lot saved) but mortgages in my area, for my budget, are cheaper than renting. For houses I’m looking at, I could pay $500-600 for mortgage and all taxes and insurance (really depends on how much I put down–could be even lower). This is for houses in the $75-125,000 range. Renting is on average about $700 or up. But I’m trying to think of the additional time costs and actual costs. It’s not just the mortgage you pay, it’s also taxes and home insurance. And I need to pay/do all home maintenance, mow the lawn (which requires a mower of some kind), shovel the driveway (which requires a blower or paying someone). And it’s all me if the furnace goes kaput or the appliances all die on the same day. But most people I know who own their own homes have had the normal problems so I would hope the same would be true for me. I have enough saved up to also address any unexpected costs. But I could dance a jig in my kitchen without upsetting the people below me. I don’t know if I would, but I could. I can choose to paint/decorate how I want. I can have whatever guests I want, or pets. You could have a yard and a barbecue pit for cookouts. A pool. A house is riskier, but, within your own budget, it’s all yours to do what you want with and can be a good investment. At least, this is all what I’m telling myself!

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      The first place I bought was a townhome. I also did not know anything about home maintenance or repair. But the HOA fee covered everything outside, like the roof, lawn care, siding, etc. At one point I got a whole new concrete slab for my front porch because they’d been done incorrectly the first time, and the HOA fees covered that too. It was reassuring to not have to worry about that part, at least. Then figuring out what to do with inside stuff didn’t seem so overwhelming. Usually, I called one of my guy friends who could either help me himself, or tell me when I needed to call a professional.

    5. NicoleK*

      When buying a house, try to buy in the best neighborhood that you can afford. My neighborhood is okay in terms of safety but I have lousy neighbors. People frequently dump their garbage in our garbage cart and leave their trash in the area behind our house (car tires, mattress, and etc). Makes my blood boil.

    6. Yetanotherjennifer*

      A friend of mine once said to me: you know all those people you see walking around the lake? (Lived in mpls at the time) They rent. Of course he bought a house a year later.

      A house takes a lot of time and money to maintain. We jokingly call it the Home Depot bill; and its higher for the first year or so. Oh, and assume some appliance will go kaput or burst or something expensive will happen in the first 6 months of moving in.

    7. TootsNYC*

      You might look into home maintenance insurance, or whatever it’s called. Some people really like that, and if it’s not that much, it would be a way to shelter yourself from problems w/ the boiler, etc.

      At the very least, you should probably look at all those appliances and set up a “service contract” with YOURSELF. A service contract for a washer might be $75/year. So put $75/year in a special savings place, and when it breaks, you’ve got money to fix it or put toward purchase of a new one.

      The biggest thing is the financial, down the road: Will the home appreciate in value? So that if you needed to leave it, you -could- sell it.

      My brother was in the army, and he never bought a home, because he knew too many people who got re-posted and couldn’t sell their home from their old posting.

    8. Sunflower*

      Have you ever lived in this area before? Personally I think buying off the bat in a place you’ve never lived is a terrible idea. What if you hate the area? Getting out of a lease is enough hassle, trying to re-sell a house you just bought or become a landlord is that x10000.

      My friends who have recently bought houses tell me all the time how much more money it is than they expected. In the first couple months, almost everyone had something break. My sister has a bathroom and a kitchen she hates. She has to live with it for a while because they money isn’t there right now to fix it. On the other hand, it’s great to be able to say ‘I hate that floor, I’m going to redo it’ as opposed to move, beg your landlord to change it or deal with it.

      Home ownership isn’t a goal of mine. I always figured I guess one day I’ll meet someone and get married and maybe wanna have kids so I’ll buy a house. I know lots of people who own their houses alone but I have no desire to take on that burden by myself. I have too much other stuff I’d rather do that makes me happier. My goal is to make enough money to live in a luxury apt building where I don’t have to do anything except live and look out a giant, beautiful window.

      Maybe you should rent for a while and revisit buying in a bit. No need to make a decision right away.

      1. Rent first....*

        Totally agree.

        People always underestimate the cost of buying. Why would you consider moving from a studio to a 3 bedroom house?!?!? Or even a 2 bedroom condo? Just because you can? Bad reason. Big house/condo means higher heat/gas/electric….. Don’t forget to calculate these. Maintenance/repairs/furniture plus the time cost of cleaning, lawn care/snow shoveling etc…

        And remember you will spend $$ for closing costs to buy the place.

        And how long do you truly plan on living there? What if you lose/change jobs? Hate the city?

        I will probably be a life long renter. My $$ is doing very well in investments, rather than being dropped into a house and its maintenance. I live simply, in a 1 bedroom apartment I can afford and will retire very young. Maybe you want to be me?

        I really like this NYT calculator. Make sure you are honest…


        1. Sunflower*

          Utilities are a huge biggie. My friend bought a house and begged me to move in saying she didn’t even care if I pay rent, she just needed help with the utilities. If I don’t have kids, I’ll probably be a life long renter. I can’t see any situation in the foreseeable future where buying a house will make me significantly happier than renting.

          I think you need to ask if you actually want to buy or if you just *feel* like you should buy. I’ve always just thought of rent as another bill I have to pay every month. There are people who believe renting is essentially throwing money away. I have seen way too many people buy a house simply because they had the money and/or thought they should just because. Or my friend who is 35 and single and felt like she needed to ‘do something significant’ so she bought a house after spending about 2 weeks thinking about it. It’s too soon to tell how it will work out for her but I do know she ended up buying in a neighborhood she wasn’t crazy about and if she would have waited 2-3 more years, she could have bought in the neighborhood she really wanted.

      2. Doriana Gray*

        My goal is to make enough money to live in a luxury apt building where I don’t have to do anything except live and look out a giant, beautiful window.

        This is my goal too. I currently live in a somewhat metropolitan area in the Midwest in a high rise apartment building downtown – but I have one of the smallest apartments in the building, and my view is of my workplace (the company I work for is right across the street). My apartment building is constantly being renovated so that it can become a luxury place like the rest of the newer condos and million dollar apartment buildings popping up around it, so I anticipate having to move eventually because I will no longer be able to afford it. But I’m keeping my eye out for job opportunities with higher salaries and am submitting stories to every paying market in sight with the hopes that one day I can afford to reach this goal.

  35. Christina*

    I have a tax/freelancer question for anyone who might know.

    This is the first year I’ve done freelancing and I made $2000. After my regular salary (around $42k taxable) and deductions (I’m itemizing, but just due to owning my condo, nothing special), my return is $2400, but when I put in the $2000 I made as a 1099-MISC item, my return drops to $1700.

    Does that sound right? That’s a 35% tax. Everything I’ve read says it should fall around 20-30%. Also, I never did get a 1099 form from the company I worked for (a non-profit, for what it’s worth). Do I have to have one, like a W2?

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      That could be right since the 1099 income doesn’t have any income tax withheld, nor does it have any Social Security withheld, so you’re liable for that yourself — including the employer’s share of the tax. I think. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve done anything with taxes, so please don’t take this as gospel.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yep, it could definitely be right. I’d run all your numbers again to be sure, but that doesn’t sound wildly out of whack to me. You’re paying not just normal income tax on it, but also self-employment tax (the portion of the taxes and Social Security that would normally have been paid by your employer, if that were W2 income).

      You can file without having the 1099 on hand.

      1. Christina*

        That’s what I don’t get–I knew to figure the 15% self employment tax, and that I have to pay my “regular” income tax on it too, but I just didn’t think I’m making enough to be taxed at 22%.

    3. MsChanandlerBong*

      Sounds about right. Did you have any self-employment expenses to deduct? That could help reduce your tax liability. You don’t need to have a 1099 to file; just use your records to add the amount you made from freelancing.

    4. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Remember to make your quarterly tax payments. You usually get a pass the first year but next year there will be penalties and interest to pay. And yes, your tax rate would seem higher because you have to pay both employer and employee portions of social security and Medicare. But subtract that out and the rate will probably few more reasonable.

      1. Christina*

        I didn’t make enough to pay quarterly taxes according to the IRS website, so that’s something.

        I just figured the numbers in more detail, and I’m paying 37.5% on the $2000 I made, and ran the numbers through two different tax programs to confirm. I just don’t get how most sites I found say to estimate 25-30% for taxes, when even for my little income means paying $140 more than I thought. If I was making more and trusted that 30%, I’d be royally ticked.

        Oh well, lesson learned.

        1. Dan*

          Well, you don’t trust stuff you read on the internet, you do it yourself or ask a CPA or something.

          You’re likely in the 15% or 25% bracket depending on your income and marital status. Throw 15% on there for self employment tax, and you’re at 30% to 40%.

          Taxes are a real bitch. My liability to uncle Sam this year is $16,000. Time to buy a house.

    5. FiveByFive*

      “That’s a 35% tax.”

      Yep – welcome to running a small business!

      In this order: 1) Start looking for deductions, 2) When you hear people complain about the rich getting richer by taking deductions, they are talking about YOU now, and 3) Let us know when you start voting Republican!


      1. Christina*

        Yep, now going through and deducing the parking and lunches I paid for. And ha, no thank you, I’ll happily consider these taxes to be the price I pay to not be associated with the party of Trump ;-)

        1. Treena*

          +1 Also check if you can deduct a portion of rent/utilities if you have a home office. That saved my husband a ton of money when he freelanced.

      2. the gold digger*

        The self-employment tax is one of the reasons I wouldn’t accept pay for volunteering as a poll worker. I had a little bit of other SE income and I did not want to be pushed to the income level where you have to pay SE tax. It is way too much hassle (for small amounts of income) to figure out the darn taxes. (I say that as someone who worked for the IRS and who got among the highest scores in her business school accounting and finance classes. As in, Why you gotta make it so hard, IRS?)

        Also, I would rather do my civic duty for free than for the $3/hour it would have come out to after the IRS took its 50% or so.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The IRS instructions LOOK like English words, but somehow I feel like I know less than when I started reading.

      3. MsChanandlerBong*

        I’ve owned my own business and paid a high tax rate for 12 years. There’s still no way I would register or vote as a Republican. I’d rather pay a high tax rate than align myself with a party that promotes bigotry and inequality.

    6. Dynamic Beige*

      Honestly if you can afford it, get an accountant to prepare your tax return. Because as a freelancer there are all kinds of write-offs you can take, but unless you are a freelance accountant, you wouldn’t know about them. Also, the accountant’s fees may be tax deductible. Win-win.

  36. The Cosmic Avenger*

    I just wanted to stop in and say that I missed most of the free-for-all thread because we’re having an awesome time at ReGeneration Who!

  37. Ann Furthermore*

    Not work related, but I’ve started looking for a new job, and was doing some research on a position I’m considering applying for. I came across a message board last night where someone had posted a question about it, and there was some advice there about making sure things were very clear before getting into anything. Included in this person’s response was the statement, “Expectations are nothing more than premeditated resentments.”

    That really struck me. One the one hand, it’s pretty cynical, but on the other, it’s such fabulous advice. If you go into any situation — work or otherwise — expecting all these things to happen but you haven’t articulated them to anyone, then when they don’t happen, you’re just going to be disappointed and resentful.

    I really think I’m going to have to write that down and refer to it from time to time.

  38. Sera*

    Anyone have any pet peeves when it comes to misused phrases?

    For some reason I get really annoyed when ‘sour grapes’ get used incorrectly, probably because it happens so frequently and even (often) in mainstream media. I keep wanting to yell ‘it’s not synonymous with ‘jealous’!”

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I realize these are all uphill battles (i.e., the “incorrect” uses will, in time, become acceptable and then correct), but these are my current pet peeves:
      * Alison and I when Alison and me is appropriate for the sentence
      * all intensive purposes instead of all intents and purposes
      * disinterested to mean uninterested instead of impartial (may have already lost this battle)
      * could care less to mean couldn’t care less (a classic)

      1. Cruciatus*

        I try to remember that I thought boughten was a word for years, but I still have my personal pet peeves, but mostly with specific words like:
        bemused–it doesn’t mean amused, dammit! Some may argue it does now but that’s only because too many used it wrong. Actually means confused.
        nonplussed– it does not mean relaxed or chilled or not caring about something but rather to be perplexed.
        mischievous–not pronounced “miss chee vee us” but rather “miss cha viss”
        And a coworker says supposably so often I sometimes have to take a second to come up with the correct word.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          nonplussed– it does not mean relaxed or chilled or not caring about something but rather to be perplexed.

          My MIL says “nonpulsed” and she means not caring or bored so far out of her mind that she doesn’t have a detectable pulse.

        2. Felicia*

          I pronounced mischievous wrong for years. I often know what words mean, and use them correctly, but pronounce them incorrectly.

          I think this is because I read a lot and I’d only ever seen it in writing. I’ve found that often people who are big readers have good vocabularies but don’t know how to pronounce a lot of words because they’d never heard them out loud (and the way a LOT of English words are pronounced is far from intuitive.)

        3. the gold digger*

          “boughten” is a word. It is “Northern and North Midland U.S. Nonstandard.” It has been used in the US since 1793. Probably not proper English, but definitely a word. :) (She said defensively, having heard and used that word since she was a child.)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yep. It’s a little archaic, but it’s legit. I first ran across it in the Little House books–in one, Laura mentions they had a boughten door (Pa always made the doors for their houses before this one).

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              That’s where I remember it from, too. Laura would distinguish boughten items from handmade.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Alison and I when Alison and me is appropriate for the sentence

        This is my main peeve, mainly because it seems that people say it to be extra proper regardless of the fact that there are circumstances in which it is grammatically wrong.

        1. Miko*

          Yes. Or “If you have any questions, please speak to myself or Andy.” “Myself” isn’t a magic formal++ button!

      3. Rob Lowe can't read*

        I vs. me has become a particular pet peeve of mine recently, although I really only notice it in writing. And even then I have to do the “delete the other person’s name and see if it sounds wrong” trick to catch it, so I’m never going to call anyone out on it.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Well, that’s changing. As more and more people continue to use disinterested incorrectly, it will become “correct.” In fact, now it’s been added as a secondary definition in a lot of dictionaries. I’d say in 40-5o years, it will probably be the primary definition, and you’ll have to look in the OED to see that it used to mean unbiased or impartial.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Well, if people would just read more Jane Austen, they’d learn the meaning as “impartial or unbiased” from the context clues.

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              When you teach high school English to motivated students, it’s very easy to distinguish between the motivated-by-grade students and the just-love-reading students. The motivated-by-grade students are great at memorizing definitions and grammar rules but terrible at understanding nuance in terms of what’s common usage for a word. The just-love-reading students don’t always know the official rules, but they have a much richer understanding of how English is actually used in a variety of contexts.

              For example, one time we had a vocab quiz, and one of the words was wont, meaning habit or custom. Even with a couple of samples, the kids who didn’t read used it in sentences like “I started up a wont with my family at Christmastime,” and the kids who loved reading were more likely to have a sentence like “She brushed her teeth after eating, as was her wont.”

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                “I started up a wont . . . ”

                Hilarious! I love the unintended humor sometimes found in kids’ school assignments.

      4. Artemesia*

        Add ‘less’ for ‘fewer’ and I agree with all of those. Drives me nuts when people say things like ‘less people showed up for the demonstration than we expected.’ Fewer. Fewer. Fewer.

    2. PsS*

      Irregardless. It is regardless.
      For all intensive purposes. It is for all intents and purposes.
      Pacifically. It’s specifically.

      A teacher made a sign that says “Hot Of The Press” and it is KILLING me not to fix it. She thinks she is correct and gets very pissy when corrected.

    3. Graciosa*

      I’m currently annoyed about discreet versus discrete. I just saw the latter used instead of the former in a piece of published fiction.

      Please – get a competent editor!

    4. TootsNYC*

      I have “one of the only.”

      It’s “one of the few.”

      But otherwise, I just don’t get bothered. I fix them all the time at work, but they don’t upset me.

      hey, if everybody else was perfect, I wouldn’t have a job!

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Is that really incorrect?

        “We are the only two people left on the planet. I am one of the only people left on the planet.”

        Would you really say instead…?

        “We two are the few people left on the planet. I am one of the few people left on the planet.”

        Only can refer to exclusivity or singularity. It does not always have to refer to singularity.

        1. Artemesia*

          Yup. My equal status black co-professionals still got pulled over by police for DWB and asked for a clean napkin at the faculty club at lunch if they walked by a table and asked to explain their presence here and there. White privilege is a distinctive thing. I think the best example is all the drunk, or disturbed or lawbreaking white men who are gently talked down and disarmed while 12 year old black kids with bb guns are shot within a minute of the cop rolling up and before he even leaves his car.

    5. Sandy*

      Something is not addicting, it’s ADDICTIVE.

      Drives me crazy. I’ve actually stopped reading certain blogs entirely because of it.

    6. Elkay*

      Not so much a misused phrase but I’m running a one woman campaign against “pre-order”. I understand that people mean “ordering pre-release” but you’re still ordering it. Same with “pre-book”.

    7. nep*

      Ugh yes — the Alison and I when Alison and me is appropriate.

      Could care less
      Irregardless (though not a phrase)
      In lieu of — I hear people use it when they mean to say ‘in light of’
      Can’t under- / overestimate [the importance of x…] when they mean to say ‘can’t overstate’

      And the double ‘is’ — Eg: ‘The problem is, is that….’

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I really detest the word “Trending”.

        My other annoyance is “Pop-Up” to refer to something temporary. I always have visions of people on springs bouncing up and down.

      2. nep*

        I can’t stand the rampant misuse of ‘awesome’ and ‘literally’ — these have been discussed here before.

    8. Dynamic Beige*

      It’s not a phrase but I despise the word “convo” no, it’s a conversation.

      I’m also developing some loathing for current business buzzwords like “pivoting” and a bunch of other jargon I hear too much of. Upsell. Downsell. Lead Magnet. Aaaugh!

      1. Kali*

        In the same vein, “prezo” to mean presentation. My highly entrepreneurial boss used that multiple times the other day and I think my eyes rolled so hard they almost got stuck.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Oh Gawd. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. I haven’t heard that one before, here’s hoping it doesn’t gain traction.

    9. Older not yet wiser*

      Wa la instead of voilà. I’ve seen this more than a few times – particularly on Pinterest.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yes! I hate that one. I always wonder if the person who wrote it is trying to be humorous, or if they really don’t know. The only time I see it in fiction is in dialog from a character who is portrayed as a bumpkin with ambitions of upward mobility.

    10. Mephyle*

      “Lay” misused for “lie.” Try to find an exercise video, dog training video, or pretty much anything else that doesn’t say “lay down” when they mean “lie down”. People who know how to use “lie” correctly seem to be as rare as rare things. You even see “lay” used incorrectly in posts and articles by professional writers and bloggers.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Oh, yeah. I see this a lot.

        I also just remembered another pet peeve of mine (yes, I’m a pedant, unfortunately):

        every day vs. everyday

        I see a lot of people (in articles, blog posts, Facebook updates) writing sentences like:

        “I’m grateful for everyday I’m alive”

        instead of

        “I’m grateful for every day I’m alive”

        everyday is an adjective that modifies a noun (e.g., “Alison giving good work advice is an everyday occurrence,” as opposed to “Alison gives good work advice every day”).

      2. nep*

        Yes. It seems that more often than not, lie and lay are used incorrectly. As I think I once mentioned on here, in exercise/stretching videos I don’t think I’ve ever heard a person say ‘lie’ on the mat, always ‘lay’ on the mat. Ugh.

    11. Cordelia Longfellow*

      I try really hard not to judge other folks’ (mis)use of language, but I’ve got two literature degrees and as much as I know language evolves and try not to be prescriptivist, I definitely have my pet peeves. The one that still irks me after several years of common usage is “grow” as a transitive verb describing business or the economy.

    12. Artemesia*

      Mine is ‘begs the question’ which absolutely does not mean ‘suggests a question we might ask’ as it is used by clueless talking heads. It basically means ‘assume what you are trying to prove.’ I hate it when subtle and nuanced terms and expressions are destroyed by people ignorant of their meaning. It impoverishes the language. Another example is using ‘brutalize’ to mean ‘hurt somebody.’ It is a term that means that a person is made brutal by being treated brutally — an interesting concept. To use it as just bullying or hurting someone robs us of a useful concept.

  39. Meemzi*

    My sweet boyfriend had an appointment with a new doctor who supposedly is a specialist in schizophrenia. He told her that one of his delusions is feeling like gods are in control of everything and she said that THAT’S TRUE, GOD AND JESUS ARE IN CONTROL.


      1. Meemzi*

        Yes, she was the second doctor he’s seen on his new insurance and he definitely likes the first one better.

    1. Jean*

      I’m sending good thoughts to you and your boyfriend. Also, yes, if you and he (he especially, as the patient!) don’t share the first doctor’s religious outlook I would find another doctor. She may be a great fit for some patients but it doesn’t sound like that includes your boyfriend.

      1. Observer*

        This is not about religious outlook AT ALL. This is about incompetence. You can absolutely believe in G-d’s daily involvement in the world while still understanding that this guy is suffering from something, whether or not it’s schizophrenia.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Maybe this doctor needs to be reported to the governing board. Because she might need a little assistance with remembering that she needs to keep her personal shit out of her office.

          My mum deals with tons of patients who have been to horrible therapists. She gets so pissed about stuff like this.

        2. Jean*

          Sorry if I implied that this was appropriate behavior by the doctor. I was trying not to rant & so wrote “religious outlook” as a substitute for “outrageously intrusive projection of one’s own religious biases.”
          Perhaps I would have been more clear if I simply said +1 to Lisa Lee above (“I…guess she meant it comfortingly?”).

          Even in a healthcare facility sponsored by a religiously-affiliated institution a provider can’t assume that a patient will share that outlook. I mean, most of the world is at least partially representative of multiple religious affiliations (or non-affiliations).

    2. Felix*

      I feel like asking “is this even legal?” But I guess the better question is “is that ethical?!”

      I had a doctor refuse to give me a prescription for birth control because I wasn’t married. A doctors’ religious beliefs have no place in the medical office!!

    3. TootsNYC*

      Oh, and…when I went into counseling, i deliberately chose an openly church-sponsored counseling center and worked with a man who is labeled a pastoral counselor. He’s a psychologist–with a degree from a name-brand university (he went back to school after retiring from active ministry). That’s because my faith is a big part of my outlook, and I wanted that to be part of what my treatment was.

      But in a secular setting, that comment is inappropriate.

      And even more important==as mentioned above in the comment about competence: She’s so focused on getting her religious viewpoint out that she’s totally glossing over some pretty important symptoms! How can you trust her diagnosis?

      (My therapist didn’t start talking about faith until we were definitely into the treatment, and his diagnosis was completely divorced from any religious content at all.)

  40. Schnapps*

    I had a week’s “vacation”
    – took kid to pool. Twice (her nanny took her twice as well) (it’s spring break)
    – Taught the first part of a course that is spread over several days and several weeks. It’s a revamped program so I’m getting a lot of “How do I access these documents?” emails. I plan to record a video tomorrow and upload it somewhere.
    – Mentored a guy for his Water Safety Instructor Trainer award.
    – Get call from mom on Wednesday that dad was admitted to hospital with what is either a TIA (mini-stroke) or vertigo. CT scan shows no leaks or clots so that’s a good thing? (he’s 81 this year so it could go either way)
    – Miss call from mom Thursday afternoon that dad is back home and they’ve diagnosed it as vertigo and not a TIA. Never been so happy to hear someone has vertigo.

    I go back to work Wednesday, which is great because I need a vacation from my vacation.

  41. PsS*

    Zombie fiction recommendations?
    I’ve read Patient Zero by Jonathon Mabery and am going to look for his Rot & Ruin series. I’ve read all of Kirkman’s books. I’ve read PP&Z as well.

    Can you recommend any books like Memoirs of a Geisha? I am currently reading China Dolls by Lisa See and am planning on reading more of her books.
    I enjoy historical fiction.

    Good dystopian fiction? I liked Snow Crash. I like Corey Doctorow books.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      If you like Memoirs, try Molokai and Honolulu (two separate titles) by Allan Brennert. Molokai is the better of the two, IMO.

      On the dystopia side, Station 11 (which I heard about here) is about civilization, such as it is, 20 years after a pandemic kills off 90% of the earth’s population, and the Last Policeman trilogy is kind of an everyman look at the last days before a world-ending meteor hits earth (actually I think I heard about these on an open thread, too).

    2. Cruciatus*

      It’s not zombies exactly, but I enjoyed the first two books of Justin Cronin’s series that starts with The Passage (still waiting on the third book to come out). Another similar themed book would be The Strain trilogy (though both series are very different).

      For dystopian series, I’m not very far in it yet but there is Hugh Howey’s Wool series. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read. When I first started reading it you could only get it on Amazon but I think it’s more widely available now due to its popularity.

      1. Jen RO*

        I second Wool. The writing gets better as the series goes on, too. Howey’s Sand is also good, though it is a bit frustrating that the series is in progress and you need to wait until the next volume.

    3. Andraste*

      The “Newsflesh” series by Mira Grant is quite good if you’re looking for more zombie books. Its got a different slant than a lot of zombie fiction and I dug it. “Feed” is the first book in the set. World War Z is good too.

      1. Tris Prior*

        +1. I read a lot of zombie fiction and this is by far my favorite. I’ve enjoyed everything else Mira Grant has put out too.

    4. Jen RO*

      I wrote a very big list and then realized that post-apocalyptic fiction does not equal dystopia… so I will start again.

      Have you read the classics? 1984, Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World? Have you read William Gibson? (I am not a fan of cyberpunk and if I have to read it, I prefer Stephenson, but Gibson is the granddaddy of it all and his books, while not straight-up dystopias, have that mood.)

      A few others:
      * Yevgeny Zamyatin – We – quite similar in mood and theme to 1984
      * Anthony Burgess – A Clockwork Orange – another classic, and well-deservedly so.
      * John Brunner – Stand on Zanzibar (overpopulation), The Sheep Look Up (environmental decline) and Shockwave Rider (proto-cyberpunk). The Sheep Look Up is my personal favorite of the lot.
      * John Joseph Adams – Brave New Worlds – short fiction anthology. I haven’t personally read it, but I *have* read other of Adams’ anthologies and they have all been good.

      1. Nynaeve*

        I have read the Brave New Worlds anthology and can vouch that it is excellent.

        If you want some love in your zombie stories, I recommend Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Lia Habel’s Dearly, Departed (a steampunk zombie love story).

        If you’re looking for something similar to Memoirs of a Geisha, I would suggest Ellis Avery’s <The Teahouse Fire, (which I actually liked better).

    5. Rebecca*

      I have Patient Zero on my Amazon wish list. Thanks for recommending the Rot & Ruin series! That looks good, too. Right now I’m enjoying the Bill Hodges Trilogy (Mr. Mercedes, now Finders Keepers, and looking forward to End of Watch this summer by Stephen King).

    6. Felicia*

      Kind of a different take on the zombie thing, but you should try The Girl With All the Gifts

    7. Schnapps*

      Not dystopian, but apocalyptic: “Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson. Long, incredibly detailed, but really, really good, especially if you like explanations of scientific concepts.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Zombies: This Dark Earth, by John Hornor Jacobs. Also check out his fantasy The Incorruptibles. If you like The Walking Dead, you’ll like TDE and if you like stuff like The Dark Tower (rereading that now, yay!), you’ll love The Incorruptibles. I loved it–I could not put it down.

      I know John–we met at the same nerdcon where I met Brian Keene, who also has tons of zombie stuff. He’s way cool. :)

  42. vegasTrip*

    I’ll be going to Las Vegas in about a month for a few days. Any tips for fun things to do or look at? I understand that there are roller coasters, a few aquariums, an area with flamingos and swans, a place with lions, an auto show. I’m not into gambling, and I don’t like alcohol, but looking at animals/fish/birds/cars/etc. and riding roller coasters sounds fun.

    Also, any suggestions about how to get around? It looks like there’s a monorail.


    1. Gene*

      The monorail is basically useless. There are some ziplines I haven’t had a chance to try. Just for people watching, you need to spend a late evening on Fremont Street.

      If you don’t rent a car, cabs are the way to go. Beware of getting long hauled from the airport. I have a cadre of cabbies I know and usually at least one of them is on duty, plus I never have to wait in a cab line. This goes for anyone here, contact me at thenoid105 at Gmail and I’ll give you the Twitter handles for them.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve been to Vegas a couple of times, first with my mom and then on a solo business trip. My very favorite thing to do is simply walk the Strip and go through the hotels. Seriously. The hotel lobbies range from the magnificent to the kitschy, and many have lots and lots of retail ranging from mid-price to so-expensive-I-won’t-go-past-the-windows. That’s where you find the restaurants, too. I find the Venetian to be particularly fun, and the lobby of the Mirage is like a lovely rainforest. No transportation necessary, just lots of walking!

      Being in Vegas by myself with a lot of extra time was a very weird feeling, but I did some fun exploring and had some lovely meals. I’m not much of a gambler either, but one evening I spent about an hour playing Princess Bride slots at the Wynn and had a couple of cocktails (not your jam, I know, but drinks– including non-alcoholic– are free on most casino floors).

    3. Tennessee*

      Vegas is fun! Hubby and I have been several times now. Second the idea of hotel lobbies — Wynn, Venetian, and Bellagio especially. Haven’t been to Mirage yet; it’s now on my list for next time. People watching is always … interesting. You could spend the entire time just watching the people. The monorail is handy if you are in town for something at the convention center; otherwise meh. There’s a Ghirardelli’s ice cream near the High Roller (observation wheel) if you like chocolate. Recommend the breakfast buffet at Paris, no higher than others in price, but I found it to be better food. If you don’t have a hotel yet, we like Ballys. Cheaper than most on the strip, clean, and nice people with decent security. We usually take a cab to the Pinball Museum, just for nostalgia. It’s in an old warehouse a little ways off the strip.

      We’ve never had a real problem with cabbies trying to pad their fares by taking the long way and I would NEVER try to drive in Vegas. Too many drunk pedestrians and just plain crazy drivers.

      My go-to place for trip planning is TripAdvisor; you can search for things to do in Las Vegas there and find lots of stuff. There are museums, botanical gardens and other non-Strip activities that you might not hear about otherwise. Vegas.com is good for checking into what shows will be there.

    4. CAA*

      Roller coasters — Stratosphere ($); New York, New York ($)
      Aquariums — Mirage lobby; Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden ($); Mandalay Bay sharks ($)
      Flamingos — Flamingo hotel — gardens are free, they have fish, turtles, birds, also some exhibits about Bugsy Siegel. You might want to see the movie “Bugsy” before you go.
      Lions — gone from MGM
      Cars — I don’t know
      Monorails — the strip is S. Las Vegas Blvd, and it runs north-south. The monorail behind the casinos on the east side of the street costs $ and it can take you from MGM to SLS. It’s public transit. If we’re staying somewhere like Paris, we might walk southbound and ride back on the monorail. There are also multiple free short tram/monorails that can take you from casino to casino on the west side of the street. The ones I know go from TI to Mirage; Bellagio to City Center and Monte Carlo/Aria; Excalibur to Luxor and Mandalay Bay.

      For other stuff:
      Pinball museum is on Tropicana Blvd. I’m not really into it, but my husband and his best friend can easily kill a few hours with a $10 roll of quarters.

      Tix4Tonight booths have half-price show tickets. Lots of variety from Cirque du Soleil to broadway musicals to the traditional Vegas magicians, comedians, nudity, etc.

      I’m usually happy hanging out in a shaded lounge chair near the pool with a good book and a tropical drink.

      City Center has very high end shops that are nice if you enjoy window shopping.

      You can walk through any casino and admire the design elements. Bellagio is particularly beautiful and they also have the fountains in front. The Cosmopolitan is eye catching. Caesar’s has the moving statues in the mall. You can go to the viewing platform on the Eiffel Tower and watch the Bellagio fountains from there.

    5. LawCat*

      We really enjoyed the National Atomic Testing Museum. It was interesting stuff! You have to take a cab to get there. When we went, we found a Groupon to save on the tickets.

      The Cirque due Soleil shows are really cool and fun to watch. Tickets are pricey, but you can get same-day tickets for much cheaper from these kiosks. I can’t remember what the company is called, but the desks where they sell these tickets are fairly obvious with signs showing the discounts available for shows that night. I’m sure hotel staff could point you in the right direction. (Beware the time share people, that’s a whole different thing, but might look similar since they work for desks/kiosks. They will be offering “free” tickets, but the catch is you have to go to a high pressure time share sales pitch. I know some people who do this to get show tickets, but I don’t care to spend my vacation doing that.)

      If you want to get away from Vegas for a day or half day, there are excursions to places like Red Rock and the Hoover Dam. We did a tour with a company called “Pink Jeep Tours” and we really enjoyed it.

      1. LawCat*

        Oops, I missed CAA’s post above. Tix4Tonight is the company I was thinking of on the discount tickets!

    6. StudentAffairsProfessional*

      The lobby of the Bellagio is AWESOME! It has a lot of Chihuly’s blown glass art installations and other interesting art. Just watching the fountains out front is pretty enjoyable as well. You can get along on foot well, if you are able bodied. I was there last summer and we were able to hit most of the hotels on the strip just on foot. I also thought it was really cool to walk around the lobby and watch the elevators in the Luxor hotel, which is the one shaped like a pyramid – the elevators move along the plane of the pyramid, so they are moving on a diagonal! If you make it to “Old Vegas” (aka Fremont St), the Gold Nugget hotel has a water slide that goes through a shark tank, so that’s pretty cool to see too. Also, don’t underestimate the dining options. Lots of world-class restaurants, if that’s your thing. We ate at a place that flies in fresh fish from Greece every morning…. Crazy!

  43. fposte*

    Ancestry.com–anybody dealt with it and is it worth it? I’m mostly trying to figure out some old family pictures and got on a bit of a tear about some family dead ends; I’m not really interested in the whole genealogy thing. One the one hand, it could be interesting; on the other, the free teaser stuff they’re displaying seems less informed than I am, so whoever I’m related to that’s already using the site isn’t very good at research.

    1. Nina*

      My mother used it for a few months and she was less than thrilled. It didn’t seem to provide much information once she had paid, and they frequently kept contacting her once she dropped her membership. Most of their info is generated from public records like the census. It helps a lot if you already have some background info on your family, because they expect you to fill in a lot of the blanks yourself. But if certain relatives weren’t listed on the census (for example, former slaves, mixed race children, etc.) then it’s easy to hit a dead end pretty fast, and that’s it. The commercials love to say stuff like “Wow, I traced my family all the way back to Louis the XV!” but those stories are rare.

      I think she paid around $30/month and she said it wasn’t worth it. She is interested in the DNA testing, but not through Ancestry.

    2. overeducated and underemployed*

      You can get almost as much info on Family Search without a subscription. Things like war pension records and birth certificates take more legwork to find but I’m not sure if ancestry.com provides screen shots either.

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      Some public libraries subscribe to Ancestry or similar. Might be able to try before you buy!

    4. fposte*

      Thanks, folks; that was my suspicion. I already did 23 and Me so I don’t care about the genetics.

    5. Sibley*

      My mom has been doing genealogy forever – she’s really, really good. The problem with the websites (all of them), is you can’t distinguish between what’s good and what’s not. So you really shouldn’t trust any of it unless you can verify it.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      My uncle used ancestry but he was into researching the family tree. I think in decades to come it will be worth something but now they are still “stocking the shelves” so to speak. They are filling up their databases and they have a ways to go yet. Just my impression from everything my uncle said about them. He would combine info he got from there with info from other sources, it was like putting together a 6000 piece puzzle. Okay, if you like it, but mind-bending if you don’t like it.

      I once looked at (a copy of?) the ships logs from my ancestor’s voyage in the early 1600s. Supposedly that is when they came over. I could not find my ancestor. Long story short, I never got back to look at the log again and my real hope is that some day it will be on ancestry.

      Maybe you can find a freebie offer or maybe a friend will loan you their password just so you can see if you want a paid membership.

  44. Allison Mary*

    There was a post up above about periods as related to possible peri-menopause, and rather than hijacking that thread, I’m going to post another thread down here. WARNING – this may be too graphic for those who are uncomfortable with explicit discussion of menstrual cycles! Skip this thread if that squicks you out!

    For any people who menstruate out there and haven’t heard of menstrual cups – I just needed to say that they are the best thing ever and they have changed my life. Here are my reasons for being in love:

    – Way, way, way more sanitary and hygienic than disposable pads and tampons (even though you wouldn’t think so)
    – Way cheaper over the long run
    – No more worrying about whether you have enough supplies on hand, or last-second mad dashes to the store to stock up on pads or tampons
    – Most of them hold WAY more than a tampon ever could, and more than many day pads
    – They can be left in for up to TWELVE HOURS. I can basically pretend my period doesn’t exist!
    – No more soggy tampon strings
    – Way, way lower risk of TSS
    – They result in way less waste because they’re reusable and will last up to a few years

    The downsides:
    – Quite a learning curve, especially for those who tend not to be comfortable dealing with their own bodies and getting “all up in there” – it can take up to six months to really figure out how to get them open and positioned correctly under the cervix so that there will be no leaking
    – Higher up-front cost
    – There are zillions of brands out there, and it can be tough to find “the one” that fits perfectly while limiting spending

    If anyone is curious about specific brands, I have used the following brands (in roughly this order):
    Diva cup
    LENA cup
    FemmyCycle cup
    Lunette cup
    Blossom cup
    Si-bell cup
    Super Jennie cup

    I’m a huge fan, and I just needed to shout this out to the world for a moment. That is all. :)

    1. Nina*

      Don’t use them, but I think they’re awesome. I had no idea there were so many brands now, I just knew about the Diva Cup and Lunette.

    2. Softcups*

      I think “Instead softcups” are slightly different but I find them pretty easy to place, and (warning, TMI) you can have sex with it in place. The SO says he can feel it a little sometimes but it doesn’t feel weird or happen often enough to stop us.

      I love them for all the reasons you mentioned, especially no yucky tampon string!

    3. Be the Change*

      They ARE the best! Love my diva cup. Wonder if there’s a charity that providese them to low income women….

        1. Ismis*

          I googled and there are a few but I don’t know which one is the best. It’s something I would definitely support.

      1. Allison Mary*

        No more or less messy than tampons. And they are super comfortable, IF (emphasis on that “if”) you have placed it correctly and it’s the right size for your body. The difficult part is, figuring that out can take a little while, depending on the person.

      2. Emily*

        Maybe Allison Mary will also chime in, but as a Diva Cup user, I can answer from my own experience (possible TMI ahead):

        1. I find the cup comfortable and not very noticeable most of the time – in fact, most days I’m wearing it, I barely notice it’s in. Sometimes at the start of my period (I usually have some cramping on the first day and then feel fine in subsequent days), I feel it a little more, although it’s never painful.

        2. Messiness for me depends mostly on how heavy my flow is and how often I’m emptying the cup. If I’m emptying a lot of blood out, it’s more likely to get on my hands/other places.

        My biggest complaint would probably be that I’m worried about leaking on days when my period is heavy…but I’m pretty sure (based on estimates of how much blood I lose) that my flow is heavier than average. For me, the benefits (especially never having to buy period products) far outweigh the possible costs.

    4. J-bunny*

      I’ve just started looking into this. I think I’m going to try the small lunette. From looking at pictures (drawings) it doesn’t look like it actually goes very far up there, is that correct? How easy is it to tell if it’s in the right place?

      The other day I tried to feel my cervix and I couldn’t tell where it was. I feel like kind of a weirdo because I’m not super comfortable with my own vagina. Maybe this will force me to be!

      1. anonypoo*

        Honestly, I have absolutely no idea if I’m putting mine in the Right Place, but there’s no leakage so it’s getting the job done regardless! I use the Diva cup turned inside out (which is a GAMECHANGER technique you must try, btw, if you end up struggling with the shape of your first) and it doesn’t ever feel like it’s entering “omg-too-high-this-feels-weird” territory.

      2. Allison Mary*

        Ignore those pictures. They’re wrong. Generally, it will sit just underneath/around your cervix.

        Also, don’t try to find your cervix for purposes of determining how high or low it sits (which is a crucial step, and something I completely skipped the first time) unless you’re menstruating – because your cervix will change position depending on where you are in your cycle.

        My own cervix sits way, way lower when I’m menstruating than any other time. So if I had checked it any other time, I wouldn’t have realized that for purposes of using a menstrual cup, my cervix sits pretty low.

        This livejournal page has a ton of additional info: http://menstrual-cups.livejournal.com

        1. Pit mama*

          Thanks I’ll check that out. Yeah I wasn’t mensturating at the time so that was probably the issue. I just need to bite the bullet and try it. It’s not like the cup is going to get lost up there.

          1. Mephyle*

            For example, choosing the brand (shape) that suits you best, how to know if you’re doing it right, 10 different ways to fold the cup for insertion, and how to deal with the practical aspects (especially when you’re not at home).

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve already decided long before this thread that it isn’t for me. I prefer pads or tampons if I’m skating/doing something active, which on my two or three heavy days, rarely happens because I feel pretty bleah.

    6. Cristina in England*

      I got my Diva cup from Lunapads.ca a million years ago, along with washable flannel pads. Would recommend both to anyone. They have lots of colours and patterns of pads if you want something reusable but aren’t ready to go for a cup.

      1. Tau*

        I can’t use tampons very well or, it seems, cups at all, but I’m pretty fond of reusable pads, particularly the night ones. The people who made mine have cleary grasped what the makers of any and all disposable overnight pads I’ve ever used have not: that maybe I would like to, you know, move at some point during the night…

        1. Allison Mary*

          I love the reusable cloth pads! I have a few reusable cloth bamboo “liners” that I use as backup to my cup on overnights, when I’m having a really heavy day. :)

    7. Felix*

      Thank you for sharing this! I’ve been interested in getting a cup but kinda on the fence because my flow is often REALLY heavy I don’t love the idea of changing a cup at work. Which brand did you prefer out of your list above?

      Anyone with dysmenorrhea use the cup and have any suggestions for brands?

      1. Allison Mary*

        I JUST got the Super Jennie, and so far it seems like it might be my Goldilocks cup. It’s soft, and therefore comfy, but firm enough at the rim that it opens fairly easily, without too much fuss. It’s also like, the highest capacity cup out there. I got the small, which holds around 30 mL. The large size holds… geez, almost 40 mL I think? Way more than any cups out there.

        It also has a short, flexible stem which seems just perfect – usually, I have to trim the stem of any cup I use, but not this one. Love it so far, anxious to see how it holds up on my heavy days next cycle. :)

      2. Allison Mary*

        Oh, and wanted to add – my favorite cup before this so far has been the Si-bell cup, but the small only holds about 20 mL. The Super Jennie holds SO MUCH MORE that I’m hopeful I might be able to get through a whole workday (on my heavy days) without messing with it. Currently, on my heavy days, I’ve been changing/emptying the Si-bell cup every 4-6 hours – I’m hopeful this will improve with the Super Jennie.

        It IS possible to manage it in a public restroom type stall, though. There are several ways to deal with it. :)

      3. Mephyle*

        As to deciding which brand, see the LiveJournal link posted above by Allison Mary. There is a link at that site that shows all the different brands, and discusses how to choose a brand. In addition there are plenty of threads where people describe their own experience in finding the cup that worked best for them.
        Some of the things that may vary between brands and models are texture (soft vs stiff), shape and capacity (length and width; absolute and relative), shape of the rim, sizing, and shape and length of the stem for removal.

    8. Blue_eyes*

      Agreed. I love my Diva Cup. I also recently tried Soft Cup for the first time. Soft Cup is a disposable menstrual cup that sits a little differently than most reusable cups. I got Soft Cup as an alternative while I was traveling in case I was in a situation where I didn’t have easy access to a place to wash my Diva cup.

      One tip – don’t try to insert it “just to try” until you’re on your period. The lubrication provided by your flow is key to inserting it (at least for me).

      You do need to be careful if you have an IUD and also want to use a menstrual cup. Some people/doctors/websites/menstrual cup manufacturers will even say that you shouldn’t use them together at all. When I had my IUD inserted about 2 years ago my doctor didn’t mention any complications with using a menstrual cup, so I just kept using my Diva cup. Now that I know that menstrual cups can potentially pull on the IUD strings and cause complications, I still use my Diva Cup but I’m extra careful to break the suction seal before removing the cup.

      1. Allison Mary*

        I do the exact same thing! :) Taking extra care to break the seal before I remove it, and I make sure not to pinch it together very high up (because there’s a risk you could pinch the strings inside the cup and then pull the strings/the IUD out, along with the cup).

    9. Dot Warner*

      I agree, the Diva Cup rules! I used mine when I got my period while on vacation overseas and it was so easy! I only had to check on it first thing in the AM and before I went to bed. It was such a relief to not have to worry about running out of tampons or worry about clogging up the plumbing!

      I also want to give a shout-out to THINX panties – I can’t wear them for my entire cycle, but they’re a huge help if you’re irregular, or even if you’re not menstruating and you’re exercising a lot.

  45. Aly In Sebby*

    Happy Saturday Free for All, all!

    I’m in California. I’m a service-connected vet (70%: PTSD track–not VA specific/singular PTSD diagnosis, 100% Dental; anyone familiar w VA will know how significant it is that I have dental & that I got it by filing my own claim by myself).

    I need direct referral to a lawyer or other comparable veterans support services person/agency who is an expert in women’s VA issues. To represent me, re-filing disability/Chap 31. claims, acting as an advocate between Me & VA. (This doesn’t need to be someone in CA).

    Specifically a person w experience w significant long-term institutional failures that have harmed me, as well as harming me though in-action or institutional non-action/denial of service.

    If you’re thinking of Veteran’s Service Organizations such as DAV -Disabled American Veterans or MOPH -Military Order of the Purple Heart or the like – there may be a single person a random office of those services that will be the help I need. However, up to this point those are the people who actually failed to properly parse & present my case in the proper time frames, in doing so caused the problems that I’m having now & have had for the course of 20 years.

    This may be a lawsuit or w/i the VA disability system and Chap 31, with regard to all of my issues – the people who do this work are very hard to find.

    Recently met w a lawyer, a veteran who provides services for vets. Told him my story; he kept saying “Well they’re not supposed to do that, that’s against the law-you’re supposed to get this you’re supposed to get that.”

    I know ALL of this I just can’t find an advocate to get the VA bureaucracy to act on these things that they are supposed to be acting on and services and financial support they should be providing.

    While I was in an inpatient PTSD program for women (“the best in the nation”) I was referred to a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) on that campus who’s JOB it was to serve all vets on campus in any program.

    I went to him w these issues he said “…that’s probably way too much work and you’re never going to get anywhere I would try to do this other thing.” At the same meeting he told a fellow female veteran who was planning to re-file her claim to PTSD because of MSA/T (Military Sexual Assault/Trauma) that she probably should’ve never joined the Navy first place and it wouldn’t have happened to her.

    There are many veterans service providers & organizations but it is damnably impossible finding someone who knows how to do what (for women veterans) is needed or who are willing/able to look at something that is, in my situation a 20 year case that has been illegally handled by multiple VA Departments (Chapt. 31, Medical and MSA/T/PTSD) VSAs, VSOs and the determination board itself (who will actually LOOK and see that the determinations, reports and considerations need to start at the beginning and many other pertinent details that they just, ignore).

    I know such ‘Unicorns’ ;) exist b/c while in the program I ref’d above, a female veteran who had been working w a VSA out of Los Angeles helped her successfully file and back date her claim for MSA/T retroactive to the date of her rape while in service in the Army in Germany in the 1970’s. I wasn’t raped but MSA/T still applies.

    This is not the only successful case in this area I have seen. However, those veterans whose claims were handled successfully, hesitate or otherwise won’t to share the info. for the support person b/c they are so rare and the vet doesn’t want to lose the excellent care they are finally getting. It sucks, it’s broken my spirit over & over, that’s the way it is.

    My case is further complicated b/c I served in the Coast Guard. There are significant differences in discharges, procedures and personnel codes between the U.S.C.G. and other services this has been a brick wall.

    During my time in service while my civil rights case was being determined (I won, and reversed the Command’s attempts to discharge me due to being, overweight, I wasn’t. I won’t tell the story here b/c it would be TMI that doesn’t move the issue forward).

    A family member was fairly active/connected in California Republican politics. He engaged the support of Sen. Paul Simon who did exactly what Barbara Boxer did later as I explain below.

    Eight months after my discharge in 1992. When I reached out to Sen. Boxer, I included copies of the pages of the Coast Guard personnel code specific to my discharge and specific to the claim I needed help with.
    No one ever read those support documents and rejected helping me out of hand despite me reaching back multiple times to explain to them that I wasn’t in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines I was in the Coast Guard and that I had supplied them with the proper Coast Guard documentation and they were willfully ignoring it.

    Support people in both Sen. Boxer’s and Sen. Simon’s offices contradicted me (and the law of the U.S.) when I explained to them that everything @ the Coast Guard was different than other services – and most specifically that the personnel and administrative codes were quite literally diametrically opposed to other services –that was why I had included the correct documentation so they could see this was the case.
    In 1994 a rep. at the MOPH who my veterans PTSD counselor engaged to properly document a case for PTSD (which at that time was unheard of for women), I worked with both of these women for over a year documenting and supporting my case; the MPOH Rep. walked off of her job and threw away files for up to 30 veterans and despite her agency being aware of this, and that it was documented (they told me this) , would not provide the documentation I needed to prove that I had not let my case lapse.
    I’m going to stop w the details now. Hopefully what I have described is enough for me to get to the proper person.

    Please don’t google ‘Legal help for Veteran’s’ and throw links – I have already been on that search for the better part of my life since my discharge. It should be that easy, but the reality is not.

    What I need are specifically, names, phone numbers or other CURRENT contact inf. for lawyers/people/agencies you know first hand have done this successfully – literally names and dates.
    I have spent so much time in rabbit holes, am near the end of my rope. I’m a fighter, I served my country for a REASON and they damaged me irreparably and then re-traumatized me institutionally by not living up to the law.

    Thank you, for your time & help. I’ve been so moved by watching other’s engage this process at AAM! You are all the BOMB! (no I wasn’t a munitions expert!:))

    1. edj3*

      I don’t have any names for you, but am also a veteran and wanted to wish you a good resolution to your situation.

      1. Aly In Sebby*

        Thanks Ed,

        Fist bump to a fellow vet.

        It’s taken me s long to look at the replies because my Senator has finally stepped up and actually has a Vets team and a Women’s Vets staffer specifically.

        I also finally heard back from another Women’s Legal support group that covers all of California.

        I just stayed up 24 hours putting together a document supporting the Chapter 31 issues.

        Knock wood that I am striking at this again at the right time “Universally’ (the ides of March are good right? :D).

        Ping back if I can give you any refs.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This is not a very helpful answer, I wish I could offer better.

      Have you tried contacting the US Attorney General? I had a much smaller situation regarding my late husband’s benefits from a for profit employer. Because of being upset I blindly emailed the US AG, I was trying to email our state AG.
      Well. They hopped right on it. They moved heaven and earth. THEY called ME! I did not have to chase these people. And they were STRONG advocates. A problem I had been working on for several months, they were able to wrap up inside of a few days.
      I can honestly say I was impressed. I don’t say that about everything I see, either. But these folks were very impressive.

      Maybe you could try sending them an email, tell them you need advocacy. I think it is ridiculous that you should have to pay for an attorney to have an advocate.

      1. Aly In Sebby*

        Oh excellent!

        It’s the pain and the miracle of these ‘benefits’ that help often comes from the most random place!

        After i posted I was feeling a little ‘high’ for finally getting those thoughts down and posted. I wanted to ‘call out these idiots’ and almost posted it to my FB page.

        Very luckily one of my favorite clients just returned and she is a social media Goddess, who also doesn’t sleep.

        I fb msgd her at 11:15 p.m. and she called right back.

        She told me why not to do the post now and/or in the manner I was considering and is instead going to help me with an actual ‘campaign’.

        I told her I would give her trade and some free hours because this will be priceless and SO needed.

        She’s french and a tough but deeply kind cookie “No my dear, you will not give me free time, I will give it to you!”

        As I said above, something about this moment sees to be right.

        I try not to get my hopes up, but at the same time I need to maintain a small window so I can have the gumption to move forward, even a baby step.

        So even just putting up the post, even the mild response (not complaining, the AG idea is golden!) has improved my place and my mind.

        So AAM creates the change we want to be! Thanks all and especially Alison for this space.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Let us know how you are doing. Thanks for coming back and telling this new part of the story. You sound better, positive thoughts and wishes that this goes well for you.
          It seems that when we are at our lowest that is when we have to be our strongest. You are a very strong person.

  46. The Other Dawn*

    I had my first appointment with the personal trainer, which was really more of a physical assessment. Even though I felt like I didn’t do much, I was really sore that night! 40 minutes on the treadmill while he asked me a zillion questions about my health, physical activity, diet history, etc. Then some exercises to determine where my physical weaknesses are (I have weak hips–who knew??), like balancing on a big ball and on a soft platform, a few squats with a kettle bell, lunges, and I used the huge ropes attached to the wall so he could test my pulse. My hamstrings were killing me later on.

    I really like the trainer. He’s very open and honest, and assures me he doesn’t like to make his clients puke or be so sore they can’t move, because then they won’t come back. Found out that not only does he train the state police cadets, he’s a former MP in the Army!

    My real first session is tomorrow, which I’m excited about.

    If you want to read my more detailed account, here you go: http://itjustdawned.blogspot.com/2016/03/my-first-meeting-with-trainer.html#.Vu6bpfkrKUk

    And another post: http://itjustdawned.blogspot.com/2016/03/time-to-get-fit_17.html#.Vu6dVfkrKUk

    (Just gotta say I love the video up top! I can tell Olive really wants some attention from Lucy, but Lucy just wants to continue on with her bathing.)

  47. PersistentCat*

    I’ve been dealing with steadily worsening dry eye, and I also have mild allergies. One of the allergens I’m regularly exposed to is mold (it’s all over the windows and some corners in the house & I can’t afford to have a second dehumidifier running 24/7, and doing a bleach wash is time consuming, though I manage at least once a month).

    So a month long course of Lotemax did nothing, Systane Balance with Systane Balance gel at night is helpful, as are the eye compresses & omega supplements, but none of those options are cures. Patanol & Pataday were useful with the itchy/burny feeling, but not as helpful as Pazeo (and Lasacaft just made me cry, it hurt so much putting it in).

    It’s incredibly frustrating, because it hurts/itches fairly constantly and my distance vision is effected by this.

    I’m not even 30 yet, and my doctor is talking punctal plugs, which is sounds terrible, and is going to be very expensive.

    Not so much asking for medical advice, as asking for other people’s experiences/opinions with mold or other allergies, severe dry eye, and punctal plugs. Heck, if anyone even has tips as to things that make your eyes feel better, I’m all ears. Thanks!

    1. fposte*

      Oh, that sounds miserable; I’m sorry. I have dry eyes but not as badly as that. I don’t know that you get cures of it per se–you just find a management that works and fold it in.

      It sounds like you’ve done a lot of stuff, especially focused on the allergy side. Here’s what helped me somewhat: lid scrub every freaking night with baby shampoo. Here’s what helped me more: hot compresses every freaking night + Cliradex. The latter is really popular right now and I’m a little surprised your eye doctor didn’t mention it; I started it on my own and then my eye doctor mentioned it. (There are competing brands, too–looks like Blephadex is one). It does sting on the skin when you put it in, in kind of an overmentholated way, but it goes away fast. It’s over the counter, albeit not cheap–an Amazon reviewer mentioned the great tip of just cutting the packets in half so you get twice as many.

      The Mayo site lists several other options that you haven’t hit yet, including oral antibiotics. That makes me think it might be worth getting a consult from an eye person, whether optometrist or ophthalmologist, who officially focuses on dry eyes/MGD.

      Good luck! It sucks.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, and in case you haven’t done this–I found getting one of the microwaveable specially-for-eyes compresses was absolutely worth it.

        1. PersistentCat*

          Thanks for the additional tips!

          I love the microwavable compress, it feels fantastic & gives me a minimum of 5 minutes of relaxing time.

          Wow, my optometrist didn’t mention any of the last 3 at all, though he’s crossed out lid scrubs from the pre-printed flyers. I’ll ask him about the scrubs and the antibiotics. He mentioned trying doxycycline during my first visit for this issue 6 months ago, but hasn’t revisited it.

          A second opinion might be exactly what I need. He’s been really focused on the allergy side of things as the initial cause, but as the allergies have been treated, the dry eye issue hasn’t improved much. I’ll use this to start the conversation next week and see what he has to say & seek a second opinion if he’s that set on the punctal plugs.

          1. fposte*

            And maybe has a reason–maybe your lid margins look fine and your tear film is pretty normal in composition. But I don’t get the hot compresses then, so I’m thinking there’s a reasonable possibility that a trick is being missed here.

      2. Artemesia*

        Those packets are so expensive for what they are — a little t tree oil and carrier. I cut the package and use about a third of the cloth and then cut the rest in half and so get 3 uses out of a pack. It does help. Dry eye happens when the gland on the eyelid are not producing the right oils to keep the tears lubricating properly. The heat and wipes help keep those gland unblocked and working. It doesn’t solve it all but it definitely helps me. The drops don’t help because they are so temporary. The patanol didn’t help me with the eye allergies. Allrex does but my insurance won’t cover it and it is hellaexpensive. There is no generic for it. It really does work on the allergies.

    2. Sibley*

      Increasing air flow can help with mold problems. So, cracking a window, running a fan for a bit, etc. Depends on the climate of course, but still air can lead to more issues with moisture. Maybe worth a try, and if it works then great!

      I also have allergies, and occasional dry eyes. It truly sucks.

  48. Maiasaura*

    Has anyone here had weight loss surgery, particularly the gastric sleeve? I’m not as able to reach the tastiest ferns as well as I used to and I’m considering my options. I’ve lost a significant amount of weight before but gained most of it back, so the idea of a longer-term option appeals to me. I’ve been reading on WLS forums but I figured there’s a wider swath of folks reading here. I’d love to hear your experiences.

    1. Jubilance*

      I haven’t but a dear friend of mine did it 3 years ago, she went from 270lbs to 160lbs after surgery. She wound up paying for her surgery herself and going to Mexico for it, but she had great results and is very pleased with her doctor and the care she received. I’m actually considering it myself after seeing her results!

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I had gastric bypass and it’s the best thing I ever did. Went from 343 to 203. I’m now starting to work on strength training so I can get to my goal and possibly have the extra skin removed. If you’re interested, I blog about it. Nowadays it’s not as focused on the surgery but maybe you’ll find something useful. Or at least amusing. :) just click on my name to go there.

    3. Nina*

      One of my relatives got the gastric bypass and had a mixed reaction. She lost a lot of weight immediately, but since she didn’t incorporate any healthy habits while she lost the weight (like eating healthier, exercise) she gained it all back eventually. It’s really important to keep a balanced diet and to stay active during that time.

  49. Nervous Accountant*

    Ok, so this is not a big deal in the big picture and grand scheme, but I’m having a weird little issue–

    I’m in a whatsapp group chat, several actually. Family, friends, and former coworkers etc. In one of the chats there’s someone I feel who doesn’t like me being in the group (not the group admin). I’ve noticed a pattern of either ignoring me when I address them directly, or just being snarky. After first weird comment, I let it go. I suspect they were behind another weird comment/incident a fewmonths ago but can’t be sure so I let it go. This time…..mmmnotready to do that.

    Usually people ask questions, and if I have no idea, I don’t respond. I answered 1 question but others had different opinions so he clearly said “If you don’t know then don’t post.”

    I don’t like arguing, esp in front of people and don’t want to leave the group chat either for various reasons.

    I know this is a small tiny issue in the big picture, but I fel like group chats are so common now there should be some knowledge on group dynamics.

    1. catsAreCool*

      Is he snarky to other people too?

      I think I’d just try to avoid answering any questions he has.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I just started noticing that he is…someone elsehad asked the question and 3ofus answered within a time frame…
        Anyway I msgd him privately and told him that I’ve noticed a patternadn its discouraging, he said he didn’t mean to offend so I guess its resolved.

        1. Artemesia*

          This is different but I am on a trip advisor forum where a couple of people act as if their roll in life is to discipline other contributors. Of course if someone gives bad info, it is important to correct and no harm no foul when that happens. But he is one of those mansplainers who has to constantly comment on the style of posting, or the opinion of the poster, or snarks. He actually denied that calling someone an ‘aging ingenue’ was insulting. The world is full of jerks and mansplainers; mostly ignoring them is giving them the lack of reinforcement they deserve. Annoying isn’t it.

  50. Dynamic Beige*

    I’m not sure if this qualifies as a work post, if so I’ll post it again on Friday if it does and is removed.

    Yesterday, someone told me that I could probably get work as an editor. He wanted me to edit his book and was willing to pay for it, not a lot but some. However, I am not an editor, just someone who likes to read. I know there are people out there who work as editors and there are probably a whole list of qualifications you need… so I dunno. It’s flattering but I really don’t know what’s involved with being an editor, it’s probably way more stuff than I have, like a BA in English Lit. And, it doesn’t seem fair somehow to deprive people of their living. Anyway, I don’t think that this could be a career change kind of thing, more of a hobby if I did decide to go after it. I mean, I’m probably more of a beta-reader skill level than an editor and there is that thing about taking the thing you love and ruining it by making it your job. I think I would quickly go insane if I had to read all the time because it would no longer be my choice, but projects.

    Advice? Opinions? Experience? Cautionary tales?

    1. the gold digger*

      He wanted me to edit his book and was willing to pay for it, not a lot but some.

      That's the part the jumps out to me. If you are good enough for him to want you to do it, you are good enough to be paid market rate.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Hmm… I get what you’re saying. But I also feel kind of bad for this man, he’s a member of my writing group and he has done a lot of things that haven’t turned out well for him. Such as paying a place to publish his first book, which I saw and the output was… not good. English also isn’t his first language. So taking money from an immigrant pensioner is kinda… yeah, I’m a schmuck. He’s not my grandfather, but I can’t seem stop myself from treating him as I would want my grandfather to be treated (if he were still alive, that is).

        1. TootsNYC*

          I”m not a fan of having anybody edit the work of someone whose work is that bad. Not “official” editing, anyway.

          They need to work on their own to improve it; it’s an inappropriate band-aid, I think. (poor Band-Aid!)

          if you wanted to edit a few things on an INSTRUCTIONAL basis–you edit, and he reviews what you did, and you two discuss why–that’s a big favor for a friend, and absolutely something I could get behind as not being a waste of time.

          As for what you need to be an editor: Well, there are English degrees, etc., but my experience is that people who know the English language in a resourceful and persnickety way are generally pretty good, no matter what their training or background. And -nothing- is a substitute for mindful experience.

          For you, in terms of that “instructional edit” I mentioned: If you can make it better, you can edit it for him.

          Once you’ve done it for a little while, you’ll be able to tell if you’re helping any.

    2. Princess Buttercup*

      I’m not an editor, but I did edit two of my husband’s (self-published) ebooks, and I also copy edited for a relative’s trade magazine for awhile. I think it depends on the extent of editing. Is it primarily copy editing, with maybe also a little feedback from the perspective of a reader? That is what I did for my husband, and it worked well. I caught/corrected all the spelling/grammar/etc. errors, and also pointed out some places where it was confusing to me as a reader. However, had he needed substantive editing, from an editor who had knowledge & experience in working with writers on making major revisions to the plot, structure, etc., I wouldn’t have been the right choice.

      Be prepared for the time commitment of editing an entire book, especially as a novice. I went into thinking, “I’m such a fast reader, it won’t take that long.” Boy, was I wrong! It takes time to carefully read through and make revisions.

      That being said, I think you should go for it. Don’t focus on possible future editing gigs – commit to this one opportunity, give it a try, and see how you like it. You may find that you did a good job, but it’s not something you want to repeat. Or you might find something you will love as a side gig.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I think you’re right. If it does come up again, I’ll give it a try and see. His other book was not big. I guess it’s one of those things you just don’t know until you try. Because what you said is essentially it, catching errors, maybe fixing some grammar since English isn’t his first language and giving perspective from a reader’s standpoint.

        “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” ― Terry Pratchett

    3. Cas*

      I don’t know if this is an option for you, but if you’d like to help him, but you feel bad about him paying you, maybe you could barter? He could cook you a few meals or do your gardening or something in return for your editing.

  51. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I just made hamantaschen and only two exploded. This is quite an accomplishment for me. However, making those hamantaschen just proved to me that even though I feel a ton better today, I am not yet 100%. I need to lie down. Blech.

    1. LizB*

      I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. :( But, only two explosions! That’s amazing. I never have that much luck, even if I overlap the edges the way everyone recommends. What flavor(s) did you make? I’m still deciding if I should do something fancy/nontraditional or just stick to poppyseed and raspberry like usual.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        My favorite fancy/nontraditional filling is fig jam + goat cheese. I can’t stand poppyseed so we just stick to jam for the rest (usually apricot or peach, strawberry, and raspberry).

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I used an apricot, peach and passionfruit jam, then a berry jam, then poppyseed because the bf loves them. I used to make my own filling, but I found a jar of poppyseed filling and I admit, it was a relief. :-)

      3. AvonLady Barksdale*

        When I was a kid, we used to make peanut butter hamantaschen and ones with Hershey Kisses! Yummy. I should try Nutella at some point.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      Only two exploding sounds like a pretty successful baking day! I’m going to wait and make them next weekend because we’re hosting a Purim party on Saturday.

    3. Bluebell*

      Congrats on your hamentashen! I did my first batch today and had a friend’s son helping me. He really enjoyed it. Today’s flavors were apricot, cherry and Reese’s peanut butter cups.

  52. Zillah*

    I just got word that a really wonderful online community I’ve been on for five-ish years isn’t going to meet its fundraising target for the coming year and will likely end up going offline, and I’m kind of heartbroken. I wish there was more I could do, but I’ve donated as much as I can, and I’ve tried to publicize the fundraiser as much as possible, but it seems like it’s just not going to happen, and I’m completely heartbroken. I have no idea what I’m going to do, which sounds super melodramatic but the community has really helped me get through some awful times in my life. I could really use some virtual hugs. (Or suggestions for fundraising/cost-cutting, if anyone has any.)

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

      I’m on one that’s always had a “sponsor” option, with benefits. Recently they had to remove the non sponsor option. Some folks forgot to re-up, a lot changed their email and never got the reminder. It’s not a community that’s concerned with growth, so making it membership only isn’t too big a deal, except to a few who couldn’t afford it. :(

    2. Christy*

      Private facebook group. I’m in one of internet friends and we talk constantly all day. It’s the best.

  53. Mimmy*

    Need clothing help!!

    I’m desperately looking for new pants. My problem is my size: I am a petite female but I have a lot of weight in my abdomen and hips – I kinda have a beer belly! Because of that, I don’t know what kind of “rise” I should get. I definitely don’t want low rise, but I’m debating between mid-rise (just above the hip) or high-rise (sits around natural waist). I would think a high rise would prevent that “muffin top” look and would be more comfortable. Then again, I don’t tuck in my shirts (I haven’t in YEARS).

    At this point, I’m just focusing on khakis and jeans for the spring.


    1. NicoleK*

      I’m petite and have a bit of a belly. I usually do mid rise as high rise aren’t as flattering and often digs into my flesh.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      I also have a larger belly compared to the rest of me, and I like mid-rise pants. For me, I find that high-rise pants just end up creating sort a bubble of belly flesh below the waist band that just accentuates my belly more than having a mid-rise pant. If you’re pants are sized right, you shouldn’t have a “muffin top,” although I know this can get tough when you’re belly is large compared to your height/legs. If you’re looking for brands, I really like Kut from the Kloth. They manage to fit my larger belly while not being too baggy in the leg.

  54. Brandy*

    Emergency fund/risk tolerance question:

    We are about to do renovations on our home. We could pay for them in cash, but it would leave our cash savings/emergency fund with a 1-2 month reserve.

    HOWEVER, the emergency fund/our savings fund adds 3/4 months living expenses per month. So in 5 months, we’d be back to a solid 6 months of savings.

    All that would be too risky for my blood EXCEPT that one of us is currently receiving a severance package until March of next year. That is guaranteed income and if the other job were lost, all that would happen is we’d use that income to live off of vs save. So there is, until March 2017, a de-facto “emergency fund.”

    Delaying the renovations 6-8 months puts us in a bad spot for construction timing.

    Alternatively, we could get a loan, but we’d rather not. If anything we’d finance 50%.

    Is this totally crazy? Absolute worst case scenario we have 3 years of income saved in retirement and are under 35. We’d never dream of touching it, but in a true dire situation, it’s there.

    1. BRR*

      If I’m reading right, it sounds like in the worst case scenario (no jobs) you’d have guaranteed income until March 2017 with 1-2 months in the bank. In that case I would do it and try hard at first to scrimp to just give a little extra cushion. It doesn’t sound worth the interest you would pay.

      1. Brandy*

        Yes, I know it’s tricky. I was avoiding using real numbered :-)

        Worst case scenario: we write The Big Check (it’s into the 6 figures), DH loses his job immediately and I don’t start working until my severance runs out. In that period, my severance pay is enough to pay our bills/keep lights on etc. Plus, he’d get unemployment and I’d get unemployment starting in March ’17 (which is *not* enough to pay our bills but if we are talking that length of unemployment for us both we’d have to start making lifestyle changes!)

        Both of us are very employable, and since I lost my job I’ve pulled in a sizeable amount of consulting income. I think it’d have to be a wild perfect storm to land us both totally unemployed for a year, but one never knows. If that were the case, come March 2017, we’d have whatever we added to our e-fund through consulting/unemployment and then the 1-2 months left in the fund.

        We are lucky enough to have a lifestyle that can be supported on only one income, but for several years we’ve had two equal incomes and have saved very quickly. We thought one of us might be a stay at home parent, so wanted to make sure we could support that financially. I’m now a SAHP by not quite choice, but I’m having another baby in 2 months.

        And yes, the retirement is all 401k/Roth IRA, which I do not consider “available” even for regular type emergencies or as an alternative to finding work. I do consider it as something that would save us from losing the house or going bankrupt in case of a catastrophic emergency. We are young enough and well enough ahead of schedule on retirement that it would not ruin our retirement, just delay it significantly.

        We also have a set of parents that woul give us an interest-free loan. Same scenario- I’d rather eat my hat than ask them for money, but if it kept us out of a dire situation, it’s a resoruce.

        1. fposte*

          It sounds like you’re a belt-and-suspenders type person, which is my favorite kind :-). I’m really financially conservative, but honestly, it sounds like any perfect storm that would nail you now would nail you if you waited 6 months to do the remodel, too. And once you get going on assets, the emergency fund becomes a more flexible concept anyway. So I find myself in the rare position of encouraging you to go ahead and spend money now.

          1. Brandy*

            I think it’s just such a bold move (to our conservative selves) that it’s terrifying.

            But we are the ones in our circle living in a just-fine-for-us house (which is 20% the mortgage payment the bank approved us for) that drove 10 year old cars instead of buying new cars with our fist big pay checks, and put our bonuses into retirement/savings when times were extra good.

            We haven’t checked, but would most likely be approved for a major loan of that we’re more sensible. We have 800+ credit and even on one income our expenses (the ones they count) are fairly low (just mortgage and a small student loan from grad school we could pay off in cash tomorrow but the interest rate is silly-low so we keep the money in the market. It’s like, 1.25%!)

            1. fposte*

              I totally get that. I’m scared of doing a kitchen “remodel” that’ll probably cost about $2k. It can be hard for people like us to know the difference between a thing we’ve saved up for reasonably and unbridled indulgence that will lead us into penury.

        2. BRR*

          You sound really financially stable and smart. I think you should write the check. Sometimes I find it helpful to think in terms of worse case scenario.

    2. fposte*

      I’m not quite following the replenishment math–if a month’s salary gives you 3 months’ emergency fund, why would it take 5 months to get to six months’ worth? (I’m not sure that really matters; it just threw me.)

      If I’m understanding correctly, your income is enough not only to support the household fully but also to add impressively to savings. That’s a point for. When you say you have 3 years of income saved in retirement that you could draw on, do you mean in 401ks, IRAs, or other tax-advantaged accounts? If so, I really wouldn’t count those in the equation–you don’t want to pull money out of an IRA for this. (And you mention your replenishing the emergency fund–is that at the expense of putting money into your tax-advantaged space for the year, or could you do both?)

      I think I’d do it if it didn’t put my tax-advantaged space at risk and if my single income went as far as it sounds like yours does–and if that’s still true once I’ve budgeted for a big overrun.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        The replenishment is basses on saving 3/4 (three quarters) of a months living expenses per month.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’d use the savings and keep a couple of months living expenses in reserve. Whatever loan you get the interested charged will be more than the interest paid on your savings.

      It seems like you’ve got a good cushion and can replenish your savings quickly and if anything went wrong you’d still have a loan to repay which surly you’d be in danger of defaulting on of you couldn’t pay.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      People have been talking about the money. I want to mention the work itself and the materials. I am a conservative person when it comes to money. And I have a tight budget. When I got some money set to one side I knew I had to do some repairs on this house. I chose to target health and safety issues.

      Next, I shopped lawn sales, clearance tables and discount home centers for supplies. (I found a fire door-in a clearance area- for my furnace room that fits the odd sized opening I have in my house- what are the odds of that?) Anyway it is unbelievable what you can find out there if you look. ($1200 cabinets for $75 each, REALLY? Yeah, the fire door and cabinets are in new condition.)

      Another thing that is helpful is to do the work in stages. I will need to do more work later, but many of the dangerous things have gotten fixed. (My house is 180 years old. It needed help.) I have been able to have some things set up for the next step, once I can save up for the materials and labor to actually do the next step. If you are working in stages it is helpful to at least have a rough plan in writing, so you can pick up where you left off later on. I did buy a few things at dirt cheap prices just because I could get those things and I stashed them away for later use.

      Lastly, I knew that I would be spending some money, even though I was spending as frugally as possible. I used my credit card as often as possible to get the points. That gave me several hundred dollars in gift cards – found money!- that I was able to put toward materials I could not find at cheap prices.

      1. Brandy*

        This is a great comment; we took this approach with our first house (kitchen remodel we DIY’d). This is a big addition/remodel combo. While I’d love to spend the time to find materials myself, we’ll be working full timeworn two under three. It’s probably not going to happen.

        But I already have a source for the kitchen appliances, and a relative in the lighting industry who is going to get our electrics at cost. The rest I think we’ll have to suck up and pay for. I truly wish there were a person/service I could pay a % of savings to do this for us- because you are absolutely right that this is an area to save if one has the time.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It was not as bad as it sounds. We did two town wide lawn sales. And we went to one going out of business sale at an interior designer place (hence the cabinets) and we went to two discount places. So it was five days. The lawn sales took most of the day but the rest were half days. Even one day would have been a huge dent in the budget. We bought a cull pile of lumber at one lumber place and we STILL have so much left over. Now I just check the clearance table at Lowes and Home Depot! lol.

    5. TootsNYC*

      We financed our kitchen by establishing a HELOC. You only borrow money IF you need it.

      We ended up paying for almost all of our kitchen out of cash flow, but it was awfully nice to know that we had that money if we needed it.

      HELOCs are relatively low in rate, you can pay them off early, and you don’t borrow if you don’t need it. I’m a fan of them.

      1. TootsNYC*

        In fact, our HELOC came to the end of the “draw” period (we can’t take any more money out), and now and then I wonder if we should establish a new one and just let it sit there unused. So that if we really needed it suddenly, we’d have it.

        It’s secured against your home, so it’s a bad idea to use it as general credit for stupid stuff, but I think it’s a perfectly sensible option to use when what you’re doing is improving the equity in your home.

        The one thing I’d say–get one bigger than you think you want, bcs your credit score is affected by what percentage of it you have tapped. So if you’ve used $10,000 of a $20,000 HELOC, you’re at 50% utilization. If you got a HELOC for $75,000 and use $10,000, it doesn’t hit your credit as badly. Or so I’ve been told.

  55. Jubilance*

    So my husband and I went to the Twin Cities auto show yesterday and now I’m in the market for a new car! Specifically an SUV. I’ve had my Hyundai Sonata for 10 years, and while it still runs great, I want a smaller SUV especially I know we’ll have a baby soon *crosses fingers*

    Right now I’m really in love with the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Acura RDX – any others I should look at? I was also considering the Nissan Murano as a 3rd option. Anyone have one of those and wanna give me the deets on your experience?

    Final question – anyone ever used Costco Auto to buy a car? We were doing our Costco run this morning and I grabbed a little booklet. Looks like it could be a good experience but I always like to get reviews. Thanks!

    1. periwinkle*

      I’m car shopping too! One of the options I’m looking at is a compact SUV, mostly because I’m really short and would like some extra vehicle height for a better view of the road (and so I might be able to use a drive-through ATM or “push here for ticket” machine without having to actually get out of the car). Mazdas are hugely underrated and both the CX-3 and CX-5 are at the top of my list. That would look nice parked next to our Mazda MX-5…

      However, the models you mentioned are mid-sized SUVs. If that’s your target size, consider adding the Jeep Grand Cherokee (same price point as the Murano & Santa Fe) and the BMX X3 (comparable price to the Acura).

    2. BRR*

      Ooh I like how the RDX looks. I’d add the Honda CRV, Mazda CX-5, and Subarau Outback (it looks like a wagon but has the ground clearance of an SUV but I feel like it might be longer, you can also consider the Forrester).

      I’ve heard people say they liked using Cosco auto.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Is a Suburu forester an SUV? If so I gotta say I love it. Great in the Winter. Was fine on Saturday morning when the roads were icy slick.

    3. Is it spring yet?*

      While larger my son just got the Acura MDX. He didn’t like the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
      Daughter has a Maxda CX-7 (discontinued) so the CX-3 and CX-5 might be good replacements.

    4. Come On Eileen*

      I bought the Mazda CX-5 when it first came out – about 4 years ago – and I love love love everything about it. Its comfortable, sporty, gets good gas mileage, fits a ton of people and cargo, etc. I’m SO happy I bought this car, and I recommend it all the time.

    5. Noah*

      Another vote for the CX-5. It is my usual choice for a loaner vehicle for the day when my Mazda 3 is is for scheduled maintenance. I love how it drives, and with the larger engine it really moves. Also, the new one I had a few weeks ago had a nicer interior than the older models. Looked more like a luxury car and like my Mazda 3.

      If I didn’t already own a Jeep and a car I would totally buy a CX-5. I’ve sat in a CX-3, but it was a bit small for my liking.

      I would see if you can borrow a carseat from a friend or family member though. If you plan on having kids, keep in mind that it can be difficult to fit a rear facing carseat in certain vehicles. This is especially true if you are taller or have long legs and need your seat further back. I realize kids are not in rear facing seats forever, but I know it is next to impossible to get a rear facing seat in my Mazda 3.

  56. Mo*

    Alison, I forgo to ask you this back when it came up: in your answer to the question from the person wondering whether to include fanfiction on a resume, one of the things you said is that some people including you might have copyright-related qualms with it. Can you elaborate on that? What copyright issues do you think fanfiction poses? Genuine question!

    1. fposte*

      There’s a whole and very thoughtful Wikipedia article on legal issues in fanfic–I’ll post the link in a followup, but if it doesn’t get approved for a while, it’ll probably be one of the first hits if you Google fanfiction and copyright.

  57. lfi*

    any other cat owners who have cats with litter box issues?

    back in sept my husband and i adopted our second kitty, a declawed boy who had been surrendered twice (don’t get me started). we had ups and downs, and finally got him to using his box (he has no problem urinating in it..). about a month ago it all stopped.

    he will randomly take off running, have a bowel movement, and dart off again, and repeat. we’ve been adding miralax (per the vet) to his wet food and a bit of water. he has no problems urinating… he just seems to sometimes not know what to do when he has the urge.

    has anyone else experienced the same thing? i tried the pumpkin but it didn’t seem to work that well. any tips would be much appreciate.

    1. Anonacademic*

      Cat attract brand litter helped us with revenge pooping and peeing outside the box with our evil genius Russian blue mix.

      1. lfi*

        that’s the litter that i have … he seemed to enjoy it for quite awhile but now.. not too sure. sigh!

    2. Sibley*

      I’m a little unclear on what the problem is exactly, so addressing both sides of it :) Take what applies.

      Make sure there’s nothing scary/bad about where the litterbox is – noisy stuff, etc. If your first kitty is doing an intimidation thing, you need to get that solved. Sorry, I don’t have experience with that, but your vet or the shelter you got him should be able to advise.

      With multiple cats, you may need to add a litterbox. I have 2 cats, and they do not do well with 1 litterbox. 2 is absolutely required. Different cats like different litterboxes. Mine don’t do covered at all, and I have to make sure I have a large enough box for my bigger kitty.

      When he has an accident, gently put him in the litter box and use his paw to scratch at the litter a few times. If you notice before the accident, put him in the box and help him scratch. Praise him when he gets it right. Also, make sure the litterbox is scooped regularly. If he needs to learn/relearn, this should help.

      I’d also get a vet checkup to rule out/address any physical problems. You were mentioning pumpkin, so if this is a constipation/diarrhea issue then you definitely want the vet to weigh in. More water intake will help with constipation. Wet food or a water fountain can help with that. Diarrhea may have a physical cause that could be treated (parasites come to mind).

      1. lfi*

        thanks so much! we have 4 boxes for 2 cats in various places.

        i would love to try the paw thing but he does NOT want to be picked up. i do praise him when i see him in his box. his problem seems to be that it is hard and then i believe he gets afraid and associates it with ouch.

        i’m calling the vet tomorrow because i really the pee is a bigger issue than the other.

        thanks so much for your advice!

        1. TootsNYC*

          I’d be worried that there’s something medical==like, it hurts when he pees, and so he doesn’t want to, then he can’t help it so he goes right where he is, it hurts, and he tries to run away from it, and then the sting is over so he gets rid of the rest of it fast.

    3. Dot Warner*

      I had an ornery cat who kept urinating outside the box. Two things stopped that: First, we put a new litter box in the spot she kept using. Second, we boarded her at the vet one weekend just to give everybody some space, and while she was there they saw that she was urinating excessively and it turned out she was diabetic! Once we got her on insulin, her behavior improved dramatically.

      1. lfi*

        the thing is though.. sometimes it’s not in the same spot. :( we don’t really care what it is that will make him better, we just want him to get better. so fingers crossed today’s visit can help shed some light on it.

  58. Milton*

    Just watched Netflix’s Cooked. I really inspired husband and I to start cooking again. I just binged on Top Chef too. And yet this past week we ate out every night for dinner, oops!

    Do you have favorite cooking blogs? Favorite simple recipes (5-8ish ingredients or less? Salt and pepper don’t count towards the # of course)

    You know, the simpler the better sometimes…sometimes when I see shows like Top Chef I feel a little discouraged. Delicious looking but too fancy schmancy for a meal for two on a Tuesday.

    1. Milton*

      I take back my ingredient limit. I can handle most things. I guess time is more of an important factor. I swear I just read in AAM, maybe on Friday’s commute question that someone needs to make meals quickly after the gym. Girl, that’s me too! Can’t really dilly dally after a workout.

    2. Cristina in England*

      This isn’t a blog recommendation but I love Mark Bittman’s stuff. He wrote The Minimalist column in the New York Times and has several books out called How to Cook Everything (with variations like HtCE Vegetarian). He gives a simple recipe then ways to make variations on it. Very accessible and delicious results!

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      Jamie Oliver is a favouirte of mine and he had a whole load of meals that should take less than 30 min

    4. Blue_eyes*

      I really like the blog Budget Bytes because she’s great at using simple ingredients and giving lots of options for substitutions based on preferences/budget/time. She also gives lots of detail and step-by-step photos in her recipes so I think her style is fairly approachable for the average home cook.

      Smitten Kitchen is also amazing. A lot of her recipes look (and taste!) fancy, but she cooks out of a little NYC apartment kitchen and is super-conscious of using the minimum of cooking equipment and time needed to achieve great results. Plus she’s very active in the comments to help readers with modifications and troubleshooting.

          1. Rob Lowe can't read*

            I listened to it on Thursday and my first thought was, this is 100% happening on AAM. I don’t comment that often, but I’d been thinking of changing my handle to something more anonymous (old one was a variation on my real name), and this was just too good of an idea!

            Definitely one of my favorite podcasts!

    5. fposte*

      You might also have a look at Michael Symon’s Five in Five books (5 ingredients and 5 minutes). He cheats on both numbers, but there are definitely some tasty and nontaxing recipes in there.

  59. nep*

    I really liked Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. I’ll have to check this one out.

  60. Kassy*

    I’m coming to this party late so I may have to try this next weekend, but I need advice from any natural curly-heads in the house!

    I want to do an ombre coloring to my hair, probably a dark blonde to light, but every time I’ve seen ombre it’s been on someone whose hair was straight at the top and curled at the bottom. I’m a little afraid mine wouldn’t show up. (I have 3a dishwater blonde hair naturally.) Has anyone had any success with this, OR is there a better technique for coloring curls? I’m not married to the ombre idea.

    1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I have very wavy hair, and did ombre, and loved it! Also, I just Googled ombre curls, and got a ton of image results that look great, IMO.

      Do you color yourself? For things like ombre, balayage, etc. (anything more complex than just a standard dump the bottle on the head), I always go to a professional salon. It’s worth the money to have someone else deal with my hair!

      1. Kassy*

        Oh, no! I don’t even cut my own hair because it’s so complicated! Lol. I have done box color on my own head but I am going to have this done at a salon (in May so I’m saving now).

  61. Beth*

    I love A Spot of Bother!

    I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (by the same author – also recommended) first and thought he couldn’t match it, but A Spot of Bother is just as brilliant, if in a very different way.

Comments are closed.