weekend free-for-all – April 16-17, 2016

Olive reclinesThis 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: Small World, by David Lodge. I don’t know why I like send-ups of academia so much, but I do, I do. You will laugh out loud.

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

{ 994 comments… read them below }

  1. Thyri*

    Anyone have tips for holding a yard sale? How do you keep people from walking away with your stuff? What’s the best way to arrange/display everything? How do you deal with the cash you have on hand? Any other tips?

    1. katamia*

      When my parents had them when I was a kid, they’d have a cashbox to keep the money in. I’m not sure where you buy them, but it’s just a little box that kinda looks like a register drawer. Alternatively, I’ve seen other people wear fanny packs and keep the money in there.

      I don’t remember anyone ever worrying about people walking off with our stuff, and one of my parents is a pretty obsessive worrier. Maybe it’s because our yard sales were always more about getting rid of stuff than about getting money for said stuff.

      1. Wrench Turner*

        Fanny pack or purse to keep the money on your person is the best idea for that. Don’t keep anything else there, just yardsale money. As for the rest, start the yardsale with 2 people – one to sit at a table or chair with the money, and keep the smaller more valuable “walkable” items in line of sight near them. Another person to walk around and assist people with loading, questions, etc. Trade out every hour or sit grandma in the chair and have her preside over everything.

    2. Florida*

      Lots of tips…
      1. I always advertise my sales as “Upscale Garage Sale”. I feel like there is enough upscale stuff to justify that. Besides, it’s upscale. Your crap might be upscale to the next person.
      2. One day only. Make the official end time 2pm. You can extend it at 2 if there are enough shoppers, but you don’t want to be sitting out there until 4 and no one is coming. Your dollar per hour rate decreases every hour after the first.
      3. Wear a home depot-type apron to keep your money on your person. Once you get about a hundred dollars or so, take it inside and leave it there.
      4. In terms of stealing, put the small stuff closer to the house and the furniture further out the driveway. You just need a few people to help you watch.
      5. Don’t negotiate with people until they are ready to cash out. In other words, if someone wants to buy 5 items, don’t let them negotiate each item individually. Wait until they get all 5 items, add up the total, then discount the total. If someone says, “Will you take 50 cents for this?” Say, “Is that the only thing you want? Once you get everything together let me, and I’ll see what we can do.”
      6. For me, the goal is to get rid of things. The secondary goal is to make money. I price things accordingly. You will sell more if it’s cheap. Also, don’t factor in the price you paid or nostalgia into the price you sell it for.
      7. For displaying, try to group things (all the kitchen stuff together, all the gardening stuff, etc.) But if it’s not displayed well, I don’t think it matters that much. It doesn’t matter that the items are clean, though. A clean flower pot is wroth twice as much as a dirty one, even though anyone could hose it down once they got it home.

      1. Florida*

        Thought of a few more things… if you are selling electronics, have an extension cord available so that people can plug the item in to see that it works.

        You can sell broken electronics, just label it that way. People will buy broken cell phones, cameras, and similar items. Just label it as not working.

    3. Fantasma*

      Do you have at least one friend or relative who can join the sale? They can help keep an eye on everything during busy times.

      If you have others join the sale, you can either have each responsible for the stuff in their section or you can use different colors of tape to label prices. Once things sell, stick the tape pieces to a sheet of paper (noting next to the tape if something sold for less) and reconcile all the profits at the end.

      Before the sale, go to the bank and get a bunch of smaller bills to make change. You can also bring a dish of spare change. Keep the money on you on a money belt or apron (easy for people to walk away with a cash box).

      As for display, do you have tables (folding? patio?) you can line up and put stuff on? If you have a driveway, line up the tables down each side — easy to keep things centralized and in easy view for you and buyers. For clothes on hangers, you could rig a rope to hang them on.

      Not sure if if applies to where you live but some cities have yard sale ordinances — you might need a permit. There might also be restrictions on “advertising” — putting up signs around your neighborhood. Find out the rules so you don’t get fined. Good luck!

    4. Nicole*

      This is a timely question since my husband and I want to have our first garage sale in May. Looking forward to reading all the tips since we’re new at this also.

    5. Aurora Leigh*

      I love yard sales! I’ve helped out with them for years. Some tips:

      1. Advertise! Newspapers, craiglist, sign at the post office, get the word out however you can. If you do craigslist, have pictures.

      2. You need at least one helper who you like and who is capable of counting money quickly. If they are selling as well you can advertise as a multi family sale! If they are not, buy them lunch.

      3. People will show up before your advertised opening. Plan to be ready an hour before you said you would open.

      4. Have lots of signs and balloons marking the way. People (like me) get lost easily.

      5. Start slashing prices around 11. By noon all but a handful of people are done.

      6. If you know a kid that wants to sell lemonade or soda, this is the perfect time! Also if you can rig up something for shade or have fans blowing. People browse longer if they’re comfortable.

      7. Keep your doors locked. Only go indoors to stash the extra money. Be subtle about it.

      8. Don’t spell anything for less than a quarter. It makes the math easier!

      9. Offer to make piles by the register area for people who have their arms full of purchases. You want them to buy lots! Have bags or boxes and offer to help load cars if you can.

      10. For large items, mark a little high so you have room for negotiation.

      11. Make sure everything is clearly marked. Some people are afraid to ask.

      12. Wear a hat or sunglasses, have sunscreen and lots of water. Have fun!

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        3. People will show up before your advertised opening.

        Hoo boy is that true. People show up early because they know you will be setting up and they want first dibs. They don’t think that you will send them away because you want to make money, so you’re going to have to come up with some strategy to manage that.

        I will never have another garage sale. I *may* participate in a neighbourhood type sale but individually, hell to the no. Those two days I had so many rude people, I don’t want to repeat the experience. Rude in that they showed up early when I wasn’t ready, asked inappropriate questions, told me what they would pay for the item and wanted my personal information for family members. One man’s wife came back years late and asked if I was the one who had had a garage sale and if I was still willing to sell itemX. It was a lot of work and stress for not much money. I just donate stuff to various charities now.

        1. Nicole*

          I ran into this when I helped my MIL with a garage sale years ago and it really turned me off to the whole concept, but my husband wants to have one so I’ll give it another try. I really don’t care for the rudeness, nor the people who will pick up an entire box of stuff and want it for 10 cents. Yes, I want to get rid of my stuff, but if I’m going to sell a quarter of what I have for that low I’d rather not deal with the hassle and just donate everything (which is what we usually do).

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Exactly! That’s why I’ve been dropping boxes off at Value Village or the Reuse Centre… because I don’t want the hassle of *people* for the $5 I might make from those items (if I’m lucky).

            It’s kind of funny that we have a thread about whether or not we would want someone to walk us home after a first date, yet the same problem can apply with a garage sale. Do you really want a bunch of strangers knowing where you live and what kind of stuff you have? If it’s a moving sale, who cares? But if you’re going to stay there, you know what they say about cardboard boxes after Xmas.

            1. the gold digger*

              Oh! Primo had a garage sale when he was getting rid of Sly and Doris’ stuff! (He took all the porn to a dumpster behind a grocery store, although heck he should have tried to sell it.)

              Anyhow, you would not BELIEVE the things people want to buy. I will put a link in the next comment.

              This advice in my comments would have been really useful for early birds: “I wish this blog were real time so we could have used one commenter’s advice to say that the price before the start time of the sale is double the price after the sale starts.”

              1. Dynamic Beige*

                (He took all the porn to a dumpster behind a grocery store, although heck he should have tried to sell it.)

                It was probably vintage porn by that time and there are probably people out there who collect that… provided it was in uh… like new condition, that is. ‘Cause otherwise… ew.

                After my grandfather passed, I cleaned out his house (mercifully, no porn) but he had just about every Reader’s Digest going back to the 60’s. He had also bought Life Magazine for a year in 1961 — I wound up selling those to a guy who specialised in vintage paper. He wouldn’t take the Reader’s Digests, though.

              2. mander*

                I totally would have sold that stuff. It would have been the best seller, I’ll bet.

                But then I have no shame (and I live in an urban hipster neighborhood where crap like that is just “ironic”).

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I see yard sale advertisements that say “No early birds” or “No sales before [8:00] a.m”.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Last time I had one, I had a sign at the end of my driveway that said “NOT OPEN YET–WILL OPEN AT 8 AM.” At eight, I turned it around to the side that said “THE SALE IS NOW OPEN.” I had another one I put under it later in the day that said, “ALL ITEMS HALF OFF!”

            I also had a sign that said “ALL SALES FINAL,” posted prominently in my garage. I didn’t want someone coming back for their quarter, LOL.

      2. StillHealing*

        I always do #4. and people always show up who say they “followed the balloons”!

    6. Cristina in England*

      I have heard this about preventing people from showing up too early: advertise that prices are tripled before the start time

        1. Florida*

          Some people get mad about that. “You said you were opening at 9:00, but you let those people in at 8:00.” People are really crazy. And some people are SERIOUS about garage sales – it’s their profession, literally.

          You could use yellow caution tape around the yard until you are ready.

          1. Florida*

            I should’ve been more clear. You can start an hour early than you advertise, but just no that some people will be mad. That’s not a huge deal. Just tell the angry people that you were ready and started early. My whole point was just to know that it will annoy people, but necessarily that that needs to influence how you run your garage sale.

      1. Lady Bug*

        Or just turn the hose on them!
        Or, sellers will be walking around naked prior to start time.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        A lot of people don’t find the sales by the ads, though. Some people, like me, during yard sale season, just drive around and look for signs. If you want to deter people who show up that way, you’ll probably have to have someone keep an eye out for early birds and enforce that you’re not open for business yet.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          So, don’t put your signs out at the street corners until you are ready for customers. Some people might still stop if they drive by and see your sale, but you can reduce the number by saying, ‘no sales before [whenever]’ in the ad and keeping the signs at the corners down until opening time.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            That’s easy to do when there’s a bunch of you… I did the garage sale all by myself and so I had few options in terms of when I had time to put out the signs. Signs were important as this was the days before the Internet and I live in a low-traffic area.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Yeah, that’s true; you would have to have a runner to take care of the signs.

          2. Florida*

            I always put my signs up the night before. Then if people show up early, just say, “We aren’t ready yet. We will open at 8:00.” If they start walking through, ask them to wait on the sidewalk.

    7. AcademiaNut*

      Make the pricing as easy as possible, and price stuff low. Books 2/$1, clothes $2 each, etc, or bins/areas of stuff at the same price. It saves a lot of effort. Don’t offer to hold stuff for people – the first person with money and transport (for larger items) gets it.

      Don’t do it alone – with two people, one person can watch stuff while the other takes money inside, or goes to the washroom, or puts up signs. If you have small but valuable items, keep them close to the cash area, and have someone always there. Small but cheap items are less of a theft draw, large items are harder to steal.

      In my experience the early birds tend to contain a fair percentage of resellers, looking for cheap stock for antique stores and the like, rather than people who wandered off the street. So I don’t let anyone in before the start time.

      An hour before the end time cut the prices in half.

      It can work well to have a couple of families go in on a single sale (advertise as multi-family). If you do that, use colour-coded price stickers and stick them in a book when you sell something, to make book-keeping easier.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I have done sales with friends- in a town wide sale. More people will stop if there are several families having sales. And as other have said it’s nice to have someone there to work off of.

      One thing that has been very helpful for me is to have place to go with what is left over. You go to all the trouble to gather, sort and price the stuff why drag it back into the house? I was able to find a community group that was doing a fund raiser by having a tag sale. We boxed our stuff up and brought it there. All that was left to take care were the chairs and the tents.

      One year a friend decided to do a fund raiser for a family whose house burned down. (Most people heard of the fire and/or knew the family.) Things sold at a good clip. It helped that my friend put good prices on his stuff. This suggestion is of limited help if you do not have a fund raising goal at the moment, though.

    9. stevenz*

      A lot of people who come will be yard sale “professionals.” They buy stuff that they then sell at their own sales. They are the ones likely to make ridiculous offers like the whole box of stuff for 10 cents. Just say no. You can’t offend them. The people who come before you open are really the worst. If you sell to them don’t discount.

      Tools will sell first. Charge a little more than you think you’ll get, then be willing to come down a little.

      Arrange things on shelves or tables or the ground so you can see all of it from one spot, and try to stay in that spot to keep an eye out for thieves. Be careful of diversionary tactics, like a kid throwing a tantrum on cue while mum fills up her purse.

      Keep the valuable stuff near you.

      It complicates things a bit but it can be good to combine your yard sale with a friend’s. More merchandise, more help.

      Definitely don’t work a yard sale alone.

      If there is something you *really* don’t want to sell, don’t put it out.

      Yard sales can actually be kind of fun (though way more work than fun.) Kids are cute when they come by on their bikes, and often neighbors meet for the first time at yard sales. You can get into some really good conversations.

    10. Rebecca in Dallas*

      My parents had these a lot and also helped put them on for my church. One thing I remember that worked well was having a very basic pricing system. Decide on a small number of price points (ex: $1, $3, $5 and $10) and have a designated color sticker for each price (ex: blue sticker = $1, red sticker = $3, etc). Make one posterboard showing what each color sticker represents. Then as the day goes on and you need to cut prices, just update the board. The blue sticker items = 50 cents, red sticker = $1, etc).

      They used to always advertise in the newspaper when they were having a garage sale. (Maybe nowadays people do Craigslist instead? IDK) Also, if you say it starts at 6am, be ready for people to be at your house at 5:45am. Some people take garage sales very seriously (at least in our neighborhood they did)! That may mean that you stage everything in the garage the night before and just open the garage doors at 5:55am.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Oh, and if you have kids, have them set up a lemonade/Kool-Aid/soda stand/bottled water! My sister and I used to do this, we’d make ourselves some extra money and people browsed longer when they were hydrated!

    11. Curtsey*

      My family rocked the garage sales when I was growing up. My mom would forces with several other households, since a multi-family sale draws a bigger crowd and provides more helpers. It also allows you to advertise the best items from each household. Each family’s stuff had a different color price sticker. The person at the register had a clipboard with paper, and would remove the stickers from each item, grouping them on the paper by color. This made adding up each family’s total at the end of the day easy, and only requiring one pay station. Sales were three hours tops. Final rule: whatever doesn’t sell goes to goodwill/salvation army – it is not allowed back in the house!

  2. Fantasma*

    I bought a Mazda3 hatchback last weekend! Thanks to everyone here who offered advice and info. Up until the last minute, I was leaning toward the CX-5 for the flexibility and the height. But price and gas mileage won after I test-drove them both again — I got a great deal on the Mazda3 and I love driving it.

    Now to dog-proof the seats …

    1. periwinkle*

      In about an hour I’m off to the dealership to buy a CX-5. Height and flexibility won out over price and gas mileage. :)

      1. Kristen*

        I’m really glad I sprung for the more expensive, molded Weather Techs. I bought them after having my new car for a month or two and vacuumed the carpets before putting them in. I was astonished at how dirty I can make a car in just a month.

    2. Miles*

      Always go for gas mileage over size. By the time you run into a situation where the smaller one won’t do you’ll have saved enough to get a roof rack or rent a small trailer & have money left over to celebrate.

      1. Miles*

        So yeah, good job for doing that. (I really need to finish my replies before clicking ‘Submit’)

  3. Cambridge Comma*

    A Facebook page / twitter account I think some of you might appreciate: The Cat Reviewer. I’ll add the link below.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Speaking of wonderful cat things, this video from tinykittens is fantastic:

      (I think you can see it even if you don’t have a Facebook account.)

      For people who don’t know tinykittens, it’s a live cam (well, now cams, plural) run by an amazing woman* who fosters pregnant cats and their kittens (and then gets them all spayed and adopted). She currently has three litters there and another one about to be born any day. Anyway, a kitten from one of the older litters escaped and broke into the nest of one of the other mother cats who has much younger kittens, and the video shows what happened. It’s very adorable.

      * Seriously, she’s amazing. I’ve always thought I had special abilities with cats, but this woman is magical. She’s successfully socializing feral cats who are supposed to be far too old to be socialized.

      1. PennyT*

        Shelly is incredible! I’ve often thought she should be on Barbara Walters list of amazing people.

  4. Too embarrassed to show my face*

    I don’t know if this is too personal but I’d like to hear any weight loss success stories. I’ve struggled with my weight all my life and recently got a personal trainer, but it’s been almost 3 months and I’m not really serial difference. I know eliminating junk food would help, but old habits die hard and it’s just disheartening to see no change for so long. I also don’t want to get into discussions about body shaming or anything. This is something I need to do for myself and I’d like to hear encouragement if anyone else has walked this path. I don’t mean any disrespect to people who have their own body issues, this is just mine.

      1. Too embarrassed to show my face*

        Wow, that’s actually pretty cool. I’ll look to this for motivation.

    1. Jen*

      My sister struggled with weight since high school. She’s now 30 and was about 70-80lbs over the “right for her” weight (normal, healthy, but not teeny tiny- I think she went from a size 16+ to a size 8).

      The only thing that worked for her was a low carb diet. She’s been on it for just about a year now and lost at least 65bs, maybe a bit more. She didn’t go nuts increasing exercise but did cut out booze (carbs!) and I think made an effort to spend more time outside (walking,’gardening etc).

      She looks fantastic and truely, the weight came off at a realistic pace. She’s now in “maintain” mode which is a modest amount of healthy carbs vs full ban.

      She had previously been a failed dieter, terrible exerciser, major snacker and hobby baker/chef

    2. nep*

      I lost weight (and felt soooo much better) when I stopped eating processed food and started eating more vegetables. Exercise consisted of a mix of strength training / intervals and walking or running. (Strength training really brought about visible changes.)
      There really are three essential elements to weight loss — exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep.
      When you say ‘I know eliminating junk food would help, but old habits die hard’ — what does that mean, exactly? Have you changed up your eating?
      What does your trainer have you doing?

      1. Too embarrassed to show my face*

        My trainer has me doing a mix of strength with a little cardio and intervals. It’s not anything I couldn’t do myself but the standing appointment keeps me going when I might otherwise cop out. Junk food is a big one. I eat fast food at least once a week. It’s slowly going down but it’s such an unhealthy thing and I always feel ashamed, going through drive throughs and eating in my car, throwing away wrappers outside before I get home so no one knows what I was doing, etc. My guilt around food is major and I don’t really know how to deal with it. Right now my goal is to go the rest of the month without eating out, although I started on Monday and already caved last night so… :(

        1. StudentPilot*

          I love love love (love) junk food. So, I don’t make it off limits, I just put controls in place. So for chips – I don’t keep them in the house. I have to eat them out, which keeps me down to a small bag (not family sized!) And I have to pay cash. Same with chocolates.

          With fast food – I allow myself once a week. I try to eat healthy 6 days of the week (eh, I slip up, I’m OK with that) and then I get to eat some unhealthy (but soooooo tasty) once a week. That way I don’t feel bad, and if I’m craving, it’s easier to hold out for a day or two than forever :)

        2. TL -*

          Ah, the great thing about food is that every day is a new day to try because you have to eat every day!
          Can you try scaling down instead of going cold turkey? Like, maybe you order a kid’s meal or just a side instead of a regular size one or start even smaller by grabbing a water with your meal instead of a coke.

        3. fposte*

          Following on what StudentPilot says: have a look at Brian Wansink’s _Slim by Design_. He’s a researcher and a funny writer who’s distilled his work into ways to set up your house and your food habits to make it easier to eat what you should.

        4. Elsajeni*

          I agree with TL that going cold turkey is a tough goal to set, and I’d add that even if you’re sure that’s what you want to do, a month is a long time to maintain perfection! I would try for a week at a time, or set myself a goal of only eating out three times this month, or something like that. (Actually, I would probably do the second — I do better with goals that build in “failure.” One of my goals for this year is to exercise every day, 90% target success rate — so I can skip about 3 days a month, if I get sick or am super busy or just don’t feel like working out. Nobody’s perfect, after all; structuring my goals this way helps me avoid the “well, I messed up once, now I can’t meet my goal so I might as well throw the whole thing down the toilet and never exercise again” pitfall.)

        5. Aisling*

          If it’s slowly going down, then you are doing better and that’s fantastic! Try not to beat yourself up over it. I did the same thing, fast food a few times a week because it was easy, then slowly decreased it to about once a week, and now I don’t remember the last time I ate fast food. It just doesn’t taste good anymore, since I’ve been eating better. But I’ll still grab something if I have to, and that’s ok. Moderation in everything.

        6. The Other Dawn*

          I totally hear you on the guilt around food, and eating everything before you get home so no one knows. Here are a few of my blog posts about my former eating habits. If anything, I hope it shows you you’re not alone. It’s so hard to change eating habits.


    3. Grumpy*

      Lost 20lbs by following a strict diet and working out 4 times a week for six months. S*cks but works. Likely not what you want to hear but I tried every other way for two years and nothing worked. It started when I saw a commercial for lines of credit that said, “What if someday were now… ” and that sort of clicked. Not about the line of credit (I don’t need a sailboat) but about losing weight.

        1. Grumpy*

          Thanks — kept off for a year, it blipped back up a bit at first (because junk food tastes so good after eliminating it for weeks on end) but I’ve kind of found the balance.
          This was all done while traveling and road-tripping constantly and having friends who eat loads of junk and drink much alcohol at every meal. I was just sick of being too big, nothing magic, and just forced myself to quit making bad choices and kept telling myself to get real, weight loss happens at the table more than the gym. Realistically, two slices of pizza can wipe out a 90-minute workout.
          So I was the high-maintenance PITA person who ate chicken and salad at restaurants and bars, sending it back if the dressing wasn’t on the side and ordering custom plates at TGIFridays (side salad, side of grilled chicken) — which still feels weird to ask for, even now — and I was the un-fun person who had half a glass of wine no matter how amazing the bottle was. It s*cked but it paid off. It’s not easy or magic, it’s just choices.

          1. nep*

            Amen. It’s not easy or magic — just choices. So true.
            The secret is there is no secret.
            Nice work.

      1. Too embarrassed to show my face*

        How do you keep a strict diet? Food is *so* hard for me. I hate cooking and I’m not good at it, plus I’m out of the house so often I don’t really have time for it. I do make better food decisions/can resist temptation when I’m not hungry but having food available is the key and I don’t know how to do it well.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I had to use WeightWatchers. Eating more vegetables or fat free salad dressings didn’t change my snacking or portion sizes of foods I liked. I needed to measure and track, and WW was the easiest way to do that. (I only use the online tools.) They really screwed them up back in November/December, and they still don’t have everything working correctly, so I don’t specifically recommend them, but that system, when it worked, is what helped me lose 70 lbs. and keep off…well, I’ve kept off 60 of those for over 7 years.

          tl;dr version, I recommend you find a tracking tool that you like and that you can and will use on your smartphone.

          1. Kate M*

            Agree – I kind of hate the advice to just start “incorporating more healthy foods into your diet” and “move more” and eat “less processed foods” because…when I eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, it’s not because I’m literally hungry for that much ice cream. Filling up on vegetables first doesn’t help me crave that less, especially if it’s an emotional thing or something I’ve gotten in the habit of doing.

            Tracking is the only thing that worked for me (currently 17 pounds down with about 10 more to go). I tried so long to lose weight by “eating better”, “working out harder,” and even went an entire month without eating any processed food. Nothing worked until I started counting calories. It’s so easy to eat back everything you burn working out, and more. And it’s not like I always eat healthy foods – whatever I eat, I just make sure that it’s within my calorie allotment for the day. That could mean Starbucks for breakfast, a sandwich and cookie for lunch, and the Lean Cuisine for dinner. Or it might mean healthy non-processed foods all day. In general (barring specific medical conditions), what you eat doesn’t matter for weight, just calories in vs. calories out matter. (What you eat matters for health of course, but I find for me that it works best to focus on one thing at a time. I lose weight first, then slowly transition into eating healthier foods.)

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          I hate cooking, too. But if you can find someone who can help you out to learn it, you will be ahead in the long run. I never have and that’s one thing that I’m not proud of, I’m a grown-ass woman who can’t cook. Start small and work your way up. If you need healthy things to snack on, try keeping a supply of unsalted nuts/seeds on you, you can buy them in bulk and portion out some for when you’re on the go. And remember, when it comes to kicking any habit, you will feel worse before you feel better. Caffeinated drinks, for example, will kick your ass if you go cold turkey — so will sugar. It’s hard to stick to a new healthier habit when you feel like crap, but it will pass.

          If you get TLC, they have a series called My 600lb Life, which is actually kind of fascinating (or at least I find it so). These are people who are seriously overweight — many are bedridden and unable to care for themselves. It is very impressive to me when they finally come to grips with what’s really bothering them. It’s usually not *just* the food (which isn’t healthy to begin with), it’s that they’re using it as a coping mechanism for some trauma that they had (or is still on-going) in their lives. Finding a way to deal with those underlying problems may help you, such as keeping a journal to document your feelings, therapy (if you can afford it) or support groups. You already have an accountability partner (in a way) with your trainer — we all could use some support and cheering on!

        3. bearing*

          I lost 40 lbs about 8 years ago, going from obese to normal — kept it off 1 year, had a baby, lost the baby weight, kept it off 2.5 years, had a baby, lost all but 10 lbs and am now still within the normal range. I plan to make a push to lose the last 10 again when life slows down a bit.

          For me, it was “pre-tracking” — I preplanned each day’s menu with the help of an online calorie counter. Obsessive measuring of everything. It sucked and it occupied my entire brain for six months, but it got the job done.

          If you think a large part of your problem would be solved if you ate fewer seconds, snacks, and sweets, a very sane approach is the No-S Diet — see nosdiet.com . A good friend of mine swears by it, and it is pretty good for regaining sanity about food.

          1. mander*

            I love the No-S approach. No guilt or good food/bad food nonsense, just a set of common sense rules laid out in an easy-to-grasp format. And if you want you could incorporate your once-a-week fast food into a special thing, and have it be part of your diet.

            I’ve yet to become a successful dieter, but things like No-S (and the Inside Out Weight Loss podcast, which can be hokey but has good things to say) helped me identify why conventional “diets” have never worked for me.

        4. Turanga Leela*

          I’m in an “off” period for my eating, but when I’m being healthy, I carry a ton of food around with me. If I’m being unhealthy, I bring nothing to work, and lunch is a takeout burrito. If I’m being healthy, I lug a bag to work with me with homemade food to heat up (usually leftover stew or chili from the crock pot), at least two kinds of raw fruit/veg, and a Lara bar, and I make sure there’s trail mix in my desk for emergencies. It feels like much more food—and it probably is more by volume—but it’s healthier and lower-calorie than eating out. I used to do the same kind of preparation for work travel; I’d be in the airport with a bag of cashews and unsweetened beef jerky. Once I took two grilled chicken breasts with me in my purse.

          Short version: for me, eating healthily means taking a LOT of snacks with me to the office.

    4. nep*

      One of the ‘lines’ I saw that really hit home for me (because I wanted change NOW) — Something like: It’s going to take time, but that time is going to pass anyway.
      In other words, don’t let frustration over how long it takes thow you off track.
      Bottom line, as with many other worthwhile pursuits, absolutely nothing replaces hard work and discipline.

      1. Too embarrassed to show my face*

        That’s true. There’s no point in not starting. And I think the trainer has really helped me make a habit of exercising, but now comes the food part.

        1. Trixie*

          You will also make a habit of healthier eating choices until that too becomes a regular routine and not so much a struggle. Easier go-to healthy choices at home or on the road. Grocery shopping when you’re not hungry. Keeping good stuff around at home so those days when I AM going to eat, it’s on the healthy side. Or having a beverage first in case I’m thirsty or more that likely, bored/anxious.

    5. Connie-Lynne*

      I lost 48 lbs in about a year and a half. Three things combined for my success:
      1. My best friend was also working on losing weight; we lived close enough that we could hang out doing non-food things or if we went to lunch could applaud good choices.
      2. She got me into Weight Watchers. It doesn’t matter, IMO, which food-modulation plan you choose, as much as it matters that you personally can easily manage it.
      3. I was working only part-time so was able to incorporate joining a sports league, which meant I could exercise for 2-3 hours.

      I kept that weight off for about five years, until I took a job that stressed me out and took all my time.

      I’m now in a different job, and needed to lose about 5-10 lbs for my blood pressure. I took a more moderate approach to weight loss this time: cut out non-social drinking, set a goal for myself to eat 5servings of vegetables daily. It took about two months, but I’m 8lbs down and my BP is much lower.

      It’s all about being in touch with what you can realistically do at any given time.

      1. Florida*

        I agree with the part about how it doesn’t matter too much about whether you use WW or some other plan. What matters is that it is something you will stick with.

        I’ve found that if I just write down what I eat, as in every single thing I eat, each day, then I make better food choices. If I’m going to eat a cracker, I have to decide if it’s worth it to eat the cracker knowing that I have to write that down. Also, you can’t lie if you write it down. You realize that you don’t eat one cracker a day, you actually eat ten.

        1. nep*

          Agree — writing down everything you eat for a bit can help to make you more mindful about eating and your health in general. Not that you want to spend the rest of your life obsessing about every calorie — but initially it can help rein in bad habits a bit. When I was doing that, I thought twice about whether I really wanted that third spoon of peanut butter.
          Making time to sit and eat a meal rather than rush-eat in car or standing up — this can help with the mindfulness, and simply make what you eat more fulfilling.

          1. Connie-Lynne*

            Yep, being mindful really makes a difference. Like, setting the goal this time around for the vegetables has made me stop and choose at lunch — if I don’t get a few veggies in with lunch, that means I have to cook a bunch of veggies for dinner and that sounds like WORK OH NO ok, I’ll just have some vegetables at lunch and fruit for the afternoon snack!

            Similarly, I totally bribed myself (with candy!) to quit drinking so much. I made a deal that I could eat as much candy as I wanted to, but eating candy meant no booze that day. Turns out, I like candy better than booze, but I eat far fewer calories worth of candy than I drink of alcohol. A handful of starburst or twizzlers, or a few chocolates, and I’m good, vs a few glasses of wine for the same “treat yo’ self” level.

    6. misspiggy*

      For me just reducing portion size is useful. This makes me feel I’m not denying myself anything. If I don’t really fancy something, I don’t eat it. So I might cook my husband chicken with rice and I’ll just have the chicken. Same with junk food – what I love is burgers, so I’ll have a small cheeseburger without fries. I try not to over-shop, and freeze leftovers, but I’ve had to talk myself out of being upset if I leave food uneaten or if I don’t cook something before it goes off.

      All that doesn’t work if I’m eating while tired, stressed or hungry, though. I eat something filling (complex carbs/protein/fibre) and have a drink as soon as I get hungry or cranky – I try to keep snacks in my bag. If I’m also eating later with others, I’ll eat a modest amount, and remind myself that I’m no longer in my parents’ house or school, so I don’t have to clear my plate.

    7. ThatGirl*

      My weight has bounced around all my teen and adult life and I finally decided I was going to break my bad habits and work on good ones. I’ve done some myself and I’m now working with a health coach.

      I work out three times a week plus walking the dog. I don’t keep junk food in the house. I love to cook and I like veggies, so that helps. But even if you don’t, keep quality food around – oatmeal, almonds, fruit, veggies, lean meat and protein. Fat isn’t bad, it’s the quality that matters. Limiting sugar is more important.

      It’s a work in progress. So maybe focus on one thing at a time? First, aim to eat an extra serving of veggies, or cutting back on potato chips, or whatever you struggle with. When that’s old hat, move to the next thing.

      Good luck :)

    8. Christy*

      Honestly, it took me like a year of therapy to be ready to lose weight. I’ve lost about 40 lbs–I was down like 46 but I’ve taken the month off (wedding and travel) so I’ll start watching what I eat when I get back from this next trip. But it’s a combo of therapy, weight watchers and eating really healthy usually and exercising daily. (Even if I stroll on the treadmill it counts because I went.)

    9. Tex*

      Junk food (McDonald’s) grosses me out but I still crave it. I can’t explain it. But two bites in, and I’m kind of done. So I order the kids meal just to get the tiny portion of burger or fries to satisfy the craving. Cold turkey is hard.

    10. pony tailed wonder*

      One thing that helped my ex boyfriend after modifying his diet was weekly dance classes. We would eat a lean dinner and then go to dance class that lasted an hour and a half once a week. It wasn’t so much thought of as additional diet and exercise, we made ourselves think of it as an extra midweek date night. We would take different kinds of dance to vary things up. Country western seemed to be to most energetic and the tango was the most technical. Ballroom was a great basic start, the waltz is very easy to pick up and adding extras to it once you get it is simple.

      Also, I don’t know if you are male or female but there are usually more single women in the classes than single men so it you are a man, I would say it would be a good bet that you can get a partner easily in the classes. If you are a woman, it might be easier to sign up with a man. I never saw any same sex couples in the classes though which, after thinking about it, seems odd. Line dancing classes end up being about 90% female.

    11. Rebecca*

      At the risk of sounding like a commercial, you just need to do it :) I have lost 80-100 lbs, I fluctuate, and need to lose at least 30 more pounds to be where I think I should be, which is still heavier than the doctor’s office charts, but oh well. I walk and have started to ride a bike, eat better, and don’t beat myself up. I started hiking in the woods too!

      There are no bad foods, but I cut out a majority of junk food and buy small portions if I really have to have it. I feel better than I have in years. Am I still overweight? Yes. But that’s OK. I will get there, eventually, and I didn’t get to be morbidly obese in 5 minutes so I won’t get back to a more normal weight in 5 minutes.

      I want to share something, if it’s OK. There’s a steep long hill near my house. 2+ years ago, I had to stop about 4 times while walking up that hill. Every day, I tried. Then after a while, I stopped 3 times. Then 2 times. Then once. It took several months, but one day I walked up the hill all at once, no stopping. I think that’s how journeys like this begin, and it takes time.

      Hope this helps :)

    12. Alston*

      So I started going to Weight Watchers meetings in early February and so far I’ve lost about 30 pounds. I know I’ve lost weight, but like you I am not really seeing a difference myself. I’m still wearing the same size pants and everything. That in particular was getting me down until I realized just how stretchy my jeans are. So I tried on a bridesmaids dress that I’d had to wear spanx with (and still could barely get into it), and it fit. At least now I know my body is changing and my hips are shrinking, even if I can’t really tell yet.

      I’ve lost some weight before by exercising a ton–that was never sustainable for me. Going to WW meetings and working on the nutrition aspect is working better and is going a lot faster than when I was trying to lose weight by hitting the gym a couple hours a day.

      Changing up what I ate/not going out as much is tough. Especially when you don’t see results, you think you may as well just have that ice cream because what’s the point?

      What I’ve been doing for junk food is mostly just substituting other things. Or else I make a version at home that’s healthier. Take a burger and fries–if I go out and get that at McDonalds that’d be like 3/4 of the points I get for the day. If I make it at home with super lean beef, fat free cheese, and baked fries it’s like 1/3 of the points I get for the day, much better.

      Going out to eat can be tricky–I always look at the menu ahead of time so I don’t get too overwhelmed. For me it’s easier if I don’t go out too much, so I almost always bring my lunch (I don’t have time to cook often, so usually it’s a frozen meal), and I always always have fruit with me.

      I think having that standing apointment with a trainer has got to be good for at least keeping you going. Paying for WW certainly is, i go every week because I damn well want to get my moneys worth.

    13. dear liza dear liza*

      Would it be helpful or demoralizing to know that most people can’t lose much weight just through exercise? We should exercise for many health reasons, but it’s actually not very effective for weight loss. For that, it’s almost all about what you eat. (My doctor is a woman around my age, and we often bemoan all the research.)

      Like you, I don’t like to cook and had a history of eating junk. What worked for me is a bastardization of WW:
      I get a set amount of calories each day I can use on anything, but I can also have all the vegetables and fruit I want (except for avocados, potatoes, and corn.) This approach really encouraged me to eat more fruits and veggies because they were “free.” I do much better when I track what I eat, as others mentioned.

      To make it easier, I plan all my meals each week. I make healthy dinners in big batches so I really only have to cook a couple times; the rest of hte week is heating up leftovers. The crockpot and the rice cooker are my best friends! I also eat a lot of bananas because they are so portable.

      A word of encouragement: Once I’ve ‘detoxed’ and eat healthy for a solid week or two, processed food starts tasting nasty and I lose my craving for it.

      Don’t beat yourself up at any point. Your past choices do not dictate your future choices.

    14. the gold digger*

      I lost 25 pounds after my freshman year of college, which was in 1982. I have kept it off but it has been hard work every single day. My body wants to have extra weight – apparently, my people come from a place where famine is common.

      I usually weigh myself every day. I think about everything I eat (and have tracked what I eat with a diary, with weight watchers, and now with sparkpeople). I am obsessive about exercising – I run or do weights at least five times a week. I hate exercising and I love eating but I do not want to go back to [me + 25 lbs]. Eternal vigilance.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      I went from a 24 to an 8. It took me almost 20 years. The reason it took so long is because… a mix of life, circumstances and me getting in my own way.
      I creeped up to a 12 last year, but i was able to get down to a 10 before winter. I feel my best and my body works best if I am about an 8 or 10. When my husband got sick and I ran him from one doctor to another I got down to a size 6 and I was not comfortable at all. I lost too much weight and I lost it in the wrong way- worry and endless running.
      My secret weapon for losing the last half of the weight was my health. I felt so crappy for reasons not related to weight, I was no longer me. And that motivated me like nothing else.

      If you stick with it, you will reach your goal. But it can challenge you like nothing else in life. I ended up revamping most of my life because health. Through the process I came to appreciate that some of weight loss has nothing to do with food.

      For example: I just read and I have seen it first hand, we burn the most fat when we sleep. Yeah, make sure you are getting a good night’s rest more often than not. Additionally energy has to come from somewhere. If we don’t sleep we have to eat. We have to get energy somehow.

      What I was calling fat, was mostly water. I had quite the fluid build up.

      I either lost inches or I lost pounds. Never both. When I lost the last three sizes I lost a whooping four pounds. yep. four pounds. I put on muscle and muscle is heavy.

      I probably will have to watch what I am stuffing in my mouth for the rest of my life. This bothered me when I started trying to lose weight but not so much now. Problems I know about, I can get a plan. It’s the problems I don’t know about that are unsettling.

      1. Okie Girl*

        A friend of mine told me, “Eat less. Move more.” Definitely not that easy.
        Try a book called “Eat to Live.” It has a lot of information. It teaches you what kinds of foods are best for you. And go easy on yourself. It’s one little step at a time.

      2. Hellanon*

        >>I just read and I have seen it first hand, we burn the most fat when we sleep. Yeah, make sure you are getting a good night’s rest more often than not. Additionally energy has to come from somewhere. If we don’t sleep we have to eat. We have to get energy somehow.

        Interesting! I lost about 30 lbs a few years back – cutting out sugar & walking a bunch more, nothing radical – and put some of that back on this fall. When I thought about it, the only thing that really changed was that my sleep schedule crashed & burned, to the point that I am still trying to get it back to normal. I notice that when I am not getting enough sleep & am fighting exhaustion, my craving for carbs and crunchy salty snacks goes through the roof – and it’s a dire sort of craving, not the kind that can be derailed with carrots or another activity. When I get enough sleep, no cravings, plus I have the energy to exercise, which helps with the sleeping… OP, how are your sleep patterns?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Carb (sugars) and salt cravings go hand-in-hand. If we have one then we usually have the other. I am not clear on why. I think it has something to with sugars pulling minerals out of the body.
          Watermelon saved my butt on this one. I decided that watermelon was my go-to sweet snack. It wasn’t really on my diet but I figured it’s a watermelon not a cake.

          I got my first decent watermelon this week – it’s not an anemic looking thing that has a watermelon shape to it. I am pretty happy about watermelon season starting up.

          If you think you are low on minerals you can make your own electrolyte replacement:
          1/4 tsp sea salt
          1/4 tsp baking soda
          1/4 tsp sugar (I usually skip the sugar)
          1 quart of water.

          Drink half in the morning and half in the afternoon/evening. You can do this for 3-4 days.
          I had been buying pre-made electrolyte replacement and they are a bit spendy. So am going to work with this for this year and see how it goes.

        2. nep*

          It’s quite clear that sleep must be part of the equation.
          I know I don’t eat nearly as well when I lack sleep. And, there is no substitute for sleep when it comes to the restoration our muscles have to go through, and a gazillion other functions in our body essential to a healthy metabolism and efficient use of nutrients. I don’t have the correct scientific terminology — Just that sleep is indispensable.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This is an interesting tidbit- our bodies make certain kinds of blood sugars when we sleep that can ONLY come from sleeping. We cannot find these sugars anywhere else. Makes ya wonder what else is going on, also…

    16. bluesboy*

      Can i just ask what it is about cooking you don’t like?

      I ask because my fiancée has always said that she hates cooking. No reason, just hates it. I on the other hand like it.

      Christmas came around and I treated myself to a food processor – and her world has changed. Turns out what she really hated was chopping. And now she just gives vegetables a quick wash and slides them into the food processor and watches the magic happen.

      Now she’s getting into it a bit more, even made a carrot cake this week!

      I’m not saying ‘buy a food processor’, I have no idea if that would help you or not. But if you can break down what it is you don’t like about cooking, maybe you can find a tool (or recipes) that avoid it. Is it time, at the end of a long day? Maybe turning on a slow cooker in the morning and finding dinner waiting for you at home would help. Maybe cooking at the weekend and freezing could help? Is it that you don’t think you’re very good? I have some recipes that are literally ‘chop stuff up, put it in the oven’.

      Anyway, basic gist: thing about ways you could avoid the bit you don’t like doing. And good luck!

      1. bluesboy*

        Missed the main point to my own comment. If you find a way to make cooking tolerable you’ll almost automatically eat more healthily than with fast food. My fiancée has been struggling with her weight for a while, it’s got much easier for her now that she’s making healthier, tastier meals rather than just sticking a frozen pizza in the oven.

    17. LC*

      I have a hard time cutting any one food out of my diet because it inevitably makes me just want to binge on it. So I do CICO (calories in, calories out) using MyFitnessPal. MFP is a calorie-tracking app that has a huge database of foods and allows you to track not just your calories but your macros, exercise, and weight-loss progress. At the end of each day, it also tells you what you’d weigh in five weeks if you ate like that every day.

      I’ve found that the act of counting calories has made weight loss into a bit of a game, which makes it kind of fun to figure out how I can eat tasty, satisfying food on my calorie budget. It also means I don’t have to feel bad about eating junk food, so long as I fit it within the budget. (And for me, less guilt means less binging.) Some days, most of my calories come from cookies or pancakes or a burger–and that’s okay. But most of the time, I know that junk food isn’t filling enough to be worth the splurge.

      I used to do 1200 calories a day but found that was just too restrictive. Now I do roughly 1350–sometimes more, sometimes less, usually with at least one weekend “fuck it” day. I also started going to yoga and the gym 5 or 6 times a week, but personally I prefer to keep exercise mentally separate from my weight loss. For me, the benefits in peace of mind far outweigh the relatively small calorie loss that comes from low-intensity exercise.

    18. Aisling*

      I had this happen as well. Personal trainer, not seeing too many results, feeling a bit disheartened- but my long-distance boyfriend could see results. We don’t see each other every day, so he was able to see the results more than I was. I’d also ask your trainer to show you the improvements on your measurements, as that will be concrete evidence.

    19. Emily*

      Good luck with your weight loss goals!

      I don’t have any personal stories to share, but Nerd Fitness has some success stories that may or may not be encouraging for you. I’ll post the link in a reply to this comment.

    20. super anon*

      i feel like my story will be a bit different than most, but that’s okay. i’ve lost weight twice in my life. 7 years ago i lost over 100 lbs in a year. i don’t know how much exactly because i didn’t weigh myself when i started, but based on what i weigh now, i’m guessing it was close to 150 or more. i also ended up with in an eating disorder from that experience, and i’ve been in recovery ever since.

      at my lowest weight i was 135 lbs, but i think most of that was muscle. i could count all of my ribs and see all of my bones. i was working out for 3 hours a day, 7 days a week, and eating 1200 calories or less. i cut out all junk food and fast food from my diet. i never finished meals. and i had a very strict list of what i could and couldn’t eat. it was absolute insanity and not sustainable for the long term. if i ate something on the not approved list i would go to the gym to exercise off all the calories. i was having nightmare about eating. i remember at one point i had a food dairy. i had to stop when i realized all i was eating was 1 banana a day, because i felt guilty about writing anything down in the book.

      since then, i’ve gained about 60 pounds back, and i’ve been working for the last year to lose the weight in a healthy, sustainable manner. i’ve lost 25 lbs in the last 10 months by making simple changes. my first was i bought a fitbit. i had been unemployed for almost a year, and i didn’t realize how depressed and sedentary i had become. my eating habits hadn’t drastically changed, but by not moving as much i was gaining a lot of weight. now i try to hit my 10, 000 step goal at least 5 out of 7 days a week, and i force myself to go for walks at lunch at work to get out of my toxic office. my boyfriend and i have started going to the gym a few times a week together as well. this is especially important as if i were to go alone i would slowly fall back into my working out for hours a day habits. having someone that makes sure we spend 45-60 minutes there a time at most is really helpful.

      i don’t drink sugary drinks (and i try to limit diet pop to a once a week treat even though i really love how chemicals taste). i drink 2 L of water a day or more, along with tea and coffee (with coffee mate, no sugar). i don’t eat dairy at all, which i think helps me to reduce calories, because cheese is an absolute killer. i try not to eat fried foods, and i only eat whole wheat or multigrain bread. i also eat a lot of veggies & fruits. instead of desserts my boyfriend and i will eat berries or melons.

      it’s been really hard for me this time around, to try to change things slowly so i can lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way that won’t send me into hold habits. it’s really hard, but worthwhile. i still have a hard time looking at myself in the mirror, and every day i think about how amazing it felt to lose weight quickly and to be push myself to lift heavier things and to watch my bones stick out of my body (honestly, i can’t even explain how absolutely euphoric i felt when i had an eating disorder and was seeing gains at the gym. i’ve never done drugs but i imagine it’s the same kind of feeling).

      tl;dr: it’s hard, but going slowly and making small, meaningful changes is more sustainable over the long term. and likely better for your health too.

    21. The Other Dawn*

      I struggled with weight all my life and at my highest I was 343 lbs at 5’11” tall. I did Weight Watchers three times, hypnosis, medically supervised diet, South Beach, Atkins, and a registered dietitian. I lost and regained four times. Finally I’d had enough and got gastric bypass when I was 39 (2 years ago). It was the best thing I ever did for myself. I’m down 120 pounds, I’m no longer pre-diabetic and my severe sleep apnea is gone.

      People like to say weight loss surgery is the easy way out, or that we’re quitters. Not so. It’s a tool just like anything else and how you use it and learn from it determines if you’ll be successful. I was very lucky and had zero problems afterwards. I can eat pretty much whatever I want and it doesn’t bother me (except for sugar), but I chose not to do that. I would say the hardest part is the mental aspect of it. When you’re used to eating anything and everything in large quantities and using food to fill emotional needs, it’s a tough adjustment. Just now after 2 years I’m feeling a lot more in control and like I can do this.

      Weight loss doesn’t stop when you lose the amount of weight you want to lose. It’s a lifestyle and will continue for the rest of your life. That’s where I went wrong so many times. I figured, “I’ve lost 80 pounds, I’m comfortable in my skin and I’m done.” Nope. I gained it all back, plus. I’m at the point now where the honeymoon phase is done (first 6 to 9 months after surgery the weights MELTS off!) and I’m just like everyone else: I have to watch what I eat and exercise.

      Exercise. If you’re going to a personal trainer, you really need to be on board with everything that comes with that, as it’s a big investment. You’ve got to reduce calories, at a minimum. Otherwise you won’t see much difference. You might gain some muscle and change your shape a bit, but you won’t get the full effect without reducing calories, and eating the right kind of calories. I don’t mean you have to eat protein bars all the time, but you do want to eat right. Also, you need a trainer that’s right for you. If he/she doesn’t fit with your personality and you needs, you might not get everything you can out of it. I recently started going to one because I want to eventually have the excess skin removed. I’m enjoying it so far, but it’s also new and shiny at the moment, just like every other time I’ve lost weight. What’s different now is the big sum of money I put out for it, and now I really do understand that I have to work to keep the weight off. I can’t sit on my ass on the couch every night and expect to keep the weight off. When I’m not at the trainer, I have “homework” I have to do on the off nights. It’s a routine he assigns to me to do at home. No gym needed. So, I go to him two nights a week and I do my homework three nights a week. Also, I try to get in 8,000 steps a day. (I bought a Fitbit and no, it didn’t inspire me like I thought it would, but it’s useful now that I go to the trainer; he keeps on me about my daily step totals.)

      Good luck with your efforts! If you want to read about my weight loss journey, and other boring life stuff, click on my name and it will bring you to my blog. I’ve posted a lot about life before surgery lately.

    22. Pennalynn Lott*

      I lost 55 lbs in 6 months just by cutting out processed food, eating a low-carb diet, and slooooowly working up to walking an hour a day. (As in, I started out by walking 2-3 minutes in a lap around my driveway, then 5-7 minutes in my upper back yard, then 10-15 minutes around the whole yard, etc. It took me a couple of months to make it to an hour.) I had both of my hips replaced in 2013, dislocated the 2nd one after just 30 days, which put me in a body brace for 3 months. So I was terrified of doing anything, and needed to take it super slow. Plus, my resting heart rate was in the low 100’s, so I *had* to take it slow. (My resting heart rate is now in the mid-70’s).

      I have a motivational saying [which are things I’m not usually fond of nor motivated by, but this one works for me] posted about the house which says, “Discipline is just choosing between what you want *now* and what you want MOST.” It helps me to not eat that donut that a team member has brought to a meeting. Or to choose not to read a few chapters of my current favorite book instead of walking. Or to pass up the chips-n-salsa when dining out.

      I also joined Nerd Fitness, an online fitness group / program, and that has made all the difference. Having a support team and people to be accountable to has really helped.

    23. Susan*

      I would suggest to keep eating what you eat but try to reduce your portion sizes. Think of a standard dinner plate and don’t eat beyond that even if you’re hungry. Your body will adjust fairly quickly. At first it will feel uncomfortable and like you are starving because your body/stomach is used to an inappropriate amount of food. That helped me lose 20 lbs and keep it off. Also when you feel a craving for something like a chocolate bar think about if you’re hungry for an actual meal or if you’re thirsty.

  5. LizB*

    I did my first 5k race this morning! I knew I was going to be alternating between running and walking, and my time was fine/about what I was expecting, but I had to walk way more than I was hoping to because my knees were not happy with me. I probably should have done more than two practice runs outdoors instead of clinging to my treadmill for as long as possible… oh well. At least now I have a nice baseline time to try to beat in the future!

    1. LawCat*

      Great job!! I have a knee that gets fussy on me and I just bought a brace for it. Maybe that kind of thing would help you? I’m using the brace for the first time in a 5k tomorrow.

      1. LizB*

        Thank you! I might see about a brace… I really don’t want to hurt myself. I don’t think I gave myself quite enough recovery time between my last practice run and the real race, either, so that didn’t help. I’m going to try switching up my workout routine and see if running once a week instead of three times can help me ease into it. Plus then I can try out a few different workout classes on my non-running days, and maybe find some good lower-impact stuff to balance out the running.

        1. LawCat*

          I used the brace today and had no problems with my knee so I definitely recommend giving one a try!

        2. Fenchurch*

          I’d suggest looking into some workouts you can do to help strengthen or support your knees. Good luck and happy running!

    2. Stephanie*

      Go you! So if you’re going to use a treadmill, add an incline–that makes your legs do more of the turnover. When the treadmill is flat, the machine assists in leg turnover, which you don’t have running on the street.

      1. LizB*

        Thanks for the tip! I didn’t know that. I’m going to try to keep running outside now that the weather’s nice, but when winter comes around again I’ll definitely use this info.

  6. Anonyby*

    Awww, Olive looks so comfy! And what a wonderful amount of floof on that belly!

    So at some point last year, I mentioned on here that I had just paid off 2 of my 3 CCs… Well, when I was doing my taxes this week I noticed that my return would be enough to pay off the last one. SO EXCITED! I’ll FINALLY be able to get back to the way I was taught to handle my cards when I first got them–pay off every month! I haven’t been able to do that for three and a half years now, when life threw me some bad curveballs.

    Between that and some work stuff (it looks like I’ll be moved to FT soon at work, one way or another), it really feels like I’m on my way to taking back control that had slipped through my fingers. Such a hopeful feeling!

    1. nep*

      Two that come to mind — Reckon I was pretty embarrassed in both instances: 1) Fell flat on my face during a physical ed class / ‘chin-up’ test, 2) Wet my pants in first grade because too nervous to approach the eight grader who was minding the class during reading time.

    2. LizB*

      So many, but the funniest is probably when I was about 6 (and my eye level was about waist height on an adult). I went to a community potluck with my mom. She was wearing jeans, a braided leather belt, and a green plaid shirt. I went into the community center kitchen with her so she could drop off the food we brought, then got distracted (probably by cookies) and when I looked up, she was gone. I ran out of the kitchen and spotted what looked like the right combo of jeans/belt/green plaid around my eye level, sprinted over, grabbed the back of her belt with both hands, and yelled “Mommy!” at the top of my lungs.

      …it was not my mom. It was a very nice man wearing a very similar outfit. My mom was standing maybe ten feet away.

      1. Cristina in England*

        I did something like this except it was to a girl I thought was my little sister, who was three at the time. The poor little girl got a big fright when I grabbed her! (I was five)

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      I got stuck in one of those turnstile things at a store. You can’t go through them backwards! My dad had to pull me out. I think I was 10 or 11. Could have died from embarrassment!!

    4. ThatGirl*

      The mall in Fort Wayne, Indiana used to have a skating rink next to the food court. I fell flat on my butt in front of my sixth grade crush.

    5. hermit crab*

      My friends threw a surprise party for my birthday when I was a teenager. They did a good job and I was very surprised. Very, very surprised. Not only did my jaw literally drop, but it dropped so far that I visibly drooled while my mouth was hanging open.

    6. Dynamic Beige*

      Somehow, in class one day we got on some discussion about crushes. I mean, the teacher was leading the conversation and he was a new teacher so this wasn’t part of a lesson plan exactly. I was asked who I had a crush on and everyone else in the class answered for me. It was completely mortifying. Even worse because that boy had zero interest in me (which I already knew). Just thinking about it now, I want to drop through the floor.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      There are many–but one I remember particularly vividly is my first day in a new school, when my parents were going to pick me up, and I forgot and followed the kids onto the school bus. My dad came to the door of the bus (he must have seen me get on) and yelled, “Get off that bus!” I was so embarrassed I thought I was going to die right there.

      Hey, I was only seven!

    8. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      A classic–bled all over the back of my pants at age 13. Eighth grade art class. And one of the cliquey girls asked me if I sat in paint to make sure that eeeeveryone in the class looked at me.

    9. Going anon for this one....*

      Noticeable erection in the 8th grade. Others pointed it out to make sure everyone knew.

    10. LCL*

      First week of junior high. People started name calling and harassing me, I didn’t understand why but knew I had to stop it fast. So when a pack of 4 boys yelled at me, I chased them down the hall and into a classroom, cornered the ringleader, grabbed his shirt and lifted him off the ground and bounce him off the wall. Except it was his identical twin, who was just in that class and totally uninvolved.

      True story, I didn’t get in any trouble. The harassment didn’t stop, but was always done from a safe distance.

    11. ginger ale for all*

      I have so very many but one that gets mentioned a lot by my mom is when I was about ten or eleven and part of my weekly chores was to make dinner one night a week. I would be given something easy to make. One night it was Tuna Helper, a dish practically fool proof, or so they would like you to believe. The directions didn’t say to drain the tuna from the can before you use it and so I didn’t. I also mismeasured the amount of milk you had to add. The result was a tuna fish and noodle soup. And part of the bargain was that everyone had to eat what you made. So soup bowls for everyone. I honestly don’t think the family ever had it again although I certainly make it a lot now. Hmm, maybe I should send her a box of it for Mothers Day . . .

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Ha, when I was about that age, I also had to cook dinner one night a week. I had the Little House Cookbook (recipes from the Laura Ingalls Wilder series), and one of the recipes in it was called Apples and Onions. And that’s all it was — just sliced, sauteed apples and onions. It must have been intended as a side dish, but I made it as the entree, with nothing else. My family was not pleased.

        1. ginger ale for all*

          Oh – I am a huge fan of LIW! I collected so much stuff about her at that age. I would have died and went to heaven (metaphorically) if I had had that. My next door neighbor had a relative who was mentioned in the books and he never realized that until I asked if he was related to the family mentioned in the book. It turns out that he was! He borrowed the Little House books to read about his family. I felt like the greatest for a while over that.

          If you were as into the Little House books as much as I was, see if your library has the autobiographies of Melissa Gilbert – gossipy, scattered, and entertaining, Melissa Sue Anderson – a different picture than what MG wrote, and Allison Armgrin – an Oh My Goodness one. AA had a difficult childhood and really turned out great.

          1. Mimmy*

            I have AA’s autobiography – one of my favorite books ever. So funny and powerful at the same time!

        2. AVP*

          omg “Apples and Onions” was Almanzo’s favorite dish in Farmer Boy and I was always really jealous of that (but yes they eat it as a side dish among many other things).

          If there are any other Little House nerds around here, I’m slowly reading my way through Pioneer Girl and it’s really fascinating.

          1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

            Pioneer Girl was amaaaazing! Have you read Let The Hurricane Roar (or Young Pioneers) by Rose Wilder Lane? It’s basically Rose’s interpretation of a lot of the family stories with more emphasis on the parents (i.e., Ma and Pa) than the kids. It’s not nearly as famous, justifiably, and hard to find, but still a really interesting read.

            1. AVP*

              not yet! But based on the citations in Pioneer Girl I added Rose’s Free Land to my list and I’m sure I’ll read Hurricane eventually too.

              In Pioneer Girl I was totally fascinated with the way they contrasted the real details with the way the stories were depicted in the YA books. I’m not a purist who thinks you always have to stick with the facts so I loved seeing how that decision-making process played out, and how easily these little bits of detail and color stayed in my mind from reading them 20 years ago, unbeknownst to me.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I made fried chicken and gravy when I was about thirteen and served it up to the family.

        As we started to eat, I heard my grandpa shout, “What the hell! I picked this thing up and my fingers sank right into it!”

        Confused, I asked, “Well, what did you you pick it up for?”

        Him, irritably: What do you mean, why did I pick it up?! It’s a biscuit.

        Me, also irritably (and a little worried that he was about to become angry): No it’s not! It’s gravy!

        And he sat there for a moment like a dark thunder cloud while that sank in, and then he broke into laughter and, “Oooh! I thought it was a damned biscuit!”

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Oh, yeah, the punchline: I had made the gravy so thick that it looked like a “damned biscuit”.

      3. Lindsay J*

        I was making a box cake, and I used the packet of powder intended for the frosting instead of the packet of powder that was actually the cake mix. It did not turn out well and my mom had to run and grab a pre-made supermarket cake.

      4. mander*

        I once made muffins from the back of a box of cereal and totally mis-measured the amount of baking soda (think 1/4 cup instead of 1/4 teaspoon, or something like that). I was about 10 or so. My Dad tried valiantly to eat one but they were so salty we threw them all away.

        Also, every year my family makes sugar cookies that you “paint” on with a mixture of evaporated milk and food coloring for Christmas. This is usually a big family production with everyone painting a few, adding silly faces and clothing to the gingerbread men, and when my sister and I were teens, some x-rated anatomical details. So it’s kind of a big deal.

        Anyway one year I was in charge of making the dough and the paint and getting everything set up (I was probably 12 or 13) because Mom was too busy at work. Everyone was really proud of me for getting it all done and set up on time, until we started baking the cookies. Instead of pretty colors they turned all kinds of horrible shades of brown. My poor stressed-out Mom eventually realized that I’d used CONDENSED milk (which has sugar in it) instead of EVAPORATED milk, and shouted “you are the stupidest child in the world!!!”.

        So now this is one of my many nicknames. I bring it up when I’m teasing Mom, because she almost never yelled at us and certainly didn’t call us names.

      5. Pennalynn Lott*

        A guy I dated once tried to make boxed macaroni-and-cheese. He skipped over the part in the instructios about draining the water after cooking the macaroni, so time passes and I’m asking if it’s ready yet and he says, “I’m just waiting for the sauce to cook down.” I’m like, “Wha–? It’s a packet of powder, some milk and butter. It shouldn’t need to cook down.” And he says, “It’s still too watery.” So I get up and look. . . and there’s a bunch of over-cooked macaroni swirling around in orange-yellow water.

        I was kind of stunned that someone over the age of 25 didn’t know how to cook pasta. [His momma did all that for him.]

    12. Pennalynn Lott*

      Realizing – and saying out loud on a family road trip – how weird it was that every single town we drove through had a “Frontage Road”. I mean, it made sense that every town would have its own “Main Street”, but I asked the people in the car to tell me what was so special about “Frontage” that every town needed to have a road named after it.

      43 years later and I’m still living that one down. :-)

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        I think I was an adult before I realized that “Frontage Road” wasn’t the name of it! Thankfully I never said that out loud.

      1. stevenz*

        Left that one in the wrong place. It’s supposed to be a stand alone answer to the topic. (No editing/delete option? Isn’t this facebook?!)

  7. short (and tall) people problems*

    Any recommendations for cars that are good for both short and tall people?

    My husband and I are consolidating our households and we only need one car. I’m 5’2″ and he’s 6’4″. His knees are up around his ears when he drives my oldish Honda Civic and, to me, his newish Subaru Legacy feels like a giant boat where I can’t reach anything (and I’m saying this as someone who has comfortably driven 13-passenger vans). Anyone with a similar height difference have any suggestions? I looked this up online and so far I have only found advice like “don’t buy sports cars.”

    1. acmx*

      I always saw tall men drive tiny cars. I think just having 2 seats allows the seat to go further back. It’s been years but I think driving a 2 seater was ok (I’m short)?

      Maybe a Jeep or truck?

    2. blackcat*

      My husband (6’2″) and I (5’3″) both comfortably drive my Toyota camry. I lOVE how adjustable the upper anchor of the seatbelt is. My torso is short (so I’m sure my legs are longer than yours, but I don’t put the seat all the way forward in my car), and the seatbelt hits my neck in so many cars.

    3. Dan*

      I’m 6’1″ and I was able to comfortably drive a Nissan Versa.

      BTW, whatever you do — make a deal with your husband. If he’s willing to put the toilet seat down, the nice thing to do in return is push the car seat back any time you know he’s using the car next.

      I cannot emphasize how awkward and uncomfortable it is to get into a car with the seat all the way forward when you’re over 6′.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        OMG. That may be the best comparison/analogy/whatever of the “please put down the seat” wars I have ever seen.

        FWIW, the tallest guy in my high school drove an original Mini. The tallest kid on my street bought a new version Mini.

      2. Jillociraptor*

        We had a Nissan Versa for a bit, and it was like a freaking magic trick how spacious it was on the inside despite being an itty bitty car. Very comfortable for 5’10” me and other tall family, also perfectly driveable for my partner’s mom who’s 5’3″.

    4. Amy S*

      I have a Hyundai Sonata that works great for both myself (5’2) and my partner (6’1). It’s very roomy for a sedan but I’m able to move my seat up enough to compensate for my lack of height!

    5. GeekyDuck*

      My 6’9 boyfriend and 5’4 mother both drive a Rav4 with no issues. We have a 2012 and Mom has a slightly newer one (2014 maybe). Lots of cargo space, decent fuel mileage, and very low cost to drive in our collective experience.

      I’m personally partial to trucks, because you can’t take the farm kid out of the girl. Toyota Tacomas are equally functional. No idea what car-type people would drive because my boyfriend is too tall for everything we tried.

    6. CheeryO*

      My 5’1″ mom and 6’1″ boyfriend both like driving my Kia Soul. I know the style is a love it or hate it kind of thing, but the amount of headroom is insane, and it feel really spacious without the boat feeling. I just drove a Jeep Patriot recently for work, and I couldn’t believe how huge and unwieldy it felt compared to my Soul.

      1. CheeryO*

        *Feels, ugh. Also +1 to the Rav suggestion. That’s what my boyfriend drives, and I know my mom likes them too because she had one as a loaner once.

      2. GeekyDuck*

        I drove my sister’s Patriot because she needed to get two vehicles from A to B, and I hated it. I have no idea what she sees in those things, but I’m glad she’s the one who has to drive it instead of me. I spent half the drive cursing and trying to figure out how I turned on the windshield wipers *again*.

    7. Lydia*

      Mitsubishi Outlander sport. Works for 6’4″ DH and my 5’0″ bff who happens to have the same vehicle as us (and me who is tall but not 6’4″ tall).

    8. LCL*

      All of the really tall men I know drive ford f 150 pickups, including my 6’9″ husband. But 6’4″ isn’t super tall, I know of one man that height and have seen others around town that love the Honda Element suv.

    9. pony tailed wonder*

      I have a relative who drove a VW Beetle for most of the 70’s. He is about 6’3 and when he got out, you expected to see a line of clowns getting out after him.

    10. Ann Furthermore*

      We just bought a 2016 Nissan Murano last weekend. My husband who is 6’5″ is able to stretch his legs all the way out in the passenger side, and his head doesn’t touch the ceiling. And the console doesn’t press into his knee on the drivers side.

      I’m 5’9″ so while I’m not short I will say that it doesn’t feel like a huge car, even though it’s nice and roomy on the inside.

    11. BRR*

      I test drove the Honda Hrv and crv today and the Hrv might be a little more comfortable for you and the crv for him. I’m 6″3 and I think a big thing is of his height is more on his legs or torso. A lot of my height is in my torso so head room is a little more important to me than legroom.

    12. periwinkle*

      You just need to try them out with each of you test driving but it might not be that hard to find appropriate vehicles. My husband (6’0″) and I (4’10”) have shared driving time in a variety of cars without any real issues. You’ll probably want something with a tilting/telescoping steering wheel, adjustable seat belt anchors, and 6- or 8-way driver seat adjustment (if you can raise and lower the seat, rather than simply tilting it forward, that’ll help a lot).

    13. Dot Warner*

      Husband (6’2″) and I (5’2″) can both comfortably drive my 2012 Toyota Prius. We got the Prius 4, which includes the heated seats – something about them is much more ergonomic than the ’04 Prius we used to have.

      1. Liz in a Library*

        I used to have an ’08 Prius, and can confirm it was comfy for both 5’2″ me and 6’4″ spouse. It was a wonderful car!

    14. Emily*

      I (a 5’2″ woman) drive a Honda Fit. One of my coworkers is a GIANT PERSON (I don’t know his exact height, but he is one of the tallest/largest people I know) and also drives a Honda Fit.

    15. Sutemi*

      I am 5’2″ with short legs and share a car with my husband who is 6’4″ and long legged.
      1) Try to find a local car show. You can try on every car there, without buying pressure, to see which you like.
      2) We own a Mini Cooper and love it. Both feel comfortable driving it. Easy to see out, easy to drive.

    16. super anon*

      i think a car that has programmable seats is good for both tall and short people. my boyfriend is like 10 inches taller than i am, but we can both drive his mercedes e class with no problems because the seats are so adjustable, and being able to remember both our settings is so handy.

    17. Katieinthemountains*

      TallBoss drives a Murano and won’t let the passenger use the sunshade due to visibility issues, so definitely check on that before you buy!

    18. automotive engineer*

      I’m 5’4″ and my fiance is only 5’10” but one of his best friends is 6’6″ and surprisingly he’s commented to me that he fits really well in both the Ford Focus (hatch)/Fusion as well as in a Subaru Impreza (hatch) that several of our friends drive. I’ve also driven these cars and had no problems. I would definitely look into those as well as possibly a small(ish) SUV. An older civic is closer to the size of a current sub-compact car while a newish Legacy definitely feels closer to full size. You might consider a newer compact vehicle whether that is a sedan or an SUV. I personally prefer sedans because SUVs feel HUGE.

  8. Sunflower*

    For people who rent with roommates- do you split rent based on room size?

    We’re looking at a place right now and the one room is significantly smaller as well as doesn’t have a closet- there is a small open space on the other side of the apartment I can use to put my clothes and stuff in.. My potential roommate would really like to live in this place but doesn’t want to live in the smaller room. I’m fine with living in the smaller room but not sure how to split the rent. The apt is $1650/month. I’m thinking she should pay $100 more per month for the bigger room. Does that seem right/fair?

    1. Tiffany*

      When I lived with roommates we split based on size and whether or not it came with a bathroom.

      From what I remember, I think we broke it down to:
      1 bedroom +1 bathroom= 1071
      1 bedroom + shared bathroom= 980
      1 small bedroom + shared bathroom =890

      Here is a good resource: https://www.splitwise.com/calculators/rent

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I love that calculator. I don’t even have a roommate situation, but it was fun to play with. I figured out the relative value of our household rooms; my son got an upgrade when his older sister left for college in the fall. I only wish the calculator had an option for tiny closets, instead of none, normal, and huge. We have one room with a tiny closet and the others have normal closets. And our master bedroom has two normal closets, which I suppose would count as huge in a roommate situation.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        Yep, we do it very similarly. Split based on who gets more space and whether they get a bathroom.

      3. Allison Mary*

        I would do something similar, if I were in this boat.

        1. Calculate total square footage of “private space” any given person could have, whether that’s just bedrooms, or bedrooms and bathrooms (bathrooms that only one person would get to use).

        2. To get each individual person’s rent, take the percentage of that total private space that they’re getting, and multiply it by the total monthly rent.

        1. Allison Mary*

          So, for Sunflower’s situation…

          Let’s say the smaller room is 100 square feet, and the space you’ll use for your clothes and such will be yours exclusively, and that is 10 square feet. So the total square footage you’ll get is 110 square feet.

          Let’s say the bigger room is 150 square feet, and it also comes with a 10 square foot closet. So that’s 160 square feet.

          The total square footage is now 110 + 160 = 270. Your percentage is 110/270 = 40.74%. Your roommate’s percentage is therefore 59.26%. 59.26% * $1650 = $977.78, and 40.74% * $1650 = $672.22. So, using these square footage examples, you would pay $672.22 and your roommate would pay $977.78.

          1. Allison Mary*

            Wow, I just realized that I grew up and became my father.

            But seriously – I do like this approach, because it’s hard to argue that it’s not fair. And I think it shows that depending on the relative sizes of the rooms, an extra $100/month for your roommate actually might not be enough of an increase.

    2. katamia*

      It makes sense to me, especially with the loss of a closet. I never realized how much I missed closets until, while sharing an apartment with 4 other people (3 in one room, 2 in another, until one of the 3–with our blessing–took over the living room as her “bedroom”), I temporarily wound up with having a closet out in the hall instead of in our room. And, man, even just having to leave the room to get to my closet was super annoying. I was really glad when we switched (we had different people moving in and out over the span of about two years) and I could take over closet space in my actual room.

    3. Amy S*

      I once lived in a house with two roommates, and I was the only (lucky!) one with my own bathroom. I paid an extra $50 a month and felt that was more than fair.

    4. Seven of Nine*

      I live with roommates. At our current house we split evenly, but at the old house we varied it based on room size. We changed it up a bit as rent increased, but I think it was typically in the ballpark of $100 extra for the large room.

    5. salad fingers*

      That seems fair to me. I’ve lived in a couple of roommate situations and the rent has always been split evenly, rooms were pulled from a hat if there wasn’t an easy consensus. I don’t think there was ever that much difference in size though.

      And, if I’m understanding this correctly, she would pay $875 and you would pay $775 a month? If you split evenly you’d both pay $825 a month? Effectively an extra $50/month for her – sounds pretty reasonable.

    6. Christy*

      That’s probably not fair. Here’s my math–calculate the common square footage and each individual’s squared footage. Figure out what person A’s sqft plus the common space is vs person b’s sqft plus the common space. You still both have run of most of the space because most of the space is common.

    7. Regina Phalange*

      My roommate and I pay different amounts as he has the master bed/bath and uses the garage. Our rent is $2145. He pays $1145 and I pay $1000.

  9. Not Karen*

    Can someone who understands legalese better than me explain whether it is POSSIBLE and LEGAL to break a lease on a rental apartment? I’m not asking whether or not it is a nice or good thing to do (I already know the answer to that question), so please stick to the legality and logistics of it. This is in the US, but I’d be curious for the answer in Canada, too, as I never could get them to answer the question either.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      If the landlord can’t find someone (after making a reasonable effort) to take over your lease, you’re responsible for the rest of your lease.

    2. Nicole*

      We broke our lease when we moved into our townhome. I don’t know what your particular situation is, but ours was that cigarette smoke from the upstairs neighbor kept coming down the pipes into our unit and my stepson is allergic. Since management couldn’t stop it, we nicely asked that they allow us to break the least without penalty and they agreed. We got our security deposit back as well.

    3. hermit crab*

      It totally depends on what’s in your lease (and on applicable state/local regulations). For example, my lease has an early termination clause that says “During the initial term of this Lease, you shall have the option to terminate your remaining responsibility for rent due for the balance of the Lease Term by providing us with written notice of not less than thirty (30) days together with payment of an early termination fee equal to two (2) months rent.”

    4. Susie*

      A lease is a legal contract, like any other. In order to get out of it before the terms have been met, you need to renegotiate it with the landlord. Assuming there aren’t any clauses built in with a process or conditions for breaking the lease early.

    5. Sunflower*

      It should be specified in your lease. If it’s not, check the local/state laws since I think lease laws vary state to state. Most leases will require you to find a new tenant who they approve of and you usually have to pay a break fee. My break fee was $300 and I had to find a new tenant who passed the credit check.

      If you’re trying to break it because it’s unsafe or the landlord isn’t fulfilling duties he’s supposed to, you are allowed to break your lease but only after you take certain steps like putting complaints in writing. This is all based on your local laws.

      Basically read your lease and check your local laws.

      1. Florida*

        If your landlord is not fulfilling his duties, you do not have a right to break your lease. You are allowed to sue the landlord to make him follow the lease or allow you out of it. For example, if the landlord said that he would provide pest control and he isn’t doing that, you do not have a right to move out and quit paying without following due process. Now, if you went to court, you would likely win, but you have to go to court (unless landlord voluntarily agrees to let you out of lease).
        Likewise, if you are not following your part of the lease (basically not paying your rent), landlord does not have a right to break your lease without following a specific legal process called eviction.

        I just want to make that clear so that no tenant (or landlord, for that matter) thinks they have a right to play judge because the other party is violating. Only the judge gets to play judge.

        1. Lillian McGee*

          In Chicago (and other strongly pro-tenant municipalities I’m sure), tenants are allowed to break the lease for some landlord breaches. Tenants do not have to file a lawsuit in those cases–it’s considered as a defense if the landlord sues. Tenants more often than not have an extreme disadvantage compared to landlords who are often corporations with the kind of resources that allow for attorneys on retainer and withstanding protracted litigation, etc.

          Not arguing that that’s the case where you are, but some areas have much stronger tenant protections on the books. In the courtroom, however, it’s a whoooole ‘nother ballpark…

          1. Florida*

            Yea, I don’t know anything about Chicago, but I think that’s extremely rare. In general, if one party is not cooperating, the only way to enforce a contract, whether it’s a lease or other contract, is to go through the court system. Usually, the wronged party can include their attorney fees as part of the lawsuit. That doesn’t mean you will get it, but usually you will.

            I agree with you that landlords are usually at an advantage because they typically have more money and more business saavy than landlords. The Florida Landlord and Tenant has a lot of tenant protections in place, but the only way that laws are enforced is through the court system.

            As a general statement, that probably applies anywhere in the US… sometimes tenants do not want to sign a lease because they feel like it benefits the landlord. They would rather rent month to month or week to week with no contract. This is a baaaaad idea. If you don’t have a lease, you have almost no rights. Always always always have a lease.

            1. Honeybee*

              It’s actually not that rare – most states allow you to break your lease if your landlord allows the apartment to fall into unlivable conditions (usually defined as a lack of essential services, like no heat or electricity) and many states and localities allow you to break your lease under other lesser maintenance circumstances as well (like rodent infestations) as well as other violations, like a landlord repeatedly entering the property without proper warning. In all states a lease is viewed as a mutual contract between two parties. The tenant has a side to hold up, but so does the landlord, and if the landlord violates the terms of the contract the tenant usually legally has the right to break the lease.

              It’s almost always a defense in court, though, since a tenant who feels the landlord has violated the lease only has to move out and stop paying. The landlord would then have to sue in order to get that lost rent back.

        2. Honeybee*

          Depends on the location. In New York City, tenants have the right to withhold rent and in extreme cases break the lease if the landlord is not fulfilling reasonable maintenance standards. The landlord can still sue you, but you can use it as a defense in court and lots of tenants have won this way.

    6. Dan*

      Can you just move out and stop paying rent? No. It’s worth noting that if you do that, the landlord cannot evict you (in legalese, called an “Unlawful Detainer”) because you are no longer “detaining” the property. But they can sue you in court. Whether or not they do depends on how much is on the line, and their ability to recover damages from you.

      But check your lease. There may be ways to pay to terminate the lease early. If you’re renting from a mom-and-pop landlord, consult an attorney in your state (or in your locality if you are in a rent controlled area) and see if there are technical flaws in the lease.

      1. fposte*

        Note that an early departure in breach of the contract can end up on your credit report, too.

        1. Rachel*

          Yup, and definitely make it much harder when you rent in the future and they need a reference. Also, if it’s been paid by direct debit at the moment then you’d probably have to close your bank account as well.

        2. Dan*

          To be clear, that happens after you get sued and lose. It then is noted as a “judgement” on your credit report, and lasts 10 years. (Most unpaid bills are removed after 7 years on the report.) So losing a lawsuit is not something to be taken lightly.

          Although, it’s worth noting that for “judgement proof” debtors, losing a lawsuit isn’t going to do any more damage than the tons of unpaid pills presumably already on the credit report.

          1. Lindsay J*

            +1. I broke a lease early through abandonment (long story). They contracted a collection agency to secure the amount they feel I owe them. However, there is no legal notation of a broken lease on my credit reports.

            Rental companies can see that I owe money to a rental company if they pull my credit report rather than just obtaining a score, and I did have to answer questions about that when I was looking to move into another apartment.

    7. Anonyrat*

      It is certainly possible (you just move out and stop paying rent). It is not illegal to do so. You will be on the hook for the financial consequences of breaching the agreement though. Those consequences may be spelled out in the agreement itself, or may be things that naturally flow from the breach (e.g., lost rent, costs to re-let the place).

      1. Florida*

        I just want to clarify the “it’s not illegal” part. Breach of contract is legal, in that you cannot be tried in criminal court. However, you can be sued in civil court for the balance of the lease. The landlord will almost definitely win that case.

        Just because they can sue you doesn’t mean they will sue you. Is the apartment owned by a large company or a smaller one? It costs them money to sue you, and they know that they may or may not recover that money, so they might decide it’s not worth it to sue you.

        If you talk to the landlord, they may let you break the lease. If they have 100% occupancy and know they will rent it again soon, they might let you break it. If they have 50% vacancy, maybe not so much. Also, some leases specifically state that you can break the lease if you are buying a house, or other specific condition.

    8. CMT*

      I’m sure it wasn’t legal, but I broke a lease once after a breakup. I moved out, a couple weeks later my ex moved out, and I dropped the keys in the office’s mail slot at like, 9:00 pm. I ignored all the phone calls from the apartment manager I got for a few weeks. They eventually stopped calling and nothing ever happened. I’m guessing they were able to re-rent it pretty quickly; it was in a popular neighborhood.

    9. pony tailed wonder*

      I got out of one recently. I let the management know I would be moving out and set a date. They charged me lesser rent until someone rented my place. I got my security deposit back. The terms were spelled out in my lease that I had signed with them on how to do it. They were assholes in personal interactions and when I made arrangements to break the lease, they amped up the asshole behaviors.

    10. Student*

      It varies by lease and by state law. In many places, they are obligated to try hard to replace you if you end your lease early, so you might be on the hook for rent for a little extra but not for 6+ months. Check your lease for a buy-out clause if they’ve built one in. In many places, they’ll write the lease more strictly than state law actually allows to scare people out of breaking the lease early or to try to get more money than they are entitled to (especially in college towns or slum-lord areas).

    11. Rachel*

      I’m sure it’s /legal/, just like you can break any other contract, but there will be penalties attached. From what I understand you’re basically responsible for the lease until they find a new tenant, and you’d have to cover the expenses associated with that (advertising/admin etc). It can get pretty hefty. I had to do it once and it cost somewhere around $1500 to get out of a contract (of a place I never moved into!).

    12. Legalchef*

      This is something that definitely varies state by state. In some states the landlord will have a duty to mitigate (i.e. the LL will need to try to find someone else to take over the lease) while in other states the LL has no obligation to do so and can let the apartment sit empty and sue you for the rent owed on the balance of the lease, unless you have an agreement that you can break your lease early (ideally in writing, of course).

    13. Honeybee*

      It depends on your lease and your state laws. Some states make no provision for breaking a lease (like Pennsylvania; your landlord can put an early lease termination clause in your lease but they don’t have to. So if there is no clause in your lease, you are responsible for the entire lease term). Some states have laws about early termination of a lease. In most states your landlord can give you more outs but not fewer.

      Most leases I’ve had haven given you an early termination option. I had to break a lease to move cross country for a new job and unfortunately I had just renewed it the month prior. I had give 60 days’ notice and pay a lease termination fee worth two months’ rent; I was then responsible for the rent for 60 days after I gave the notice and paid the fee (the notice period didn’t start until you’d paid the fee). Luckily my landlord found someone to rent the apartment before the end of the first month, so I didn’t have to pay rent for the second month.

  10. Cristina in England*

    Are there any TENS machine users here? I have had a sore back and neck on my right side since Easter, and yesterday I thought I would try my maternity TENS on it since the box showed it being used on a knee and a neck. I think I overdid it, since I could not move at all last night, I was in so much pain in my neck back and shoulder. I guess I just want to talk about TENS machines generally, if there are any users here who have had greater success with them for back pain. FWIW, it was indispensable during childbirth but maybe I need a different model for different types of pain.

    1. Cristina in England*

      For those who don’t know, a TENS unit looks like a TV remote with wires coming out of it that attach to electrodes. You place the electrodes on your body where you are experiencing pain and it sends pulses to disrupt the pain signals on the way to your brain. It kind of feels like someone is drumming their fingers on you, but the pads don’t actually vibrate, it is like a tiny electric shock.

    2. V Dubs*

      My mom uses it occasionally for neck and shoulder pain and it is really helpful for her. I’m not sure about model or anything, but she is careful about timing it.

    3. acmx*

      I used a TENS unit for some back pain I had earlier this year. I gave one to a friend who had frozen shoulder. I got both (different brands) at a local store so they’re not fancy things.

      The TENS units both helped us.

    4. Sparkly Librarian*

      My wife and I use TENS for joint and muscle pain; I’ve had some issues with my back/leg for about 6 months now and recently found a battery-operated cordless version that attaches to the pad and that I can easily wear under clothing at work. Sometimes it’s a real lifesaver (like, I was having difficulty walking because of pain and then didn’t really notice the pain after switching on the unit) and sometimes it doesn’t seem to do much. I’ve never hurt MORE after using any unit, though.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Oh yeah, I am interested in those wireless units, although less so since I learned the unit has to actually clip on. Do you feel secure wearing it and moving around, like it won’t fall off?

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          It feels secure when I am sitting, standing, moving, bending. When I change clothes or visit the restroom, I have to be careful not to catch the unit on my pants, or it will pop off its snaps. (Usually pretty straightforward to clip it back on again; the sticky pad is large and stays put.) I just crank it up until it feels good, and when it turns off automatically, I hit the button for another cycle if I’m still hurting. Usually I don’t notice, which means I don’t need it right then. It just stays attached all day.

    5. Jen RO*

      I used one at the doctor’s office and it helped a lot, but I have no experience with DIY treatment. The one recommended by my physiotherapist was 20 minutes in total, 10 minutes each of two “patterns” of current.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Yes my machine has different patterns but they are specific to labour. I am curious what the patterns are for the machines that have “neck” and “shoulder” settings.

    6. misspiggy*

      I had one that wasn’t terribly helpful, but on advice changed to a dual channel machine, which seems to work a lot better. I can only use it on my back when someone else places the electrodes for me (for reasons), so I don’t use it as often as I might – but it does make a difference.

      It does depend on your expectations though – I only get partial pain relief from using a TENS machine, and the effect doesn’t last very long. But as long as that’s understood, they can be very helpful – for example, when you need mental clarity so heavy duty painkillers are out.

      1. misspiggy*

        Forgot to add that I’ve found I can only tolerate low settings at first, and then if I gradually up the intensity I get a longer pain relieving effect than if I had left it on the initial setting.

        1. misspiggy*

          Sorry for all the replies! I re-read your post and thought maybe your problem could be an inflamed or trapped nerve, in which case the TENS could sometimes risk aggravating it. In which case try a couple of days of icing it for up to 10 mins (frozen peas or an ice pack, in a discloth) every half hour.

          1. Cristina in England*

            Thank you very much for the advice! :-) Yes even partial pain relief is welcomed. I totally agree about some mental clarity.

    7. Lydia*

      I use one regularly for pain. To be most effective for different types of pain/use the settings need to be changed for the specific application (I’m assuming yours allows you to adjust frequency and pulse width). I would suggest having a physiotherapist adjust it and/or have them teach you what settings to use for different applications. My physiotherapist was very helpful with this. FWIW it is possible to overdo it so hopefully the extra pain is just temporary. Sorry that happened, I know how frustrating it is when trying to feel better ends up resulting in more pain. :( I hope it resolves soon.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Thank you very much! Happy to know it is possible to overdo it. Last night I honestly thought I wasn’t going to be able to pick up my baby today but the pain is manageable right now. I feel like a bit of an idiot for hurting myself so much by using the machine in a haphazard way. I might prefer one of the ones I saw at Amazon that have a specific ‘neck’ setting and instructions for nonlabour uses.

        1. Lydia*

          Oh good, glad to hear it is starting to resolve itself already. Don’t beat yourself up about overdoing it, I’ve done that too. Besides, more = better is a totally normal assumption to make!

    8. stevenz*

      I have used one off and on. Their effectiveness varies with the problem. I have serious lifetime neck issues and unfortunately the instructions for my unit say not to use it on necks. I’ve tried it and it just makes various muscles twitch which is too weird. They are more effective for muscle pain that nerve pain since nerve pain travels – the problem isn’t always where the pain is.

      Do you know what is causing your pain? It could be various things, so you have to find that out in order to treat it properly. Believe me, get it checked out, the sooner the better. It may not be in your neck of course. After a lifetime of excruciating neck pain, and after every possible treatment but surgery with no improvement, I advise you – beg you – strongly to get it diagnosed and start on some kind of therapy, or surgery if necessary. If you ever want to get pregnant again and still have the neck problem, you will be miserable.

  11. LotusEclair1984*

    In my state, you can break your lease if you are moving more than 30 miles away for work. Which state are you in?

      1. Lillian McGee*

        I just did a Google search of “Michigan landlord tenant laws” and the first result was a PDF published by the state legislature with Q&A style information about leases. There may be more relevant information about laws local to you, so try adding your county or city to the search as well.

        If you have low enough income, you might qualify for free legal advice too, so another search term I’ll recommend is “legal aid.” Good luck!

      2. automotive engineer*

        It varies by state/city. I recently broke a lease in Michigan because I bought a house. It turns out my lease had a specific provision in it for how to handle either party wanting out. I would highly suggest you check out reddit’s legal advice subreddit. The folks over there are pretty useful and quick at answering questions (although they will want the specific wording from your lease).

  12. Mimmy*

    I’ve written a few times about my female issues. My question today is: Does anyone have any recommendation for apps to track my cycles and associated “symptoms”. There are a ton of apps, but they all seem to be marketed to women who are trying to get pregnant, which I am most certainly not ;) I just want to track everything so I have better information for my doctor next year, or if problems arise, sooner. There was one app for iPad that seemed perfect, but it hasn’t been updated in two years!

    Also, an update: I think I mentioned before that my biopsy came back clean and that there was nothing more that needs to be done unless I want to take something to regulate my cycles. I think for me, it’s more about whether it’s just early perimenopause or if something else is going on. I did ask if there was a blood test to determine if I am in perimenopause, but she said no since hormone levels fluctuate.

    So my doctor said that unless I want to do the monthly hormone, I just need to keep track of my cycles and to let her know if they last super-long or if they come more than every 3 weeks. Right now, the times between cycles are all. over. the. place. It’s more annoying than anything else due to unpredictability. I’m also a little freaked out because when she did my biopsy, she worried that she didn’t get high up enough (I was *super* tight) to get a proper reading. All I can really do now is just keep good notes and report anything worrisome.


    1. V Dubs*

      I’ve used Clue for about 3 years and I like it. I’ve never used a different tracker for this so I can’t speak to a comparison.

      Have you tried diet or other changes to work with your hormones? I recommend The Hormone Cure by Dr Sara Gottfried if you’d like to investigate that option.

      Good luck!

    2. CMT*

      I use Period Tracker, which I think was one of the very first apps of this kind. I’ve been using it for 6 years now. I don’t think it’s as fancy or nice-looking as some of the others out there, but I keep using it because it has 6 years worth of data at this point. It’s got some features that women who are trying to conceive would use, but I don’t think that’s the focus of the app.

    3. anon709*

      Like V Dubs, I use Clue and really like it! It’s free and easy to use, and you can track bleeding, pain, emotions, sleep, sex, and energy. It’s not full of flowers and pink things, which I appreciate. It will also show trends over time and give reminders when you are due, or if you are late compared to previous cycles. I’ve been happy with it (but haven’t tried any others to know if they’re better).

    4. KR*

      I used to use my calendar for Android (it’s literally called that. The icon is like a little pink book with a flower.).I don’t use it since getting my IUD because I get cramps exactly one week before my period and so I know when it’s coming.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I use My Calendar, too. It’s a little cutesy, but most of the period tracker apps were when I was shopping the app store for one. My kids are nineteen and fifteen, and I’m not looking to have a change-of-life baby, so if I use the fertility information for anything, it’s avoidance.

    5. Lindsay J*

      I will 3rd Clue. I really like it for a few reasons.

      1. It’s not all pink and girly like a lot of the other tracking apps are. The icon is a red spyrograph looking thing on a white background. The app itself is mostly black and white with green and red accents. I don’t really like pink in general, and I don’t really have warm feelings towards my period or think that it relates to my feminity at all so the business-like design really appeals to me.

      2. It does not assume that you are tracking to try and get pregnant. It does show in your cycle where your “fertile window” is, but that can be useful if you are using the rhythm method as a form of contreception etc. You can also turn the “fertile window” off in the settings if you don’t want to see it.

      3. It allows you to track all kinds of things. Flow, pain, emotions, sleep, sex, energy, birth control methods, etc. Those are the default ones (I think) but there are tons more you can add and remove from your tracking options. You can also use tags to add your own categories if the ones provided don’t fill your needs.

      4. It gives you different analytics and predictions. Once you’ve tracked a few cycles it will tell you your average length between cycles, how long you bleed on average, etc. And it will start predicting when your period will start, when your fertile window is, etc. And the more you use it the more accurate it gets.

      It also lets you back up your info in case you have to reset your phone or move to a different one.

    6. Kate R. Pillar*

      I use Ovuview, which has three basic settings: Just track symptoms, avoid pregnancy or try to get pregnant.
      I like the easy backup function, it was no problem to port my years of data between devices.
      There are tons of symptoms (sleep problems, skin, sickness, etc., etc.) you can track and if the one you need is not there, you can also define your own.
      There is a “cycles” view which just lists all cycle lengths you ever tracked, a “calendar” view which predicts your next periods once it has enough data, and a “diagram” view which I like for the weight curve view.
      You can also program reminders and it has one it comes with: Monthly self check of breasts.
      Depending on the color scheme you choose, it’s not very cutesy, which I like.

      1. SoCalKate*

        I also use OvuView. I tried out a whole bunch of different apps, and it was the one that I like best. I actually track my cycle on paper, but it’s nice to also be able to have a backup of everything on the app.

  13. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    How do I stop being jealous of all my/bf’s friends?
    Case in point:
    1) his best friend’s wedding is destination, the friend’s dad is CEO type and very rich and the fiance is on the path to being rich, though their starter home involved $ from fiancées parents.
    2) Bf’s brother moved in with his off/on again girlfriend and bro talked about getting a labradoodle puppy. Bf and I have been together for longer and we’ve had so many talks about getting that exact type of puppy and marriage 2-3 yes from now. Bf knows I’d be pissed if his younger bro and unemployed gf got a puppy before us. I told bf they’ll probably get pregnant/have kids before us before getting married and get a puppy before us. Bf and I did note we’d do things a bit later but we’d be more financially prepared. I told bf my timeline and semi-jokingly said it’d sure be awkward if I had kids, lived where I do now, and he’d still live far away bc he’d still be supporting his parent.

    How do I get rid of all this jealousy? It’s literally consuming me. And it’s also that others have so much financial and emotional support and me trying to get either on my own is pathetically impossible and bf makes less & has to support an unemployed parent…..he’s amazing but life is just infuriatingly annoying. Having brains and education get you nowhere apparently….

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Bf knows I’d be pissed if his younger bro and unemployed gf got a puppy before us.

      This is really not good — both that you’d be pissed and that your boyfriend knows it. What other people do shouldn’t have any bearing on what the right timing is for you and him. Pressuring him or yourself to do things before the time is right for both of you isn’t likely to lead anywhere good (and what you’re describing is definitely pressure), and is the kind of thing that leads to long-term unhappiness, resentment, and divorce. And in this case, is really unfair to your boyfriend and could be unfair to the dog too.

      I’ll be blunt here, because you’ve been sharing things about your relationship and your mom for a while now: Based on other posts about your mom, I think she’s saddled you with some pretty disordered thinking about relationships! Working with a therapist could be so helpful in unraveling some of that — is that something you’re open to?

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I agree with Alison here Carmen, it’s been suggested a few times both in relation to your mum and your relationship with her, and in general about talking to a therapist and I’m not sure you ever reply to a post asking if you have a therapist.

        Anyway, for what it’s worth, when I think about my brother and his girlfriend, sure it’s upsetting a bit for me that they are both younger than I, have a flat together (as in purchased one), have better jobs that pay better than mine and will probably get married before I do. But then, I get over it because…it’s life, you know? There will always be a smarter, richer, prettier person than you BUT: you are also awesome and you make the most of what you do have.

      2. Dan*

        My ex used to do that. Her family was notorious for not being financially disciplined. She’d look at stuff they had (and couldn’t afford) and say, “why can’t we have that?” Those kinds of issues were a non-trivial factor in our breakup.

      3. Gene*

        I’m going to be even more blunt. Go to a good therapist and grow up. Your mother stuff requires so much more than you can get here, but the jealousy stuff is so adolescent.

        1. Today's anon*

          The mother stuff and this stuff are different sides to the same coin – your mother judges you because you are not living according to her values and timetable and here you are judging your bf’s brother in a similar way. The way to feel better about your life either way is to find out who you are and live your life, which is not easy when you have been brought up as you have.

          Also, you could have all these things – you could get married now, you could start trying to have children now, you could find a different bf with more money, you could buy a place now. You (and only you) have decided to wait until you have more money, a better situation etc. Your mother even is dying to give you comfort and support (her way), but you reject her – which I think is a sane thing to do – but you could choose to get that stuff from your mother and be tethered to her; you are choosing to separate (which is commendable and not easy). Every choice has a consequence, and we try to choose the things that give us the consequences we want most. But when it’s hard to see clearly what is going on, that’s when a therapist is really helpful. And I will suggest you are not seeing clearly, in particular, you are not seeing your own part in this, that’s why it always seems to be someone else’s fault and you see yourself as a victim when you come here.

    2. katamia*

      Oooooh, man, I sympathize. My life is so very much not where I wanted it to be in any area of my life (romantic, health, work, finances, living situation, basically anything else you could think of), and sometimes it’s really rough to see people doing better than I am/having all the things I want. I have a college friend who’s basically living my dream life–living in the country I want to live in, seeing all the things I want to see, heck in college she dated the guy I wanted to date. And sometimes I just can’t handle thinking about or talking to her because the contrast between our lives just shows how crappy my life is in comparison.

      And, yeah, I know people say, “Oh, don’t compare your life with someone else,” but sometimes that’s like saying, “Don’t think about an elephant.” It’s natural. Sometimes, when I’m feeling down, the best and only thing I can really do is put my friend on Facebook mute for a few days until I’m a little better emotionally; I’d never talk to her about it because it’s not her fault her life turned out better than mine has, and it’s not her responsibility to fix my negative emotions. Can you mute (on social media) and avoid your bf’s friends for a little while without offending them? (I’m not saying run in the other direction if you see them or anything, just if you can reasonably skip getting together with them until you’re feeling a little stronger.) If you think your bf would be supportive about this, maybe you could enlist him to help you by asking him not to give you updates on their lives unless something truly major happens.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, my boyfriend tends to compare himself to others (especially people his age) a lot and gets really down about it. One of the things he’s done is drastically cut down on his Facebook useage and it has made a real difference for him.

    3. Altoid*

      The best way I’ve heard it put was by Jenny Lawson: You can’t compare your behind-the-scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.

      1. Dan*

        Funny, that’s actually the issue with “My friends’ facebook feeds make me jealous.” Nobody posts the bad crap.*

        *I don’t do facebook, so have no idea if anybody posts bad crap. I just read about that stuff on the internet.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Oh, they do. Some people in my Facebook feed do sympathy trolling or post things like it’s a competition to see who is the most put-upon. With my Facebook folks, it is mainly the moms staying home with young kids who do that, and if I remember correctly from my SAHM days, they probably are fairly well put-upon, but the vague-booking about it gets old.

    4. Cristina in England*

      I think you know this but since you didn’t explicitly say, I thought I would address it first: the things that make you jealous are purely reflections of feeling insecure and unhappy with aspects of your own life. I know from your past posts that you have a tough family that you are trying to break away from, and you will never have from them what this other person has and presumably takes for granted. The reality is that there will always always always be people around who will be farther ahead, have more support, etc. This is true of anyone. Especially during tough times when you are struggling to make it on your own, you may only notice these things that make you jealous, and consequently fail to notice good things in your own life.

      Try to set up a daily gratitude practice. I have this set up with my best friend so that we text each other every single night with three things we are grateful for and also one positive thing that happened that day. It is so hard when I am tired and frustrated but I do it because I have the accountability of texting my friend. I wouldn’t do it without that built in. Sometimes I am grateful for “chocolate” or “warm socks”, it doesn’t have to be super profound, and the point is that it isn’t. The point is that you start to notice the many small things that can easily be taken for granted. Tonight it will be “slightly less back pain than yesterday”.

      Finally, his brother and his brother’s girlfriend’s milestone life events have absolutely nothing to do with you, and their happiness does not diminish yours unless you choose to life your own life through an account of someone else’s. Don’t wait until your feelings change, lead with your actions and make grace your starting point. Don’t bitch about them, their puppy, money, or wedding even to your boyfriend. Such ‘venting’ just keeps you rooted in the jealousy. Try saying out loud that you are really happy for them, even if you don’t mean it yet.

      1. Dan*

        “Don’t bitch about them, their puppy, money, or wedding even to your boyfriend.”

        I gotta be honest, as a guy who has been on the receiving end of such bitching, it really does nasty things to one’s self esteem. To some extent, men are still considered the providers in a relationship. When my SO bitches to me about things other people have that we/she doesn’t, the message I hear is, “I’m not happy because you’re not providing enough.” Am I then a failure because I’m not providing enough?

        So bitching to your boyfriend does nobody any good.

      2. Doriana Gray*

        Such ‘venting’ just keeps you rooted in the jealousy.

        And poisons the good relationships you have around you. I too am going to be blunt here because I grew up in a highly dysfunctional family with a mother who was just never really happy – nobody wants to be around someone who’s constantly spewing negativity. Being my mother’s daughter and a product of my environment, I grew up griping about everything I perceived to be wrong with my life. And when I was diagnosed with clinical depression my freshman year of college, the negative thoughts really ramped up. It got to the point where it felt like I was just emotionally unloading on all of my friends all the time, and I could tell it was making them uncomfortable, even though they wouldn’t say it to my face, but I didn’t know how to stop.

        Therapy really helped me to have a place to vent so that I didn’t have to keep using the people around me as a sounding board for all of my many problems. (And sometimes I do backslide – I’m human – but I keep working at it.) I really encourage you to look into this if you aren’t currently seeing someone because your boyfriend and friends are going to get tired of hearing this stuff all the time, even if they don’t say it. Please know I’m not trying to be rude here; I just don’t want to see you turn into your mother. That was always my biggest fear growing up (that I’d turn into mine), and I imagine it’s yours too.

        1. GreenTeaPot*

          I could have written this, Doriana. Nothing I can add, except, Carmen, you are not alone.

    5. Dan*

      Well, one thing you can do is find a BF who makes a lot of money and can provide you the things that you want. I’ve reached the point in my life where I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with gold diggers if both parties know what’s up.

      My ex didn’t want to work and expected me to pay for everything. The problem is, we live(d) in a high COL area, and I can’t support two people comfortably on one income. Now that I’m a free man, (and have a better job) I can support *myself* comfortably. So, I get to be choosy about who I end up with next. Make no mistake — I have fantasies about finding a doctor, lawyer, or some other well off professional to end up with.

      But if that doesn’t happen, I know I have to be happy with the person I choose. If I’m not happy with that person, why am I with them?

      BTW, don’t get married until you’re happy with your BF and the life you have, and don’t give two shits about whatever people have/do. My brother has a big house, is married, and spends a week in Mexico at an all-inclusive in Mexico once every couple of years. I’m single, I rent, and I travel the world for a month every year — going wherever I want, doing whatever I want. Whose got a better life? There’s really no comparison. We’re both happy with ours.

      The thing you have to do is decide if you *want* to be happy with the life you have. If you do, go find a shrink and work things out. If you’re really not happy with the life you have, then do something about it.

      1. Nicole*

        “BTW, don’t get married until you’re happy with your BF and the life you have, and don’t give two shits about whatever people have/do.”

        This is good advice. I never envy anyone else’s relationship because I’m so happy and secure in mine and in general I rarely feel envious about what others possess (material or otherwise). When I do, however, it’s definitely a reflection of my own discontent. But instead of resenting someone for what I lack, I work on how I can achieve those things.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        Well, one thing you can do is find a BF who makes a lot of money and can provide you the things that you want.

        Which you’ve railed against in the past, Carmen, because that’s what your mother wants you to do — marry some rich, well connected guy so that she can get country club access/have something to brag about and you’ve repeatedly commented on how much you hate that.

        And that might be the root of your current discontent, you want to prove your mother wrong but all the things you’ve been taught (or programmed) are “success” you don’t have right now — everyone else seems to. Life isn’t a race. The first one to move in with their BF doesn’t “win.”

        I agree with the others who have said a therapist would be beneficial. You’ve been buried under a mountain of crap from your mother, it’s going to be hard for you to dig yourself out from under that all by yourself.

        1. Dan*

          You want to know the irony of this conversation? I can’t remember what kind of law Carmen practices, but I as a single guy making $95k a year is certainly interested in finding a female JD, MD, or someone of like status making a similar amount of money. A combined household income of $200k with no kids is setting us up for the nice life for a very long time. I donno about owning a private jet, but we shouldn’t have families bitching about the income.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Did you read the discussion in last week’s open thread where “Feeling Old, Feeling Stuck” was feeling like she hadn’t done very much compared to her friends? The advice is probably applicable here, too.

      Here’s what I said over there:

      I have felt that way at times, too, so I’ve tried to train myself such that every time I find myself comparing myself to others, I turn it around and instead compare my life to that of the people I see every day who work 60-80 hours weeks, make less than I do, and have many fewer options. Or the people I met in Tanzania who were the lucky ones, who made a good living working with tourists, and still had a standard of living that was lower than people in the United States who are classified as living in poverty. Or those who don’t have full use of their body for whatever reason, or live in chronic pain. You get the idea.

      Sure, there are things I would like or love to have or change if I could just snap my fingers and make it happen, but it helps to think of “the less fortunate”, which makes me better appreciate the many comforts in my life that I take for granted.

    7. misspiggy*

      I’d agree with what others have said here. My twopennorth is that when some of the fundamentally awful things in my life started to improve, I stopped caring about material differences with other people. When me and my husband both got to a happier place in our careers, and when our health got better (or at least better diagnosed), other people became irrelevant. There are still things that worry me a lot and that I’d like to get sorted, but recognising that both of us were more fulfilled gave us some solid ground underneath our feet. That made it easier to focus on our own lives instead of on how great everyone else’s were.

      Actually that’s not quite true. It did also take getting married. I think because I not only wanted us to improve health and career stuff, but I also wanted it to be recognised symbolically that we were now proper functioning people who had moved away from quite difficult situations. Could it be that you want to get some big things improved before you get married, but you also want to get married soon, and that’s adding time pressure? If so, would it help to acknowledge that? Would it be a good idea to discuss with your boyfriend one or two areas of your lives that you each really want to make progress on (realistic, and not relative to others) before getting married?

      1. katamia*

        I really like this idea. I mentioned upthread some pretty heavy dissatisfaction with my own life, and while I still have bad days, finding concrete ways to fulfill some of my life goals and giving myself things I can do to work toward those goals every day has helped a lot.

    8. YaH*

      How do you get rid of all this jealousy?

      You go to counseling to deal with all of your issues. Like I and dozens of other people have said in all of your other threads.

      And you stop using strangers on the internet to try to fix your issues. Most of the time it seems like you don’t actually want help, you want sympathy/pity.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Mmmkay… I’ve been debating for about 20 minutes whether or not to comment that I find this a little bit harsh.

        The problem (and I’m way too familiar with it) is that when you grow up with an unreasonable, controlling parent, you lose perspective on what’s “normal”. Hell, you never gain perspective on what’s “normal” because your “normal” is what you know and it’s “normal” for you. Until it isn’t. Until you find yourself one day confronted by the fact that all the things you’ve ever heard like “mother knows best!” or “your parents only want what’s best for you” are so patently untrue in your case that you wonder if your parents have ever heard these hackneyed phrases. When, one day, your parent does something so completely tone-deaf — after thousands of equally tone-deaf hurtful things that you brushed away — and your camel back is broken. Parents like this don’t want you to really succeed. They want you to succeed, but not be so successful that you’ll never need them. They resent you spending your time on other things, or with other people. They put down your friends, which is also putting down your ability to choose for yourself/your choices. It’s hard to have friends when your parent doesn’t want you to have them. When you don’t have the strength or finances or courage to tell those parents to eff off and you can go live on the streets. When you still have hope that they might change… but they won’t.

        So, yes, while I am a little frustrated with Carmen because she’s going through this and it’s hard and painful and completely bewildering to have your whole world upended, I know that it takes a long time to process this. I know that when you don’t have a lot of close friends or family, you don’t have that support system to lean on. I know that when you grow up in a family where things like mental health are never discussed (or are dismissed as being for “weak” people) or your emotions are considered silly or threatening, it makes it hard to ask for help. Just admitting to other people that your mother isn’t… nice is a hard, hard thing because for so many people, they just don’t understand that.

        Carmen, don’t make the mistake that I made. I spent so many years where I couldn’t afford therapy (and still can’t), didn’t get the answers I needed or the help. I just muddled through on my own because that’s how I was raised, figure it out for myself because no one was going to help me (and I shouldn’t bother even asking, since the answer is always no).

        I get it. I do. You’re now an adult. You’ve got a job and a BF and you want to live a “real” adult life. It’s hard watching other people get the things you want so much. But, what would you rather have? A house you buy, but a divorce in 10 years because you never learned how to deal with your mother and all the unresolved grief around how she can never be what you need(ed) her to be? Would you rather have a big, expensive flashy wedding or a marriage? Because you could go down to the courthouse and just do it and save yourselves a whole whack of money. What do you really want? What are your core values? What is truly important to you? If you don’t know, then you can choose to bumble about in the dark for a few decades or you can get some help. IMO, it would be a far better move for you to spend three years in therapy and rent the rest of your life but be happy knowing who you are than spend all kinds of money on stuff to try and impress your mother when she will never be impressed. She will always find some reason to pick on you because it’s how she deals with not feeling good about herself. Seriously. Don’t look at it as an expense, look at it as an investment in your future.

        YaH is right in the sense that Random Internet People can’t really help you, not in the way you really need. We can have empathy or commiserate. We can share stories about similar things that happened to us so that you know you’re not crazy and it’s not just you. But that’s about it. The real hard work of getting through this isn’t something that anyone but you can do and you have to do it for yourself. It’s OK to want a better life for yourself, to have needs and to do what you need to do to take care of yourself. I don’t think anyone’s Life Plan ever works out exactly the way they think it will… and if it did, they are probably tremendously bored. Happiness isn’t an external thing. Getting married, moving in together, getting a puppy are just things, they aren’t going to guarantee your happiness (OK, maybe the puppy but he’s still going to make messes and bark and eat your favourite shoes and need to be walked in -40 weather, so it’s not going to be all fun all the time). As someone said above, you’re seeing the highlight reel, not the raw footage. It’s easy to look great when you’re editing out all the bad stuff. They are struggling just as much as you are, just in different ways, you just don’t see it on that surface.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Carmen, listen to DB’s pearls of wisdom here and let them soak in. I’d be willing to bet that it took DB well over an hour to collect up thoughts and type this out.

          All we have is words, Carmen, there are no miracles. Words are as good as it gets here.

          How do you get over jealousy? By deciding not to be jealous. By getting therapy. By deciding not to be a replay of your mother. You do understand that is what is driving her, right? She is jealous and preoccupied with superficial things. Just like what you are talking about here.

          Marriage, house, dog, children are all superficial if you are just doing it to keep up with the Joneses. Honestly, I was a child of such a mother and it sucked. Don’t be that mother/wife.

          Carmen, I do agree that it seems like you come on here, dump your current issue and then vanish. I hope you are reading. but I am not so sure. See, if you were reading and looking into some of the books and other sources we have mentioned your questions would change. And I am not seeing the changes I would expect to see.

          This jealousy stuff is concerning. Have you decided that you are willing to do what it takes to work on it? See, you can get that husband/house/dog/kid and you will still have a tyrannic mother cracking her whip-like words over your head. How do you know where your mother ends and you begin?

          1. Kerry ( like the county in Ireland)*

            And as for a therapist, get a real therapist. Not an online service or a computer app. A person with an office where you go and say these things out loud. Building a relationship with intimacy and physical/eye contact is how you start to unravel these thought patterns.

    9. anon for this*

      I was jealous for years over friends whose parents bought them a house because I want a house desperately. I finally got over it when I kept hearing how much in debt that they are in, even without a house payment. They both have full time jobs and still cannot make ends meet. They are very good people but their money management skills need sharpening and life could give them a break.

      I got over it by thinking logically about it finally. I still don’t have a house but I have a healthy retirement account and a small emergency fund. I have a small amount of debt (car payment) that I am embarrassed about but can handle. I know I can stand on my own two feet. I stopped looking at everyone else’s paper and kept my eyes on my own. I am not in a bad spot. My spot can be improved upon but it is a good place to be in.

      1. Dan*

        You know that friends with a house down payment paid for by parents already caught a life break, right?

        That aside, the rest of your points are spot on. Take assessment of your life — fix the things that really need fixing, and recognize the successes when you have them.

        I know people whose parents paid their way through college and chose their major for them. Me, I’m in student loan debt and live in a high COL area, but I live my life on my terms with no parental influence. Would I trade it?

        How big is the private jet, and how hot is the flight attendant? (I spent a few years as a ground handler for private jets because I had to earn a living, so yes, I know what I’m talking about.)

        1. anon for this*

          They’re in debt due to a layoff from a few years ago, lost the work supplied health insurance, then one had open heart surgery. Even with the two full time jobs now, they will be in debt for a long time. They do indulge in things that I think are not necessary, but for them, they need the treats. The one with the medical issues is doing a bucket list kind of thing. So even though I think they could eat rice and beans, oatmeal, use coupons; they do not. So maybe a second break then?

          1. Dan*

            I’ve learned not to criticize the way others manage debt unless I’m the one lending money.

            I carry a lot of debt for various reasons, and take the kind of trips that would give debt hawks the side eye.

            This is the kind of debt that takes years to pay off. One thing you learn is that you have to live life in the midst of debt payments, life just doesn’t stop. As long as others don’t have a reasonable probability of having to pick up the pieces, how I spend money and pay off debt is my business.

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          You know that friends with a house down payment paid for by parents already caught a life break, right?

          Maybe, maybe not. As with your other example about school, it depends on what strings came with that.

          But I do agree with you anon for this that they’ve had a run of Bad Stuff. They may not be handling it the best way for their future, but I can also see how they may not see they have a future or they just don’t know of another way to handle it.

          1. anon for this*

            The worst thing about that bout of jealousy was that I knew about their problems and was STILL jealous of the house. Talk about messed up. I am glad I finally got over that irrational emotion with their home.

          2. Dan*

            There’s a balance between living life for today and planning for tomorrow. I’m not one who prioritizes debt payment above all else. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on the minimum payment plan, but life doesn’t stop because I have debt.

            But not planning at all for tomorrow is not the way to go either.

    10. Tex*

      I can sympathize. I was in a very similar boat to you. My sister started dating a guy at the very same time I started dating a new guy. Fast forward eighteen months, and they’re getting engaged but BF and I were getting nowhere despite his repeated assurances to just give it a couple more months while he got X, Y or Z sorted with his life/work/friends. My sister’s engagement was a wake up call to me that I was being strung along. I wasn’t jealous but it was definitely useful to have a timeline yardstick to make sure I wasn’t blowing things out of proportion.

      I say that if you want to get married, do it. There is no “right” time. Things have a way of sorting themselves out.

      1. Dan*

        Wait. A single yard stick has nothing to do with yours. Hell, there is lots to be said about a guy who moves too fast. I got married after knowing my ex for a year, and had a final divorce 6.5 years within crossing paths from her on day 1 (our marriage itself was 3.5 years. We spent more years separated before the divorce was final than we did dating).

        I’m taking the slow boat next time, no matter how fast anybody’s SO’s get married first.

        1. Tex*

          I didn’t mean I expected to be engaged/married at the same time my sister was. But at the time of her engagement, I realized I was probably #5 or #6 on my BF’s priority list. Any plans we made for doing something together were always scrapped because something else came up/someone was coming to town, etc.. I don’t mean plans were occasionally postponed; I mean they were ALWAYS postponed. After 18 months, it shouldn’t have been like that if it was going anywhere (we were both late 30s). It was a time to reassess, that’s all.

    11. stevenz*

      It’s normal to feel jealousy, and pretty much inevitable that we compare ourselves with others. (Maybe you should try comparing yourself to people who have *less* than you sometime. :-) There are a lot of them.)

      But it sounds like it’s the intensity of the feelings that is the problem here. You should work on that. But keep some perspective, too. Not being able to get a puppy is really not a big deal. You’ll get a puppy one day. Now, if your bf’s friend just got a private jet, well, yeah. That’s worth being (temporarily) jealous of, and you’ll probably have a hard time getting one yourself some day. Just hope you can get rides in it.

      Seriously, it sounds like any perceived advantage someone has really sets you off. You have to get that under control or you will be miserable for the rest of your life. As others here say, there will always be people richer, smarter, *luckier* than you. We’re not all cut out for the same things. Also – old saying – be careful what you wish for…

    12. Student*

      You want the things that wealthy people have? Go do something about it instead of bemoaning that other people don’t shower you with money. You’ve given your boyfriend all control of your happiness by making him the breadwinner and sitting back, waiting for him to bring you happiness. To heck with that; go take what you want.

      Go out and get an education in something that makes substantially more money. It’ll take several years, and it’ll be a pain, but at the end of it you’ll be making much more than you are now and you’ll be able to afford the puppy, the destination wedding, the baby, and the house. There are lots of options.

      Put off having a kid as long as reasonable. Kids are expensive. Taking time off for kids early in your career reduces your long-term earning potential, so try not to have much career downtime when you do have kids. And don’t have the kids before you’re actually married, because that is a huge financial drain – legal battles, father potentially running off and leaving you with the bill, etc.

      Once you stop giving control of your life to others and start taking charge of it, you might find you’re less consumed with jealousy and more busy living your own path.

  14. Lazy Sunday*

    In honor of tax season ending…how do I not get screwed over on taxes again?

    Nothing shady or illegal. I guess I just feel I am missing something. I owed an entire paycheck this year and it was very surprising.

    Married. No kids or dependents (at least for 0-5 years). I don’t own a house/condo/townhouse/property (really trying to buy a place this year or sometime ever). I already paid off all my student loans. I automatically contribute 12% of my pre-tax income towards retirement. I also pay additional contributions towards federal and state, but this year it wasn’t enough. I added more for this year. I automatically move 20% of every pay check over to savings. I basically follow the 50-30-20 plan post tax every paycheck.

    I was thinking of starting a 529 for my hypothetical future children but that’s not even tax deductible, haha.

    1. danr*

      Look into moving some of your savings into something with tax free yields, such as municipal bonds. Your bank probably has a link to a broker who can get you started. Municipal bonds for your state are tax free for the Feds and your state. You just keep rolling the interest into more bonds and they add up fast.

      1. fposte*

        This varies with state and opportunities, but if you’re in the 15% bracket or lower, you may come out ahead with a low-cost taxable bond fund, because the higher yield on the non-tax-free can be greater than the taxes anyway.

      2. Lazy Sunday*

        I will look into this, thanks! My husband just met with a financial adviser via his employer and he said she mentioned munis. He didn’t pay much attention since she wanted to meet with both of us…I’ll just ask her myself.

    2. Dan*

      I just did my taxes. Total federal income tax bill was $16k for me this year. I underwithheld so I had to write a check to Uncle Sam for $1300.

      Since this is the internet and we’re anonymous, can you tell me what your combined gross income was for last year? Taxes for people with just W2 income, no dependents and don’t itemize are really straight forward. Do you file single or joint?

      Also, why was it surprising? What was different between this year and last year?

      BTW, what pissed me off is that since my divorce was final and I got a better paying job, I’m no longer eligible for the student loan interest deduction. Considering I have $78k in outstanding loans, that matters :(

      1. Lazy Sunday*

        Yay anonymity :)

        Combined income 120k, filed jointly. We ultimately filed an itemized return (tax guy does both to compare to see if it’s worth itemizing) since my spouse has some military expenses that help a little.

        This year was surprising because last year I got a decent return from the state, I want to say 900. I got a 3% raise mid year, upped my withholding to account for it, and yet this year BAM I owe 1500 dollars. Wtf, why?! Anyway, grumbled about it, wrote a check, and here I am.

          1. Dan*

            Thanks. All in all, I can’t complain. I have an awesome job as a result. I could go so far as to call it my dream job, which pays quite well.

            I suppose it’s worth making $15k over the phase out than it is to save $600 in taxes.

        1. fposte*

          Is the $1500 this year state or federal? In my experience they don’t correlate at all, though obviously this is state dependent. In fact, this year I filed my federal early so that I could use my refund to pay state :-).

          1. Dan*

            Well, you’re right. Some places have no state income tax, and others have as much as 10%, if not more. (Hi! California!)

        2. BRR*

          Reading everything there are two things I’m thinking:
          -did you and your spouse both properly withhold as married filing jointly?
          -im not really seeing a reason you should be itemizing. I obviously might be wrong about this but it doesn’t sound like you have any reason to itemize. I’m wondering if you need a new tax person.

        3. Dan*

          So… I live in VA. Our tax rate is like 5.75% or something like that. (When you say return, you mean refund, right? As in $900 from the state?) You shouldn’t have to increase your withholding to account for a raise, that’s done automatically from your employer via the payroll deduction.

          Did you get married in the last year? In order for me (in my state) to go from a $900 refund to a $1500 “owe”, I’d have a net change of $2400 in taxes. For me to have a $2400 change in tax liability, I’d have to make an extra $41,739 without having any additional withholding whatsoever.

          I’d ask your tax guy to explain the difference between last year’s taxes and this year’s taxes like you are kindergardener. If he can’t, I’d find a new tax guy, because your taxes aren’t that difficult such that explaining that is also too difficult.

      2. CMT*

        Wait, do you not qualify for the student loan interest deduction because your income is too high?

        1. Dan*

          Yes. The high end for the phase out is at about $85k for singles. I made $95k, so no chance in hell.

          This is the one day of the year where I wish I was married to somebody with no income.

    3. Clever Name*

      Yeah, you’re in a tough spot tax-wise. Sounds like you don’t have a ton of deductions. (Kids, mortgage, student loans). Do you itemize or take the standard deduction? Maybe talk to an accountant about what you can do. Do you donate to charity? That can be a deduction (keep the receipts). Even donating stuff to goodwill can be deducted, but you need to keep detailed receipts of what you give away.

      1. Dan*

        While your advice is well intended, do realize for a married filing jointly couple, the standard deduction is $12,600 for 2015. That means unless you have more than that to itemize, the standard deduction will be more beneficial. Since they presumably rent (she specifically said no home ownership) there’s no big deduction to get the ball rolling.

        I’m not sure itemizing provides an advantage until home ownership is involved.

        1. fposte*

          I’ve been better off itemizing a few years with substantial charitable deductions and substantial medical/dental costs (with the older formula). But other than that, I’m generally better off with standard.

          And deductions are worth doing if you’re eligible, but they only save you tax on the amount, not the full amount, which often isn’t very much.

        2. Clever Name*

          Very good point. I do think it’s worth looking into, especially if you give a lot to charity, but yeah, sometimes the standard deduction is better.

          1. Dan*

            I’ve never itemized. I’m 36 :( Without the home ownership and no kids, I’m curious how many people actually itemize and come out ahead. As a single, the standard deduction is $5800. Shit, my state tax bill was $5k, so $1k in charitable donations would put me ahead.

    4. fposte*

      Another question–do you know what tax bracket you were in? And what’s your state tax?

    5. PennyT*

      Is the 12% maxing out your 401K? If you can afford to have the full 18K a year that reduces your tax liability plus puts more in retirement (hopefully I am getting the wording right there).

    6. Allison Mary*

      Tax day this year is on the 18th, for those who didn’t know.

      When you ask about “not getting screwed over” – do you mean simply that you don’t want to owe taxes on your annual return, and that you’d rather get a refund? Or do you mean that you want your total tax liability for all of 2016 to be lower?

      1. Lazy Sunday*

        I’d be happy to owe nothing and happier to get money back.

        The only person who screwed me over was…me. I didn’t pay enough attention to notice that I didn’t withhold the additional funds needed to not owe the state money.

        1. Allison Mary*

          If all you want is not to owe money come tax filing time, then all you need to do is increase your withholdings, as you said. I know how to do that for federal withholding, but I’m not sure how to do it for state withholding. I’m sure there’s a way. If nothing else, you can always make some quarterly estimated tax payments to the state throughout the year, though if your main source of income is through a W-2, the state probably doesn’t require it.

          But I also want to point out to you that from a time-value of money standpoint, it’s not ideal to be getting a huge refund when tax season comes – because that’s money that you could have used throughout the previous year, and instead, you gave the government an interest-free loan. A small refund isn’t too bad. And at least when you’re making a payment, the time-value of money works in your favor – the government essentially gave YOU an interest-free loan.

    7. Is it spring yet?*

      You probably should look at estimated taxes. I live in PA and they don’t allow any changes to withholding which is normally only on wages. So all other income has to be accounted for at tax filing time or with quarterly estimated taxes.
      The other way is to have money taken out of your investments. While not required for most people it can be done. I know that this will work for the Feds but not sure how they handle state taxes.

    8. Miles*

      Don’t do your own taxes. Take them to someone who lives & breathes that stuff, they’ll find much more than you would on your own.

      Also where you contribute to for retirement matters. Regular 401k & IRA don’t count as this years’ income for tax purposes – they count for the year you roll them over to the Roth varieties or take money out of them.

  15. CoffeeLover*

    Monogomy…. it’s not really something I belive in or thought I would have. A few years ago I met the love of my life and current husband. We’re in a monogamous relationship even though we’ve been long distance for quite some time now (although that’s coming to an end in the fall). I tried to have the monogomish conversation with him before and well it didn’t go great but I guess it could have been worse. He just didn’t really want to have an open conversation about it. He basically shut down and said I can do whatever I want as long as he doesn’t know about it. That’s not exactly the point of an open relationship nor how I want my relationship to be. We tabled the convo at the time, but I find myself thinking about it more and more recently and I’d like to try talking about it again. Do any of you have advice on how to approach the conversation or experience having a similar arrangment/conversation?

    1. Kyrielle*

      I think this is something where both parties have to be really open to it and comfortable with it. You may want to sound him out to see if he’s fine with it as long as he doesn’t know details, or if he’s not happy about it but “willing to ignore it” (or try) if he doesn’t hear about it. It’s very possible that he isn’t going to be open to this – many people aren’t. It can work really well if everyone is fine with it, from what I’ve seen, but if someone in one of the relationships isn’t, it can make a real painful mess of things.

      And then you have to decide if you’re okay with whatever it is. If he’s not comfortable with it, are you okay with being monogamous? Or if he’s not okay with it and you’re not okay with being monogamous, are you and he sufficiently okay with it being quiet and awkward? (Keep in mind that some other people who would be fine if he were totally on board will be uncomfortable that he doesn’t want to talk about it, because that will make confirming it’s not cheating difficult.) Or is he okay enough with it for it to work?

    2. Chriama*

      What kind of conversations did you two have around this before you got serious? I admittedly have no first hand knowledge of polyamory but it sounds to me like he’s not into it but is willing to compromise by being ok with you doing it on your own. What do you envision?

      1. Chriama*

        I like Kyrielle’s questions. If he’s not comfortable with it but you want it, then how much are you both willing to compromise?

      2. CoffeeLover*

        I don’t want it to be a one sided open relationship. I would really like him to try it for himself. I’m thinking of approaching it as a trial. Let’s try an open relationship and if it doesn’t work we can stop. I just don’t want to kick myself for not even giving it a try and end up resenting him or something 10 years down the road.

        We never talked about it before getting serious because we had a pretty whirlwind relationship (living together after a month), although we did talk about it before we got married without really reaching a conclusion. To be honest, I don’t think I had the sense to even realize this is something I want. He was my first serious relationship and I was in my early 20s and still very much figuring myself out. I’m just now realizing that I cant picture myself being in a monogamous relationship for the rest of my life. I can’t even put myself in his place because I have such a different view of monogomy (frankly, it doesn’t make sense to me).

        As for being ok staying in a monogamous relationship… I’m not a cheater and I never have been, but at the same time I honestly don’t know if I would be OK with it in 10years. But I love the man and we’re pretty much perfect together, and I want to make it work.

        1. CoffeeLover*

          I also wanted to add that I think being married now might help the conversation. When we talked about it before, I got the impression he was worried I would leave him for someone else and this was just the first step to that. Now that we’re married, Im hoping it solidifies the fact I have no intention of getting emotionally involved with anyone and that I value our relationship above all other. What do you guys think?

          1. Dan*

            This is a big thing to ask of someone, an TBH, I don’t think you can really do it after you get married.

            Most of the time, I’d say that an unwillingness to talk about something is a sign of an unhealthy relationship, but crud, I can’t blame a married guy for not wanting to talk to his wife about sleeping with other people. If he owes it to you to hear you out, then you owe it to him to take “no” for an answer, because you value the relationship above all else.

            But that leaves the issue of yourself, and that’s not trivial. I do think you have to be open to the idea that you cannot stay married and be truly happy, or be truly happy and stay married to him. Have that conversation in front of a counselor if necessary.

            I hate to say this, but if my wife said (after the marriage without ever discussing it before hand) that she wanted an open relationship, I’d be talking about getting a divorce if having sex with other people was that important to her.

            1. Doriana Gray*

              Yeah…I’m going to have to agree with Dan here. This conversation should have been had before any “I Do’s” were exchanged.

            2. Allison Mary*

              What??? I wholeheartedly disagree with Dan and Doriana. Are you saying relationships can’t ever evolve, to be able to keep up with the evolving needs of the people in it?

              It’s fine if your wife bringing it up to you would be a relationship-ender, Dan, but individual mileage will always vary in a relationship. If I’ve learned anything in the past ten years of my adult life, it’s that figuring out your own needs and wants takes a LONG time – so of course not everyone who ultimately figures out that they want a non-monogamous relationship is going to be able to figure that out before getting married. Especially if they still feel like the person they married is the right person – but they’re just looking to enrich that experience with some variety.

              1. Doriana Gray*

                I can’t speak for Dan, but I’m not at all saying people can’t evolve during a relationship. OP said she tried to have this conversation prior to getting married, but her husband wasn’t having it – what I’m saying is, since OP feels strongly about being nonmonagamous, this should have been hashed out one way or the other before making such a major life commitment. This isn’t a case of OP and spouse being married 25 years and then OP decides she wants to spice it up – this is something she’s considered for a while. It wasn’t fair for her spouse to refuse to discuss this when it was brought up the first time, just like I don’t believe it would be fair for OP to try to talk him into something he doesn’t seem to want to do.

                Most people don’t get married before talking about kids, or where they’re going to live, finances, etc. And yes, couples often change their minds about these things with time and once these issues are no longer in the abstract. I’m saying, this, like finances, is one of those topics that should have been agreed upon from the door. If they both changed their minds later, then cool.

              2. Dan*

                Relationships can evolve. People can evolve. That doesn’t mean your partner evolves with you at the same pace. I got divorced because my partner evolved in ways that just didn’t sit well with me. I/we agreed that we’d better off apart than we would be together.

                I’m certainly not having any second thoughts.

                I do believe that “until death do us part” is a bunch of horse shit, because people do evolve, and nobody can predict the future.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            So, is there any chance that you’re so convinced that this makes logical sense that you’re feeling like you just need to find the right way to show him that too and then he’ll agree? I could be totally misinterpreting, but it sounds a little bit like you’re not fully accounting for the fact that his answer might simply be no, no matter how well you explain or advocate for it. I think it’ll help to approach it with that understanding, and also to do some thinking on your own about what that would mean for the marriage if it turns out to be the case.

          3. Sunflower*

            I think his unwillingness to talk about it is probably a sign he isn’t comfortable with it. Honestly you seem to not understand how serious what you are asking of him is. This isn’t something you want push someone into doing unwillingly. Saying you want to try the open relationship and you can just stop if it doesn’t work isn’t that easy. It’s not like trying living alone or trying fish. A lot of people would not be comfortable with it. I think you need to tread lightly here. Pushing too hard could do some serious, irreversible damage.

            It sounds like he could be avoiding giving an answer and he’s hoping you’ll stop bringing it up. It might help if you tell him that you want to talk about it again and come to a conclusion- also that you promise to never bring it up again if he decides he doesn’t want to do it. Then you’ll have to decide how okay with it you are.

          4. Miles*

            Personally I don’t think I could even consider it, regardless of how it was explained. Being involved with another person = cheating, plain and simple, regardless of qualifiers like ’emotional’ or ‘physical’, end of discussion.

            And if I catch you cheating on me you’re dead to me.

            So if i were him I would have preferred to let you do your experimenting with whomever you want (i.e. break up for the moment) and talk about getting back together if you were ever satisfied that this was not something you wanted, or each find more compatible partners if you discovered that it absolutely was. I don’t think bringing it up again now that you’re married is fair to him.

            As to whether or not it’s fair to you to keep silent on the subject, that’s something you have to decide for yourself, and a decision you’ll have to live with. That said I think the only way you risk making yourself resent him is if you avoid deciding one way or the other.

        2. misspiggy*

          You could approach the problem by focusing less on the rest of your life, and more on now. What is making you feel like you can’t tolerate the current state of affairs for ever? If your sex life and intimacy are wonderful now, maybe just take each day as it comes. Nonmonogamy might be a nice extra in that situation, but if he doesn’t want it, it’s not worth blowing up your relationship. (You could just confirm that with him one last time, to make sure you’re not both missing out on incredible threesomes.)

          If after some time of this you decide that despite a lovely sexual and romantic life you still need to go to bed with other people, tackle it with him then, as an unavoidable renegotiation of your relationship.

          But – if you’re worried about the future because the present isn’t all that great, focus your energies on that. What do you need from him to be comfortable, satisfied and happy? Fight for that – as kindly as you can, giving him plenty of space to process his feelings – but don’t let it drop, because it needs to be sorted out if your marriage is to stay strong.

          1. Connie-Lynne*

            Oooh, I think this is a bad idea. It’s far better to discuss this when you’re in a spot where you’re happy than when you’re dissatisfied.

        3. LizB*

          I don’t really think polyamory is one of those “just try it, you’ll totally love it!” things — you’re either into it or you’re not, and it really sounds like he’s not. You can’t force someone to go out and date other people if they don’t want to. Think of it like anything that people tend to evangelize about — crossfit, veganism, whatever — and how annoying it is when someone keeps nagging you to try their favorite thing when you have absolutely no desire to. Now add in all the complications of jealousy, insecurity, social stigma, deeply held values, etc. that are inevitable parts of relationships. “Try it for yourself” is a HUGE request in this case, and I agree with others that you need to be willing to hear his “no” as a real no, not as a “try convincing me a different way/harder.”

        4. Massachuset*

          I think there was another post awhile ago where a woman decided she is asexual and wanted to sign her husband up for a dating website. Everyone’s advice to her was that for some people having sex with only the person they married is central to the relationship and that she should be ready for her husband to say he wanted a divorce. That post may have some good advice for not only talking, but also listening to what your partner thinks about changes to your sexual routine. I think cheating is really high risk because most people arent as discreet as they think they are, but it could be worth it.

        5. LC*

          > I’m thinking of approaching it as a trial. Let’s try an open relationship and if it doesn’t work we can stop.

          Based on what I’ve observed in friends’ relationships, an open relationship is hard to come back from. That’s not to say that it’s the wrong thing to open up a relationship. But if it’s not a mutual decision, it’s very likely that one partner will be irrevocably hurt by another having a physical and/or emotional relationship with someone else. It may not be cheating, but it will probably feel like it to your husband if he’s not 100% behind the idea.

          To be honest, it sounds like you two may not be perfect together. Saying you’re great together except that one of you doesn’t believe in monogamy is not unlike a perfect couple where only one partner wants kids. Certain aspects of a relationship are just non-negotiable, and monogamy, at least in my opinion, is one of them.

    3. katamia*

      I think you should start by listening. Some people are okay with the idea of being an open relationship, and some people just aren’t. I have enough friends who are varying shades of poly that I know people can be happy and secure in them (and I certainly don’t think there’s anything morally wrong with that type of relationship), but I would never want to be in an open, poly, or monogamish relationship myself. I know myself well enough to know I’d constantly feel insecure and paranoid about the state of my relationship in that situation.

      I’m definitely projecting here because I don’t know the tone of the conversation you had before, but if you initiated and had your reasons pretty much ready to go, then he may have felt blindsided. I know I would if my (imaginary) spouse brought it up, and I might react similar to the way he did in that situation. One thing you can do to mitigate this would be to say something like, “I want to talk about this again. Can we schedule a time in the next week or so to talk about it?” to give him a chance to put his feelings in order and give him more control over the discussion.

      Even then, though, it may not go the way you want it to. Not knowing your husband, I have no idea if giving him more control over the conversation would help in getting him to agree or not. But do be prepared for the possibility that he may still not be okay with it.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        That’s a good idea but I don’t know if it would work with him. To be honest, I struggle getting him to open up about anything serious (typical guy not wanting to talk things through). I really have to drive the conversation. Plus I don’t want to leave him hanging so to speak.

    4. Jean*

      It sounds to me that your husband is not eager to have you get involved with another person. I’m not sure what benefit can be gained by revisiting the topic. Conversational repetition does not always bring conversion. If I sound unsympathetic, it’s because I suspect that non-monogamous marriage sounds great in theory but in practice the idea of multidirectional love-with-benefits (meaning a sexual connection) can come crashing down when someone unexpectedly feels vulnerable, deprived, lonely, insecure or jealous–and that this can happen even when everyone opening up a relationship experience believes him- or herself to be in total agreement with the plan. I can’t quote any psychological research to back up my assertion; I’m just running on my perception that because people vary in all sorts of ways it is reasonable that human diversity includes comfort or discomfort at the prospect of sharing a romantic/sexual partner.

      You may have to decide that what you have with your husband is sufficiently good–or sufficiently good and rare–to justify the loss of any additional possible satisfaction gained from intimate contact with other people.

      Many halves of a couple find that they can meet some personal needs outside the relationship. Usually the shared-outside-the-couple activity is at least a few degrees short of completely sharing emotional and physical intimacy. Examples, from trivial to serious (not necessarily in that order):
      – having a comrade whose presence eases the pain of a toxic workplace
      – using someone as an advisor or fellow adventurer in a specific area in which one’s spouse has significantly less interest or expertise (such as a football or garage-sale buddy, a mentor in a technical field, or a fellow traveler on the road of exercise, yoga, handicraft hobby, bird-watching, study of biblical archaeology, etc.)
      – having a platonic friendship that may or may not predate the coupled relationship
      – trading steady jokes with someone, but not expanding the contact beyond its original time and place (e.g. workplace, volunteer site)

      tl;dr: Not everybody is up for an open relationship. Even people who otherwise agree enough to form themselves into an established couple may not see eye-to-eye on this question. This isn’t surprising because plenty of established couples straddle other kinds of differences. Vegetarians marry carnivores, Democrats pair up with Republicans, and people from all kinds of religious traditions marry someone from another path. Even people whose families practice the same religion may find themselves expressing their shared faith in different ways.

      1. Jean*

        Coming back to add this postscript: I’m not trying to be dour, all-condemning, grimly moralistic and rain-on-your-parade. That is, while I freely admit to having several strands of conservative-ness amidst my generally liberal braid, I’m not trying to be personally offensive. If everyone involved is genuinely comfortable being connected to an open marriage or similarly polyamorous arrangement it’s not my place to argue. I’m not trying to project my own reluctance onto everyone else. At the same time, I’m sure that I’m not the only one who would find it difficult or impossible to shift such an important relationship from exclusive to inclusive.

    5. Nico m*

      Tempt him with a threesome.

      Seriously – hes wants to be monogamous – you need to accept that, or, you need to really sell nonmonogamy. You seem to want to sir down, have a conversation, and decide you are right.

    6. Undine*

      It’s probably pretty hard to find a couples counselor who’s poly-friendly, but I might look around for that. (Somewhere on the internets, there’s got to be a directory.) This is a huge renegotiation of your relationship. To make it possible/fair, you would have to be willing to hear about the things he struggles with as well, and maybe have to give up some assumption that’s just as important for you. And it’s hard to do that without a neutral third party, especially since it sounds like your husband wouldn’t be aware of or able to articulate what the comparable issues are for him.

      1. Lindsay J*

        There is a directory lol.

        Not specific to poly, but there is a kink-aware professionals directory that includes therapists, counsolers, doctors, accountants, etc who are open to kinky relationships. It also includes whether they are just open to working with people in kinky relationships, whether they’re knowledgable about kink, or whether they’ve personally participated in kink.

        I know polyamory isn’t necessarily kink, but there is a lot of overlap in the people who participate in kink and people who practice polyamory so I assume more people in the directory would be versed in dealing with poly relationships.

        Google the phrase “kink aware professional” or go to the “national coalition for sexual freedom” website.

    7. Graciosa*

      He doesn’t want to discuss it, but said you can do whatever you want as long as he doesn’t have to know.

      This sounds to me like he really doesn’t like the idea *at all*, but is trying to avoid having to deal with any of it directly.

      I also want to point out another area where your personal views may not be in sync, and may be coloring your perception of how he is perceiving this – specifically, your idea that the security of being married will help minimize any concern he might feel about losing you to someone else.

      It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that he thought the marriage itself – entered into without any other agreement beforehand – settled the question of monogamy permanently according to his expectations. Having you raise an alternative again after he thought it was resolved may feel like a betrayal, or a *loss* of the security he thought he had gained through the marriage.

      Of course, I don’t know what he is really thinking and all of this is speculation.

      That’s why I agree that you need to focus on *listening* to him the next time you discuss this (possibly with the help of a counselor) rather than trying to convince him.

      If what you’re asking for isn’t going to work for him, you need to think seriously about the viability of a relationship in which at least one of you will never have a critical need met.

      I am so sorry for both of you that you’re facing this now.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Oooo, point. Also, if the marriage vows as spoken included the often-included phrase “forsaking all others” then it might be even moreso that he expected it to seal the deal.

    8. CoffeeLover*

      Update… we talked about it! I just couldn’t hold it in anymore, but I think it went great! We’re long distance right now so we both agreed that maybe now wouldn’t be the best time to start something like this. Distance already adds a level of uncertainty when you can’t physically reassure each other. We agreed to try it out slowly when we finally live in the same country this fall (i.e., start with threesomes and swinging). I asked him if having the conversation upset him (as it did last time), but he said no he was happy I brought it up instead of letting it fester inside me. He was happy how open and honest I was being with him. So like I said, it went about as well as I could have hoped (I wasn’t expecting to come out with a decision after one conversation).

      Something that I’ll comment on that a few of you have mentioned is to not have the conversation at all (or a second time as was my situation). There’s a right and wrong way to have tough conversations (you can’t just dictate your thoughts and wants as some of you said), but I’ve never regretted being open with him. Everyone and every relationship is different, but I value openness a lot in my relationship. I always want to feel comfortable discussing things with my husband and I don’t want to hide my feelings and thoughts from him, and vice versa.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        Oh and I’ll add I don’t think any of you gave me bad advice or anything. I really appreciate your different view points, so thank you for sharing! I went with what I felt was right for me and him and our relationship, and a lot of other context I can’t communicate in one internet post :).

      2. Allison Mary*

        Yay, glad the conversation went well!

        When I replied, down below, I forgot that you guys were in a long distance relationship. Long distance definitely makes it harder, and I don’t think I would be up for exploring non-monogamy for the first time, unless my partner and I were living together. So, if you or your husband are anything like me, waiting to try this out until you’re a lot closer together, in terms of physical distance, would probably be a great idea.

        For what it’s worth, I think you’re leaps and bounds ahead of the people who simply let their unhappiness fester, don’t say anything about it, and then eventually cheat. Having an open/honest/vulnerable conversation with your partner seems a way more preferable option, to me. And it definitely sounds like it paid off for you! :)

      3. Doriana Gray*

        I’m glad your conversation went well, CoffeeLover, and that he was willing to talk about it this time. It sounds like you came to a nice compromise that works for both of you right now, and that’s what matters.

    9. Connie-Lynne*

      I’m going to disagree with a lot of the commenters here. I’m poly and have been happily married for 15 years.

      When we were getting married, we had a very brief conversation which basically went, “I’m fine with leaving this in, because you are that important to me, but I would really prefer we remove ‘forsaking all others’ from our marriage vows, Is that OK with you?” “Huh? Oh, sure.” “Oh and also ‘obey.’ That one I’m not OK leaving in.” “Well duh.”

      Like your husband, his approach for a while was that I was free to do whatever, but that he didn’t want to know about it. I said that I did want to know about it. Both of us agreed that extra-curriculars were off the table when we were having any kind of a bad situation in our marriage. That worked for a few years, but then I realized that I felt like I had to lie if I were going out with other people, and that I was not comfortable with that. It made me feel like I was cheating even though I wasn’t.

      So I told him all of that, and he was surprised, but agreed that, yes, it was OK for me to share when/who I was going out with, and to a limited extent what we were up to (nobody really needs the explicit details of what goes on). It turns out he had just thought that *he* didn’t want *all* the details of what was happening, which is totally reasonable.

      My point is, your husband may just not want to hear, well, all the deep details. And, like my husband, maybe hasn’t thought through what “sure, whatever, just don’t tell me” sounds like on the other side.

      Because you didn’t talk about this before your marriage, you very much need to be open to hearing “that’s really a line for me.” You may even need to point that out in your next conversation: “I may not have been clear about this and I don’t want you to feel broadsided by this. Please understand that I know you may not be comfortable with this and that I am not looking to break up with you or end our marriage, but rather I want to talk about how I feel. If, at the end of the day, you don’t want this to be part of our relationship, I will understand, and I intend to stay with you. ” Or if that’s not true, you have to be honest with yourself first, and in that case you absolutely should be having this conversation with a poly-friendly counselor and be prepared to come to terms with the fact that you’re willing to end your marriage over this.

      Which, for the record, sounds like kind of a bummer thing to end a marriage with over, but kinder to call it quits earlier rather than later.

    10. Allison Mary*

      I’ve been in a non-monogamous relationship with my current partner for just about 4 years now. And the ironic thing is, for pretty much ALL of that time, both of us have barely been involved with anyone other than each other (it’s soooo much work to go date other people, and I’m such an introvert!), but knowing that we have each other’s support to seek out new experiences is what makes all the difference for me.

      In the beginning, it was really scary for me with my partner, when I didn’t feel totally secure of my place in his life. What eventually made that fear go away, was really getting the message that I was the priority, and that if I really needed it, he would close the relationship and be exclusive to me.

      Now, you said that your husband didn’t want to talk about it, and said you can “do whatever [you] want, as long as he doesn’t know about it.” To be fair, this is how lots of people do non-monogamy, and it’s still consensual! One poly book I read a long time ago talked about how there are two kinds of people – 1) the type for whom less knowledge is scary, and 2) the type for whom more knowledge is scary. I fall into the first category, and so I always want to know everything that goes on with my partner’s outside experiences. Maybe your husband falls into the second category? If so, that would be completely legit, and as long as he can give assurance that he’s giving sincere, non-coerced consent, you should take him at his word and be respectful of his needs for what will provide him a feeling of security.

      Non-monogamy is one of my top five favorite topics, so I could go on literally all day, but I’ll stop here. Oh, except to say that I highly, highly, highly recommend the book Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg – it’s been instrumental to me in navigating and negotiating what I want/need in my relationship structure. If you want to talk more about this, please do ask me questions. :)

    11. stevenz*

      A bit of a reality check. It’s easier for a married woman to attract a man than it is for a married man to attract a woman, so the kind of relationship you’re describing is inherently one-sided. Women are more reluctant, or more cautious, about getting into an extra-marital relationship than men are. As a result, if she signals availability at all, she is likely to be mobbed. Not so for men because men are *always* signalling availability – or at least wishing they were! Joke, but you know what I mean. So Norman is likely to end up on the short end of this, and the knowledge that he *can* will be cold comfort.

        1. Dan*

          Maybe, but not all stereo types are harmful or even wrong.

          TBH, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest as a woman, you aren’t in a position to know how easy it is for a married person of the opposite gender to find a sexual partner outside of marriage.

          I think stevenz is spot on. Straight women on okc for example, almost always are looking for a serious relationship. Most even explicitly say that if you are married, don’t bother.

  16. V Dubs*

    I have my second date with someone I’m really interested in tonight! Dinner and a concert. Any advice or tips about beginning a relationship with someone?

    I have a tendency to plan my future and skip the present…

    1. LO*

      As someone who has a tendency to do exactly what you’ve just described…
      A future with a mate involves two people. Your life together will never be exactly what you picture it will be.
      To me, it’s more important to find someone who can ride the sometimes overwhelming wave of life
      with you.

      So, have fun now, don’t plan anything and enjoy each other. If you both love each other enough, you’ll
      figure your future out together. There is no I in team.

      Good luck to you!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Just keep enjoying his/her company until you no longer do. (Well, at least until the “I don’t want to hang out with you” is more than momentary.) Or until he/she no longer enjoys yours. Take it date by date. Honestly, that’s the only way. Have fun.

    3. Sunflower*

      I’m the same as you. It sounds strange but try to pretend this person is someone you can’t have a future with- like he lives 1000 miles away. Right now you should just be focused on if you like him- you don’t have to worry about the serious things like ‘can i see a life with this person’ until farther down the road.

      1. Dan*

        Why does living 1000 miles away mean you can’t have a future with them? CoffeeLover describers a long distance relationship.

        She also describes a situation where she wants to have a sexual relationship outside of marriage.

        A strictly sexual partner 1000 miles away not looking for commitment is huge to some people.

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      Don’t focus on whether or not they like you/you’re acceptable to them, but if they are someone who is acceptable to *you*. Are they on time? Do they treat the waitstaff appropriately? Exhibit road rage? There’s a difference between wanting to be with someone and needing to be. Brushing aside those little red flags/making excuses for someone you don’t know at all, you’re going to wind up in a place you don’t want to be. When someone tells (or shows) you who they are, believe them.

      1. Dan*

        All that.

        As a guy, I want a woman who *wants* to be with me, not who *needs* to be with me. Yes, we can tell the difference.

        And yeah, today’s “idiosyncrasies” or “loveable quirks” are tomorrow’s “go to the courthouse and get a divorce because I’m done with this now please end it quickly”. (BTW, divorce ain’t quick.)

    5. V Dubs*

      Thanks for the advice, all! This was exactly what I needed to hear. Let go my future expectations and just focus on the moment, now.

      The date went well! Dinner and a concert. We live about 2 hours away from each other, but I think we’ll see each other in a week or two. And he got tickets for a concert the end of May we discussed on our first date and asked if I wanted to go, so that’s lovely.

      Dynamic Beige, your comments are really helpful in reframing the dates for me. Basically, it should be like a good job interview! ;)

      Thanks again all!

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Basically, it should be like a good job interview! ;)

        Yes, there are many parallels. For example, there’s a big difference between calling someone (or texting) the next day to say you had a great time… and waiting three days so you don’t seem desperate. One call, you’re not desperate, you’re polite. a few dozen calls or texts, and you’re uh… not someone I (or probably many people) want to deal with. You wouldn’t wait three days to call back a prospective employer and you wouldn’t blow up their phone, either.

  17. all aboard the anon train*

    Does anyone have any recommendations for getting rid of mice in an apartment? I live on the ground floor with a basement bedroom, so I know mice in the walls and roaches/insects are a given, but my upstairs with the kitchen has mice that come in from behind or through the gas stove. That’s the only places I can see where they’d come in and I’m not moving a gas stove by myself to plug a hole. I sweep and clean the kitchen area whenever I cook, and it’s not so much that I’m afraid of mice but that it really disgusts me to see them where I cook and eat.

    For the record, I live in Boston in an old apartment where rats and mice are a huge problem. I’ve lived in a couple different apartments in the city and landlords will only set those old school traps or put in and never exterminate (not to mention if it’s not a luxury apt, they’re not going to rush to fix/update anything either). I had the same issues when I lived in New York, too.

    1. AnonForThis*

      I had mice in an apartment once when I lived in Florida. We tried everything! We started using human traps and setting them free but they learned how to escape the traps… So we tried snap traps, but they learned how to take the bait without triggering the trap… So we tried glue traps. DO NOT USE GLUE TRAPS! I don’t want to be graphic, just trust me that both you and the mice will be traumatized. The only thing that actually worked in the end was poison that we put everywhere where we knew they were coming in and out of. But, be prepared for the smell that comes along with it…

      I don’t know if it makes a difference, but my apartment was privately owned and was very small totaling 4 units. I don’t know how it would work in a large city building.

      1. AnonForThis*

        I meant humane! I don’t capture humans or set them free. I’m good with the humans. I promise!

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        I’ve heard they learn to evade the traps or avoid triggering them. I wish I could admire them for that, but I just want them gone!

        The one time I did try to use poison, it was to no avail, so maybe they’ve learned to avoid that too?

      3. Stephanie*

        Oh God. I hate, hate mice, but I still remember hearing tiny screams when one got caught on a glue trap. I had to kill it with my shoe. It was horrifying.

        1. fposte*

          I went for drowning in a similar situation. I can do bugs, but a mammal would have been too much.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I freed a baby snake that got caught on some tape that had peeled loose from a box in my garage. I used vegetable oil. I suppose you could free a mouse the same way, but I don’t want to have to do it. So I use one of those live traps, though I haven’t had mice in here, probably because of the snakes!

          1. Natalie*

            You can. My friend managed a pet store for years and they had to use glue traps in case any of the small mammals (hamsters, etc) got loose. Oil dissolves the glue and frees their feet.

      1. Stephanie*

        On a related note, Snickers bars are also good. Sticky and they have the peanut scent.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I’m really, really allergic to them and they kind of freak me out anyway, so I’d end up being more wary of the car instead of the mice!

          1. Stephanie*

            Yeah, our dog killed a snake and insisted on showing us. It was like “Uh, good doggy? What the hell do we do with this snake now?”

    2. blackcat*

      Do any of your friends have an outgoing cat you can borrow? That’s not a joke! My parents loaned out their cat when some friends had a mouse problem. 2 days and 15(!) mice later, the problem was solved.

      Just the sent of a cat can deter mice, so you could also borrow a friends’ cat’s bed or blanket.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I should have mentioned this in the original post, but I’m super allergic to cats and kind of scared of them, so it’s not really an ideal solution.

        I can’t have pets in my apartment anyway. :(

        1. nerdgal*

          You could try asking a friend to give you cat poop, scooped out of a litter box, inside a brown paper bag or two. A friend of mine did this and had good results. Apparently the cat smell is enough to discourage mice.

    3. Jean*

      Allergic to cats here (although I considered hosting one for a brief period). I had modest success by putting out cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil. This “disrupted their scent trails” according to the guy at the store who advised me. He also recommended the urine of a boa constrictor for this purpose! No such luck–no snakes handy, although I did fantasize about getting a python–but I had the amusement of relating this story to, and completely freaking out, the members of my book club.

      +1 re not getting glue traps because these just cause the mice long, drawn-out suffering. If I’m going to kill them I want their death to be effective and immediate. There are humane, catch-and-release traps, but I could not see adding the role of “mouse taxi” (catch mouse; drive it across town to release; go home, re-set trap, and repeat) into my already overloaded daily life.

      I don’t know what finally discouraged our four-legged, one-tailed guests. I suspect that the management of our building finally deployed an effective exterminator.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Oh my god, I have such a snake phobia that I would probably freak even at that suggestion! Also super allergic to cats, so that’s not a possible solution either.

        I’ll try the cotton ball idea and see if that works! That seems cheap/harmless enough.

        1. Jean*

          Right there with you re having phobias although mine rear up somewhat differently. I taught myself to stop the “I see a mouse!” scream but never learned how not to start in the first place. The mere idea of a snake doesn’t unnerve me, but I’m sure I’d shriek if I saw one anywhere outside a solidly built, fully enclosed, safe container.

          1. the gold digger*

            I had rats – not cute little mice, but rats – when I lived in Miami. I called my landlord. His response?

            “You need to get a snake.”

            Nope. I could not break my lease because of that.

            PS How does one collect the urine from a snake?

      2. Stephanie*

        If you use the cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil, make sure

        (1) You refresh the peppermint oil regularly. Once the scent fades, you have just cotton balls which mice love. (Side note: I discovered mice love cotton as I found some shredded (clean and unused!) OB tampons on the floor one morning. I guess some had fallen out my bag at some point and they went to town. I was grossed out and pissed–tampons are expensive.)

        (2) You wrap them in steel wool or put them in a container or something such that the mice don’t have stuff for their nest one the smell fades.

        (2a) I think you could try an oil diffuser as an alternative.

    4. Undine*

      I’ve had more luck with humane traps than snap traps. I think they don’t see them the same. You do have to have a car to take them a long way away. (Or you can drown them in the trap.) Peanut butter as bait.

      If it’s significant, you can also notify the local vector control, ,but that’s for when you have dozens of them, not just a couple. Really the landlord should stop up the holes.

    5. Sunflower*

      I posted a few weeks ago about my issue in Philly which I recently found out has more mice problems than any other city in the country. Living in an old apt, you’re always going to have problems with mice but some things can help.

      – Did your landlord come plug holes in your apartment and basement? The tenant upstairs said her maintenance guy came and pulled her stove out. Half her wall was missing! That is really key.
      – Most multi unit buildings SHOULD have contracts with exterminators. Any chance you and the other building tenants can build up a case for it?
      – You can pay out of pocket for an exterminator. When I called for a quote, they started at $175 and said they’d give discounts if the whole building wanted it. Could be worth it for you.
      – Someone recommended a Pest-a-cator. I haven’t seen anything since I’ve plugged one in.
      – Old school snap traps are the best. Also put poison down. I’ve never smelled anything in my walls after they’ve died either.
      – Apparently they hate peppermint oil
      – Make sure all your food is in air tight containers and you aren’t leaving stuff out over night.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        The other holes were plugged before I moved in. It’s really just the stove issue and every time I’ve asked in this apartment or previous ones, they’ve said it’s too risky (idk if it is or not). I’m unfortunately in a duplex building, so it’s only me and one other tenant and when I asked, she didn’t notice a problem in her half of the house.

        I’m going to look into the peppermint oil. I’ve never, never had any luck with snap traps with any type of bait, including peanut butter.

        1. Sunflower*

          Mice are tricky little effers. Plugging all the holes but one is not going to help much. Too dangerous to move the gas stove? Sounds like they are just lazy. Even if it was too dangerous, I’d imagine that is some kind of code violation of it’s own, Read your lease- if it says landlord is responsible for pest issues(usually multi unit buildings they are) then they have to do something. I would call a pest company, get a quote, then ask them if this thing about the gas stove seems true. Once you get the quote, I would call your landlord and ask them why it’s dangerous and then present the facts. Personally I would not back down on this but I also live in a studio apt and it’s too small of a space to share with mice IMO.

      2. the gold digger*

        I used poison for the rats in Miami and my house stank for weeks. Maybe if you are in a cold, dry climate, you won’t smell anything, but if you are in the south, you will. And it is nasty.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yeah, that’s a downside of poison. If you do live in a dry climate…yeah, it won’t smell. How do I know, you ask? I lived in this old house in DC that had giant radiators and had really dry air as a result (I constantly had a humidifier going). My roommate later tells me that he found a dead mouse on a sticky trap: “I had no clue how long it had been there–it didn’t smell. I think the radiators and the poison petrified it a bit…”

    6. newreader*

      Your local hardware store should have more deterrent packets that smell like peppermint. The smell is supposed to repel the mice from coming in. They’re not perfect, but can minimize the number of mice in your apartment. And they aren’t dangerous like poison.

    7. Elizabeth*

      I would suggest having someone help you pull the stove for a one-time, giant clean-up. When we moved into our house, the kitchen looked clean. Thank goodness, my wonderful in-laws decided to be totally thorough and pull out the stove to clean under & behind it. There were the remains of raw egg all down the wall behind the stove. The previous owner had had a terrible family tragedy while living at the house, and we think he must have thrown the eggs at the stove one day. He cleaned up what he could see, but it was truly awful everywhere else. I can see an apartment stove being similarly horrible (and lovely for mice).

    8. Legalchef*

      Ugh ugh ugh. We had them. It was the worst. We own our apartment, so we had an exterminator come out to plug holes. Depends on where you are located, but most landlords are going to be required to get an exterminator (don’t just check your lease, but check the specific landlord/tenant laws for your area). We put all our packaged food in plastic bins. The exterminator put out glue traps and ultimately put down the poison.

      You’ll ultimately need to get the space where they are coming in plugged up to stop the problem, I think.

    9. JPixel*

      I pulled my stove out from the wall. it was way easier than expected. In my experience I was able to slowly and carefully slide it out far enough that I could climb behind it and do a thorough cleaning and plug up the holes with steel wool. There were several holes/crevices where a mouse could easily get in. I’m no expert but if you are worried about disrupting the gas line – it has to be a certain length to hook it up, so it’s not like you’re going to yank it out from the wall by sliding the stove back. Did the same with my fridge. I also emptied out all my cabinets to ensure there were no additional entrance points but it was definitely the stove. Once I did that, the one mouse that had been taunting us for weeks got stuck in the apartment and went for one of the peanut butter traps. No more since then.

      Good luck!

      1. the gold digger*

        There is also this foam stuff you can spray to fill the holes (maybe smaller ones, like around pipes). It expands to fill the space once you have sprayed. I don’t know what it is called, but they should know at your hardware store.

          1. Natalie*

            We use steel wool and foam combined. They don’t like the steel wool and the foam keeps it in place

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        I think I’m just really paranoid about pulling out the gas stove because it’s an old apartment and gas stoves make me nervous in general (but that’s mostly all there is in my city, so it’s not like I had a choice of stoves when I was looking for apartments).

        The problem isn’t as bad in my current apartment as it was in my last one, but I think I’ll consider bringing someone in to help me move the stove if it gets worse, because that’s definitely where the problem is coming from.

  18. Anonymouse*

    Question for the women out there that I forgot to mention in the dating thread last week: what are your feelings on men who insist on walking/driving you home after a first date? Or who insist they need to make sure you “made it home safely” even after an afternoon coffee date or 7 pm meetup for drinks?

    It sketches me out and in some cases I’ve felt like they’ve expected to be invited inside for sex or have this unintentionally condescending “I have to escort a woman home because chivalry!” vibe. I’m so not okay with letting a man I’ve only just met know where I live and I travel by myself in the city all the time, so I’m more than capable of getting home without a stranger walking me there.

    Just bringing it up because the topic came up with a group of friends the other day and most of my female friends were on the side of not wanting a first date to end with the guy taking the subway/driving/walking them home and most of my male friends saying it was done out of politeness/chivalry.

    1. katamia*

      Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh. After just a first date, I’m not sure if I want a guy to know where I live yet in case they turn out to be stalkers. I think “Hey, text me when you get home” is kind of sweet, but no no no to someone I just met (probably online, since that’s where I’m meeting people mostly these days) seeing where I live so soon. If they get bent out of shape about it, then they’re clearly not the right guy for me.

      1. Anonymouse*

        Yeah, I think a “text me when you get home” is fine, but I have to say, I’m a little wary of the guys who offer when they know we’re nowhere near my apartment or it’d be out of their way to take me there. If I say I live in X neighborhood and we’re in Y neighborhood across the city, it seems….idk weird, I guess, if they offer to take the subway with me or drive me there.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Same here, though I haven’t had this problem in ages. :P On a first date, I’d probably be meeting them somewhere and I don’t want them to follow me home.

    2. Weekend Warrior*

      Well, an offer could be meant politely but insisting if the offer is turned down has a negative feel to me.

    3. Chriama*

      An offer is chivalrous as long as they don’t insist. Insisting is a male privilege thing where their perception of their self as a “nice”/chivalrous guy is more important that the recipient’s actual wishes. I don’t think the insistence is because they want sex, but it is definitely patronizing.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I can understand offering to drive someone home if it’s late, probably because the transit in my city is garbage after 10pm. I actually drove my boyfriend home after our first date because we lost track of time (it was a good date!) and he missed the last bus back (it was only like 11pm!). He offered to take a taxi but that would have run him like $50, so I offered him a ride. More frequently you just would end up having to wait at a dark bus stop for 30-60 minutes, which suuuucks. Also legit: Hanging out at the bus stop until the person’s bus comes. My friends and I do this all the time.

        But offering to take transit or walk back with me would actually annoy me a little bit. Not because it would make me feel unsafe (unless the guy got REALLY pushy about it) but because I am in fact a grown adult and have been getting myself home via public transit after dark for years unassisted. It’s the kind of thing my super paranoid overprotective mom would do (…has done, she once insisted that a friend walk me to the bus stop because omg it was dark).

        1. Dan*

          Yeah what Wendy said.

          As a dude, I’m going to offer to walk you to your car, to the bus stop, to the train station, etc. But *insist* if you say no? Over the line. Riding the bus/subway with you if we don’t live in the same area? Creepy.

          Also, as Wendy says, if transit is involved, and a ride would be much more convenient, that’s not creepy.

          Again, it’s one thing to offer… their response tells you *everything* you need to know.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Again, it’s one thing to offer… their response tells you *everything* you need to know.

            Geez Dan, you are hitting them out of the park today!

            As everyone else has said, making the offer may be polite and chivalrous. Not accepting a “no, thank you” turns it from politeness into something else. One of the big “challenges” is beyond the “must protect women” thing that goes on, there are also NiceGuys who think that in order to “get” the girl, it’s like a game of Donkey Kong where they perform certain actions and get tokens to level up. Also, the fallacy of “persistence” where if you just keep pushing, you will win over the DreamGirl and take her to the prom.

            Truly, I do know my own mind. If I say “no”, it’s not an indictment of your personality, I’m not some evil bitch, I don’t need to be told what I want or should accept. Learn to accept “no” gracefully and respect that I have agency in my life!

            1. Dan*

              Thanks, makes up for the times I totally miss the boat, like in the short answers from earlier today.

              I was at a party not too long ago, and a girl decided it was time to go. At least two guys offered to walk her to her car. She declined. They all but forced themselves on her. I looked at my friend (a 5’1″ woman) and said, “the first time she said no, I would have let her walk out the door. Would I have been doing the wrong thing?” She said, “hell no, those guys are pissing me off. She said no once, that should be the end of it.”

              So my takeaway: 1) the woman who holds me not “insisting” isn’t the woman for me, and 2) if something were to have happened to her, it would be the fault of the perpetrator, not me.

        2. Anonymouse*

          Yes, that’s exactly how I feel about it! I walk home or take public transit when it’s dark all the time in my city and sometimes a guy insisting that he’ll see me home reeks of “fragile, innocent women can’t walk alone, I have to protect them!”

          I think I’m annoyed because the last date I went on was a coffee date in the afternoon and the guy said he’d walk me to the subway five blocks away (and in the opposite direction of where he was going). And even after I said “no, it’s okay, it’s out of your way and I know how to get there by myself”, he still insisted. I know it was probably well intentioned, but I don’t need assistance getting to the subway at 3 PM in the afternoon.

          1. Dan*

            I’d be annoyed at the insistence.

            If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my marriage, it’s to be hyper aware of boundary [violations] while dating. If you pick up on them, keep an extremely close eye on them.

            The thing with well intentioned “insistence” (if such a thing even exists), is that kind of thing drives me nuts over the long term. If I say no, I don’t want to deal with you always being “polite” and “insisting” or otherwise wearing me down. Take the no at face value.

          2. Connie-Lynne*

            There’s nothing well-intentioned about ignoring someone’s repeatedly stated wishes.

    4. Momiitz*

      Plug every hole they are coming through with steel wool. It is cheap and humane and mice don’t like to chew through it.

    5. ginger ale for all*

      I don’t mind if they wait to see if I get in the door safely. When I asked one guy out and drove, I waited for him to put on his porch light as well. If they want to come in though, that is another matter. I don’t live in an area where you would take a bus or subway for dates so I guess I would be okay with them seeing me to the platform and my stepping on the subway or bus but I haven’t had to test that in any way.

      1. ginger ale for all*

        After thinking about it, I realized that I wait for my female friends to turn on the porch light when I drop them off at night too.

    6. Student*

      Any man who thinks I need to be escorted anywhere will not get serious consideration.

      If I need a second person with me somewhere, I’ll ask (and at my age, I’m not going to agree to go someplace where I want a second person for safety on an early date!). It’s treating me like I’m helpless, and like people are out to get women everywhere. I don’t think it’s a particularly healthy viewpoint.

      If the dude is doing it as an excuse to try to get sex, that’s also not going to work. Frankly, I’d rather he be more direct so we can just sort it out and make a call to either do it or not.

    7. Amy UK*

      I’d find it strange for them to take the subway or any kind of public transport with me, unless we happened to live really close to each other. I would turn that down flat, and not budge.

      I don’t mind if they walk me home if we’re near my house, although it would depend how safe the walk home is and whether I lived alone or not. I might reconsider if there was lots of quiet, isolated streets on the way home.

      I look at chivalry and politeness like this- if he’s doing it out of genuine manners and courtesy, then he will take no for an answer if you assert it. Politeness is about making the other person comfortable, so you offer once, maybe twice just to be sure, and then you accept a no. If you push after that, you are no longer trying to be polite and I have no obligation to be nice to you back.

  19. Alice*

    Since I moved in January, into a building where electricity (but no other utilities) is submetered, I’ve had trouble getting electric bills from the leasing company. The paperwork they filed with my state includes all kinds of requirements that they’re not living up to, some of which I don’t care about (they’re supposed to hand out info about energy efficiency) and some of which I do (they’re supposed to give tenants statements showing the electricity usage). The leasing agent has made no progress in three weeks, and I still don’t have a statement for January.
    Do you think I should make a formal complaint to the regulatory agency that oversees submerging? I’ve spoken to them, and they were willing to take the complaint, but it has to be official, and I feel like I could kiss my deposit goodbye if I get them in trouble by pointing out they are not living up to the terms imposed by the regulatory agency.
    Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill?

    1. Alice*

      Sorry, in the second paragraph “submerging” should be “submetering” – when a multi-unit building has individual meters for different apartments’ utilities.

    2. LCL*

      Contact the electric utility directly. I guarantee there is someone in billing who deals with this.

      1. Alice*

        Good idea. I know the name of the submetering contractor from the papers filed with the regulatory agency, so I can find their contact info and try them. And if that doesn’t work I’ll start calling utility providers. Wish me luck!

    3. Lillian McGee*

      Another landlord\tenant question! That’s where I’m a viking :D

      Hopefully, you’re within a municipality that has SOME tenant protections… many places have prohibitions on landlord retaliation related to legitimate tenant complaints made to legitimate authorities. And some of those prohibitions have steep consequences for landlords who retaliate by illegally withholding the security deposit–in Chicago, it’s the return of the deposit plus TWO TIMES that amount again as a penalty–by statute!

      If retaliation is a possibility, try Googling “[your state, county or city] + landlord retaliation” and make sure it’s illegal. Then document EVERYTHING. Write down the name of every single person you talk to, whether at the leasing office or the regulatory agency, their name, the date and time you talk, and the gist of the conversation. Keep copies of any complaint or letter you send. Write down where and when you put it in the mail. Send things by certified letter if you can. Hopefully you also still have a receipt for your deposit and the name of the person who took it.

      Good luck!

  20. LotusEclair1984*

    This may (or may not) be relevant for Mimmy upthread, but has anyone used Lady-Comp for fertility awareness/natural family planning? Has anyone had success getting insurance (in America) to cover it?

  21. Wendy Darling*

    As an ex-academic may I suggest that you love send-ups of academia because it is in many ways completely ridiculous and is rife for sending up? It has more than its fair share of huge egos AND an overabundance of bureaucracy, so it’s like a crossover between send-ups of Hollywood (ego) and send-ups of the government (red tape).

      1. Confused Publisher*

        Having lived in this world for a few years, and now dealing with it every day from a particular perspective, I am here to tell you that David Lodge’s portrayals can be super-accurate. Or some of my best stories wouldn’t exist (although they’re only funny in the aftermath, quite traumatic during)!

      2. Wendy Darling*

        All my academia stories are on the theme of Remember That One Time We Had No Funding And It Was Ridiculous.

        Remember that time we weren’t allowed to print anything for the second half of the quarter because the department was out of money and we only had one more toner cartridge and we needed it to print the final exams?

        Remember the time the research assistants had to sleep in a vermin-infested unused church near the research location because it was free?

        Remember the time they wanted refreshments for a 3-day conference with 60+ attendees and the budget was $100?

        1. ginger ale for all*

          We were told once that we couldn’t get any more pens so that if we ever went to a place that had free promotional pens, we were supposed to grab some to bring to work.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I worked in a department that was the darling of the dean, and for several years we did not even have to stick to a budget. We’d go $12,000 – 13,000 over budget every year, and the dean would cover it with his discretionary fund. The other departments in the school stuck strictly to their budgets. I still don’t know how all of that never blew up in major fashion. I remember when I first started the job and asked my boss what our budget was for a reception. He said, we don’t have a budget, just make it happen. Years later, when all the university budget officers had a meeting about reducing alcohol expenditures, our tiny department was number one in alcohol, followed by law and then engineering. We used foundation accounts, not state funds, for all the alcohol.

  22. VintageLydia*

    No longer pregnant! 24 hours after posting about not wanting to be pregnant anymore to avoid induction, I went into labor. The Little was born early Monday evening. The Big is still mostly in denial about being a big brother but he’s doing pretty good with the transition. Hopefully “Pregnancy Vent” will have a similar story!

    1. Jean*

      Mazel tov! Yes, it’s a shock to become an Older Sibling but most of the time things work out fine. Enjoy your new addition.

    2. Pregnancy rant*

      Congratulations!! And thanks for thinking of me :) Still pregnant here though (now just over 41 weeks). My latest tests came back normal so hopefully the baby is just soaking up as much as he can before the big arrival! Induction scheduled for Tuesday, wish me luck. Also, no comments at the grocery store today, thankfully!

  23. LawCat*

    The weather this afternoon will be warm enough for us to go kayaking, yay! Our state parks pass + cheap but super fun inflatable kayaks = many afternoons of delightful paddling around in the fresh air!

    1. Me2*

      Just in the process of buying kayaks for this summer. Do you like the inflatables? Any pros and cons would be appreciated.

      1. YaH*

        I started out with an inflatable (Sevylor) and fairly quickly moved to a hardshell. The pros of the Sevylor were: space-saving, I could lie down and nap inside after dropping my anchor somewhere shady and cool. The cons: it is SLOOOOOOOW. I went on a 12-mile river ride with a group and I fell way behind, and was having to expend a significant amount of energy trying to keep up. It’s not streamlined at all so winds and currents are going to be really tiring because it sits up on top of the water rather than down in the water. Paddling over lakes was really tiring because you’re having to keep paddling to keep moving forward.

        Hardshell, traditional kayaks- Pros: significantly less effort to paddle anywhere. I could actually enjoy my trips. Not having to deflate a wet and possibly muddy kayak before putting it in your car to leave. Not having to be paranoid about sharp rocks and branches. Cons: way heavier, and you of course have to load it and unload it from your roof. Storage is an issue.

        Overall, I appreciated my inflatable for getting me addicted to being out on the water, but I will never go paddle an inflatable again now that I have a hardshell.

      2. LawCat*

        We got Intex Challenger K1 inflatable kayaks for like $70/each on Amazon last year and we LOVE them!!

        – Affordable
        – Don’t take up much space for kayaks
        – Super fun to take out for leisurely paddles on a lake.

        – Not very nimble
        – Would never take on the ocean or a river. They just could not cut it with strong currents.
        – Kind of challenging the first time you inflate them and even more when you deflate them (but once you’ve done it a few times, it gets pretty easy).

        We are apartment dwellers with a small car. Hard-sided kayaks are not in the cards for us to buy, but we have a blast with our little inflatable kayaks on lakes.

      1. Rubyrose*

        So they still have rhat? I got mine about 25 years ago, when I was considered permanently disabled. Since then I had surgery and am no longer disabled. But I still have rhat pass in my wallet. Good to know it will still work.

      2. ActualName*

        Thanks for that info! I have several disabilities (and a wonderful service dog) and I love, /love/ national parks.

  24. Aurora Leigh*

    So I don’t want this to derail into political fights or name calling, but how did you choose your political party? How old were you? Did you choose just based on issues, or did other factors affect your decision? Have you / would you change parties?

    My dad is strongly for a particular party, and I am as well. Not on every issue, but overall I’m comfortable with the party. I knew my family’s political affiliations as early as age 4, but I didn’t really care until about sophomore year of high school. I’d like to say I chose my party for issues alone, but my upbringing definitely factored in. I can’t imagine changing unless there was a major shift in the party.

    Random side note– my best friend and I chose opposite parties, but agree on 90% of the issues. So upbringing / choices of people we respect definitely played a role somewhere in there!

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        You have to declare to vote in a primary in my state. But I get your point! Personally, I feel strongly for one side ( and against the other) but not everyone does or should.

        1. Jean*

          I am passionate about politics the way some people are about American football teams–and indifferent to football the way that others are to politics. It’s easy to get self-righteous (politics affects your life! football is mere entertainment!) until I reflect that most devoted football fans probably cannot imagine how anyone could go through life indifferent to the drama on the gridiron.

          1. Aurora Leigh*

            Are you me? :)

            This is exactly the way I am! And multiple generations belonging to the same party too. Family get togethers are fun!

          2. Dan*

            And the fact that the power of a single human being in this country is limited.

            And the people I hate I can’t vote out of office because I don’t live there.

    1. Jean*

      I was raised in a family whose (U.S.) political affiliation goes back at least two generations, so it’s definitely partly due to upbringing–but also due to the fact that my own thinking brings me to similar conclusions. I don’t do everything the same way it was done in my family of origin, but we all vote pretty much the same way.

      1. fposte*

        Though that’ll trick you–a friend’s family had views generally associated with Democrats but voted Republican because that had been the family tradition since the days of Lincoln. Eventually they caved.

    2. Amy S*

      I was raised by a conservative Republican mother, but when I went to college I realized I didn’t necessarily agree with the platform. I eventually started leaning more to the left, although I consider myself to be more of a moderate than anything else. These days I’m less concerned with the party than I am with the candidates.

    3. katamia*

      I’m a member of Party A (for now; I’m not happy with the party, and if I didn’t live in a closed-primary state, I might have already changed to independent). My parents are both members of Party A. When I was a teenager, my mom told me that she didn’t care if I brought home a dating partner who was another race or religion and that they’d love me the same if I turned out to be gay, but I should never, EVER bring home a dating partner who was a member of Party B. All my friends growing up were members of Party A. I never even met someone who was a member of Party B until I went to college.

      I didn’t choose to be a member of Party A just because of my upbringing and just because my parents and friends belong to Party A. However, it would be ridiculous to say that my upbringing and social circles played no role in my choice to become a member of Party A.

      1. katamia*

        Also, at this political point in time, I’ll add that being a member of Party B is a dating dealbreaker for me. The worldviews are so different (I’m on the more radical end of Party A) that I don’t think we could make it work.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Same here. My concern with politics isn’t about spending, etc, it’s more about social issues. And I just couldn’t be with someone who believed the opposite that I did on those aspects – to me it would basically be the equivalent of them saying that they like to kick puppies for fun and make any relationship a complete non-starter.

          1. katamia*

            Yeah, same. I do believe you can judge people by the company they keep, and which political party you belong to is definitely part of “the company you keep.” I don’t agree with everything Party A generally believes in, but the stuff I disagree with is, for now, stuff I can tolerate. But Party B differs from my own beliefs so much regarding things like women’s issues, the role of religion in government and public life, and so many other things, and a prospective mate belonging to Party B (I don’t know why I keep trying to do this without specifying parties since I’m sure basically everyone can figure out which party is which, haha) would imply that they endorsed Party B’s cultural perspectives, which I view as harmful to the nation and the world at large.

    4. Cath in Canada*

      Cool question!

      Back home in the UK, there was definitely a parental influence – not so much for a particular party (my parents actually vote for two different parties), but against the Conservatives.

      (Aside: I actually grew up terrified of Margaret Thatcher – every time she came on the TV, both parents yelled and screamed at her so much that I was convinced that she must be an evil witch or some other type of villain! And a teacher once told my mum that when she’d asked if anyone in the class knew the prime minister’s name, I put my hand up and said “Margaret Bloody Thatcher”. I was seven).

      We’re a very political family – lots of dinner time conversations about it, and I used to help my Dad deliver Labour party leaflets around our neighbourhood – so I had a lot of exposure to the different parties’ platforms and ideas before I was even old enough to vote. The first general election I ever voted in was the one where Tony Blair first came to power, ending a literal lifetime (for me) of Conservative rule, and it was a no-brainer to vote for the party that was finally going to be able to get rid of the bastards.

      Choosing who to vote for in Canada as an immigrant was an entirely different experience – no family history or influences, no lifelong exposure to the issues etc. The parties here don’t map onto the UK parties very well (except that the Conservatives are still bastards IMO), so there was no straight swap. In my first seven years here as a non-citizen, I watched and read a lot of political news and got pretty frustrated with friends who could vote but chose not to. Before my first election as a citizen I did an online “Vote Compass” quiz on the CBC website that asks you where you stand on various issues and then shows you which party you’re closest to. The results were pretty much what I expected having followed the news for so long, and my preferred party’s local candidate is also a genuinely good guy, so again it ended up being a no-brainer. I volunteered on his campaign last year.

      I didn’t vote for the current governing party, but once again getting rid of the Conservatives was the most important thing and I have no complaints so far! I was recently at a meeting that included lots of government scientists, academics working on environmental science, and funding agency reps, and everyone was positively beaming about the end of the previous government’s war on science. Everyone’s just so happy. It’s really cute!

      1. katamia*

        LOL! I love that Margaret Thatcher story. My parents used to do something similar (though less extreme) when members of The Other Party would come on the TV news.

      2. Cristina in England*

        My experience as an expat is similar. I grew up in a very Democrat-heavy place, always voted that way, but in the UK my allegiances are much more fluid. At this point I am pretty much an anyone-but-Labour voter, which worked pretty well for me in Scotland (SNP) and in England until the LibDem massacre of last year.

    5. LizB*

      I grew up in an area that leaned way one direction with parents that leaned way the other direction. In my fourth grade mock election, I was the lone dissenting vote, because all I knew about either candidate was that my parents liked That Guy, and they were smart, so I voted according to their beliefs. The first time I registered to vote, I registered without a party affiliation, because I was leaning towards the opposite party from my parents and didn’t want to get into a drawn-out lecture/”discussion” with my dad if he found out. Now that I live far away from them, I’m registered with that party I was leaning towards, although my current state has open primaries so it really doesn’t matter. I don’t feel like I’ve necessarily chosen a party affiliation for life, though — I’d be happy to switch my registration if a party came on the scene that more closely matched my beliefs. Unlikely, in our two-party system, but I live in hope.

    6. Tara R.*

      Hm. We have a 3-ish-party system in Canada, and I’d say I was aware of my ideological leanings before I was aware of any particular political party. (I voted NDP in the last election, but I’d vote Green in a heartbeat if we had some sort of proportional representation system, so it’s not like I’m the most loyal. Although I do love my NDP MP.)

      My parents weren’t particularly political, but my uncle is, and I remember getting really into chatting with him about politics around age 12/13. He’s very pro-NDP, pro-unions, leaning libertarian on some issues and democratic socialism on others. I don’t agree with him on everything, but that probably shaped how I look at things a little bit– although I only see him a few times a year, so he can’t be responsible for everything, I guess.

      Meanwhile, I was realizing that I was gay, constantly in a state of anxiety over my family’s financial state, and witnessing first-hand the effects of untreated mental illness thanks to the cost of treatment. Long before I knew what politics meant, I was wondering why the government just left homeless people on the street and more than anything just wanting the world to be ~fair~. I remember writing something for a fifth grade assignment about how sending people to jail was silly, unless they “did something really bad like murder someone”, because jail was really awful and would just make them more sad and angry and “if someone has to steal food we should make sure they have enough food from now on instead of putting them in jail”.

      My values have been set in stone from a very young age, so it’s just a matter of finding the party that fits them the best.

      1. Clever Name*

        Well, nobody HAS to, but in some states with closed primaries or caucuses, you have to be a member to have a say during the primaries, so if that’s important to you, then you’d need to pick. But you can switch parties every election cycle if you wanted to, so it’s not like you’re locked in for life.

        1. nep*

          OK — I get it for that reason, yes. When one has to be registered w a party to vote in primaries.

    7. Dot Warner*

      I’m not a member of either party. I disagree with both on major issues, and since I grew up with one Republican parent and one Democratic parent, I don’t have major family ties to either.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I could have written this. I never even figured out which parent belonged to which party. I just knew that they were in different parties. Years ago, I registered independent because I could not find enough to agree on for either party.

    8. Student*

      My parents were very strongly for one party. They also demonized the other party since as early as I can remember.

      My parents are also, unrelated, crazy. Also, racist. Against pretty much anyone who isn’t like them, venomously so. Once I was old enough to observe that my parents were obviously factually wrong regarding their racism, I also started considering the values and behavior of any group they hated with a more open mind, and that opened me up to considering the other party (and revised my thinking on gay folks, foreigners, various religious groups, old people, young people, people from the coasts, people from the south, people from the city, people from the country… I could keep going…). I came up with a set of values that get revised occasionally.

      Those values inform my voting patterns. I don’t vote for a specific party; I vote for people. Some parties get my vote more often because the people in them seem more likely to share my values, but I don’t vote for people based on the party they’ve decided to affiliate with, ever – I go look up their web sites, their past behavior if they’ve been in public office, newspaper reviews, endorsements, etc. If I can’t find anything relevant at all, then I’m not voting for that person; occasionally that means I vote for nobody in a specific contest, but usually there’s something out there. I’ve voted for people in both major US parties and several third-party candidates.

      I’m not particularly interested in the primaries (and don’t vote it them) because I don’t feel attached to the parties. I don’t really feel like it’s my place to tell the parties how to operate or who to choose. I’ll take a hard look at the candidates they put forward, at the behavior of these candidates in the primary, the candidate’s platforms and promises and other past behavior, and make a call. I also consider the party somewhat in terms of big-picture political power. Since I don’t particularly love either major party, I’d rather see them balanced against each other at the state and federal level rather than in significant, unchecked control of a large portion of government. They seem to go to extremes when they aren’t at each others’ throats, unfortunately.

      It’d take an extreme shift in politics for either major party (or any of the larger “third parties”) to earn my long-term affiliation. In all of them, it’s the crazy people on the party edge who hold far too much power that drives me away the most. That effect is present in all the major parties to a degree that makes me very uncomfortable, though it’s not uniform in degree among the parties. I’d be willing to settle for some ideals I disagree with if I wasn’t afraid they’d put insane people with terrible judgement in power for the sake of amassing more power.

    9. Hellanon*

      I always tell people I wasn’t baptized, I was taken down to City Hall and registered as a Democrat. (And I grew up in the 60s and 70s during Nixon and Watergate, so voting Republican once I got old enough was off the table…)

    10. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I chose when I could vote, and had to make a decision. I didn’t like the political climate in the US then, and dislike it even more now (it is like high school cliques all grown up!). I was really turned off by the behavior of both major parties, so I am registered as Independent and very happy with my choice.

    11. Lindsay J*

      I vote 100% based on issues. However, in my case that means I essentially fully support one party since the opposite party has basically made being on the other side of issues I support their platform.

      I picked my party in high school, sophomore or junior year. That was immediately post 9/11 and issues like the Patriot Act etc were what drew me into caring about politics. Before I couldn’t really see how a group of people in another state effected my life and my world.

      I do think my upbringing had an effect on my political party in the way that my parents (specifically my mother) raised me. She’s never told me the way she votes, but based on the things she believes (and things I also believe) I have a pretty good idea. She didn’t indoctrinate me or anything, but I’m sure the way she spoke to me when I was young had an effect on me. I have no idea where my dad falls on politics; it’s not something he talks about at all.

      I can’t see ever changing parties unless there is a huge idealogical shift (basically a reversal) between the two, or if a third party became a viable option.

      FWIW, I could be (and am) friends with people of the opposite party, but I don’t talk politics with those people at all. I know I’m not going to change their way of thinking, and they’re not going to change mine. I could not be in a serious relationship with a supporter of the opposite party; so many of the views that party supports are just abhorrant to me and so that somebody that believes in those things would not be someone I want to share my life with.

  25. The IT Manager*

    Serial podcast season 2 is over (for a few weeks now so I might have a previous open thread about it).


    IMO it was a mid-tier podcast for me. Very informative about something I didn’t feel a burning need to know about. It didn’t change my mind or push too hard to convince listeners to change their minds.

    Not bad but in comparison to the viral nature of Adnan’s story in season 1 it looks weak.

    I am excited that Gimlet’s Startup is back for season 3. Episode 1 was good and left me wanting more.

    1. littlemoose*

      It was interesting, and I did find myself looking forward to upcoming episodes. But it didn’t keep me hanging like the first season did. Maybe it’s the more irresistible nature of true crime stories that made the first season more of a phenomenon like Making a Murderer? But I still enjoyed season 2.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      I haven’t listened to the final episode yet.

      Overall I thought it was very high-quality reporting, very interesting – but not gripping in the same way that Season 1 was. Last year, every single episode shed more light on the central question (guilt or innocence), and I went back and forth a bunch of times. This year, the central question was less what happened and more about motivation, which obviously you can’t really ever prove, so I didn’t feel as invested.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        That’s exactly how I felt- there really wasn’t a mystery to it. We know what happened. We even know what Bowe says about what happened, so it’s not like we don’t even know his motivation. I also have very little interest in that kind of political story, and I was also too young to remember a lot of the events of the Iraq War (I had never heard of Bowe before Serial), so it was just a less interesting subject to me.

        What I would LOVE for them to do is a season about the recession and the financial meltdown.

    3. Book Lover*

      I love startup! I am a bit of a podcast fanatic at this point. I stopped watching tv a couple of years ago (got rid of cable planning to mainly do Netflix, etc, and then stopped turning on the tv) and podcasts help with my commute and I can listen while I embroider, too.

      I haven’t listened to Serial, but do most of the Gimlet podcasts, some Slate, and culture gabfest, etc.

    4. Nye*

      I find Serial to be interesting and quite listenable, but not outstanding. One thing I noticed in both seasons was that when she hit on something I found truly intriguing, she never circled back*. Very frustrating. It’s very good at what it does, but I think what it does is different than what it’s billed as doing. Namely, it’s not unraveling mysteries per se, it’s more reporting on the process of unraveling mysteries/doing investigative work.

      Have you picked up Criminal? I’ve a massive podcast fiend (hello, long commute), and it’s one of my new favorites.


      Intriguing threads that were never circled back to:
      S1: That lawyer from the Innocence Project (I think), who had her students look into the case. Would have LOVED a follow-up with her, even if it was only to say, Listen, they may reopen the case, so we can’t give you specific details, but here’s some more general info on that process.

      S2: The idea that Beau might have had an undiagnosed mental disorder that was ignored by the Army and may have led him to do what he did out of paranoia. This was by far my favorite episode of the season, since it was the first time the show explored a motivation that made any kind of sense. Would have loved more on that.

      Fellow listeners, anything you wanted more follow-up on?

      1. Nye*

        Bowe, not Beau, sorry! I heard the name long before I saw it spelled out, and always will always think of the Brummel spelling.

        1. Nye*

          Oooh, thanks, Alison! That is really fascinating. I’m still a little surprised Koenig didn’t follow up, but maybe she was asked not to. Which I could understand given the circumstances, but would definitely cast the rest of her journalist in a much less impartial light.

  26. Confused Publisher*

    I got married only very recently, and there are many things I absolutely love about it. BUT. I used to be an absolutely voracious reader, and now, between additional family and friend commitments and chores that have magically multiplied exponentially, I can’t always seem to find the time, and I find myself getting very antsy about it. Reading is something I need, not just a nice-to-have.
    How do you balance married life with domesticity and a busy professional life, whilst not entirely losing time for yourself? Tips and tricks? Advice?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This was a huge issue for me the first year of marriage — both alone time in general, and reading specifically. For some reason, that first year we sort of moved like a pack throughout the house — we were always together. I have no idea why we did that!

      Anyway, I really like to read at night, and my husband likes to watch movies. We’ve finally settled in a rhythm where either of us can just say “I’m going to go read in the other room” (me) or “I’m going to watch a movie in the basement” (him).

      Also, talk to your husband! Let him know you’re trying to figure out how to navigate this; ideally this would be something that you can figure out jointly. (Plus, that way he’ll know not to interrupt you when you do finally get some reading time.)

      1. Confused Publisher*

        That is SUCH an apposite image: moving like a pack. Indoors, we seem to be joined at the hip!
        My husband keeps telling me he wants time to ‘geek’ (by which he means strew computer paraphernalia and innards through the whole house) more, so maybe I can just designate one place as my reading nook and one time that we both just incorporate into our daily routines.

      2. Girasol*

        Yes, ask! He might be wondering how to open the same conversation with you. Everyone needs some me time.

    2. LawCat*

      I listen to audiobooks while doing chores! Check out an app called Overdrive. It will let you check out free audiobooks from the library over the Internet. Audible is also great, but pricey. I check their daily deals and buy books through that. I also listen to the audiobooks going to and from work.

      1. Confused Publisher*

        I listen to podcasts all the time: I have no idea why audiobooks whilst doing chores simply didn’t occur to me! Thank you for the recommendation.

      2. The IT Manager*

        Yes! I listen to podcast too, but now I listen to about 25 audiobooks a year too – about the same number of books I read a year. I never really listen to audiobooks or podcast instead of reading; I do it at times I’m doing rather mindless chores around the house.

        I know what you mean even though I am not married. I am suddenly getting out more. It’s cutting into both my reading and TV time. I don’t mind missing TV, but I do regret reading less books.

    3. Jean*

      I say just ask for it calmly and politely. It’s no sin to want some solitude! One of my parents has always been someone who needs frequent Alone Time (30-60 minutes depending on daily circumstances) and is good at being assertive about this. From watching this I learned that this is a reasonable need to have and meet. It’s not about rejecting the other person or people, it’s about taking care of oneself so that one doesn’t turn into an angry, unravelling, dysfunctional and/or screaming mess. (Well, maybe other people can hold it together better or don’t enjoy comic exaggeration as much as I do…)

      It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just close a door so that you are in one room and your spouse is elsewhere. If your living space is too tiny for that, try going outside to a coffee shop, the public library, for a walk around the block or even a brief spell sitting in your car (if you have a car)…whatever fits within your life and allows you to recharge your batteries.

      1. Confused Publisher*

        Yes, I just need to be more gently assertive about needing that time. (And unraveling mess is… Pretty accurate.)

    4. Dan*

      Schedule “me” time if you have to, but be a little flexible about it. Conversely, schedule “us” time, and only the most dire of emergencies get in the way of that.

      If Saturday afternoon is your time to do your thing? Great, I’ll do my thing as well. If Friday night is date night? Hey, I’m fine with you doing your thing at other times, knowing that we get some intimacy on a regular basis.

      1. Confused Publisher*

        What an excellent idea! We’re trying to get better about date nights, too. :)

        1. danr*

          Pick a night to go out to eat. We settled on Friday, since it was the end of the week and at the time we barely saw each other between work, commuting and law school at night (not me). It was a life and marriage saver and we still do it.
          As the reader in the family, I got my wife to read more and we now read together.

        2. StudentPilot*

          My husband and I read on date nights – we go out to our local pub, get a couple of pints and read.

          It’s bliss.

    5. I am Anon*

      Tell your husband that you need time to read! I’m sure he has some hobby he could do while you’re reading. Or he could clean the house. :)

      1. Confused Publisher*

        As I said to Alison upthread, computer innards everywhere is a price I’m very willing to pay for some uninterrupted book time! :)

      2. the gold digger*

        Unfortunately, my husband’s hobby has become politics. :( Get your husband involved in politics and you will have a ton of time without him. I am happy to have alone time. I am not happy about all politics, all the time chez nous. (I would feel that way even if he and I agreed on politics.)

    6. Cath in Canada*

      I found this difficult when we moved in together too. I used to always read in bed at night, but that doesn’t work for either of us, even after trying eye masks and ear plugs etc. The living room’s really the only place that’s comfy enough to read in (I want a reading nook in our next house!), so I’ve had to get really good at reading while he’s watching TV shows that I’m not interested in, and he’s had to get really good at learning that I’m not being rude and that he shouldn’t interrupt me :)

      1. Al Lo*

        I’ve always been an in-bed reader, either falling asleep with a book or reading in bed on a lazy weekend morning, but my husband can’t stand the sound of pages turning in a quiet room when he’s trying to sleep, so for the first year or so of our marriage, I didn’t read nearly as much as I liked to, and it impacted my bedtime routine a lot. And then I got an e-reader. It was revolutionary. I could read in bed, my husband didn’t want to tear the pages out, and we were both much happier.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes! I did this too. And if you set the background to black and the text to white, it emits a lot less light that might disturb the other person.

          1. Cath in Canada*

            I bought an e-reader with no backlighting at all, so it’s as useless as an actual book in the dark. On the flip side, I can read it before bed and it doesn’t disturb my sleep the way most screens do.

      2. Confused Publisher*

        Have you managed to tune the background noises out when you do that? I get a bit distracted and don’t want to make him wear headphones all the time!

    7. Emmy*

      It helped that I married a reader because I couldn’t live without it either. Can you read to each other? One of us will read aloud while the other cooks or drives or whatever. Or we both flop on the couch or bed and read our own books, interrupting each other to read great bits aloud. Also… take baths? (probably not good with a kindle or such) but I like to read in the bath.

      1. Cristina in England*

        A Ziploc bag does the trick if I want to use my phone or iPad in the bath. The touchscreen still works through the plastic. I use the freezer bags because they are a little sturdier.

            1. Random Citizen*

              I was the kid who brought a book walking around the block and to the grocery store and even five-minute car rides, and a long supporter of the book-in-a-bag method of bathtub reading, and I never thought of this. Great idea!

    8. overeducated*

      When one thing comes up it’s sometimes helpful to plan out how it fits with other things, so you can talk about alone time as part of your schedule along with together time. For example, my husband will want to play a game online with a good friend or relative one or two nights a week, so he’ll say “hey can X and I play Tuesday or Wednesday,” I’ll say what’s on my want or need to do list for the week, and we’ll map out a plan to do things together vs. on our own for several nights.

      It may just get easier with time, too, though. When you’re married and you’ve lived with someone for a while you get used to seeing them all the time so doing your own thing feels more natural ;)

    9. stevenz*

      If your preference is to read before going to sleep, one of the things that can get in the way is sex. Most people seem to have sex when they go to bed. You could compromise and read at night and have sex in the morning. Good way to start the day and something relaxing at both ends.

      Otherwise, you ask an eternal question that has no really satisfying answer. It’s marriage. Wait til you have kids….

  27. The Cosmic Avenger*

    I thought about posting this in the work-related open thread, but it’s not actually work related.

    I can just see this generating a letter to Alison: “I’m a Robot-American, and I think my coworker is harassing me because of my heritage. Why do the Canadians hate us so?” (ref: 1:20)


    1. Dynamic Beige*

      That co-worker isn’t a Canadian — he’s a Boston Bruins fan! Original six! Although I do think that in the future when our robot overlords rise up and take over the planet, footage like this will be used as conclusive proof of how cruel humans are.

      I saw this documentary on how we are “programmed” to develop attachment feelings for all kinds of things, including inanimate objects. The interviewer/host was asked to play with a toy robot dinosaur and give it a name. The researcher then asked him to hit the toy and he couldn’t. After much prodding, he was able to smack the toy but it obviously made him very uncomfortable doing it. I was uncomfortable with just the thought of it. We are a funny species.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          So did I! When I first saw that clip, I was thinking “That guy is such a jerk!”/”Ouch! Poor robot!” But how else are you going to demonstrate that a robot can right itself if it’s accidentally knocked over? Build another robot to knock over the first one?

          Someone put a voiceover on that footage, which is pretty funny and they bleeped out all the swear words, so it’s even kind of safe for work. “What the f***, Kevin?”


    1. Jen RO*

      Best: Not much – at least Orphan Black is back on air, and I am all caught up with Amazing Race Australia.

      Worst: My best employee quit and guess who will have to handle all her work, as we have a hiring freeze and I can’t get a replacement for a few months. Also, I am running out of Amazing Race (only Asia left out of the English-speaking ones).

      1. Jo*

        What did you think of the first ep of Orphan Black? I was a bit impatient since I wanted to know what happened with all the cliffhanger situations from the last season, but in the end I appreciated the background story they gave us.

        1. Jen RO*

          I was… “meh”. It wasn’t my favorite episode, and Beth was never my favorite clone, but it did answer a few questions like Maggie Chen and introduced an interesting new clone, so the next episodes should be getting even better.

        2. Anxa*

          I loved it!

          I wasn’t thrilled with the all-over-the-place storylines from S3, so I really welcomed getting to take a step back.

          The one part of S1 I never paid much attention to was the Maggie Chen shooting, so it was kind of neat to see unfold.

    2. Menacia*

      Best: Well, this happened last month but hubby and I are mortgage free! Now we’re saving for a brand new one in FL when we retire.

      Worst: Due to my coworker complaining to our boss about another co-worker (new guy who sucks at the job and is just miserable to work with), she used the complaints to punish everyone. It was embarrassing and demoralising. She did it because she can’t admit the guy she hired just sucks, nobody likes him and our customers hate it when he answers the phone.

    3. Graciosa*

      Best – Procrastination actually worked for me, as a project I should have been working on much harder than I have been was cancelled to go in a different direction. I am saved from working over the weekend to catch up!

      Worst – A younger relative is a few years into a clear pattern of foolish decisions (think early twenties rebellion) and it has reached the point where I think the only remedy is time and experience. It’s like I’m looking ahead and can see where this path is leading, but youth does not want to see it.

      I’ve always been much less interventionist in real life than I appear on the board (I offer advice and opinions when *asked*) so I doubt anyone even realizes the extent of my concern.

      But it saddens me to think of foolish choices and wasted potential.

    4. Carrie in Scotland*

      Best: my cat still has her collar and bell on (she sounds like a mini-reindeer!). When she was younger – kitten/1-2 she refused to wear one but I can’t cope with the live mice running around my flat any longer = bell.

      Worst: A very AAM thing happened, in that I interviewed for a position and it’s been put on hold for the foreseeable future. BUT, I do have another interview week after next!

      Further worst: someone I thought I was friends with – who is my volunteer manager – lost his temper at me and swore at me. My friend intervened – she saw I was upset – and so we left. But apparently asst. manager feels I’ve been ‘digging’ at him and that wasn’t my intention at all :( I just wanted to suggest things that we could do. sigh. I really need a job.

    5. LCL*

      Worst: doing federal taxes now, they are due Monday.
      Best: if I can concentrate for another half hour and stay off teh interwebz, I’ll be done!

    6. Doriana Gray*

      Best: I just got my hair and eyebrows done today, and I look good. I hate being in the salon for hours until I see the results – it’s well worth my entire Saturday morning to feel as good as I do now.

      Worst: I can’t focus on doing my online designation exams, and I need to because the bonus money is going to pay for my plane ticket to Vegas (my trip’s the 1st of June). Ugh, and now I just reminded myself I have to look up flights – that’s my least favorite part of traveling.

    7. danr*

      Best: Our new front steps will have new railings on Monday.
      2nd Best: It will be warm enough to grill on Monday. I use charcoal so I wait until evening temps are warmer.

    8. Wendy Darling*

      Best: New ice cream shop opened down the block from my house just in time for a hot spell. DELICIOUS ICE CREAM ALL THE TIME. AAAAALL THE TIIIIIIME. Also work is letting me do actual work next week instead of 5+ hours of meetings a day.

      Worst: Hands up if starting a new job wrecked your finances temporarily! New job pays monthly on the last Friday of the month, pay period is the 15th to the 15th. So I’m only going to get half a paycheck at the end of this month and that has to keep me until the end of May when I get my first real check. And I already got my tax return and used it to pay the rent. So basically now that I’m employed I’m gonna be broker then when I was unemployed for the next six weeks…

      1. Puffle*

        Oh man, same here for starting a new job. I just got my first paycheque, but wow did that first month leave a dent in my account. I also relocated for the job, so I had to put down a deposit for a new apartment and pay the first month’s rent in advance, ouch…

      2. danr*

        This happened to us at my wife’s old job. Her division went to monthly pay and the first 6 weeks was tough. On the plus side it forced us into a budget for weekly cash spending and we ended saving a lot of money that way.

    9. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Best: I went to visit my grandparents on Sunday and Monday, then on Wednesday night I got to see some of my closest friends while I was in NYC on business. I walked into the bar where they had all gathered and got the loveliest greeting. It was good to be home.

      Worst: My time with my grandparents was interrupted by work stuff, which would have been fine except it turned into panicky work stuff and I was super stressed my entire Monday with them. I also haven’t slept decently in a week. Sigh.

    10. Rubyrose*

      Worst: after working 8.5 hours, with another 3 in front of me, with no break of any type, my manager asks if I need a break between meetings with her. I said I needed 5 minutes. She did not let me have them; she proceeded on like I had said nothing.

      Best: today is my birthday and I have Monday off. Took a glass fusing class light night. I need a break and I’m getting it.

      1. Jen RO*

        Ugh, your manager sucks. Her asking and ignoring you is even worse than not asking at all!

    11. KR*

      Best: played hooky from work and I needed it. Also my friends 21st birthday is tonight so it’s gonna be lit, as they say.
      Worst: Dog has swollen anal glands and I’m trying to make him comfortable but its the first time he’s been sick since I adopted him and I feel so bad for him. Any tips on making him comfortable would be appreciated. He’s been mostly napping and going for long walks so he can squat to his hearts content and not worry about having an accident.

        1. KR*

          That was my guess too. I took him to the groomer today and he’s still feeling yucky. Next step is to call the vet tomorrow.

    12. nep*

      Best: Spending a couple of hours on a sunny, mild day playing in the park with two-year-old niece. Perfect.

    13. ginger ale for all*

      Best – I visited my parents and I think my brother is vastly over reacting about them needing to move to a care facility. They need a lawn service and maid service but they are good day to day. However, I do think my dad needs to give up driving at night. He was in the middle of two lanes several times. He is going in to his eye doctor for help so that might solve things.

      Worst – hail storm. My car is dented.

    14. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Attended a lovely wedding today.

      WORST: Yesterday my car started acting up. Got it into my trusted mechanic today. $360 later all is well, but OUCH that unexpected expense hurt.

    15. Dot Warner*

      Best: Warm sunny weather!
      Worst: I’m working the night shift and can’t enjoy it. And it’ll be back to rainy gloom during my week off.

    16. Elkay*

      Best: After trying on every pair of walking trousers in two shops I have finally found a pair that fits me.
      Worst: I feel like total crap and I don’t know why. The house is a mess but I don’t have the energy to fix it but it not being fixed makes me feel worse. Normally I can spur myself into action but it’s just not working at the moment. I would like to absolve myself of the responsibility of being an adult right now.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Best: Second hand book sale and I got a couple of Penguins and a copy of “The Rules” which is (unintentially) hysterically funny. I am also giving Georgette Heyer another go.

        Worst: Cold and sore throat coinciding with an upcoming concert. All hail the power of Vicks and Strepsils.

    17. Rebecca*

      Best: I went on a wonderful hike with a friend yesterday, and her brother (who owns the property) said I could hike there any time I wanted. It’s acres and acres of woodland, with logging roads throughout. I can’t wait to go back! Best of all, it’s only 1/2 mile from my house!

      Worst: I am blessed to report no “worst”. I had only “first world problems” this week, and they mostly resolved themselves.

    18. Lizabeth*

      Best: finding and hiking one of the Benedict Arnold escape routes on a gorgeous day. PLUS finding the best bbq hole in the wall place after, I ate everything on my sample platter and dreamt about it last night. So good!

    19. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: My daughter had been going to the campus counseling program for social anxiety and mild depression, and after just a couple of visits she came out to me as a lesbian. She had been having trouble making friends, but after she figured out her orientation, which she’s been confused about, she asked someone where all the lesbians are. And she went to the club where they all hang out and had such a good time that she was out until 5:30 am a.m. and missed our Unitarian women’s group meeting.

      Worst: I spilled a five gallon bucket of automotive oil in our dirt-floored shed, and had to spend all day pouring kitty litter on it and scooping it up. I used a hundred pounds of kitty litter on it! I bought the cheapest bags I could find, $3.99 for 27 pound bags of clay litter. Now I have to call the toxic waste disposal place and see if they’ll take it. I have three thirteen-gallon trash bags full of litter, oil, and dirt from where I scraped up the top layer of dirt from the shed floor.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Maybe thirty-gallon bags. Whatever tall kitchen garbage bags are, that’s how many gallons I have.

    20. Natalie*

      Ha, mine is both!

      Worst: we woke up yesterday morning to find the dog had a cherry eye on the same eye where he had cherry eye surgery before we adopted him. A new surgery would have been expensive and left him with lifelong eye problems.

      Best: thanks to Internet instructions and 2 tries, I was able to massage it back in. (You do it over his closed eyelid so no real risk of damagin his eye or the membrane.) Huzzah! And if it happens again I know what to try first.

    21. Stephanie*

      This was a good week!
      -I turned 30 last Monday, which I was kind of eh about, but I feel a little better now.
      -I solidified grad school stuff and have figured out where I’m headed. (See my post in the work open thread.)
      -Delta ended letting me have $1100 in vouchers after I volunteered my seat on two different flights (I guess Phoenix-Midwest routes are really popular this time of year.)

      -Some foot problems. Not terrible, but annoying enough.

    22. Finny*

      Best: My vision is now 20/250 in my good eye and 20/300 in my bad eye, so I will definitely qualify for a CNIB card and additional resources from them.

      Worst: My vision is now 20/250 in my good eye and 20/300 in my bad eye. No wonder I can’t read mass market books anymore. Thank goodness for my Kobo eReader.

  28. Sparkly Librarian*

    Last week’s thread on an unexpected adoption situation: https://www.askamanager.org/2016/04/weekend-free-for-all-april-9-10-2016.html#comment-1047589

    Well, it looks likely that we won’t be the parents of the baby we met. We haven’t heard anything definite from her mother, either way, but it seems that if she wanted to move forward she would have contacted us or the adoption agency again by now. So she will probably be parenting, which is still a good outcome. Thanks to the commenters who wished us all well.

    My wife and I did meet with the outreach director to discuss our profile in the meantime, so I’m now working up a photobook that the agency will send to prospective birthmothers who are ready to choose an adoptive family. It’s unlikely that they will have similar circumstances (local, baby already born, wanting a very open adoption relationship), but I believe that we’ll eventually be matched with the right child for us.

    1. fposte*

      I’m sorry, Sparkly. That’s a hard situation, because you had loss without ownership. But I hope you will find your kid soon.

    2. Rahera*

      I am very sorry to hear this. I am thinking of you and your wife and hope for the very best for you. I am sure there are lots of people like me, reading your updates and cheering you on. Take care :).

    3. Book Lover*

      I’m not a frequent commenter, but saw your post last week. I’m sorry, and I hope the right situation comes along for you sooner than later.

    4. S0phieChotek*

      I am sorry it’s not working out right now, but you sound so ready for this so I am hoping you will soon have a child. The world needs more people like you to open their hearts and homes. (Sorry if that sounds too cliche).

    5. Ruffingit*

      I’m sorry to hear this didn’t work out. It is difficult to wait for that call, I had friends who went through this and the emotions are hard. But your child is out there and the connection will be made. In the meantime, just know that we’re all out here waiting to celebrate with you when that connection is made!

    6. SAHM*

      I’m so sorry that didn’t work out, my in-laws tried for years to adopt and they finally were able to get my husband (their son). They say it was worth it because God had him picked out for them and they just had to wait for him. It’s funny how they’ve always made me feel cherished because they cherish their son so much and he picked me. He actually gets two birthdays because of it, his real birthday and 28 days after he was born his folks celebrate his “I got you” day. Just wanted to encourage you…

    7. overeducated*

      I’m sorry to hear this. It’s a good outcome in one sense (which is graceful of you go say) but also is a real roller coaster for you. I hope you get good news soon.

  29. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    I am a little too excited right now.

    A few weeks ago, a newspaper published two online articles on the same day, talking about employment discrimination against obese people in France. I was pissed and I wrote a blog post about it, and it got sent to Twitter as well since I set it up to publish automatically.

    Well, a rather nice lady from a rather known radio station sent me a message on Twitter today, saying she was preparing a segment on that very subject for Monday morning. She asked if I would collaborate.

    My head went “HELL YEAH” and I politely accepted, and gave her my number. She will call me at 10 AM. I just hope she keeps my segment in the end :p

  30. Cath in Canada*

    I think one of my cats is developing cataracts. I’d noticed that her eyes seemed extra-reflective, but it’s taken me a while to find the right angle and lighting to have a good look (she really doesn’t like me staring into her eyes, which doesn’t help), and there do seem to be some white spots in there.

    Her vision seems fine right now (she caught a fly out of the air yesterday), but we’ll get her to the vet soon for a check-up. Any advice on treatment options?

    Also, I had to call 911 for the first time in my life this week – I witnessed a 4-car accident while cycling to work. No major injuries luckily, although one lady had whiplash and was definitely in shock. My major role apart from making the call was to chat to a little boy from one of the cars about Star Wars while his mum borrowed my phone to call people. It’s been a weird week.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        It was actually really nice to see how many people stopped to help. People were bringing first aid kits and blankets from their cars, calling people’s employers on their behalf if they were too upset to do so themselves, etc. There were more people trying to help than things we could actually do…

    1. blind cat mommy*

      My cat went blind and it took me a few months to catch on. He still hunts and plays like his sighted housemate, but looking at him you can tell the eyes no longer work. He’s like 90% blind according to the vet, just seeing extremes of light and shadow.

  31. Advice?*

    Regular reader under a burner for this one

    Does anyone know of any resources for adult children of alcoholics who weren’t physically abusive? My therapist has recommended some journaling to work through some things, but I’m looking for other information (online, or books) and it seems like the vast majority of stuff focuses on children who were physically abused by alcoholic parents. Instead I’m looking for information on alcoholics who could be “happy drunks,” but still incessantly drunk. I wonder if I’m just not hitting on the right terminology or search strings for this somehow.

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      I recently bought some books, one of which is called “Running On Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect.” I haven’t finished it yet but so far, I have been nodding in far too many places. I’m just at the chapter on self-care, which is a long one. I had one absent/drunk non-violent parent and one physically there but emotionally not parent. Neglect is a funny word because we tend to go straight to the worst and not consider it on a spectrum. I mean, I’ve heard people say that they would have rather been hit by their parent(s) because bruises fade but words are wounds you wear on the inside.

      You might find this book a good read because it focuses not on what happened (i.e. your parent(s) were happy drunk(s)/drunk all the time) but what you *didn’t* get because of that. They weren’t emotionally available to you, they weren’t engaged in your life and being your parents by teaching you what you needed to learn to become an adult because alcohol was more important to them than anything else. Granted, they may have trauma(s) in their past that they used alcohol to cover over, but the end result was the same: you didn’t have structure. Or you didn’t have rules. Or your home life was unpredictable. Or you had to be the adult in the family. Or one of your siblings did. Or you couldn’t count on your parent(s) to be there for you. Or all of the above. As an example, they start the book off with the 12 ways to end up empty, in which is included The Permissive Parent and The Addicted Parent. They sketch out a little scene with a character named Zeke who in each section is bringing a note home from school and shows what that looks like with each style of parent to the child. In the Addicted Parent example, Zeke delays going home as long as he can after school because he has learned that at a certain time, his mother is playing computer games and won’t pay attention to anything else. When he does get home, he is correct, she doesn’t even look away from the game as she asks him how school was and doesn’t register that the note is bad news, so Zeke drops it and goes to the kitchen to get a snack. If his mother has won her games, she may be in such a good mood she won’t care about the note or punish him as harshly. I found that with the same situation shown in different ways, it really highlighted how the neglect happened. There’s also a section in the back for therapists.

      Now, for anyone who is a parent and reads this comment — they make it perfectly clear in the book that no parents are perfect and everyone has all kinds of moments where they don’t/can’t/won’t anticipate their child’s needs exactly. They’re talking more about continuous, predictable patterns of behaviour where the child repeatedly learns that their needs are not important — rarely or ever — to their parent. This isn’t something that parent(s) set out to do intentionally/with malice but when they are busy/overwhelmed/stressed/have their own issues with abuse and neglect, they can’t give what they never got.

      1. Dan*

        Thanks for all that. You wrote too much to respond to directly, but let’s just say that I have a mother who is the second part. “Can’t give what they never got” and it sucks. When I left the nest, it was as if WWIII was breaking out. Mind you, I left a year earlier than most (I only spent three years in high school) but a lot of it was because of exactly what you said. My mother could never understand why I did what I did and took it very personally. Those six months of my teenage years (I “declared” my independence six months before I moved out) were pretty much just as bad as the six months before I got divorced, although the later was worse. If I had to rank them, divorce was worst, and mom not giving two shits about what I wanted out of life was second worst.

        My mom, dad, (yes, the ‘rents are still married) and I are taking a two week cruise from Europe back to Miami in the fall. We booked it last June. It took *forever* for mom to even think about looking forward to it. She even had her own friends say to her, “Why *wouldn’t* you look forward to that? It sounds like fun!” I never really got a straight answer to that it couldn’t be fun. When I remind mom of that, she says, “Do you have nice things to say about me?” The answer is pretty much, “when you actually go on that cruise, yes I will. What do you want me to say before then?” She has no answer.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          You’re a braver person than I! When it was suggested we take a cruise as a family, I was all hell to the no, there is no way I’m going to be stuck on a boat with no way to leave and all you around me. Of course, I didn’t say that out loud… and eventually the idea was dropped.

          You might get something out of that book, too. A few others I’ve found useful are If You Had Controlling Parents, Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents and I’m trying to get through The Emotionally Absent Mother but it’s a hard go. I’m not sure if it’s that the subject matter is hitting home too much or the style it’s written in is too clinical (maybe both). If they’re available at your local library, they’re worth checking out, IMO. Otherwise, Amazon marketplace may be your best chance.

          1. Dan*

            Thanks. My rationalization is that the boat is big (it holds 6000 passengers) and I have a room in a different floor.

            My dad is someone I actually want and like spending time with so this is a bit of a compromise.

            My parents don’t drink do there will be plenty of bar time on my own.

            I’ll check out a couple of those books.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              Having never been on a cruise, I don’t know what they’re like. So I was surprised when my hairdresser was saying that he knows that people in his profession make really good money on cruises. Wait, what? There are hair salons on cruise ships? IMO, if you read up on what there is to do on the ship, you might be able to get Mom to go see a show, while you and Dad do something else. Or get her hair done for that night. You can’t hang out with her in the salon, can you?

      2. Cristina in England*

        Dynamic Beige, thank you for mentioning that book. I just took the questionnaire on the Running on Empty book’s website (drjonicewebb dot com) and got a pretty high score. I was never happy with the term abuse to describe my upbringing but I never knew how to describe “well meaning but damaging and unhealthy” in useful terms. Thank you very much!

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          You’re welcome! I hope you find it helps you, I still have to finish that book.

          As I said before, when we think about neglect, we tend to think about physical neglect. Those horrible stories that make the news because some 8 year old kid is found in a closet lying in their own filth, unable to talk and the size of a 4 year old. It’s hard to wrap your mind around neglect when that is not your experience. I had food in my stomach. I went to school and had clothes and a roof over my head. I went to the dentist and the doctor. My mother made my lunch every day. To the best of my knowledge, I wasn’t dropped on my head. How could I possibly have been neglected? But I was, both of my parents were not really interested in being parents in different ways and I never knew until recently how big a hole there was (well, I had an idea, I just didn’t know how it had gotten there or how bad it was). Honestly, neither of them should have had children. But, I’m here and that’s that. Can’t go back and relive my life, so I’ve got to take what I’ve got and make it better somehow, or continue to choose to be miserable, which isn’t fun at all.

    2. Librarian*

      Search terms: children of alcoholics; adult children of dysfunctional families; adult children of alcoholics

      If you go to WorldCat.org, try an advanced search for:
      — subject: adult children of alcoholics
      — audience: non-juvenile
      — content: non-fiction
      Maybe set the year to 2000-2016 to eliminate some of the old stuff.

      Perfect Daughters: Adult Daughters of Alcoholics (Ackerman) is well reviewed on Amazon and Goodreads.

      Best wishes.

    3. Dan*

      DB is right. The focus for you isn’t alcoholism, but an absentee parent. I don’t have the resources for that (although I need them). You aren’t looking for ways to cope with a parent who beats you when they are drunk, but a parent who neglects you. And that neglect comes in many different forms, so focus on that. The drunk stuff is beside the point.

      (My ex-MIL was a falling down passed-out drunk. I tried al-Anon, but it just wasn’t for me.)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      A while ago, I fell into information regarding “Characteristics of ACAs”. That was very eye opening for me. A friend was talking about it and said that although her family was sober they still had many of the characteristics of an alcoholic family. This made sense to me after reading the list of characteristics.

      You might also gain some ground by searching for something with the word “function” in it. ‘how alcoholic families function” or “how functions get assigned (forced) in alcoholic families” etc.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Yes. This. My mother was an alcoholic [35 years sober now], but she has a sister who came out of their dysfunctional childhood a bible-thumping tee-totaler. . . who was just as dysfunctional and destructive to her children as my drunk mom was to me and my brother.

        My grandparents [the parents of my mom and her sister] were also bible-thumping tee-totalers, so the seeds of dysfunction didn’t come from alcohol, just bad parenting and a lack of emotional maturity. [I still remember my 80-year old grandmother throwing a hissy fit that would put any 13- or 14-year old hormonally-unbalanced teenager to shame.]

        So I would add “narcissistic parents” to the search terms that other people have suggested.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          That’s it in a nutshell. There are some common threads in the ways families are dysfunctional. It’s a set of family rules. The problem comes in that the rules don’t work and in many cases actually cause more problems. A major topic is problem solving skills. Dysfunctional families solve problems in ways that cause ten more problems.
          ugh. I could go on. It makes interesting reading and it’s good for self-examination, also.

  32. Christy*

    I’m about to fly to France! Two days ago I flew Dallas to Orlando, yesterday I flew Atlanta to Baltimore, and tonight, France! I’m glad to be not flying for a week

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      I am not flying to France (or anywhere) and I am officially pea green for you. Have a fabulous time!

      1. Dan*

        See note above about cruise with mom. It’s a two-week Trans-Atlantic cruise on Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, which will be the largest cruise ship in the world when it sails. But no, we can’t get excited about that, can we? (Again, see post above.) I’ve told mom that there’s a long list of people who will take her place if she doesn’t go, I think I can add you to it. And no, she doesn’t take that well.

        Rest assured, I’m spending two weeks in Europe before the cruise (Belgium, Berlin, Portugal, and a bit of Spain) so I’m guaranteed to have fun whether or not mom wants to.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Yes, that is something I would like to do once, cross the ocean on a ship. At least it’s a big ship, you’ll find lots of places to hide.

          Berlin’s an interesting place but last time I was there, it was a cash-only kind of place. Not sure if that’s still the case but be warned! I also had the extra added “fun” of my bank being hacked and they took the entire network down for 5(?) days. Whee.

  33. Friend Breakup*

    My BFF from HS either wants to break up with me or wants us to be closer. She has sent me 3 articles in the last week about how difficult it is to make friends post college/ranking friends/friendships you have in your 30s.

    I could simply ask her, but I am afraid of the answer. What if she doesn’t want to be friends with me anymore? Ouch.

    A few years ago she basically ghosted her college BFF, told me all about it, hoped said friend would get the hint and go away. Why did she do this? She felt they weren’t on the same path. My friend Jane, married at 23, wanted kids immediately, house, yard, dog, etc. felt she no longer had anything in common with college BFF. In truth, college friend wanted the same things but knew it would come at a later time.

    We are turning 30 this year. She has multiple children, the house, the yard, the dogs, etc. I dont. I know she feels that we are “historical” friends and don’t have much in common anymore.

    I can’t read her mind, so I know I just need to bring it up. How do I bring it up?!

    1. Regina Phalange*

      I’d just ask her, candidly. Sometimes our inferred messages don’t come across as intended and we don’t get the answer we are looking for.

    2. NicoleK*

      Your BFF ghosted a friend in the past and people usually repeat past behaviors….so I think she probably wants to be closer. Does it need to be an elaborate serious discussion? Spend more time with her to feel closer to her. And if you don’t have much in common anymore, find something that you have in common. As I age, I realize that our friends don’t have to totally mirror us and that it’s fantastic to connect with people over all kinds of interests.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      “Looks like you have been thinking about friendships a lot here. Do you wanna talk?”

      The key here is to just presume there is something on her mind and offer an opening to discuss it. Don’t presume she wants to break up with you.

      I am inclined to think that she is not going to end you friendship. She is not ghosting- she is sending you articles, that’s not ghosting.

    4. Tau*

      Absolutely ask her! NotSoNewReader has a good script.

      And in case this really *is* a prelude to her breaking up with you…

      I had a very good friend during my teens who a few years later started pulling away from me. I was so afraid that if I asked about it, I’d hear “actually, yes, I don’t want to be friends with you anymore” that I didn’t, and just tried harder to keep our friendship going from my side. As a result, instead of a clean break I suffered a protracted period where every time I reached out to her I got the shortest possible answers and she only reached out to me if she wanted something from me until I finally gave up. I really regret not gathering my courage and going “hey, what’s happening here?”

      If she’s planning to ghost you, there’s nothing you can do to stop her doing that. Not talking about it will just make the whole thing longer and more unpleasant.

      1. Friend Breakup*

        Fantastic advise everybody, thank you so much!

        I will be seeing her next week…hopefully…. I will use NSNR’s script (you rock!). Worst case scenario I’m just ripping off the bandaid now.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      For what it’s worth, sending you articles about how hard it is to make new friends post-college would be a really weird way to prep you for ghosting (like sending your boyfriend articles about the rigors of dating right before you dump him). I’d assume it’s just a topic that’s on her mind lately and she thinks you might be interested too.

  34. Regina Phalange*

    I’m super excited. A few open threads ago I mentioned my issues with claustrophobia while flying. I’m okay as long as the plane is moving but if the door is closed and we are just sitting there is when the panic kicks in. Someone mentioned talking to my doctor, which I did. He gave me a low dose of xanax, which I used for the first flight but then didn’t even need it for the second! Knowing it was there was enough! Such a relief.

    1. Wendy Darling*

      I schlepped the same bottle of xanax around for like a year and a half and took I think two pills. Just knowing if the anxiety got out of control I could shut it down was usually sufficient for me to be able to sit through it. It’s kind of magical, isn’t it?

      1. regina phalange*

        Yes!! I think I was more stressed before I took the first pill because I didn’t know how I’d react. So I took one, and it had the exact effect I was hoping for, so now that I know that, it made me so much more relaxed for the second flight!!

  35. Elizabeth West*

    Alison, I have an ad blocker and there is a video ad playing at the top, right above the comments. It keeps cycling through different ads. Right now, it’s Oprah and before it was the Fantastic Beasts trailer. Not that I mind that second one (!) but it’s making the page very laggy.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      me too – atm it’s US al-jeezera going dark but I had the Oprah one before

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Is it auto-playing sound, or just video? (It’s only auto-play sound that’s banned, and I wasn’t sure from your post which it’s doing.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ah! Yeah, that appears to be a new annoying thing that ad box is doing on some but not all ads there. If you scroll past it, the sound stops as soon as it’s no longer on the screen. Still irritating. I reported it on Friday and they were like “that’s how it’s supposed to work.” I’m not okay with that, though, so need to see if I can get it to stop altogether.

    3. YaH*

      Same here- AdBlocker for the first time ever didn’t do its job! It’s on autoplay which I loathe. I followed the steps on AdBlocker to change the level of blocking and that made it go away.

      1. Coffee Ninja*

        This video thing circumvented my ad blocker so I added it (right click, “add element”) but then it makes the entire page go to plain text, which is so hard to read :( I wouldn’t mind if it was regular ads showing, but I HATE HATE HATE autoplay videos (whether they are ads or content videos).

  36. ActualName*

    (I hope this is okay)
    (I’m sad and tired and feel like I got nothing done today even though that’s not true. So I’m going to share what I accomplished in an effort to feel better)

    – cleaned a good half of my room or so
    – took the dog on a two hour and a half long walk / training session
    – got some studying on dog training and body language done
    – edited most of a chapter of my little brother’s book
    – wrote a 800 or so word responce to my English reading
    – worked on art homework for about half an hour
    ( searched for the pen to my tablet for about an hour and I still can’t find it damn it.)
    – got half way through editing my paper
    – finished, scanned, and sent along my new hire paper work
    – got about half way through editing my final paper

      1. acmx*

        That’s exactly my thought, “more than I’ve done in a week”!

        I hope you feel better soon. You should feel very accomplished.

      2. ActualName*

        ep ep ep ep ep! You are good! You do work good! Don’t feel bad!
        (eeeeek my moods are so weird. I am stressed that you feel shame. shhhhhhhh it’s okay.)

        I do not know how to edit this above part to make it sound at least a little bit more… normal?

    1. ActualName*

      Also! I finished my paper and it is really kick ass. I am going to get an A. It’s about Borderlands by Anzaldua and my personal experience with disability if anyone is familiar with that text.

      In the notes of edits my teacher made she wrote “You inspire me”. And I am so !!!! right now.
      (but also still sad because welcome to my brain.)

    2. nep*

      Impressive. Good for you. Chin up — you’re doing great. Hope you’ll get to feeling better about things.

    3. Rebecca*

      Wow! And I thought cleaning junk mail off the computer desk was a big deal! and did I say Wow??

  37. Tara R.*

    This is borderline school-related, but I am so miserable right now.

    This happens every exam session. I tell myself– I’m going to exercise, see my friends, make sure I eat regularly and have set time periods for studying! Then I stumble through the whole session, studying until I can’t anymore, forgetting to eat, studying too much for one subject and not enough for another, staying up until 6 am and getting up at 2 pm and going straight back to the question I fell asleep during– it’s ridiculous. There is a healthy way of doing this! But I never, ever follow through on a schedule I come up with. :( :( And I have exams Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday– I am extensively prepared for Monday and have done absolutely nothing for the other two. The Wednesday one is particularly alarming because I haven’t been keeping on top of the course for the last two months. But I’m so stressed about math on Monday that I just keep doing more practice questions for it and not starting to catch up on the hours and hours worth of readings I have to do for the others. Ahhhhhhhhh. Also I haven’t spoken to anyone except my roommate in like 4 days and I’m getting into b**** eating crackers phase with her.

    I can’t wait for this to be over. (Also, I have an interview at the liquor store on the 27th… which doesn’t sound like the most fun job ever, but would at least be employment for the summer?)

    1. MathOwl*

      I can certainly relate to this as a fellow student.

      So what works for me is the following:
      -Any exercise is better than nothing, and if you do your best, there is no use in feeling guilt at not doing more. Just a walk outside with fresh air helps. If someone can go with you, that’s even better. It helps to talk about more pleasant topics than school, which I’d probably end up ruminating about by myself.

      -Scheduling: I schedule time slots for all my classes. If I have five classes, each requiring about ten hours of work a week including class time, I break down each day in morning, afternoon and evening by blocks of 4-6 hours, and take account of my productivity in each period. I produce less during mornings, and more in evenings, so I schedule the hardest stuff for evenings. Not sure if that system would work for you, but it helps to visualize the workload in terms of blocks of time to be booked. Also, if you procrastinate one (or more) nights, it allows you to reschedule the block instead of just feeling like you fell behind with no possibility of recovery.

      -Talking it out. That might be more personal to me, but talking to friends, partner or family helps a huge deal. Supportive people can really boost your confidence to persevere. It’s really worth it for me. No need to go out to fancy parties or activities: quality in relationships is what matters the most, and one genuine conversation is worth a thousand outings where you are mostly alone among many people. Again, my preference here, as some welcome the distraction and entertainment of going out to parties or other such events.

      -Being gentle with yourself. You aren’t lazy if you procrastinate. Many people will tell you that college is easy, that it only gets harder after, etc. I humbly disagree, even if I’m not at the -after- part. College is a very demanding period, intellectually, financially and emotionally, especially if you’re in a STEM major but also otherwise. Despite this, you are still going and working at it where many people wouldn’t: that’s great in itself and deserves a pat on the back.

      -Even in the worst case scenario, if you fail your tests, that doesn’t make you a failure. All it means is that you’re human, and human beings make mistakes. Not one person on this planet has a perfect life and never screws up, no matter what appearances tell you. Accepting failure as a possibility (not ideal and to be avoided, but manageable), helps to make it more bearable.

      That’s really it for me. There is no magical solution, but if I’m realistic with myself, do my best and don’t hold myself to unachievable expectations (which society seems to like: have the perfect job, perfect partner, perfect home, perfect body), a lot of pressure goes away. I’d say about 60% of it in fact: the 40% remaining I can’t control, but with a positive mindset, it’s much easier to handle stress and even to be happy while working through it.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Life after college can be a LOT better than life in college. When I was in college, I was kinda broke most of the time, studying a lot, had a part time job.

        My job now tends to be about 40 hours a week, and it pays reasonably well. After work, I don’t have to study!

    2. Mando Diao*

      When I was in school, I gave up on sticking to any kind of schedule. For me, it was better to just do what I had to do in order to get through it. School ends eventually. This isn’t a representation of what your working life will be like. Very few jobs set you up to have multiple projects or qualifications/tests happening at the same time.

  38. Anonsie*

    I got a copy of Adobe Premiere (the Elements home version, 2014) for the purpose of editing my Twitch streams down for YouTube.

    I haven’t played around with it yet, but does anyone have any suggestions for guides or good resources for learning all the features?

    1. CMT*

      I usually just google “Lightroom tutorial” or whatever program. There seem to be lots of Youtube videos for these kinds of things.

      1. Anonsie*

        I mean, I’m aware of Google, I was hoping to get a specific rec for anywhere folks had a particular fondness for.

    2. TL -*

      Just google and play around (Adobe has lots of clear text articles and there are many YouTube videos). I learned premiere for my job and my thought pattern was – when I need it, I’ll learn it. But I gave myself lots and lots of time to figure things out – at least 30 minutes for google and implement and 30 for doing it three or four times in a row anytime I needed a new skill. Nothing was on a tight deadline my first few months of using it. I also just went for one skill at a time – how do I pan? was a different day than how do I equalize audio?

      That being said, I’m a learn by doing person. But Premiere is fairly easy when you’re starting – keep simple goals at first and get more complex as you gain skills.

    3. Lizabeth*

      You might check out Peachpit Press. They are my go-to for easy to read, easy to find what you need that exact moment reference books for Illusrator, InDesign and Photoshop.

    4. Sinjin*

      It’s not free, but Lynda.com has an incredible online library of tutorials. Their videos are fantastic, current, and led by terrific instructors. The way the tutorials are structured makes it very easy to take an entire course, or simply pick the particular things you want to learn. It’s a phenomenal website and resource.

      1. AVP*

        Seconding Lynda! Their tutorials are the best.

        As well as Creative Cow if you have any specific questions or issues.

  39. Lillie Lane*

    Alison, are there books that you’ve read/started to read and you decided you couldn’t recommend them? I’d love to see that list and your comments!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oh my goodness, so many! Recently in that category: Fates and Furies (finished it but didn’t really love it), a bunch of things recently by Kate Christensen (enjoyed most, but only moderately), The Privileges (meh), The Chaperone (meh), and The Luckiest Girl Alive (engrossing but soul-bruising).

      I’m actually currently in what feels like a good-reading desert — I keep starting things and only being moderately enthralled. Right now I’m reading The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeny, and it’s keeping me interested but not as riveted as I want to be. I am craving something better, but I haven’t found it yet. (Recommendations welcome!)

      1. Confused Publisher*

        Alison, a few weeks ago, there was a discussion of Anne Fadiman’s essay collection Ex Libris. Whilst I love that collection, I also really like her other collection At Large and At Small. I also enjoyed Susan Hill’s Howards End is on the Landing.
        Do you like classic mystery stories (say Father Brown rather than Sherlock Holmes)? I recently fell across the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear (which starts before the First World War) and the Grantchester/Sidney Chambers series by James Runcie (which starts in the 1950s) which I’ve really enjoyed, especially in their depictions of life in Britain in those periods and their interest in character development.
        And finally, if you’re still reading, could I recommend All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and Susanne Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell if you haven’t read them already?

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          Oh Sidney Chambers! Have you watched it on PBS?

          Similar book series I’ve enjoyed lately — Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen. And the Thomas and Catherine Pitt mysteries by Anne Perry. I’m a sucker for British mysteries . . .

          1. Confused Publisher*

            I’m in the UK, so they’re showing it on ITV here. I keep meaning to catch up, but the books run away with me.

            Ooh, I’ve made a note of these other series you’ve mentioned.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Thank you! I’ve meaning to read All the Light We Cannot See forever, so I’ll move that up on my list. And I loved, loved, loved Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Mysteries: I’m not usually into them, but I wish I were (it would give me so many more options!).

          1. Confused Publisher*

            I think I love these mystery stories because the focus isn’t entirely on the crimes: you spend a lot of time in the sleuth/investigator’s head and watch them make mistakes and agonise over decisions… Basically, be human. (A less cutesy version of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, if you will, but with far more developed characters.) That’s why I didn’t recommend some of the more obvious mystery stories.

            If you liked Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, I wonder if you’d like The Night
            Circus too?

      2. Carrie in Scotland*

        I was in the same desert not that long ago. However, Anna Hope’s ‘The Ballroom’ and Lisa Lutz’s ‘The Passenger’ have made me feel like the desert is ending.

        Also, I read ‘A Thousand Pardons’ based on last last weeks rec and it eas excellent

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Thank you! The Ballroom is apparently not out in the U.S. until September. (Can someone in publishing explain why there are different UK and U.S. release dates?) But I will check out The Passenger. And I’m glad you enjoyed A Thousand Pardons!

          1. Lore*

            Lots of reasons, mostly logistical. For big-name authors or authors with substantial followings worldwide, you will often see a pretty concerted effort to get the pub dates close. (The pope’s book that came out in January had simultaneous pub dates in something like seventy countries and nineteen languages, and that was an *enormous* challenge, but one deemed important enough to do.) But some authors are just much, much bigger in one country than the other, and so a lot more resources are thrown at the book on one side of the ocean. It’s possible, for example, to go from un-copyedited manuscript to printer-ready files in four to six weeks–but you have to throw a lot of money at everyone involved and basically be prepared to print nothing but that book for a few days–and if the sales will back that up in the US but not the UK, they’re not going to move those mountains.

            Most of the time the sales are handled separately, sometimes by two different agents and mostly to two different publishers, and the sale may not even happen at the same time–so you’re working with two different publishers’ time scales. Or, a publisher may acquire world rights and then make subsequent sub-rights sales to other countries and territories, in which case those sales will necessarily be later.

            Sometimes things can be done faster in the UK than here because they treat books, generally, more like widgets than US publishers–much less attention to interior design and layout, much less rigor in copy editing and proofreading. Or, for an author whose work isn’t well known here, for example, the US publisher may want to lag a bit and see how a book is doing in its home market (or vice versa). Or we may not want to publish a thriller that’s going onsale directly against a similar title by another imprint/division of my parent company–but if the book is with a different publisher overseas, that might be exactly what they want to do.

            1. Lore*

              PS: but I find it annoying too. My particular pet peeve is when an author who started in the UK gets picked up by a US publisher for their third or fourth book, and then you love them and the only way to get the previous titles is to order them used from the UK (or conversely, an author you like loses their publisher here and you’re hooked but the books have just become almost impossible to find). Digital publishing has helped a lot with that, of course.

            2. AVP*

              My particular tragedy is when a cookbook by an author I love comes out in a different country and it takes a year or so for the U.S. agent to have it converted into U.S. measurements and distributed…all the while foreign food blogs and instagrams are going crazy with it! Sigh, modern life.

        2. Kerry ( like the county in Ireland)*

          I love Lisa Lutz’s Spellman Files books. I am pleased to see she is getting more chances to do the writing she wants instead of being pigeonholed as a mystery writer, which she really isn’t. Heads You Lose wasn’t half bad as a meta commentary on fiction or a mystery novel, it was the relationship between the coauthors that dragged it down.

      3. Elkay*

        My go-to recommendation is Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris, I read it years ago but it’s one of my few 5* ratings on Goodreads because I was totally absorbed by it and was picking the book up every opportunity I got.

        1. dragonzflame*

          That is a REALLY good book – and there’s another sort-of sequel coming out this week! I believe it’s one of those ones that can be read alone but it follows on directly from G&P, with a lot of the same characters etc. I’m really looking forward to it. I run hot and cold on Joanne Harris – I love some of her books (Chocolat, Five Quarters of the Orange, G&P) but others have left me ‘meh’ (Blueeyedboy, Runemarks).

      4. the gold digger*

        Older books you may have missed

        Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese (his other books are great, too – he was the doc who treated AIDs patients when he was a resident in east TN)
        Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry
        The Great Santini, Pat Conroy (and anything else he wrote)
        Ellen Foster, Kaye Gibbons
        King Leopold’s Ghost (can’t remember who wrote it) and, to go with it, The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
        And putting in a plug for my college friend – if you like thrillers – ordinary guy caught up in bizarre circumstances and has to use his wits to survive, read Jeff Abbott’s books
        Another friend (Scott Blackwood) wrote “See How Small,” about the Austin yogurt shop murders in the early 90s, but I have not been able to bring myself to read it because I still remember when it happened. (Four teenage women were raped and murdered in a yogurt shop and then set on fire – they still have not caught the person who did it)

        1. Bluebell*

          Gold digger – Jeff Abbott? I never knew. One of my h.s. friends has done well in the chicklit mystery genre.
          For anyone who read The Art Forger by BA Shapiro and was wondering if her follow-up The Muralist is a worthwhile read, I think it is!

      5. Mkb*

        I recently read both “You” and “Hidden Bodies” by Caroline Kepnes and loved both. They’re a series with “You” being first. Showtime just bought the rights to turn it into a show.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I have browsed You and it scares me! The problem with thrillers is that I stay up all night reading them and then feel sick from the subject matter. I am weak.

  40. Doriana Gray*

    Okay, random: I’m eating the new Honey Nut M&M’s and they are sooo good. These and the Coffee Nut M&M’s might become my new chocolate treat.

    1. mander*

      Now I am sad that I live overseas. Honey nut M&Ms sound great! Maybe I’ll get Mom to send me a package. :-)

  41. Rebecca*

    I am so hooked on audio books! I have no idea why I didn’t listen to them before. About a year ago, I stumbled upon eBranch2Go, and my first books were “Still Alice”, “Stiff”, and “Making Rounds with Oscar”. I moved on to the new Stephen King trilogy, “Mr. Mercedes” and then “Finders Keepers”, and can’t wait until June so I can listen to “End of Watch”. Now I’ve discovered the Harry Bosch novels by Michael Connelly, and I’m going to try out James Lee Burke.

    I have to say that listening to books while I walk really makes the time fly!

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I used to think I hated audio books, but now I’m completely addicted to them! One of the things I’ve enjoyed wayyy more than I thought I would is listening to children’s audiobooks either again, or “reading” them for the first time. Children’s audiobook readers often do a bang-up job interpreting the books, and it’s so fun to listen to how they voice the different characters.

      Sometimes I even enjoy audiobooks more than the books themselves. When I read Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan, I liked them, but listening to the audiobooks made a huge difference, since the narrator was able to correctly pronounce all the foreign phrases that were lost on me reading them.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        But on the flip side, there have been some people who read the books and I just… aaaugh! After listening to The Swan Thieves, I never wanted to hear the word “paint” again. I only got through The Magicians because I wanted to hear how the story ended, the narrator drove me crazy with his “voices” for all the characters, including the girls (which I found grating).

        I like audiobooks because it’s something you can listen to while doing something else. I was doing some gardening tonight and listening to The Year of Yes (as read by the author), so it was great to get some work done and see how all the Shondaland characters are kind of facets of their creator. It was also cool to hear her describe her introversion and stage fright and how she kind of got over it.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          Oh gosh, yes. Right now I’m listening to one of the Harry Potter books read by Jim Dale, and I generally very much enjoy his interpretation, except for the way he voices Hermione. He has this weird way of making her sound….whiny, almost, or overly-girlish, and it just makes me batty.

      2. AirDrummer*

        Audiobooks are great, of course, for the commute. I seek out music biographies mostly; it’s fun to have a little theme going. I just finished Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, and I’m now listening to Pete Townshend’s autobiography.

        Others bios/autobios I’ve listened to: Chrissie Hynde, Freddie Mercury, Heart, John Taylor of Duran Duran, Rod Stewart, Billy Idol, Mick Fleetwood.
        On deck: Tom Petty and John Lydon
        Favorites: Rod Stewart and Billy Idol

        I wish there were more non-fiction books on audio about perfume and fragrance. I’ve exhausted the list of available ones long ago.

        1. ginger ale for all*

          I like music biographies as well. I don’t think this one will be on audio because there are a lot of recipes in it but Sammy Haggar has a recent one out that I thought was pretty good. He is a foodie and it is about his food experiences and the restaurants he owns.

      3. Nye*

        I am completely enthralled with the narration of Nick Podehl, who reads the Name of the Wind series. He is AMAZING. Every place has a distinct accent, every person from that place has a distinct voice in that accent, and you can even hear his voice change subtly when he switches from the main narrative back to the frame story. It’s very consistent and doesn’t seem overdone, and I am hugely enjoying both the story itself and the excellent reading.

        Another good one is Modern Romance, read by (co-author) Aziz Ansari who is as engaging and funny as you’d expect.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I love audio books! I’m currently listening to Murder on Parade by Donald Bain, it’s a Murder, She Wrote novel.

    3. LawCat*

      I love them too! My favorites have been Ken Follett’s novels because his books are generally awesome and the narrator I’ve heard on 5 of his novels as audiobooks is FANTASTIC!

    4. Torrance*

      Stiff by Mary Roach, right? If you liked it, and haven’t done so already, it’s my duty to recommend her other books! Spook (focusing on life after death) & Packing for Mars (focusing on human space travel) are personal favourites.

    5. Jen RO*

      I love, love, love Frank Muller, and he narrated many SK books. The ones I’ve listened to are The Talisman & Black House, and Dark Tower (he reads books 2, 3 and 4, the rest are read by someone else – I think he read book 1 as well, but the new guy re-recorded it after King’s revisions, and the old version is not available anymore).

      1. Rebecca*

        I’m listening to The Talisman right now. I read it years ago, and find that I’m enjoying it just as much now as then, maybe more so.

        1. Jen RO*

          I had also read it many years ago, and I enjoyed it just as much the second time. (In Black House, though, the narration made the rambling bits stand out more – I think I had skipped over them the first time!)

    6. Milton*

      One time I almost slammed on my breaks in the middle of the freeway as I was listening to an audiobook. They had just revealed that character J was character L’s father! I was so shocked I gasped. Probably clenched my chest too. LOL. Audiobooks, good times.

    7. Lizabeth*

      Try Ready Player One – read by the actor that played Will Wheatly in Star Trek Next Generation – awesome… The reader, I feel is 50% of the book in many cases. Julie Stevenson is another reader that’s great. I just wish Shelby Foote had read his books.

  42. dear liza dear liza*

    Does anyone else read other advice columnists, like Dear Prudence or Carolyn Hax, and when they have a letter about a workplace issue, think, why the heck isn’t that person writing to AAM? Alison’s advice would be so much more on point! (No disrespect to Mallory or Carolyn, whom I really enjoy reading.)

    1. Florida*

      That’s funny because Ask Amy (who I don’t especially like, but the she runs in my paper) gave terrible advice recently about a workplace issue, and I thought “Why didn’t the person write AAM?”

        1. Florida*

          I don’t remember what the problem or the advice was. I just remember rolling my eyes when I read it. Since it was specifically a workplace issue, I thought, “Why did the OP write to Dear Amy?”

          Frequently her advice is to take the path of least resistance. So if that annoying co-worker that you share a office with gossips incessantly on her cell phone, the advice would be to learn to deal with it. It would just be to uncomfortable to ask office mate to take her frequent personal calls somewhere else.

          I like Carolyn Hax most of time. She’s pretty blunt. I can’t remember any work-specific advice from her. I also like the current Dear Prudence. The last one was terrible.

          My personal opinion is that Alison should write an advice column – advice for any problem, not just work problems.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            In the back of my head, I figure that eventually there will be a point where I’ve been consulting for so long that my work advice won’t be any good anymore (I’ll be like all the out-of-touch work columnists who I complain about now) and that at that point I should broaden into a more general advice column, which I would like doing.

            In some ways, the type of consulting I do for clients (hiring stuff and coaching managers on specific challenges they’re facing) probably helps delay that day, but it’s definitely a thing I think about.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I wonder if this blog will help delay the process of growing out of touch. Kind of tough to be disconnected with so much connection going on here.

    2. the gold digger*

      The official work advice columnist at the Washington Post is not very good, I don’t think. There are times where I have actually written in the comments, “Read ‘Ask A Manager’ to get a better answer to that question!”

      I feel bad for the columnist – I don’t want to be rude – but her advice is not good at all.

      1. Dan*

        Do you have specifics about what sucks? The WaPo comments section sucks, so I all but never read it.

    3. S0phieChotek*

      Yes I have though the sane thing! Also they write Dear Harriet (who is perfectly nice bu tis definitely more relational than work-related).

      1. S0phieChotek*

        * typos galore in that little comment
        – thought not “though” and but no “bu”….
        I think the tis vs. it’s was intentional though…

    4. Ruffingit*

      ALL THE TIME. No really, like ALL THE TIME. It’s amazing to me how many people are out there giving horrible, terrible, no good, awful workplace advice to others. It’s scary frankly and explains a lot about why people are having so much trouble in the workplace.

    5. Cristina in England*

      Yes I do this every time. I love Dear Prudence (both former and current) but Mallory’s answers especially are very short for workplace related stuff.

    6. Liza M*

      I’m trying to like Dear Prudence post Yoffe, but many of Mallory’s responses reek of a general lack of life experience and sometimes I think she is just wrong.

      I remember a letter a few months back where someone who was adopted pretended to have an abortion as a teenager to cover for her cousin who was the one who actually had the abortion. Her parents were mad at her for being so irresponsible so young, and it put a huge burden on their relationship. All the while, she wasn’t the one who actually had the abortion – she was covering for a cousin (I can’t find the letter for the details as to why she pretended to have the abortion and why they didn’t opt to just cover the whole thing up). The question was – should I come clean with my adopted parents? Mallory said something like “don’t bother, they’re going to be unhappy with you anyway.”

      That response really took me aback and made me question some of her other advice. Someone is mad/disappointed at you for X thing you didn’t even do, so the best advice is never to tell them you didn’t do it, out of some childish form of revenge (“I’ll get back at them for being mad by not telling the truth because it would relieve them too.”). Definitely made Mallory look green.

      1. Florida*

        I’m the opposite. I was not a fan of Yoffe. I always thought she was too smug. Mallory is pretty good. I don’t agree with her 100%, but generally I like it. I vaguely remember the abortion/adoption question. That wasn’t good advice. My advice in that situation would have been seek professional therapy. The OP needs to tell her parents, but also be prepared for the parent’s response. That’s a little more complicated than an advice column can handle.

        I really miss Ann Landers. It’s been quite a while since her column was around. I think she’s one of the best ones. Dear Abby, however, is terrible. Carolun Hax is probably my favorite of the people who are alive and writing right now.

        You know who else is terrible? Miss Manners. People asked for etiquette advice and half the time her response is pretty snarky. So she didn’t answer the question and she isn’t even polite about it. She’s an etiquette expert, for Pete’s sake!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          God, Ann Landers was the best. I think Dear Abby is done by the original Abby’s daughter now, but it’s not the same either. I still read it now and then.

          I always liked Heloise, even though it’s household stuff.

      2. Ruffingit*

        I remember that letter and actually thought the advice was good. Frankly, I’d come clean with the family AND disown them myself because they are total jerks. Here is the letter and its answer from Prudie for those interested:

        Dear Prudence,
        When I was adopted, I got more than just parents—I got a whole family. This included a cousin who was exactly my age, and we immediately became best friends. We grew apart as teenagers, but I was the one she turned to when she learned she was pregnant. I knew her mother would disown her, so I helped her procure an abortion and went with her to the clinic, where we were seen by a classmate. I already had a bit of a reputation and was more resilient than my cousin, so I told everyone it was me getting an abortion. My cousin dropped me when all my friends did. Afraid her mom would hear about the clinic, she told her she’d accompanied me. My aunt told my parents, who nearly disowned me, and our relationship has never recovered. They still seem to regret adopting me, and I’m not welcome in family photos. I’m not welcome to attend holidays held at my aunt’s house because she thinks I “dragged her daughter down with me,” even 10 years later. My cousin remains the perfect angel of the family. I’m so fed up—I want to just tell everyone the truth. I don’t expect it to fix a thing, but I’m tired of carrying the burden. Would it be wrong of me to spill? I don’t want to be the black sheep anymore.
        —Tired of Secrets

        I’m pretty sure your family will find a way to make you stay the black sheep no matter what you do or say. Their desire to punish you is so calculated, such a long-running campaign, that I fear you will never be able to have a relationship with them that is not based upon isolation, recrimination, and abuse. You have reasonable expectations about what honesty can bring to this situation—you’re aware that your relationship with your family is damaged beyond repair through no fault of your own—but you should also keep in mind there’s a very good chance they won’t believe you, and that your cousin will call you a liar if you tell the truth. If she was willing to let you take the fall for her for all these years, I don’t think she’ll have any compunction about trying to do it again now.

        That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing, of course. You’ve kept a secret for a decade and I think you’re right to want to unburden yourself, but be aware that the outcome may be worse than you anticipated. More importantly, I think you should seriously consider to what degree you want your extended family in your life, and how to go about minimizing your contact with them, so you’re not setting yourself up for a lifetime of getting shoved out of frame during family photo time.

      3. Rebecca in Dallas*

        I don’t really like the new Prudence either, but I can’t put my finger on why. I feel like a lot of her answers are basically, “I don’t know, you have to do what’s best for you!”

        1. Liza M*

          I think this is why I don’t like it. This advice/letter may now sound so bad but coupled with the other letters that day, I did feel she wasn’t that qualified to give advice. You are right, there is a “do what’s best for you” undertone to the answers. This would be fine if “do what’s best for you meant “you’ll feel better going through the difficult thing if it will improve your life in the long run,” as opposed to what I think she means: “avoid the uncomfortable and stay in your comfort zone.”

  43. Jennifer*

    Does anyone have experience or advice dealing with a property manager from the property owner’s perspective?

    I’m currently living in an apartment I own, but I’ll be moving interstate soon so I’ll need to rent out my place. I’ve contacted a few agents in the area to get an appraisal on the market rental price and set up a couple of inspections for next week, what kind of things should I ask or be on the look out for?

    In a way it’s sort of like hiring someone for a job (except they’d have a much bigger say in how much you pay them). One of the agencies I contacted by email replied quoting quoting the wrong street name, another one spelt my name wrong, and yet another got the date of inspection wrong (instead of ‘April 20’ they said ‘April 2’, which is an obvious typo unless they’ve discovered the power of time travel).

  44. BlurBlur*

    I’m feeling a bit stuck and I’m not even sure how to come out of this. My current job is good in terms of pay, benefits and such but it’s such a burn out. Physically it has sent me to the hospital because I thought I was having a heart attack at 28. I’m very fit but because we have been short staffed I can wind up working 10 hour days when we are busiest and lift a total of 1200+lbs for a single order. One faculty member pulled my pony tail in a flirty way and another said “equal work for equal pay” when I was lifting some extremely heavy things (think 40- 35lb boxes). Two students have called me a bitch and more have gotten aggressive in a way that is much more uncoftable than when I worked as a retail manager.

    I graduated from an art school and am tenacious, ambitious and get great feedback and reviews but haven’t been able to land a job that keeps my head more than above water. My stress level is so high I make myself sick. I’m almost $10,000 in credit card debt because since graduating in 2009 I only just found a full time position in 2014 with benefits. That debt is based on needing to buy groceries. I have a cracked filling from almost 7 years ago I can’t afford to fix. My ex fiancé has stage 4 lung cancer and I was his primary care person for a year. I feel like slowly I am taking steps forward but I am so overwhelmed by work and life and everything else that I’ve stopped being able to find time to decompress and be happy. It’s really hard to explain. I didn’t post this on the Friday thread because I know eventually I will find another job. I’m just having such a difficult time at the moment dealing with these feelings of being lackluster, depressed despite taking an antidepressant/anxiety med, and unable to do much in the downtime I have. This is really hard to admit and last time I commented on one of these threads a few people tore me apart for feeling so spun out about my ex fiancés situation which wasn’t helpful or useful.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      No real advice, just sympathy and good thoughts.

      You’ve been through a lot of tough stuff. It sounds like you have very little time to yourself. Try to find maybe an hour a day to just decompress and pamper yourself. Even if it’s just something simple.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Yup. A bubble bath with candles and mood music, treating yourself to your favorite snack, giving yourself a pedicure – do anything, big or small, to focus on you right now, BlurBlur.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          What she said. That is a *lot* for anyone to deal with. The only thing is that this will not last forever. It may seem like it now, but nothing lasts forever.

          It doesn’t even have to be a bubble bath… a regular bath with warm water would do. That’s one of the things I do every day, have a bath. Even when I’ve worked an 18-hour day, I still have a bath (I hate hotel rooms that only have showers). Just getting into that hot water helps me unwind and since I do it at night, that helps me sleep. I’ve learned that it’s better to get 4 hours of relaxed sleep than 5 hours of tossing and turning.

          Find ways to give yourself a break. Take a walk around the block at lunch. Or not even around the block, just eating your lunch outside would be a way to get away for a bit. I don’t know what your focus was in art school but is there any way you can practice a bit of that? Do some pencil sketches at lunch or design thumbnails during dinner? Plan out your personal website if you don’t have one already.

          I would also suggest that whoever these “students” are/whatever your job is, however they are getting aggressive with you is not cool. You don’t necessarily have to snitch on them but if there is a manager or other senior person you could ask for advice about it, they might be able to give you some feedback of how to handle the situation differently. “Manager, the other day a student made me uncomfortable by [insert reason]. I didn’t know how to handle it because [whatever policy like “the customer is always right”]. I’m concerned that something similar might happen again and I’d like to know what you would advise me to do if it does.” Unless you work with a complete tool, they should be able to provide you with at least a “If it happens again, call/page me and I’ll deal with their request” or something. At least I would bloody hope so.

          1. BlurBlur*

            Thank you for your response. Thanks for acknowledging it’s a lot to go through. Sometimes I feel like I’m being ridiculous because I know everyone has their own things they have to walk through. Unfortunately it’s a strange time for non profit art schools. I was able to take one of the students to the student center but because he was graduating not much happened. Same with the second student and this one bothered me most. He was so difficult they just passed him in his courses to get him out. Which is a disservice to the student and the program. It won’t always be like this but it is hard to be in this environment where some students can face penalties but if you try to put the same boundaries on others you wind up getting nowhere. I think tonight is time for a bubble bath and Harry Potter. Thank you though! Your words are deeply appreciated.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              As trite as it may sound, I really believe you are never given more than you can handle*. You may not handle it well, but you can handle it. Someone shared a quote/photo on Facebook a while back that said “I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past.”

              Kind of like comparing yourself to other people’s successes, you also can’t compare your challenges to theirs’. Their challenges are just that — theirs. It doesn’t make your challenges any “less” simply because someone else has challenges that you couldn’t imagine dealing with. IME, we learn far more through our challenges than we do from easy successes. If you can find ways to deal with this, learn to cope with your stress/get a new job/save a little every month to fix your filling, you will develop skills that will last you a lifetime!

              * Please respect that I’m not trying to start a debate around “what about the suicides?”

    2. LCL*

      I know taking medication means you have a serious issue, and I know it’s not as simple as “just snap out of it.” But, don’t be hard on yourself, you are in a tough spot. You deserve to take care of yourself. It sounds like your medication isn’t working too well, probably you should go back to the doctor and get help with that.

      1. BlurBlur*

        I’m not sure it’s a serious issue but thank you for your thoughts. Sometimes bad is just bad. I am going to meet with my doctor again but I know I am sorely in need of changing my circumstances. I take medicine for anxiety and it just happens to be an antidepressant. I know I can get stressed under normal circumstances and I wish this wasn’t the case but at the moment I’m under a tremendous amount of stress for anyone to deal with. Sometimes it’s ok to just feel not 100% but I’m definitely working on mitigating the stress and moving last this.

        1. JaneB*

          So sorry you’re going through this! Be kind to yourself. And as someone said above, can you try and find tiny slivers of time to do something that feeds the creative part of you that went to art school? I like making things – and although what I really like most is elaborate miniature quilts with all sorts of embellishments, even knitting a few rows on a plain scarf for ten minutes helps me feel a bit more centred, and is MUCH less mess… Maybe sketching or singing or something else is your scarf….

          And try to think of what you’d say to your best friend facing this, most of us are much harder on ourselves than on others!

    3. Ruffingit*

      Your feelings are totally valid. You are overwhelmed because you aren’t just carrying a full plate, you’ve got a buffet going. Clearly, finding a new job is a solution to a good bit of this, but while you’re working on that, it’s very important to realize a few things:

      1. This will get better.
      2. Chip away at the credit card debt as you are able. If you can open a 0% for a year card or something similar, do so and transfer the balance so at least you’re able to keep interest payments down for awhile.
      3. Go to the dentist. Yes, it’s going to be costly. Work out a payment plan and get yourself taken care of.
      4. Your ex-fiance’s situation is terrible and sad and you have every right to feel strung out and awful about it.
      5. Breathe. Call in sick (even if you aren’t) for a couple of days and use that time to catch up on sleep, take hot baths, and breathe. Take yourself out for dinner to a place you love, get lost in a book, light some candles.

      This will get better. It doesn’t seem like it now, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Small steps will get you there, but as you’re walking that road be kind to yourself!

    4. Liza M*

      If it helps, life didn’t start for me until 30. I know many readers here feel the same way. I was able to pay off a tad less credit card debt in less than two years once things started to get moving, and my debt was also for things like gas or utility bills as well.

    5. Amy M in HR*

      Does your employer offer an EAP (Employee Assistance Program)? If so please take advantage of it. An EAP is generally offered by an outside company and are usually confidential, to encourage employees to seek help. Many offer counseling services (sometimes at no charge – my company’s EAP offers three free sessions with a face to face counselor) but they usually also offer things like financial and debt management, among a zillion other things. Please talk to your HR department (or check your company’s intranet site) and ask if your company has one.
      Good luck!

  45. Rachel*

    I’m thinking about learning sign language, and was wondering if anyone has learnt it before and give some practicing tips. A lot of the usual advice for learning new languages aren’t really applicable (the most obvious one been listening to language programs while commuting etc).

    Does anyone know any good resources for this kind of thing? (Specifically for British Sign Language).

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      My retention on sign language (I learned American Sign Language) is terrible, but I’m an expert finger speller, and I learned that by spelling out everything I saw. If I saw a tree, I’d spell out t-r-e-e.

      1. Florida*

        You can also practice license plates. At the red light, you can finger spell the license plate in front of you.

        Finger spelling is VERY useful when learning sign language. If you don’t know the sign for tree, you can always spell out T-R-E-E. The person you are talking to will usually understand and be patient.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          The only problem with my method, though, is it’s one-way. In other words, now I can finger-spell super fast, but if someone finger-spells back to me too quickly, I can’t read it… I need it finger-spelled slowly in order to process.

    2. Sinjin*

      When I took ASL in college, I’d listen to music or the radio and practice signing to the lyrics.

  46. Legalchef*

    Anyone have any really great passover recipes? Hubs and I are doing the first Seder with my parents, sister, and nephews (delicious smushy baby snuggles here I come). The second night he wants to do one just us, but I don’t know what to make. I think he wants to make lamb, but I need to think of yummy sides.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      Well, with the Conservative reversal on kitniyot, my Passover is about to be BANGING. I am looking forward to having chickpeas and black beans at most meals. Chickpeas or couscous would be great with lamb, if you are cool with the grains/legumes situation.

      A nice salad could also be great. With all that matzah you need some roughage. Any kind of roast vegetables could also be yummy. Maybe some zucchini, squash, and bell peppers with lamb?

      1. Legalchef*

        Also, I was thinking of a salad – like a nice bright citrusy salad with really good lettuce, to cut through the richness of the meat. But then I thought maybe that’s boring, since my mom never does a salad (but she does like 5 kugel-type things, most of which aren’t great anyway).

        I think now that we have started doing holidays ourselves a bit and making some of our own traditions I need to get out of the mindset that xyz is the way something is done because that’s how my mom did it.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I cannot decide how I feel about this reversal!!! I am such a traditionalist. I don’t even put peanut butter on my matzah. But something tells me I have to get over myself.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I love tzimmes, and my boyfriend loves tzimmes. I use Tori Avey’s recipe. No oil at all, just sweet potatoes, carrots, some dried fruit, and a mix of orange juice, honey, spices. I make a giant pot and we eat off it for a week.

      Our house is vegetarian, so Passover can be tough. Before the bf, I used to just make a chicken and eat off it for a week. But now we have to get creative. The new Conservative rules will help for sure. But we’ve done a bunch of other things in the past that would work as sides: quinoa pilaf, sauteed plantains in spicy tomato sauce, sauteed vegetables in a mashed potato crust. Ratatouille is also a favorite.

      Don’t forget the ease and beauty of roasted potatoes, either! A little rosemary, and that would be great with lamb.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I just re-read my comment and realized that my Passover theme is “eat off it for a week”. Hmm.

    3. Bluebell*

      I like to eat springy foods for Passover, so we almost always have roast asparagus. Since we eat fish but not meat our usual main dish is salmon roasted on top of red onion and rosemary and a layer of thin sliced lemon on top. Quinoa is nice with mushrooms and herbs. I second the roasted potatoes suggestion- could be fingering potatoes ro