weekend free-for-all – April 2-3, 2016

kitten!

retro Olive

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

Book recommendation of the week:  Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout. It’s 13 short stories all linked by one character, and it unfolds so quietly that it takes you off-guard when you realize how absorbing it is.

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

{ 1,089 comments… read them below }

  1. Guinness*

    OMG baby Olive ears!!
    My neck has been tense and sore for like a week now — does anyone have a good idea to loosen it up?

    1. FD*

      Have you tried Bengay? Some people dislike the smell but it helps a lot.

      If you can get someone to do a neck massage along with it, that double whammy often works for me.

    2. nep*

      Have you tried foam rolling, or better yet for that area of the body, rolling on a tennis or lacrosse ball? Can do wonders, depending on what’s causing the soreness. Mineral salt bath — I know this is seen by many as ‘placebo’ effect only, but maybe worth a try.
      Have you experienced this in the past? Do you know the cause?

      1. fposte*

        Have you seen the recent findings that bodies can be “trained” to respond to a placebo as if it were the medication? It’s an amazing and useful effect.

          1. Treena*

            Indeed. This also shines some light on why different cultural practices do in fact work a good portion of the time. If you really truly believe your headaches were caused by a curse being placed on you, then of course witchdoctor’s cure will help. Same thing as prayer working sometimes. Brain chemistry is one of those fields that I’m going to look forward to learning about for the rest of my life.

      2. Guinness*

        I’ve heard of rolling, but never tried it.
        I think it’s a combo of stress/bad migraine/poor pillow or sleeping position. I’ve been trying to do some light stretching and rubbing it myself, might have to look in to rolling, BenGay, and a massage from my husband.

        1. Undine*

          This link is my favorite stretching exercise for the neck. Be really gentle and slow and don’t go to the point of pain. Getting a heating pad and placing it under the neck for fifteen minutes in the morning while you are in bed can also really help (you can do it before this exercise). Just be careful with the heating pad and don’t overdo it.

          http://www.fitness.com/exercises/537/neck_range_of_motion_on_the_foam_roller.php

          cats and cows are good for the neck too.

          You can make a slurry of Epsom salts (so a lot of salt in a little water) and massage it directly on the sore spot, or you can use magnesium oil (magnesium is the ingredient in Epsom salts that helps relieve pain.) Aloe vera gel sometimes helps me.

          If you can afford it, see a physical therapist. They can do some body work and will usually have some exercises to recommend. My neck is pretty much trashed, but consistent exercise has improved it immensely. It’s really reduced my migraine frequency too. Depending on your state and the exact type of person you see, you may not have to go through a doctor.

          Also, if you can, ask for an ergo assessment at work — the position of your monitor makes a huge difference. It helps a lot to have another person do the assessment — it makes it more real somehow. Once I had one assessment at work, I know how to do my own, and I always measure to adjust my monitor.

          1. nep*

            +1 all these suggestions.
            I swear by castor oil (topically) for pain — slather some on and put on a snug-ish shirt you don’t mind getting a little messy, overnight. (Obviously you’ll want to put down a towel or an old sheet to lie on.) Unless you’re allergic to castor oil, can’t hurt to try.

      3. Noah*

        Yeah, I don’t know if it is the process of a bath with Epsom salts or what, but that always makes me feel 10x better when I’m sore.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Increasing my water intake usually knocks out about 90% of my neck pain. Oddly, I have also found protein drinks helpful. Weird stuff works sometimes.

    4. Trixie*

      A lot of good yoga neck stretches on youtube. I start every class with a few minutes focusing on neck/shoulders/upper back and always feels good.

    5. Soupspoon McGee*

      Moist heat, if you have it, or a heating pad if you don’t. You can make a heat pack with a damp towel in a zioploc bag–just microwave about 45 seconds, wrap in a dish towel, and wrap it around your neck.

    6. LCL*

      Step away from the computer. I’m not kidding, too much screen time always aggravates my neck.
      A stretch that works for me is, while standing, bend at the waist until the top of your head is pointing at the floor. Gently move your head and arms about.

  2. silvertech*

    Can anyone recommend, from personal experience, a website/app that would be good to practice a foreign language that you need to brush up? I know there are a lot, but I’m unable to make up my mind, especially if I have to pay. Thanks!

    1. anonanonanon*

      Duolingo!

      I’ve found it really useful to brush up on languages I had forgotten or hadn’t used in awhile. It’s free and you can set reminders on when to practice and each session can last between 5 to 10 minutes. You can use it on their website or as a smartphone app.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        Seconding Duolingo! I had it on my computer and I rarely used it, but with it on my phone, I do a few lessons daily. It even sends me a push notification if I forget a day.

            1. Liza*

              Nthing Duolingo. I’ve been using it to brush up on German and to learn Polish, and it has been very good for both! Sometimes I get a little frustrated at the Polish because I’m used to a traditional approach where you learn the grammatical concepts explicitly and Duolingo’s approach is more like how a child learns their native language, but I am enjoying it and I am learning.

              I described it to my dad as “like a language textbook without the paragraphs of English text, just the examples.” But I also really like the audio portions. I have it on my phone, and it reminds me daily to do my practice. I haven’t missed a day since I started!

      2. nerdgal*

        I also use Duolingo and find it excellent. I get free access through my local public library.

      3. Momiitz*

        I use duolingo as well. Very good and free. There is an app and website you can use.

    2. Connie-Lynne*

      Speaking of the library, my husband discovered that you can check out Pimsleur language learning CDs from the library. Lessons are 25 – 30 min daily. It’s more for learning a new language, though, than for doing brush-ups.

    3. Sparkly Librarian*

      I use the Duolingo app (free) and am starting with Pronunciator through my library. Duolingo is quick and appropriately repetitive, but I’m not sure about Pronunciator yet… it seems kind of clunky and slow. Then again, I’m an intermediate beginner in the language I chose, so if you’re starting from scratch, that might be better. The best feature of Duolingo is that if you don’t use the correct accent when you type in your answer, it still marks it as correct and notes “check your accents” while displaying how it should have been written. I like that flexibility even though of course I would prefer to be 100% accurate.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        As you get more advanced, Duolingo starts marking incorrect accents as wrong. I like their gradual approach.

    4. Kit*

      Babbel is a paid app and only has a few languages, but I found it the most useful of all I’ve tried. Duolingo courses make weird vocabulary choices in my opinion (why is the first German word you learn “Apfel”???) but are free.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Check out Shit Duolingo Says ( @shitduosays ) on Twitter. My most recent favorite is Il mio serpente mangia le tue torte. (My snake eats your cakes.)

        2. Ms. Didymus*

          My favorite is

          “La tortuga bebe leche”

          I do not believe it is true that la tortuga bebe leche. In fact, I am pretty sure that is patently false.

        3. anonanonanon*

          My favorites so far have been, “Złe dziecko pije kawę” (The evil child drinks coffee) and “Noszę nowe majtki” (I wear new underpants).

          1. Liza*

            Now I know what I have to look forward to! So far I’ve only gotten as far as “Kobieta pije herbata” (“the woman drinks tea”).

      1. Jillociraptor*

        In defense of the app, if I recall correctly, when I took an Arabic class, the book taught “United Nations” and “maternal uncle” in the first chapter, well before greetings, basic nouns, etc. To this day, I can’t say “how are you?” in Arabic, but I can say “I don’t love the United Nations.” Sometimes, it’s gotta be a little weird to stick!

        1. Willow*

          We must have learned from the same book. The main character Maha also had a crush on her cousin.

    5. Rahera*

      Along with apps, I would recommend listening to an online radio station in your target language. Even getting your brain in sync with the sounds of the language again is useful, and it’s exciting when you begin to pick out words you know. :)

    6. Florida*

      There is a podcast I like called News in Slow Spanish. That’s exactly what it is. They are reading news reports but it is slow. When you are learning Spanish, it seems like everyone is talking a hundred miles per hour. This podcast slows it down to about 30 mph.

    7. Mephyle*

      Duolingo is ideal for brushing up on a language that you used to know and want to get back up to speed. Also, since it’s free and takes minimal time, it’s not an either/or choice: you can use it as a supplement for whatever other site, app or method you use.
      Another source for language learning is Youtube – search for the language you’re interested in; there will probably be many series of videos teaching the language, both amateur and professionally-made.

      I also like Xpod101 (where X=the language).

      1. Myrin*

        Seconding Xpod101. I started learning Hebrew on Hebrewpod101 and although you can’t access all features if you’re not a paying customer, you still get tons of stuff for free and can learn so much, especially if you’re only just starting out in a language.

    8. saro*

      WOW, this thread was awesome – thank you everyone. Not even my question but found great resources! The community here is so great!

      1. Artemesia*

        We have Rosetta and don’t recommend it. The best I have found is Pimsleur which forces your interaction in not just repeating but in formulating responses and that is really the best way to learn. You can check it out of the local library.

  3. FD*

    Look at how HUGE her ears are in proportion to her face! Baby Olive has grown up so much!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I noticed with both Olive and Eve that some body parts grew at different rates from the rest of them. Eve’s back legs were much longer than her front legs for a while, which caused a really odd and adorable cowboy-like gait until the rest of her body caught up.

      1. AnotherFed*

        I had a puppy with that problem – it made frisbee absolutely hilarious for a few months!

        1. FD*

          My sister’s puppy hasn’t come to terms with the length of her legs yet. So when she tries to groom her back paws by chewing on them, she keeps kicking herself in the face by mistake.

  4. always anon*

    Has anyone tried any of the food subscription boxes?

    Can anyone who has tried them suggest why they did and what they liked? I’ve been hearing coworkers and friends rave about Blue Apron, but a box for 3 meals (or I guess 6 if it’s just for me) at $60 seems really over priced. I pay about $50/week for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks already. I do most of my weekly meal prep on the weekend and on weeks where I just thaw any pre-frozen veggies/cooked grains/fish the night before I spend about $30/week, so I don’t know if a food subscription box would be worth it?

    Maybe I’m just wary of the box trend since I haven’t had great experiences with Stitch Fix or Birchbox and was pretty much over the trend about 2 years ago.

    1. Guinness*

      I haven’t tried the food subscription boxes. I have concerns about the waste and not being able to pick out my own meat/produce. Also, I feel like if I have to chop all the food it’s not that much more to go to the store and pick it out myself.
      I have a friend who sells Wildtree, and I do love their freezer meal workshops. It’s a cost upfront, I think $80 for the kit and then another $100 or so in food, but you get 10 meals and it works out to like $3-$5 per serving. The food tends to be, ahem, less adventurous than some of the food subscription boxes and more in line with what my family will eat.

    2. Lillian McGee*

      I like Blue Apron, but I agree it is expensive. There are never any leftovers and I live on leftovers!

      We only get it delivered if the recipes look particularly intriguing and/or we are too lazy for meal planning that week. The best part is getting to try ingredients and techniques I would never have thought up on my own. That alone makes it worth it to me!

      1. always anon*

        My friends and coworkers were talking about how cheap it is, so I was really surprised when I saw the price because I can eat pretty well on half that price. I guess I should call my mum and thank her for teaching my frugal supermarket shopping habits haha.

        The techniques are what intrigues me, since I like to change up my ingredients frequently anyway, but I usually cook different meals with the same methods.

        1. anonnn*

          If you’re already into meal prep and grocery shopping, I think you’re probably far ahead of what Blue Apron is aiming for. I found them useful for people who don’t know the basics of cooking or planning, or for just finding new recipes, but it doesn’t seem like it’s for you.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I thought about getting it gift my husband for that reason. I already know how to grocery shop and meal plan, but I think it would give him a starting point that doesn’t overwhelm him with choices, which has happened to him when he’s tried to plan and cook a meal before. The cost is okay for that purpose, too, because typically when it’s his turn to cook, he brings take-out. I, on the other hand, am a budget, store-brand-buying, checking-the-price-per-ounce shopper, so meal delivery isn’t really for me.

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      In the UK, but we have multiple meal in a box providers here and I just dont see the value. A buddy at work uses one and is happy with the results and recipes, but his wife works a lot and they are willing to pay for the convenience factor and not having to make a decision on what to eat any given night AND its cheaper than eating out. He DID get food poisoning one night from some marinade that had been part of the box – I like to see where my ingredients are coming from!

      You sound like me though, someone who can meal plan, probably has a good stock of solid go-to recipes and pantry, and pre-plans/freezes leftovers, especially on the weekend. I’m not sure you would get much value out of it. Part of why like to cook is making tweaks to a recipe or using up food about to go to waste, or having something turn out completely different to planned, and this takes that away!

      Also, I know why people are doing it, but getting real tired of the subscription box trend. I think I saw one for ties the other week. Boyfriend gets his shaving equipment mailed in (hes very particular about blades, though, and it works for him) every three months, and we have a coffee subscription monthly, but that is about it.

      1. always anon*

        Yeah, I’ve been over the subscription box trend for awhile. I did Stitch Fix and Birchbox when they were fairly new on the market and everything was great for the first few boxes and then I started getting crappy, low-quality products that were overpriced, similar to stuff I could get in the city, or items I had requested not to be sent.

        Now that it’s mainstream popular, there are boxes for everything imaginable. I saw one for adult coloring books the other week.

      2. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have never used a subscription box, but I am not keen on the idea of not being able to choose meat/fish/avoiding manky looking vegetables. Although my newly opened budget supermarket has a free magazine which includes a meal plan for the week, with a few new ideas which I am going to test.

    4. Sunflower*

      So personally I think Blue Apron is aimed towards people who don’t really cook at all and eat take out almost all the time. It’s healthier and cheaper than take out but it’s nowhere near as cheap as cooking all the food yourself. For other food boxes, I think it’s a similar idea. People on a time crunch or people who just don’t feel like doing the work themselves so they pay a little extra.

      If you’re doing food prep, you probably aren’t the target audience for the food boxes and it’s probably not that beneficial to you.

      1. Searching*

        I agree – we started Blue Apron about a year ago and consider it replacement for always going out to eat. We usually feed 3 of us with each meal (this works out when we share with our adult daughter, but it wouldn’t work the same with our adult son who eats a ton) – so $20 is a pretty good deal compared to a restaurant meal for 2 or 3. I like trying out the different recipes and not having to buy an entire bottle of a new spice or larger quantities of other unfamiliar ingredients just to try out a new recipe.

        The main drawbacks: all the packaging (we definitely feel guilty about that, even though it’s all recyclable) and the vegetarian options (at least the ones that are available in combination with the non-veg meals) tend to be very starch-heavy with very little protein. They also went through a stretch where they would constantly miss packing certain ingredients in our shipment. They are always very good about giving full or partial refunds (depending on the issue), but it got pretty tiresome for a while there. And finally, I’m not always very good about remembering to cancel a shipment in time – you need to plan at least a full week ahead.

      2. Kyrielle*

        This is making me feel better. I periodically look at those and think it would simplify my life…sounds like maybe not. Which is good since they are not very handy to those of us with food restrictions, especially ‘weird’ ones. :)

    5. CMT*

      Since you’re already doing meal prep, it doesn’t sound like this is the kind of service for you. Keep on keepin’ on!

    6. eemusings*

      Not in the US but have a little experience with this. I find both the recipe + ingredient services AND produce only delivery services expensive – much more than I’d normally spend. I also prefer to have control over picking my fresh produce.

    7. junegemini*

      I regularly use Homechef and Hellofresh. It’s me and my teenage daughter and the meals work well for our busy schedule. I get the three meals for two people. Homechef is $59/week and Hellofresh is $69. It’s well worth it for us. The quality of the meals is good and we usually have enough leftovers to take for lunch. When we received a meal I didn’t like, I emailed and received a credit for that meal. I also subscribe to a monthly meal service, dream dinners. I’ve been using all three services interchangeably since last August. I hate grocery shopping and haven’t chosen to spend time meal planning.

      I also get Naturebox snacks monthly.

    8. Diane C.*

      We did Purple Carrot which is a vegan subscription where many of the recipes are developed by Mark Bittman.
      We chose Purple Carrot because we were interested in moving towards a plant based diet and since I work most evenings I wanted a way for my husband to be able to prepare meals beyond the hummus and pita that had become his standard. He is not a frequent cooker, but I am. Our household is two adults and one child.
      What worked for us:
      -expanding our repertoire of vegan recipes and ideas. We never had a bad meal- there was a few lukewarm meals, but mostly the food has been tasty.
      -the ingredients were very high quality. Some of the produce was better than what we could get at the grocery store. And we loved the excitement of getting a box every week.
      -The portions were huge. We got the family plan (2 meals, 4 portions each) and we usually had dinner for the three of use and 2-3 leftover meals.
      – not having to think about what to make for dinner
      – less grocery shopping.
      – Everything was pre measured, making it that much easier.

      What didn’t work for us:
      – the recipes often took more than 45 mins to make (I eventually worked around this by prepping some of the ingredients I the morning before I left). I think most of the recipes would make nice weekend meals, but they were not the best for daddy on a weekday to prepare by himself.
      – so much packaging! Common complaint. But we are reusing the ice packs and finding use for the cardboard boxes and ziploc bags.
      – the boxes didn’t always arrive on the same day of the week so it was hard to plan meals

      We have suspended our subscription for a while because we couldn’t keep up with the volume of food it was producing. One we have eaten down our freezer, we might start it back up again. The food we definitely tasty. It is expensive, but no excessively so.

    9. Nancypie*

      We do 2 Blue Apron meals a week. I like it because I was really bored with what we were making at home. So it’s added variety for us. I find it inexpensive because it keeps us from “what’s for dinner…I don’t know, let’s do takeout.” My kids, however, usually don’t love it (see above where I was bored with our usual dinners? That’s because we were keeping things in a range of what our kids would eat). We’re busy and meal planning is a hassle.

    10. Ada Lovelace*

      We just started trying HelloFresh and Blue Apron this year. We both enjoy cooking but the fatigue of meal planning and prep was getting to us. On the plus side, it helps tremendously with meal planning, especially now that Fiancé is taking evening classes. Knowing we have dinner and don’t need to run to the supermarket after working late helps. Both are slightly expensive, especially since there are no leftovers. Purchasing lunches has increased our food budget more than I would like.
      We found HelloFresh to be lacking. The directions were unclear. The recipes were boring. We found they lacked seasoning. At most it was salt and pepper. You really can’t mess up a cut of meat seasoned properly but the sides were bland. The portion sizes are a little smaller as we were hungry after.
      We’re on our third week on Blue Apron and it is absolutely worth the money for us. The recipes have been interesting and varied; tonight we’re having steak and eggs with kimchi rice. Even the vegetarian options have been good; Friday night we had mushroom and kale calzones. The portions are large enough where we are not hungry. The only downside to Blue Apron is that they limit your choices. Choosing meat means you can choose 3 out of the remaining 5 options.

    11. No Longer Just a Lurker*

      I just cancelled my subscription with HomeChef. It was ok but to pay almost double and still have to do 100% of the prep work wasn’t’ worth it. If you live in an area where some of those ingredient are hard to get or are so busy that getting to the store is hard I can definitely see an appeal but if you are that busy you don’t have time for the prep work these involve.

      1. Jinx*

        I had Home Chef for about four months and recently cancelled to save money for our upcoming move. The convenience was worth it to me for that time because I didn’t have a lot of meal ideas and looking something up on the internet / getting the ingredients / preparing was too much to think about most days, so we were blowing a lot of money on eating out.

        The cool thing about it was that I kept every recipe card they sent and put the ones we liked in a binder. So now every weekend I just pick a few and get the stuff myself. It was a great springboard to getting some original food ideas when you aren’t sure what you like.

        The only downside to that is that Home Chef sends packets labeled “seasoning mix” and won’t. tell you. what’s in it. Which means I have to guess or just substitute the spice for something I like. That’s really obnoxious for those of us that want to try a recipe again. :/

  5. Lillian McGee*

    We’re having a blizzard in the Chicagoland area today and I am thinking about gardening!

    I want to do lots and lots of herbs because it kills me every time I have to buy a bunch at the store and let half rot before I can use it. Are there any seeds I can start now inside? Ones that can make do with little direct sun?

    Also I would love to hear what y’all others are growing this year.

    Ps, it was snowing hard when I started writing this post and now it’s sunny. Spring in Chicago!

    1. the gold digger*

      I am in the upper Midwest and have been growing my own basil, parsley, and dill for years. I also grow my own tomatoes and fancy lettuces. Everything else I buy. My philosophy is I grow the things that taste better when homegrown (tomatoes) or are way too expensive (herbs and lettuce). It really is nice to come home from work and make a tomato/basil salad without wasting basil.

    2. Tris Prior*

      Right?? This weather is effed up. Sun, then snow, then dark clouds, then sun again, a while ago it actually thundered.

      Yes, you can start herbs and greens now! I’ve already started mine. I’m growing 4 or 5 kinds of basil, cilantro, dill, rosemary, lemon balm, snap peas, and arugula. I also have oregano, chives, and thyme in my community garden bed, and those plants are a few years old now and apparently hard to kill. :)

      Basil likes full sun (and don’t put it outside until it’s reliably above 60ish degrees at all times including at night – so, what, July at the rate we are going :P) . But the others, I’ve done OK with partial sun or shade.

      Probably in another week or so I am going to start my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. I’m trying to hold off until at least mid-April this year because last year I started them early and they grew into huge unwieldy trees by the time it was warm enough to put them in the ground.

      1. Myrin*

        I don’t know if something like it exists in English but in German, we have an expression called “april’s weather” meaning weather that is basically all over the place. Sounds like what you’re going through at the moment!

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      Just want you to know that I finished mowing my lawn, and it’s a very nice day. And I’m at about the latitude as Chicago, too. :)

    4. Audiophile*

      In NY, we’re supposed to get some snow tomorrow through Monday/Tuesday. It’s not supposed to accumulate very much, but still…. I don’t want it.

        1. Tris Prior*

          We had a fairly mild winter and a warmish March and I told someone, “I bet we are going to get bitch slapped in April.” Sure enough. Ugh. At least it’s not sticking, in the city.

          1. Audiophile*

            We had a mild winter too. Almo.st no snow, and the one snowstorm we did get was over a weekend, so digging out was easy.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              We did too, and I have not put my salt bags away because I’m convinced we’re going to get an actual snowstorm in between tornadoes before it’s all over.

        2. really?*

          You really want 100 degrees in April? Let me tell you, we have had four warm winters in a row. February averaged about 90 degrees. It was awful. Warm weather all the time really isn’t that great. In fact, I have friends who moved here from the east coast and upper midwest who are going back because they are tired of warm weather all the time.

    5. Artemesia*

      I live in a high rise and in winter I have a pot of basil and a pot of savory and rosemary and we have fresh herbs all winter. My basil was a nice strong bush for 2 years with lots of harvesting (and heading any blossoms) Suddenly it has decided to die so I will be getting another. In summer we have a communal herb garden on our pool deck and it provides plenty of mint, basil, sage, oregano, parsley and rosemary for everyone who wants to use fresh herbs.

      We have an eastern exposure and that morning sun is enough to keep basil healthy for the winter months. We love having fresh basil for scrambled eggs, soups, salads etc and rosemary and savory are really good for stewed meats. We also get a wreath of bay leaves every Christmas and save those for soups and stews.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I can’t seem to make my basil work in Virginia. It always gets kinda scrubby looking and the bugs eat it. I might do it in a pot this year and bring it in for the winter. I eat so much basil.

        1. Artemesia*

          When we lived in Nashville, one year my husband grew basil from seat and he started about 50 small plants and then transplanted them into the yard (not even a well prepared garden) We ended up with 50 giant basil bushes and enough basil for the city. It was amazing. WE put a lot of pesto in the freezer.

          When we have stayed in Paris for month or two stretches we have bought frozen basil flakes at Piccard (their food is sort of airline quality or like Trader Joe’s frozen meals, but their frozen herbs in little boxes are fabulous). We didn’t want to buy a whole spice cabinet for a short visit but the basil flakes were great for flavoring soups, eggs, cream sauces we used for the last of the roast chicken etc. Wish we could get them here. TJs has little frozen cubes of basil in oil that are okay for cooking but nowhere near as good as the little boxes of frozen flakes.

    6. LawCat*

      We’re in central California and just hit the nursery today. Unfortunately, as apartment dwellers, we can’t have the kind of garden I would like (lots of veggies), but we do some container gardening on the front porch of our building. We don’t get a lot of sun on the porch (north-facing with eves casting shade except in part of the morning) so that can be a bit of a challenge.

      We got a purple shamrock to add to a large pot that has a green shamrock and some dusty miller. The shamrocks won’t do well in the summer, but will be pretty in the spring (the green one has always bounces back when the weather cools down).

      We got an orange lily to plant in one of the pots and some pretty orange daisies for another pot. I forget the variety of daisies and they are a bit of an experiment. Another customer at the nursery and I were discussing daisies and he pointed these out as ones he has had luck with with partial shade. We’ll see!

      Then we got herbs! We already have some parsley and sage in. We will be adding cilantro, mint, basil, rosemary, and catnip (for the beast!). Looking forward to enjoying the herbs. :-)

      1. danr*

        Your cat may like the mint too. Our Mr Fred (a big ginger tom) prefers it as his greens snack.

      2. LawCat*

        We have room in a large pot for one more plant!

        I’d love some French lavender, but it’s the pot is in one of the shadier spots so I don’t think it would do well. Thinking of maybe planting some kale. We eat a lot of it so it might be worth trying.

    7. SAHM*

      I just spent several hours this afternoon in my yard weeding and gardening! It was lovely. I planted tomatoes, basil, and I have a rose (Queen Elizabeth) and two blueberries to put in. I picked up a regular blueberry at Home Depot but today we went to Costco and I Couldn’t resist their “Pink Lemonade Blueberries”. Pink Blueberries? This I gotta see! My apple, pear, peach, and elephant plum bloomed weeks ago so they’re just lovely full of green leaves, and one of my current three roses is blooming/budding beautifully. I was really excited too bc I had planted snap dragon seeds last year that nothing happened with and when I went to go weed that area of my yard, there was all these snap dragons! So they’ve really taken over that area, can barely see the elephant plum bc the snap dragons are growing so tall! But my 6 year old loves them, he’ll pick them and make them “talk”. I did have to spray close to their old sand box today though because the Spawn of Satan Bermuda Grass is growing up and starting to get into my lawn!!

    8. Christina*

      Check out the Peterson Garden Project blog. They’re a Chicago-based group that teaches people to grow their own food (you can rent an urban garden plot from them and they teach classes), but their We Can Grow It blog has some great tips on when, what and how to grow stuff from seed. I love them.

    9. Meredith*

      I’m in Wisconsin and do basil, rosemary, thyme, organo, and chives. Green onions are good, too. Chives are perennial, so that’s nice. Be careful about what you plant in a yard. For example, if you plant mint, you want it in a container or it’ll spread and you’ll never get rid of it. Tomatoes are good container plants, but they need a little sun.

    10. Valeriane*

      I grew parsley in a pot indoors in Chicago, moved the plant with me to Missouri, and kept it healthy for 4 more years on my windowsill. I think it only died then because I had to block out most of the natural light since I moved into a loft with horribly cold, leaky windows. (What a mistake that was!)

  6. AnotherAlison*

    My sister got engaged recently. Her fiance is kind of a tool, and my husband says he won’t go to the wedding. They haven’t set a date, so it’s not a problem I have to deal with right now. I also don’t really care, but my mom will be very upset about it. My sister is kind of weird about things, so I’m not sure if she would be upset or not. Basically, our problem is this guy has been dating my sister for 6-7 years (all post-college), and we’ve only seen him maybe 10 times. We live in the same area. My sister comes to family holidays and birthdays by herself. That’s fine if you’re not serious, but they’ve lived together for 3 years. I don’t know. . .I guess if she’s fine with her husband never seeing her family, fine, but then I’ll be fine with mine not attending their wedding.

    What do you make of the situation?

    1. regina phalange*

      Wow, he SOUNDS like a tool and I think you will have to be that blunt if she asks about why your husband will not go. Why will your mom be so upset if your husband does not attend? Does she get upset when your sister’s fiance is a no-show?

      1. AnotherAlison*

        My mom told my sister that she expected him to come to things once they were married and my sister said ok, so I guess that my mom is bothered by it. (Kind of a strange mandate, but we will see how it turns out.) My parents don’t like him either, but my mom tends to live in a fantasy world, and by accepting that they’re getting married, she can build a fantasy that my sister is just like me and my family. . .and my mom can get some more grandkids, my sister will have a normal, married suburban life, etc.

        I also think my mom is just a touch crazy. She gets upset at holidays if you don’t stuff yourself with all the food she made. She also called me to tell me that my sister was engaged. My sister said she was waiting to tell me in person and told my mom that, but my mom “forgot” and called me to tell me. She will randomly start crying about her dog that died, or her mom, who died 7 years ago.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        My mom told my sister that she expected him to come to things once they were married and my sister said ok, so I guess that my mom is bothered by it. (Kind of a strange mandate, but we will see how it turns out.) My parents don’t like him either, but my mom tends to live in a fantasy world, and by accepting that they’re getting married, she can build a fantasy that my sister is just like me and my family. . .and my mom can get some more grandkids, my sister will have a normal, married suburban life, etc.

        My mom’s life has been kind of crappy the past 10 years. . .we had 7 deaths in the family, including her mom, dad, brother, and nephew (that was about a 5-year time frame). My dad left her, but then moved back in. She’s been through a lot, but she doesn’t admit anything was less than perfect. It’s annoying, but that’s what I see going on here. We’re going to have to pretend their relationship is normal, when it’s really not.

    2. Sunflower*

      Well more importantly, how does your sister feel about him not coming around much? Does she seem happy with him overall?

      1. regina phalange*

        Great point, I was wondering that myself. I know people in unhappy relationships who got married anyway b/c they didn’t want to be single.

    3. Sibley*

      To be perfectly honest, this guy may be a tool, but your husband is being an ass. And you’re perilously close to joining him. Unless the wedding ends up being far away, suck it up and go. Both of you. And while you’re there, smile and wish them happiness and mean it. It’s one thing to skip Christmas, it’s quite another to skip the wedding.

      You don’t have to like who your sister marries. You do have to be polite, and not going to her wedding simply because you don’t like the groom is one of the quickest ways to destroy your relationship with your sister, not to mention making your mom really mad at both of you.

      Oh, and it doesn’t matter if your sister did this or that – take the high road.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        How am I being an ass? By not forcing my husband to come, or by not liking her fiance?

        I’ve never said anything bad about him to he, and I wouldn’t skip the wedding. I don’t have much of a relationship with my sister, anyway, as I’m significantly older and moved out of the house when she was in grade school. We’ve never been really close. I’m not going out of my way to make things worse, but we pretty much have a holidays and birthdays type of relationship anyway.

        I never said my sister did anything to me, so I’m not sure where you’re getting this. Seems like you’re interpreting a lot of hostility that isn’t there.

        1. Dan*

          People have varying expectations of what family means. My family isn’t big on holidays, is small anyway, and i live 600 miles from them. We get together once a year or so.

          My ex was big on family stuff in a dysfunctional sort of way. For a while, she had a lot of family in the area. She expected me to be at EVERYTHING. There was a three month stretch where there was something going on 10 out of 12 weeks in a row. She hit the roof when I’d try and bug out of things. I mean, I work full time and need a little time to myself.

          Her brother decided to mary his baby momma with an out of state wedding at a time they knew we would be out of the country on one of our epic vacations. I told her we weren’t cancelling our trip, and TBH, I was happy to skip the wedding.

          TL;DR some people are super close to family, some aren’t.

        2. CMT*

          For most people, weddings are very, very significant and important events. After all, most people intend to have them only once in their lives. Skipping a wedding isn’t the same as skipping a Christmas dinner. (Again, for a lot of people and their families. Obviously not every person or family operates this way.) I think that’s why Sibley is saying what they are. It’s a big deal and your husband will be sending a message that he does not care about your sister or her fiancé.

        3. neverjaunty*

          You’re not being an ass, but what’s your husband’s deal? He doesn’t like your sister’s fiance so he’s going to skip your sister’s wedding? That doesn’t make much sense.

        4. Ted Mosby*

          I do sense a lot of hostility here:

          “If she’s fine with her fiancé never seeing her family then I’m fine with my husband skipping her wedding.”

          I don’t think it’s the best attitude or idea. Your husband is being immature, and condoning his behavior is fueling the fire. Your sisters wedding shouldn’t be optional for either of you, especially not because her fiancé has been missing things. It’s very childish logic. As an adult “he started it” isn’t really an acceptable excuse for bad behavior. You’re just adding to the cycle; now other family members will see your husband as the jerk who doesn’t show up.

        5. Triceratops*

          Not attending their wedding (if it’s not a hardship on the travel front) seems like an extreme reaction to her fiance being standoffish/a jerk. If he called someone a slur or physically assaulted someone? Sure, cut ties. But being kind of a jerk doesn’t seem to warrant skipping their wedding.

    4. Myrin*

      The very first question that popped into my head reading this is whether you guys know why he never attends any family functions with your sister. Does he think you’re all a bunch of unlikeable idiots? Does he have extreme social anxiety? Is he a super duper private person? Was there some big fallout between you and him in the beginning of the relationship? Does he travel a lot for his job and is basically never home? And so on.

      The answer to that question would, to me, determine whether he really is a tool or not. I mean, obviously you know him and the situation better than us random internet strangers but from your comment it seems like the only reason you classify him as a “tool” because you barely ever meet him? And I don’t know if that’s completely fair depending on the circumstances (it could be, though!).

      No real advice on the wedding front although, again, I don’t quite understand if your husband doesn’t want to attend solely because the fiancé never shows up? If so, I can’t quite understand that rationale unless he actively dislikes him otherwise (character-wise, I mean) but other than that I really feel like it’s his decision but politeness towards your spouses family would probably dictate you show up anyway, especially if he otherwise likes and gets along with your sister.

      1. TootsNYC*

        ” if your husband doesn’t want to attend solely because the fiancé never shows up”

        So, if your husband doesn’t show up for a wedding, isn’t he doing the exact same thing?

        1. Lucie*

          That’s exactly what I thought when reading this! “So, we don’t like my sister’s husband because he never comes to our dinners…so my husband isn’t going to go to his wedding”. Pot, kettle…?

          1. AnotherAlison*

            That really got spun wrong. I was avoiding listing out all his flaws one by one, but I’ve expanded some below. Not coming to family events is just one thing in a list of shortcomings that would make him less than stellar marriage material.

            Now, my parents didn’t want me to marry my husband, either. They were wrong. This guy can change too, but so far, he hasn’t. All he’s done is made a lot of promises about what he’s going to do to get his life back on track.

            1. neverjaunty*

              If your parents didn’t want you to marry your husband, either, your sister has little reason to take their disapproval of a sign that maybe she should think twice.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Totally seconding that first paragraph — there are reasons for not showing up to stuff that could paint him a much more sympathetic light. Do you know what’s behind his absence?

        Either way, though, skipping the wedding of a close family member is a Big Statement, and one that’s likely to really harm the relationship in the long-term. I’d reserve it for cases where the bride or groom beat up your dad or Bernie-Madoff’d you or something like that, not just disliking the person.

      3. JaneB*

        My brother-in-law misses most of the things with our side of the family, but that’s partly because he works stupid-long hours with an antisocial schedule (he gets up before 4am six days of the week, so has to be in bed early or he’s a wreck) and partly because he just doesn’t like large groups of people (which I empathise with). He skips out on as many of his own family’s gatherings as he can (and they’re a big clan so there are a lot of them) and has caused upset by taking a book along and hiding away with it.

        He’s a perfectly pleasant person when you do run into him, my sister is happy, and there never seems to be a problem with her and their kids coming along to family stuff, so it really doesn’t bother me. They’ve pretty much compromised on him coming and making an effort at one thing a year, and as we’re not all local that seems fair. Bothers my Mum – a bit – but we tease that that’s because she only had girls but always wanted a son, and she does rather want to spoil Brother-in-Law given the chance….

        1. JaneB*

          But the thing is, family gatherings happen every few months for life. Weddings happen ONCE. So missing one of those seems like a much bigger deal – can he maybe come to only part of it due to some prior engagement?? Sitting through the service or, if that seem hypocritical, having a nice meal with the family then leaving means only needing to act like an adult for an hour or so… unless he has more serious concerns than not liking the person.

        2. Susan C*

          Same.

          Mr. C usually begs off anything where more than six people will be in the same room, and using work as an excuse isn’t even a lie, most of the time. (As for our own wedding, going with a minimalist, borderline shotgun approach seems to have been an even better idea than I already thought. Whew!)

      4. AnotherAlison*

        At first it was because he went to his mom’s instead, and that’s fine, but people alternate. Later, they borrowed my parent’s vehicle, and he backed it into a tree, and wouldn’t pay for it, so he didn’t come around for about a year. He has been unemployed for long stretches of time, which happens, but he had one job he walked off of, then got took a while to find one, got fired from there, had another job, quit because he thought he was going to take over a relative’s business, then that didn’t work out. . . so no, he’s not traveling for work.

        My sister also asked to borrow our truck once to move, and then we found out he was driving it. That’s probably the biggest thing that pissed off my husband, because he never gave permission for him to drive it. He’s someone who doesn’t have a perfect driving record.

        When they first started dating, they came to our house when we weren’t there, and played with one of my son’s outdoor toys, got it covered in mud and left it that way.

        He really just doesn’t seem to have a lot of integrity or good character, and no self-awareness.

        1. JaneB*

          Yeah, that sounds really annoying! Definitely enough to avoid the odd gathering over, but still… if your husband likes your Mum and the rest of your family, and if they’d be upset that he wasn’t there, could you frame it like that to him? That he’s attending for THEM, not as a badge of approval of the guy your sister chose?

        2. Myrin*

          Aha, now that does cast him (and your sister, I’m sorry to say, who seems to be in on his shenanigans) in a different light. In that situation, it seems like the “we don’t ever see him/he never shows up” is a bit of a red herring and in the end there’s just plain dislike between you guys (which is okay! We can’t all love everyone!). I still agree with what other commenters said in that not coming to a wedding like that is a huge thing and likely to close some doors at least for a long time, if not forever. I’d suggest going to the wedding but drawing clear boundaries in life so that things like borrowing vehicles and then ruining them doesn’t happen again.

        3. TootsNYC*

          None of those are things I’d recognize as proper motivation for refusing to attend a sister-in-law’s wedding.

          1. Doriana Gray*

            + 1. Unless he’s beating your sister or endlessly cheating on her, the fact that she’s marrying someone extremely self-involved is not enough of a reason to skip her wedding. When my brother marries my niece’s mom, I’m going to attend the wedding even though I don’t like the girl (he could have done so much better) because I love my brother. Sometimes you just have to grin and bear these things.

            1. TootsNYC*

              And if he were beating your sister or endlessly cheating on her, I’d be advocating for going, simply so that your sister will always know that you will be on her side without judgment–just in case she needs you some day.

              And there are 2 people getting married–not just Feckless and Immature Boyfriend–your sister (his sister-in-law) is getting married. He won’t go simply to let her know he cares about her?

              People pick who they marry–it’s not up to their family members (nowadays not even parents, but especially not a brother-in-law) to decide.
              Of course you two can decide to have all the boundaries you want with them. But this is her choice–other people don’t get a say.

              1. Doriana Gray*

                Agreed. However, it doesn’t sound like OP and her sister are that close, so OP’s husband is probably even less close, and therefore this is why he sees no problem with skipping. I don’t know how people would get past this – tough situation.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              This. A relative married someone I HATED (they divorced a long time ago, thank God, and he did better the second time), but because I cared about him, I went to their wedding.

        4. kms1025*

          as annoying as he sounds…please go to your sister’s wedding…its something you will not get a chance at a “do-over” and she may always hold it against you…go please

    5. misspiggy*

      Not attending a close family member or in-law’s wedding without a cast iron reason sends a pretty big signal that you don’t support the marriage. I’d encourage your husband to go, but ask the sister why her fiancé doesn’t come to so many family gatherings.

      For what it’s worth, I only see my husband’s family a couple of times a year – same with my own family. That feels like a lot to me, even though they’re all lovely – I’m just an introvert with limited spoons for socialising.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think I would have continued not to eat bacon properly if I had your setting going on…. that whole thing was amazing.

    6. TootsNYC*

      I think it’s a HUGE thing to not go to someone’s wedding.

      I’m not impressed with your husband’s stance. If he thinks his sister-in-law might ever need him, should she have difficulties in this marriage, he will have closed that door.
      And, he will have clearly told his sister-in-law’s husband that he doesn’t ever want to interact with him–so why would the husband ever come to any event?

      And you know–how controlling is it that he feels he gets the right to approve of her husband?

      I’m curious–have you guys ever invited your sister and her boyfriend/fiancé over for dinner or something?

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Really, I’m on team-my-husband-should-just-effing go for the sake of peace. It’s a couple hours of your life. Get over it.

        Not to excuse him, but his mother has been divorced 7 times. He has some issues around being dragged into supporting marriages that he didn’t agree with. Not that he thinks he can tell someone who to marry, but he doesn’t want to be involved. He’s childish in that way, but I do understand why.

        No, we haven’t invited them to dinner, but I don’t really see my sister either, so that would really just seem weird.

        1. anonnn*

          So it seems like you don’t see your sister much either, but are calling her fiance an “ass” while giving her a pass for the same behavior?

        2. fposte*

          Do you want to see your sister? It would seem a shame not to make a positive change just because a change would feel strange. On the other hand, if you’re not interested in seeing your sister, that feeling may be part of the whole situation.

        3. Dan*

          I don’t think it’s childish to not support relationships you don’t agree with. Nobody gets to tell me how to spend my money, you know? Although it’s much easier to get away with it when weddings are out of state. Can’t afford it, don’t have the time, blah blah.

          1. Artemesia*

            But you don’t need to ‘agree with’ anyone’s relationship to acknowledge their right to have it. Since when is anyone else required to approve someone else’s relationship? To boycott a relative’s wedding is a huge rejection. Doing it is to tell them they are permanently not part of your life. Those are heavy guns unless there is a very heavy reason.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, “heavy guns” is a good way of thinking about it. I can’t tell if Husband knows these are heavy guns and really wants to punish new BIL so BIL knows he’s punished (and SIL is either a target as well or Husband doesn’t care about the collateral damage), or if Husband is thinking of this as like a night out with people he’s not crazy about and therefore really doesn’t want to take the trouble. I don’t know if you can do much if it’s the former, but if it’s the latter, the heavy guns notion may help him realize what kind of weapon he’s wielding when he doesn’t mean to.

              1. catsAreCool*

                If your husband had to go to all of his mom’s weddings, I can understand why he might never want to go to one again, especially if this is bringing back memories of someone close to him making bad choices. This still seems like something he should go to – she’s his sister in law, they don’t live that far from each other, they’re probably going to have to get along with each other for a long time, and it’s easier if there isn’t something like non-attendance at a wedding between them.

            2. Dan*

              You come very close to implying that people *are* in fact required to approve a relationship by saying that not going is a huge rejection.

              It’s only a huge rejection of the person is close and your want their attendance. If they aren’t close, how huge can the rejection be?

            3. Ask a Manager* Post author

              @Dan, the rejection isn’t of the marriage — it’s a rejection of your relationship with the person getting married.

              Attending a wedding isn’t signaling your approval of the relationship. It’s signaling your support of and love for the person getting married. Not attending the wedding of an immediate family member is a huge deal — it says you don’t care about your relationship with the person much. That’s of course your prerogative, but there are usually really big and long-term consequences to doing that.

              1. the gold digger*

                Not attending the wedding of an immediate family member is a huge deal

                My husband’s parents told him they were not going to attend our wedding and they told him not to marry me. Our relationship – which wasn’t much of one anyone – never recovered after that. I suppose there might have been a chance if they had said to me, “Hey – we were big fat jerks and we are sorry,” but they never did. I pretty much hated them and the way they treated my husband until the day they died.

                If you don’t go to your own sister’s wedding, you will be pretty much telling her that your relationship with her is over and you don’t care.

                1. Artemesia*

                  I was the divorced woman marrying the oldest son of a devout Catholic family. They had already learned their lesson by boycotting the wedding of their next in order son — even after that marriage failed years later and he remarried a lovely woman everyone loved, their relationship with their second son never really recovered. And since they had enlisted my husband and other brothers to ‘talk sense to him’ it permanently damaged his relationship with everyone. He always has had a bit of a chip on his shoulder since. (I don’t blame my husband as he was very young as were they all; but my inlaws were really short sighted)

                  The good part is that they apparently figured out that opposing the intended of one of their kids was not going to have good consequences and so they were welcoming to me. We eloped though to avoid the religious complications of a second marriage (and because we were broke and couldn’t afford a wedding.)

              2. CA Admin*

                Yeah, exactly this. A close family friend (almost brother) and his wife boycotted my sister’s wedding because she’s a lesbian and he is the judgy type of evangelical Christian. He wrote her a really demeaning letter about how he loves her too much to lie about why he’s not going and his conscience wouldn’t allow him to pretend he approved. I wrote him back explaining why that was an asshole move and nobody else in the family has spoken to him since.

                Attending a wedding isn’t tacit approval of the relationship, it’s approval/support of the member of the couple who invited you. If you genuinely can’t go due to circumstances (money/work/travel/etc.), people will forgive. If you decide not to go because the significant other annoys/upsets you, you’re saying that your annoyance means more than your relationship with your family member/friend/etc. That’s why boycotting a wedding destroys relationships.

          2. neverjaunty*

            No, I don’t know how this is a matter of “nobody gets to tell me how to spend my money”, unless you reduce important life events like marriages to the level of a concert or a play, where you’re only willing to spend money if you’re getting enough bang for your buck out of attending.

            1. Dan*

              Oh come on. If any real travel is involved, “not in the budget/can’t afford it/can’t get away from work” are extremely legitimate reasons to skip a wedding.

              Granted, those excuses don’t fly if the wedding is local, no overnight travel is involved, and all you have to do is give a small gift.

              Destination wedding that costs $3k for me to attend? Damn better be worth the bang for the buck. I’m not obligated to spend that much.

              1. Artemesia*

                Those excuses don’t fly when it is your sister or brother getting married unless it is an exotic foreign destination with seriously high costs. There is no excuse for skipping the wedding of a sibling except ‘I am 8 months pregnant and can’t travel.’ or ‘I am deployed to Iraq and can’t travel.’ or the equivalent.

              2. neverjaunty*

                Oh, come on yourself. Nobody gets to tell you how to spend your money, unless it’s below a certain threshold, and then their wish is your command after all? Pick one – either weddings are an unimportant form of entertainment you go to or not depending on the cost/benefit ratio to you personally, or they’re an important social obligation and milestone that you suck up and attend unless it’s a genuine hardship to do so, OR unless you really want to convey a message through your absence.

                The OP’s husband doesn’t appear to be saying that the cost of attending is a hardship or that he’s so estranged from OP’s sister that he wants to make a statement with a boycott. He’s just being childish because he dislikes the OP’s sister and won’t even attend as part of a married couple.

        4. Dynamic Beige*

          He has some issues around being dragged into supporting marriages that he didn’t agree with.

          How does he feel about supporting you when you’re doing something he doesn’t agree with? I mean, this is your sister. She, from the sounds of it, is making a mistake. All of us who are “older and wiser” can see the red flags waving, but she does not. Sometimes — actually most times — you have to learn these things the hard way. Your husband’s appearance at the wedding isn’t necessarily a show of support for her, but it would be for you, because otherwise you’re going to go to this thing alone and have to deal with all the feels about it and people asking where he is. He will essentially be hanging you out to dry.

          Now, one of the classic things abusers do is isolate their victim from their family and support system. IMO, you should both go because if this marriage does head off the rails, your sister is going to need somewhere to go or at least someone to listen. It’s hard to tell right now if your sister is as uh… “interesting” as this man, or if she’s just immature and needs to grow up a bit. She could be under his spell because he’s the first one who ever looked at her twice/she doesn’t want to be alone/other completely unhealthy non-reason. I think that you can go to the wedding for *her*, just to let her know that you support *her*, that if she ever needs you, you’ll be there. The only thing worse than staying in a bad relationship is staying because you believe you’re trapped and have nowhere else to go.

          1. TootsNYC*

            “He has some issues around being dragged into supporting marriages that he didn’t agree with.”

            I have such huge troubles with this point of view.

            In the first place, it’s not someone else’s place to decide whether a marriage is a good idea or not. It’s not their life. Did you want someone to judge whether you should marry your spouse or not, and Make a Point of how much they “support” you? (“you” being mostly generic, but only partly)

            Or did you want your friends and family to simply accept your spouse, because YOU chose him?

            The only people making any sort of promises of support at a wedding are the couple themselves. Occasionally the parents. (I’m becoming less and less a fan of the “let’s ask the congregation to make a promise of support,” if this is the judgmental attitude it leads to.)

            You’re just witnessing, when you attend.

            (There’s no indication this guy is abusive–just really immature and annoying.)

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              (There’s no indication this guy is abusive–just really immature and annoying.)

              True. But the whole “I won’t spend time with your family” thing sends up a flare for me as I’ve seen that happen before in other relationships that had… let’s say control issues. He may be fine (or not, it’s not mentioned) with the sister spending time with her family without him on important family occasions now but when they’re married, I doubt that will continue. He has already shown that he is not willing to compromise — whether that’s because his parents are demanding things of him or he doesn’t want to be “hen pecked”, no idea. Either way, it’s no bueno.

        5. Ted Mosby*

          I’m of 2 minds on this. 7 divorces would make me never want to go to a wedding again, let alone this one. And it’s good that you’re trying to get him to go.

          On the other hand, I agree that adults can’t be “made” to do anything but my boo knows when i do my angry eyes this is not an optional event. Your husband should be willing to do certain things, even things he doesn’t want to do, especially things like weddings. And it sucks to have hard family history, but you also need to put on your big boy pants and suck this kind of thing up in life.

          You didn’t live with your sister for long as a child/young adult. You’re not especially close now. You can’t really blame her fiancé for not being around a lot in those circumstances. You’re still annoyed that he got something of yours muddy 6 (!!!) years ago. Unless your husband specifically said “don’t let Fiancé drive my truck” he needs to let go of the truck thing too. I might not want to be around either if I were him.

          He doesn’t sound like Prince Charming, but the things you listed are annoyances. They’re not anywhere close to justifying the fall out that would come from skipping a wedding.

          1. Dan*

            I agree with you here. Op isn’t close to her sister, bf never comes around anyway, why get so excited about this one? I wouldn’t.

            And yes, I do think there are things you do out of obligation, even if you’d prefer not to. This is one of them.

            I support op’s husband’s right to feel the way he does, but sucking it up is the right thing to do. I think both can coexist.

        6. Elizabeth West*

          It’s not really supporting the marriage–it’s just being there for your relative. They’re adults and they’ve made their choice. They don’t need (or probably want) your approval, but I’m guessing they’d like the people they invite to actually be there.

          1. fposte*

            It’s one of those things where doing it means very little, but not doing it means a whole lot.

            1. Dan*

              Funny how that works. In some ways I think people are reading a lot into what attendance means.

              My brother and I aren’t that close – to the point that skipping each other’s weddings wouldnt have been intended as a giant f u. It would, however, have been just plain weird.

              1. fposte*

                It’s kind of like housekeeping–nobody notices when you do it, but everybody does when you don’t.

                I think Husband wouldn’t be getting the same grief here if he (or Another Alison) had just said that he just never goes to events and won’t be going to this one. But once the truth has leaked that it’s a response to the couple themselves, it’s legitimate for it to be perceived as personal, because it is. I guess if he does skip it, he may have a “get out of family events free” card for a while to provide camouflage :-).

      2. blackcat*

        “I think it’s a HUGE thing to not go to someone’s wedding.”

        I don’t think so. I mean, sure, a sibling or sibling in law’s wedding is sorta a big deal, but it doesn’t have to be. Particularly if folks aren’t close.

        I’ve instructed my husband to not come to the wedding of my cousin who he can’t stand. I’ll have far more fun without him (and with my other cousins). He’d just mope and/or offend the groom’s family (the dude is fine, but is family is… uh… extremely at the other end of the spectrum in any way imaginable).

        It’s not going to be some big conflict. Instead it will be, “Husband had very important [work thing].” It is an easier out because said cousin is getting married on a Friday, and I’ll need to leave Thursday to get there.

        1. TootsNYC*

          substitute for “someone’s” then “a sibling’s”–because this is what we’re talking about. We’re not talking about a distant cousin.

    7. Librarian of the North*

      I’m a big fan of not policing my Husband’s actions and I don’t believe in “making” adults do anything. I think if he doesn’t want to go then he shouldn’t go. Personally I would refuse to answer for his actions. If it upsets your mom or your sister I would look to him to answer any of their concerns. Of course, this also means your sister shouldn’t have to answer to why her fiance isn’t at other family events.
      Not that this is has anything to do with what it going on, but I could definitely see my Husband’s family painting me this way. I put in a solid seven years of really trying to get along with his family but recently decided it was too hard and will only see them three times a year going forward. I’m sure there will be talk about how terrible I am. Has your family acted warm and welcoming to your sister’s fiance when he is around? Just a different side to maybe consider.

      1. AnotherTeacher*

        Good points.

        This issue, or iterations of it, have come up before, and the various views seem to come down on two, admittedly generalized, sides:
        (1) A wedding is a big day. People should do what the bride/groom (or other family members) want.
        (2) A wedding is a day. People should do what they would usually do and/or want to do.

        There is always a larger, more nuanced backstory to these questions.. and the responses. I’m solidly in camp (2) but recognize there’s no good answer in these situations.

      2. catsAreCool*

        Not showing up to most family events is one thing, but messing up someone else’s vehicle and refusing to pay to get it fixed crosses a line, in my opinion. With that said, going to the wedding is about supporting the sister, not necessarily her choice of spouse.

    8. Marzipan*

      Honestly, I don’t really get the issue you have with him. From the details you’ve given, it sounds as though you’ve seen him once or twice a year over the time they’ve been together, which I think is about how often I see my brother’s partner, and I don’t see that as evidence that either she or I are especially tool-ish. To me, that doesn’t sound abnormally infrequent. It sounds as though you and your family have an expectation of seeing him when you see your sister, but I can think of all kinds of reasons why he might not want or be able to do that – work commitments, commitments to see his own family at the same time, anxiety spending time with people, not enough spoons, etc.

      Do he and your sister love one another? Is he kind to her? Is he, on balance, a positive presence in her life? If so… I don’t actually think he’s a tool. It sounds as though there’s an expectation within your family that the price of admission to the family is attendance at family events – effectively, that by marrying your sister he’s expected to become a main cast member in the story of all your lives. Is there a reason he can’t remain as a recurring guest star, though?

      1. Marzipan*

        Just to say, you added further details while I was typing this! Makes more sense to me now.

    9. Carrie in Scotland*

      I didn’t go to my dad’s wedding when he got re-married a few years ago.

      I chose not to go because it would hurt/upset me more than I was willing to overcome for the sake of going for my dad. It’s definitely come up once or twice in conversation because it obviously did hurt my dad (my brother also did not attend) but I stand by it – the only wedding of my dad’s I’ve attended was when I was 7 and my parents got married. I also didn’t want to be a bridesmaid to his wife and we have a sketchy relationship at best (as I’ve posted on here several times)

      1. Ted Mosby*

        Not going to a wedding 1) for a parent 2) that is legitimately upsetting to you as opposed to just being annoying is totally different. If your brother didn’t go either, I’m guessing there was enough going on to justify your decision.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Yes. There’s a huge difference between not going for your own mental and emotional well-being, and not going because ‘meh, she’s marrying someone who’s kind of a dip.’

    10. Not So NewReader*

      My take on it is that as a couple they will tend to drift away from your family over time. You’ll see less and less of them. It’s good that you support your husband for the most part and it’s good that you understand why he is reacting the way he is.

      I would be very careful about feeling responsible for other people’s relationships with each other. Start now, if you haven’t already, practicing this. Let each person in this story manage their own relationships with each other. Otherwise, you could have full time employment just sorting all that is going on here. So if your mom is upset with your husband about not going to the wedding, all you need her to know is that you support his decisions and refuse to keep discussing it. As far as sis’ wedding, I think now, I would go but I would understand that probably in time the relationship will fade. So at a later point, I would be able to say “at least I went to her wedding to wish her well.” Years ago, I would have skipped the wedding. I can see both sides of that question, you have to do what you can manage.
      The times I have seen an SO not show up at family events were basically for one or two reasons: 1) The SO was just not a family event person- shy/busy/awkward/whatever. 2) The family member had been bad mouthing family to their SO. The SO finally got so fed up with all the “my rotten family” stories that the SO could not even face the family. Is your sis close with anyone in your family?

    11. Artemesia*

      Tool or not, your husband really needs to grow up on this one IMHO. Families just don’t boycott each other’s weddings unless they want a permanent feud. If he were a child molester or beat your sister, okay — make a statement, but otherwise, you suck it up and support your siblings and siblings in law for special events like this one.

    12. danr*

      Your husband should go to the wedding. That way he will experience all of the stories that may come out of it first hand. After that, he can duck out on gatherings. One thing though… the husband may change completely with the first child. I saw that kind of transformation. It was amazing to see.

      1. Artemesia*

        I laughed at this. One of my SILs married a tool and the wedding did in fact produce a series of hilarious anecdotes that the extended family still chuckles about from time to time long after that marriage ran its course and she is now married to a sweet guy everyone likes.

  7. Sunflower*

    For all the renters, how much do you spend on rent? Do you follow the 30% rule? Do you live in a high COL area that affects that? Do you think your rent is reasonable for your area?

    After much consideration, I’ve decided to move back in with a roommate. I want to live in a bigger space and I can’t afford the kind of apartment I want to live in alone.

    So now that we’re looking, I’m not sure what is the norm to pay. Somehow my friends have always been able to find steal apts and when I talk to other people, they pay a lot more than we did for similar spaces. I live in Philly in Center City/immediate neighborhoods surrounding that. I never know how to gauge Philly’s COL- we’re cheaper than other east coast cities but have no idea how we compare to other cities in the country.

    Also- having a roommate doesn’t automatically mean low rent or affordable. In fact, I will probably be paying more in rent with a roommate than I did in my studio alone. Searching online, I’ve seen a lot of people say ‘oh you live in a high COL area- get a roommate’. Most people in NYC can barely afford their flex apts they live in with roommates. Just a very strange idea I’ve seen thrown around a lot. I don’t know anyone who can afford to live alone until they’re quite a few years into their careers.

    1. regina phalange*

      I live in a very high COL area and when I moved here I went from living alone to having a roommate. I pay less than 30% of my take home w/a roommate but if I wanted to live alone it would be over. Nice 1-BR apartments here can run close to $2000/mo, which is obscene. Going from living alone in a 1BR to having a roommate was a step backwards for me and kind of morale killer but I had no choice given the circumstances. However, it sounds like you will have more space since studios are usually pretty small. I am enough years into my career where I should be able to afford my own place but am paying off some debt first.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        It’s not just a matter of thinking that spending more than 30% would work for you. My family members that are landlords would never rent to someone whose rent to income ratio would be more than 30%. They say it is too risky. They are also pretty careful in terms of what they consider income, and if it isn’t garnishable, they don’t count it (unless obligated by law). These seem like pretty strict rules, but they have been doing this for 20+ years, in up and down markets, so my guess is that they learned these rules at the school of hard knocks.

    2. anonanonanon*

      I pay $1,500 for a one bedroom + living room + dining room in Beacon Hill, Boston (heat/hot water included). It’s quite a steal since places like mine usually go for at least $2,500. I have friends who have studios and are paying $1,700 – $1,800. Sure, my apartment doesn’t have laundry in the building and has radiator heat, but it’s downtown and I can walk to work, so it works.

      Finding steal apartments is really just luck and timing.

      1. Alston*

        Damn, that’s an amazing deal! We’re in Porter Square (still Boston area) and pay 2100 for a one bedroom (no heat/hot water) that has a kitchen so small the fridge literally doesn’t fit in it. On the plus side, skylights and the rest of the apartment is of a normal size.

        The first couple years out of college I was paying 50-60% for rent and utilities in Boston. Now it’s a little under 40%.* The boyfriend makes more and thus pays more of the rent and I think he’s paying 15-20% of his after tax income.

        Another thing in Boston is that almost every apartment has a realtors fee you have to pay. We found our apartment by asking my old landlord if they had any others for rent—you might ask your current one, or ask your friends with cheep places to ask their landlords.

        *I’m counting post tax/insurance dollars

        1. Rob Lowe can't read*

          The “apartments by owner” section of Craigslist may also be useful. That’s how we found our current apartment (and just about every other place we looked at last summer).

        2. anonanonanon*

          I found mine on Craigslist listed by the owner, so I didn’t have to pay realtor fees, just first and last. I found my last apartment the same way, which was also a steal in Back Bay. Both apartments have been huge for just me and they’re not fancy luxury apartments, but I don’t really need granite countertops or anything.

        3. the gold digger*

          You have to pay a realtor for renting? That seems so bizarre to me! I have always found places in the paper or by driving around looking for a “for rent” sign.

          1. Rob Lowe can't read*

            Yeah, it’s really common in Boston (and the surrounding metro area). Real estate companies list apartments on behalf of landlords/property management companies, you rent with help from the real estate company, and pay them a fee (usually equal to one month’s rent) for handling the showing, landlord/PM contact, lease and payments, etc.

          2. Alston*

            Yeah and it’s usually a full month’s rent. Sometimes it’s a half month. Most housing (something like 70%) turns over on September 1st because of all the colleges in the area, so you often have to resign your lease REALLY early (we did ours two months ago), and you have to rent a uhaul 3 months early because EVERYONE moves the same day.

      2. SophieChotek*

        Yes totally a steal! I paid that much 6 years ago for an apartment in Medford near Tufts.

      3. Overeducated*

        My goodness! That’s what I pay for a small 2 bed (living room, no dining room) in a suburb on the commuter rail, and it’s even under market where we live. You got crazy lucky!

    3. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)*

      I paid $800/mo for a 1BR in Center City when I last lived in Philly, it was a steal in my neighborhood. Now I would expect to pay maybe $12-1400 for a 1BR but I don’t care about being in the luxury buildings. You can get way cheaper in south or west Philly I just loved my area (Rittenhouse).

      1. Sunflower*

        I’m in Rittenhouse now and my walkup studio is $800/mo plus electric and internet. It’s also very small, old and needs some serious updating so I wouldn’t say it’s a steal but it is cheap most certainly. I really want to stay in this hood but my potential new roomie works in the burbs so we’re weighing the options of where to live. I work on the west side of CC so we’re looking at Fairmount, Logan Sq and Fitler Sq primarily. I was debating moving in with a rando in order to stay in Rittenhouse. A lot of the 2bd/1ba walk ups are around $1900 so it’s just kind of strange that I’m finding you can live alone in Rittenhouse for cheaper than with a roomie in further neighborhoods.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          Rittenhouse is a great neighborhood, so if you can find a way to make it work there, you should (sorry roomie). I’m jealous you live there and for such a good price, too (I couldn’t afford it when I lived in Center City for school).

        2. Laura (Needs a New Name)*

          If you are interested in staying in Rittenhouse on your own in a 1BR try Robin Apartments. Their buildings are on the older side but he keeps them up really well (I had new windows, bathroom, kitchen, appliances, floors …) and he somehow keeps rent ridic low. I miss my landlord!

    4. TootsNYC*

      I don’t know that it’s helpful to compare Philly to any other city. You’re in Philly–deal with Philly’s reality.

      Unless you want to consider moving; then you will want to look into what living space and finances might be like there compared with Philly.

      1. Treena*

        This. The reason living on your own in NY/SF is so expensive is simply because there are fewer properties for one person (studios, 1 bedrooms). There are more 2-4 bedroom places so the market for single living becomes tighter. It’s not universal advice, it’s market-specific.

    5. Not Karen*

      I currently spend ~25% on rent but would like to lower it since I have a lot of debt I’d like to pay off ASAP. If I didn’t have debt, I’d probably splurge more on rent because I’m a homebody and having a comfortable home is very important to me. I rent a 1 BR by myself for ~$1,150 and am 4 years into my career, if that helps. I do think rent in my area is outrageous – our COL is slightly above US average, which is unusual for the Midwest.

      1. LisaLee*

        One thing I’ve noticed about Midwestern cities is that rent is often ridiculously high compared to the cost of everything else. I can’t explain it, but it’s been that way everywhere I’ve lived in the Midwest. Especially in smaller cities that have no right to have such inflated rent.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          I can attest to this. I pay upwards of $700 to rent a studio downtown in a small Midwestern city. These people seriously think this is NYC. It’s ridiculous. If I didn’t work across the street from my building, I’d move.

          1. Ellen Ripley*

            I think for smaller cities it’s a question of supply. Places like NYC. Philly, SF, etc have a lot of apartments and condos and a lot of people are renters. In smaller cities away from the coasts, houses are a lot more common and most people own, so those who want to rent and live in apartments near the center of things end up paying a premium because there aren’t many buildings that cater to that.

            1. Doriana Gray*

              There are a ton of apartment buildings/condos in my city, especially downtown nowadays. The newer places start out at $1200-$1500/month for a 1 bedroom. Again, ridiculous because very few people around here can afford these places so a lot of the units stay empty. People who want to rent downtown tend to go a bit farther from the business district where I live (maybe a 10-15 minute walk) to find cheaper, older apartments.

              1. Dan*

                Things are relative. What’s expensive to you would be dirt cheap for me. What you’re quoting for rents in the city center are what I pay in the suburbs where I am. I’m not sure that “person” can actually afford to live in the city — I hear lots of stories of young professionals cramming a bunch of people into a downtown unit to “save money.” (And in exchange, drive rents up.)

        2. Elizabeth West*

          That’s why I bought a little POS house rather than rent. A rental would be $600-700 a month and at the time I was only making $8 an hour and could not do it. I’m only paying $425 for a mortgage payment (I was smart and got a fixed rate mortgage when everyone else was getting burned). Though I wish I’d kept looking longer and found a better house–this one is falling apart and I’ll never be able to sell it. :(

        3. Dan*

          Everything is about supply and demand. My brother and his wife life in a posh suburb of a fairly major midwestern city, and they have a nice 3 story house for what a condo costs here in metro DC. I’m not sure our landlords have any “right” to to such inflated rents or prices, but it’s what the market supports, so it is what it is.

    6. Fleur*

      I pay $1400/month for a 1-bdrm apartment near the commuter rail that I take into Boston ~20 minute train ride. I’d say it’s closer to 50%, but the area is nice, I’ve got lots of space including a walk in closet, and we have access to a free gym, so I’ve been happy here. I could live cheaper with roommates, but I’m willing to be frugal in other areas to have my personal space and privacy.

    7. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I pay $775 per month (half the rent), which is about 25% of my monthly take-home pay, for my share of a 2-bed/1-bath apartment just outside Boston. I would definitely not be able to afford to live alone, either in the city or anywhere readonably close, on my current salary. I also don’t think I’d find many opportunities to pay less than I currently do; although my apartment is quite nice, there aren’t really a lot of luxuries for me to cut. I have cheap laundry in the basement and free street parking. Maybe I could cut it down to $6XX per month if I lived in a larger place with multiple roommates, but that stopped being an attractive option when I graduated from college.

      Theoretically, I could probably afford to live alone in a comparably nice place 5-7 years down the line, but since I live with my boyfriend I’m hoping that situation won’t come up!

    8. Anonymous Educator*

      For all the renters, how much do you spend on rent?

      I’m in a high cost-of-living area and pay about $3000/month for a one-bedroom apartment in one of the “cheaper” neighborhoods in my city.

      Do you follow the 30% rule?

      Just barely. If you mean 30% of my income (not including my spouse’s), then, no.

      Do you live in a high COL area that affects that?

      Yes. And in my area, the outlying suburbs aren’t that much cheaper.

      Do you think your rent is reasonable for your area?

      No, but no rent is reasonable in my area!

      I live with a “roommate” (my spouse). I would absolutely not be able to afford my own apartment without two incomes.

      I don’t know if that helps your situation. I’ve never lived in Philadelphia.

    9. Connie-Lynne*

      Hold on to your hat here: our rent is a whopping $7200/month. Oh, San Francisco. It’s about 44% of our combined post-tax income. We are very, very lucky that both of us work in tech.

      This is a temporary situation; we had roommates until recently who covered a portion. When we get roommates again it’ll come down to about $4,200/month. Which is still outrageously expensive but is not atypical for this area. That’ll be a little less than 30% of our income.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        I should note, the reason we were willing to get roommates again (we’re both in our 40s! Good grief!) was because our rent anywhere in SF, the East Bay, or the Peninsula would probably be between $3500 – $4500 monthly anyway. The house we found was absolutely amazing, and is huge, way more space than we’d have living alone. It’s a beautiful old mansion, formerly the Mayor’s residence in the 1930s.

        It’s far too much for just two people, both in price and in space, but for two couples, it worked out marvelously, nobody was in anybody’s business and we could even entertain separate groups of friends in separate rooms at the same time, if we wanted.

        http://ofb.net/~clynne/Pix/BallerPalace/

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Beautiful house! I wouldn’t be able to afford it if it were in the middle of a cotton field in the Arkansas delta, but it is very lovely.

          2. Connie-Lynne*

            Thanks to you and Mallory Janis Ian! We are so incredibly lucky to have found it and to be able to afford to live here.

        1. Lore*

          You probably won’t remember this when it’s relevant, but there’s a forthcoming Danielle Steel novel that’s set in a house very much like yours (maybe modeled on yours?)–a San Francisco mansion that gets bought for a steal and then turns out haunted by the family who originally owned it. It’s called Past Perfect (I think the title will stick)–but it doesn’t come out till late 2017 or possibly even 2018.

          1. Connie-Lynne*

            Heh, I’ll have to look into it. I read her sometimes (mostly when I forget a book before a long plane flight and am all … “I need to know what I’m getting! Aha! Danielle Steel!”)

            1. Lore*

              Indeed she does. But not one that you could buy for a steal because it’s been abandoned for many years! (The history in the book is that it’s owned by a prominent family but ends up at auction or something after various deaths and financial setbacks.)

        2. Me2*

          Are you still looking for roommates? My son and his girlfriend are looking to move in June, they currently live in Belmont. They’re super quiet tech types.

          1. Connie-Lynne*

            We’re just beginning the search! My email address is linked above, reach out and I’ll send you our description.

      2. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        It’s a good thing I wasn’t eating or drinking when I read your post. I would’ve choked.

        $7200…A MONTH. I can’t even fathom that kind of money. But then I see the fountain in your house and think, huh, $7200 sounds pretty reasonable for that :D

        But wow. That’s an incredible house!

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          It’s kind of amazing how the economics actually put us *ahead* of what many folks are dealing with, as long as we have roommates.

          We figure, hey, if we’re going to pay outrageous prices either way, might as well live in an outrageous place. This also, believe it or not, helps us live ethically: by living here, we’re not contributing to the “rent a place that goes for $4000K now because the family that lived here for 20 years paying $1500 got pushed out” problem that’s happening all over the city.

    10. Emily B*

      My friend lives in Philly near south street and her rent is $2,200 a month for a two bedroom with one bath room. She got a roommate so she could live in a better area of Philly (her apartment is across from a church and a school). Honestly though she searched for months to find the right apartment in the right location with a reasonable rent. Good luck!

    11. Indianapolis*

      In Indianapolis, we’re paying $975 for a gorgeous 1600 sq foot half-duplex with 3 bedrooms and a full basement just outside two extremely nice neighborhoods, but also about three blocks from Maybe Don’t Go There At Night. You can find cheaper places, as low as $550 for a one-bedroom in a decent enough place if you’re not picky about details (like having access to the bathroom be inside the only bedroom). You can spend $4000/mo for a downtown 2-bedroom if your heart desires. If you have $1500/mo to spend, though, you can a really lovely 2-bedroom in almost any neighborhood, including a whole house to yourself in many neighborhoods.

        1. Indianapolis*

          I mean, don’t get me wrong, many people do spend way more than this. My gorgeous place is gorgeous because of (drafty) vintage windows, a (nonworking) fireplace, high ceilings, and pretty trim. But it’s got lame carpet, a builder-grade “recently remodeled” kitchen, and only one bathroom. We’ve been looking lately for a cheaper place, though, because we don’t need 1600 sq ft and we do need more in the savings account. But we love to go for walks in the ritziest neighborhood, just a few blocks over, and enjoy their gardeners’ hard work.

          And, FWIW, that $975 is a full 30% of our combined income, 62% of mine alone. I’m an entry-level sales/marketing person for a small marketing firm, and he’s a nurse.

          1. Rob Lowe can't read*

            Yeah, therein lies the rub – I’d almost certainly take an immediate 20% pay cut if we moved pretty much anywhere else, so even with lower real estate prices we’d have lower income to contend with. (My other half probably wouldn’t face as steep of a cut, but of course getting reestablished in a new city has its own costs.) And by the time I reach 8-10 years in my career, that wage gap would widen to almost 40%. Boston is too expensive, but I may well be earning too much to consider leaving.

    12. Noah*

      I pay about 20% of my after-tax income in rent. That also includes all my utilities except for internet/cable.

      I think rent is generally reasonable in my area, but I would be over 30% if I wanted a single family home instead of a townhome or apartment. Also I would be really close to the 30% mark if I moved to a more popular neighborhood in the downtown area.

    13. BBBizAnalyst*

      For all the renters, how much do you spend on rent? Do you follow the 30% rule? Do you live in a high COL area that affects that? Do you think your rent is reasonable for your area?

      I pay $1300 in rent and live alone in a 1-bedroom. I’m in Texas and I think it’s reasonable. It’s important for me to have a short commute (less than 5 minutes to downtown) so I’m willing to pay premium on that. I could live 20-30 minutes away and save hundreds but I’ll never get the time spent in traffic back so no thank you. I pay way way way less than 30% of my take home pay and cost of living here is very low, in my opinion. I used to live in a high COL city back east and had to have multiple roommates even on a “competitive” salary so this is heaven for me.

    14. Dan*

      “For all the renters, how much do you spend on rent? Do you follow the 30% rule? Do you live in a high COL area that affects that? Do you think your rent is reasonable for your area?”

      I spend $1400/mo, which is almost exactly 30% of my net pay. But that’s unintentional. I live in the suburbs of a high COL area. *My* rent is reasonable enough. But they just extended heavy-rail transit in my area, and there are *a lot* of luxury high rises being developed. This area is going to change a lot in the next decade. The luxury places are charging $600-$800/mo more than what I pay. This far out in the suburbs, that rent is kinda high. Some buildings have been open for a year and aren’t full yet, so the property managers are going to have to deal with <100% occupancy or lower rents.

      What's going to be interesting for me is seeing how my rents converge with the luxury stuff. With a $600/mo difference, I'm staying put. But if my landlord gets any crazy ideas, and say tries to raise my rent $300/mo, at that point, I think I suck it up and pay the difference to move into "fancy."

    15. Stephanie*

      I live with family now, but when I did live in DC, I followed the 30% rule. That being said, I was ok with roommates and made a decent-enough salary such that 30% gave me a workable budget. If I stayed there longer, that might have changed a bit as I could tell my tolerance for roommates was waning.

      I interviewed for a job in Philly once and looked a little into housing. I got the impression it was cheaper than other East Coast cities, but not that cheap compared to most parts of the country, especially if you wanted to live in Center City and/or have something recently renovated.

    16. KR*

      Roommate is disabled. In exchange for doing all the chores and utilities I pay $70 a month in rent in a high cist if living area. Sweet deal.

    17. Tau*

      I’m in the UK in an area that’s probably… medium-highish COL if you completely ignore London, Greater London and everything within commuting distance of London? I pay a little upwards of £600/month on just rent for a studio. It’s more expensive than I’d like, especially since the studio is tiny, but I’m about 15 minutes’ walk/5 minutes’ cycle away from the office and can effectively fall out of my bed into a major tourist area along the seafront which is pretty awesome (if, sometimes, rather noisy). All rather more useful when I was actually working at the office and was here more than every other weekend – I know that at this point, getting rid of the studio and moving in with flatmates would absolutely be worth it, but I moved twice in the last 1.5 years and really cannot face the idea of moving again right now. Never to mention that all the extra costs of moving would probably mean I wouldn’t actually save that much overall.

      And no, I don’t follow 30% – with council tax and utilities, my rent is probably closer to half my after-tax income. :( That said, I manage on the money I’ve got (especially since I’m getting a nice per diem right now that’s effectively going straight into my savings).

    18. Christy*

      Turns out I spend 29% of my after tax income on rent. My wife spends around 37% of her after tax income on rent–we split evenly and I earn more. We rent where we like to live, and we’re lucky we can afford to live in our awesome close-in suburb.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        My rent is roughly a third of my salary, but I moved to my flat about 8 years ago and have only had an increase in the communal charges (Building maintenance etc.) over those years. I think my landlord prefers getting a steady income to having the tenants from hell.

        1. Anxa*

          Yep.

          Our landlords keep our rent low, and we keep from destroying the house. We live in a college neighborhood.

          That said, they never sealed up the grout well, so I am kind of destroying the bathroom every time a shower. But ANY tenant would do that.

    19. hermit crab*

      I live within 5 miles of the Washington Monument and pay $1550 for a one-bedroom. My almost too-good-to-believe landlords haven’t raised the rent in three years. The building is old (like, historically protected) and the unit needs some cosmetic fixes, but everything is safe and functional. It’s closer to 40% than 30% of my post-tax income, but I save big bucks on commuting and my idea of entertainment is going to the public library, so it works for me.

      Alas, I am giving up the apartment in a few weeks because I’m moving in with my husband and he wants things like a washing machine and off-street parking and appliances that are younger than we are. The compromises of marriage! :)

    20. Anxa*

      I live in a low COL (funnily, it’s considered an expensive ‘city’ compared to the region, but I’m from a town where 3 bed, 2.5 baths go start at 600k).

      Our rent has been the same for over 4 years, and is a little lower than the current market rate. We pay $560/mo for a 2 Bed, 1 Bath (plus a cat).

      We spend between 30 and 50% of our income on rent, depending on the season (my hours fluctuate).

      My rent is reasonable for my area, but is still tough. It’s a pretty economically depressed area. We’re barely scraping by and our rent is pretty low! There are very few 1 bedroom apartments in this area that aren’t part of student housing. In fact, most of the housing here is aimed at partying undergrads, the poor, and families.

      Rent is lowish, but mold is an issue (with the whole neighborhood). Part of me doesn’t want to move and have to pay more rent, the other part wants to get out before the mold gets too bad.

      We also had a lot of roaches when we moved in, but our landlords sprayed a lot, fixed some things up, and I was ruthless in caulking (with permission). I was unemployed when we moved in, though, and had the time to do it.

      Our utiliites seem high to me, about 200/month despite wearing sweaters all winter long.

      My dream would be a tiny 1 bed efficiency apartment in a clean, solid building in a safe area near a busline, but that does not exist here.

    21. Lazy Sunday*

      OC, CA.

      2350 split between my spouse and his sibling.

      This ends up being 25% of my take home pay.

    22. Ada Lovelace*

      We sublet a 1 bedroom 750 square feet co-op in NYC-Queens (outer borough) at $1444. When we first signed, it was $1375 three years ago. Our landlords have increased our rent yearly at 2-3% (much lower than what rents are increasing around us). Now that I am working again, it’s 28% of our combined income. It’s reasonable for the amount of space and we are pretty far into Queens. However it’s a prewar building, everything is at an angle and there is wasted space in the kitchen and bedroom. Lord knows what I would give for a dishwasher. The new construction “affordable” 1 bedroom rentals are starting at $1900-$2200 (based on income) and I just can’t justify that for now.

    23. Lindsay J*

      I’m in Houston.

      I was paying $670 a month to share a 2 bed/2 bath with a roommate. However, she moved out after our lease was up and I wasn’t able to find another roommate due to a bunch of circumstances and I wound up shouldering the full $1340 a month for the last several months. That was basically all of my take home pay at the time. Even the $670 was hitting about 50% of my take home pay, but all utilities were included in that price so that helped.

      I think it was reasonable for the area. I was in kind of the hip part of town, and the apartment building itself was old, but relatively well kept. And the neighborhood was relatively nice – lots of single family homes and a little preschool and stuff. There were new buildings going up down the block that will charge significantly more for the rent once they are finished. When I looked, I couldn’t find a better rent situation for me and my dog that wasn’t really far away from my job (as it was I was 20 minutes, 45-hour in traffic each way).

      I basically never saw my roommate – our bathrooms were both en-suite. We didn’t have any living room furniture. We basically saw eachother if one of us was cooking while the other came home and that was it. It was kind of like living in a really small 1 bedroom 1 bath.

  8. Mimmy*

    Finally got my biopsy results – all normal.

    But….I actually kinda feel a little disappointed. Not that I want cancer or anything else serious, of course, but when she told me all was normal and that there was nothing else that was needed, I asked about a blood test to see if I truly am in peri-menopause (based on a conversation with a friend); my doctor said “no” since hormones fluctuate when you’re in peri-menopause. (My friend is a woman in her 70s, so maybe she was going off of knowledge that no longer applies). She offered to have me do a once-a-month progesterone pill, but I declined, agreeing to just continue to track my cycles and see her next year for my annual visit.

    Because I’m only 42, I just wanted to be sure there wasn’t a serious reason for my wonky cycles, but a part of me was hoping to have a concrete explanation. I’ve always been like that, though. Something unusual is going on, I get intrigued, even if I’m not really suffering (I’ve had things be discovered completely by accident). But when I’m left with no more answers than before, I am disappointed.

    But I am grateful that nothing serious is going on. Truly.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Glad you are all clear, but sorry you have no good explanation. Not women’s health related, but I recently got the brush off from a doctor on some knee pain, so I understand what you mean by just wanting to know what’s going on!

      FWIW, I sit between two women at work. One is your age, and one is 50 and they’re both in peri-menopause. The younger one has a 4 year old, and I’m always thinking how crazy to go from pregnancy hormones to menopause hormones. I’m still in my late 30s, but I have no idea what to expect because my mother, aunt, and two female cousins all had early hysterectomies.

    2. fposte*

      I think with a ton of chronic stuff you don’t get specific diagnoses; you get a ruling out of anything that’ll kill you and some tips for management. But I think we fall into expectations that we will get a name for The Thing That Is Wrong, so it’s really startling to discover that so much of the time that’s not what medicine provides–or that we’d likely suffer more from procedures that could pin things down than we do from the problem.

    3. Nicole*

      I completely understand what you mean. I don’t want anything serious to be wrong with me, but I suffer from some strange symptoms that point to an autoimmune disease, including a positive blood test, yet I’ve seen more than one rheumatologist who has said I don’t have one (but one did say “you don’t have lupus, yet” — whatever that means)! It’s frustrating because I feel like if I had a diagnosis at least I could do something to help and/or eliminate the issues I have instead of living in limbo with my strange body that has issues come and go.

    4. nep*

      Glad to hear biopsy showed all normal. Completely understand the ‘dissatisfaction’ element. I hope things will ease soon, and/or you’ll be able to zero in on what’s causing any malaise or weird cycles. All the best.

    5. Nancypie*

      So many women I know thought something was wrong when their cycles changed around aged 40. I don’t know why we aren’t just told things are going to change pre-emptively.

    6. Irishgal*

      I was diagnosed with “non specific intra-menstrual bleeding” in my mid 30s and 7 years later nothing has changed. My gynaecologist said it’s a “new” diagnosis for “we have lots of women in their 30s and 40s bleeding irregularly for no reason we can identify and while disruptive for the women it is not harmful”. She said it is becoming more common and could be due to lots of factors and combinations of factors most of which are out of our immediate control. The IUD has made the bleeding less heavy but not changed the pattern.

  9. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

    I love how kittens always pose like they are ready to take on the world. I’ve got similar photos of our girl when she was so tiny we had to put a box down so she could get onto the bed – she’s all grown up now, but will still find the highest spot to get in our face and tell you her issues!

  10. Roly Poly Little Bat Faced Girl*

    I need some help with my mom please. She is approaching 80 and lives alone (widowed). She’s doing well physically but not mentally. Her memory is really bad and becoming progressively worse.

    When my sibling and I talked with her about it last fall in what I thought was a compassionate way (please raise with your doctor, rule out potential causes, might be ways to slow progression), she seemed to accept it. But then she accused me of trying to put her in an old folks home and threatened to end our relationship.

    Recently a longtime friend of hers raised concerns. My mom thought her kind and caring friend was trying to have my mom committed and thought the friend was conspiring with a completely unrelated person. She ended that 30+ year friendship. There have been other instances of paranoia, which I understand is another symptom of dementia.

    My question is, what can I do to help her? My mom’s reactions are so hostile. These strong defense mechanisms pop up and the underlying issues are not being addressed. Is there anything I can do at this point?

    1. Sunflower*

      I don’t have much advice but I will say I think what your mom is doing is VERY common. When my grandfather died, my grandmother came to live with us. She was constantly terrified we were going to put her in a home. She lived with us fo a long time but one day, my mom just couldn’t handle it anymore. My grandmother died the morning she was supposed to move into assisted living/hospice. I don’t think that was a coincidence.

      I think getting old is a scary thing. Realizing that you will not be able to do everything on your own anymore and will have to rely on someone to continue to live/breathe is a terrifying thought. The idea of becoming a burden on someone is also not a feeling anyone would be comfortable with.

      I would maybe talk to a professional(therapist, doctor?) about how to handle aging parents- there have to be people who specialize in this right? Unfortunately dementia only goes one way and at some point, she will not be able to live alone anymore. I’m not sure how one goes through this with an adult so I would defer to a pro

      So sorry you’re going through this though :(

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        The father of a friend of mine, he literally sat down in his chair and died when all the kids talked to them about selling their house and moving into something more manageable. Not necessarily an old folks’ home but just somewhere else. I mean that, he said “no way am I leaving” and he was dead before morning.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        When my husband’s grandmother first started getting dementia, she walked up behind her husband while he was washing dishes at the kitchen sink and slugged him in the back because she thought he’d stolen five dollars from her purse. That was the first noticeable incident, and she became more and more paranoid and belligerent as her illness progressed.

    2. TootsNYC*

      It might be helpful to frame “assisted living” sorts of things as “great new way to have your independence and some support, and company of other folks.”

      If your plan was for her to come live with you, I’d be suggesting you frame it as how helpful it might be to you. Or less expensive for her.

      Basically anything that doesn’t scare her with her own mortality and loss of control.

    3. Roly Poly Little Bat Faced Girl*

      Thanks for the kind words, all. The control issue is a huge one for my mom. I suspect her mind is working on the theory that if she doesn’t acknowledge there is any problem, there’s no need to hand over any control.

      1. neverjaunty*

        You can assure her that you’re not intending to put her in a home, and that getting help doesn’t mean being put in a home. There are all kinds of services now to help people out in their homes – calling a taxi to go somewhere doesn’t mean you have to sell your car, right?

        That said, yes, you absolutely should talk to a professional, like a doctor or social worker, with experience in elder care. The Federal government maintains a site at eldercare.gov and there are probably similar resources in your home state.

    4. Artemesia*

      I never solved this problem and my mother died still in her own home, and almost blind. She had finally realized she needed to move and we were helping with those arrangements but she died instead; I am convinced the stress of moving was the final straw. My mother would have been far better off in a retirement apartment with some support services — she didn’t yet need much assisted living especially if she had been near one of us kids (she was 2000 miles away from the closest one of us. And I think she would have made friends and enjoyed a retirement community — but staying in her own home was very important to her and she was stubborn and ultimately people get to make those decisions for as long as they can.

      One symptom of early Alzheimer’s is paranoia — everyone is keeping secrets and conspiring and of course they can’t remember what they were told and everyone IS conspiring. It is very tough to deal with. You have my sympathy and I hope things unfold in ways that are manageable. There is no easy way to manage this and catastrophe is often the way decisions get made. My SIL had her parents arrive on a plane without luggage, having left their home unlocked and burners on on the stove; they were completely befuddled and just called from the airport saying ‘we need help.’ It was a difficult way to resolve this and deal. Her father had been a high powered CEO and her parents were unwilling to deal with their issues until they just gave up and got on a plane and threw themselves on her mercy.

    5. fposte*

      When I Googled “help with parents with dementia” I found a ton of links you might find useful.

      However, I don’t think there’s any magic trick to make people do what you want, whether they have cognitive impairment or not. Another problem is that you’re not likely to have any actual authority unless your mother gives you power of attorney, and the suspicion from dementia makes that even harder.

      I know it doesn’t solve the problem you’re currently facing, but maybe one way you can respond is to learn from this and consider your own future. Are there ways you can start to simplify your life so that a transition would be easier? Do you have ideas as to where you might move to and what kind of budget you’d be working with? You can’t inoculate yourself against cognitive decline, but you’re likelier to be able to follow a plan than to create one.

      1. neverjaunty*

        You can get authority through a conservatorship, which is a painful, protracted process through the courts, and one which I would recommend only if other options have failed and Mom is actually in danger.

        1. fposte*

          I forgot about those, and it’s good to remember they’re possible, even if difficult.

      2. Meredith*

        When my grandmother was spiraling into dementia, mom mom enlisted my grandmother’s attorney to convince her to sign the power of attorney documents. Otherwise it would have been really difficult to move her and sell her home. It was awful. I hope you are able to move forward with a plan for your mom, and make sure to get yourself a lot of support too.

    6. Bambina*

      I wished in hindsight that I would have joined a support group of. Children of aging parents going through this . I left my life, city, and moved in with my widowed Mother, who was gracious, kind, always loving (even when I was a bratty kid, or adult) and was her caretaker 24/7 for five years. My Father died unexpectedly in bed one night and she simply stopped her life and never got over it- I’m an only child , and had no close friends or even acquaintances in her city– very lonely and my relationship with partner suffered –a support group would have been invaluable to me –because you just burn out and I mean burn out– I finally met a woman who had gone through it, and speaking with her bluntly and frankly in a way that only those who live it can understand–it was a total Godsend for me– no guilt, nothing but true understanding and compassion–Roly Poly–that would help you -the people in the group all have been through the legalities, hospice, hostility, dementia, doctors, etc —everything that you are unfortunately facing and will unfortunately go through– My best to you & you are so lucky to have a sibling to enter this phase of your Mothers life. You will get through it.

      1. Dan*

        You know, you’ve touched on what’s probably my biggest fear in life. My mother is 66, and showing signs of dementia. My dad has all of his faculties. But if he dies suddenly, things are going to go nuts in a hurry. My mother wasn’t the greatest mother growing up (I moved out of the house early as a result, and things have never really improved), so I’m really not going to quit my good paying job (in a city where I have spent most of my adult life) to move to an area where I have few ties. Plus, my mother is *young.* I look at her dementia now, and think to myself (with or without my father around), do we really have to put up with this for 20 years? And if dad does pass early, I’m not going to be my mother’s caretaker for the better part of a decade, if not two.

        The thing with dad is that he doesn’t really like to acknowledge mom’s dementia, so I have no idea if they’re doing anything to manage it. (It seems like she’s a 66 year old in an 86 year old body.)

        1. Rubyrose*

          Perhaps it is time for you to have a heart to heart with your dad.

          My brother in law had an aunt and uncle with the same dynamic, except nobody really knew how far her mental facilities had declined. They had no children together and her husband was taking care of her in ways no one knew about. He had to have some surgery that should have been no big deal, but he died (probably had something to do with his age and going into immediate tobacco withdrawal when he went into the hospital).

          So his son from a previous marriage, who lived 2,000 miles away, had to pick up the pieces, along with my brother in law, who was local. Fortunately there was plenty of money, but they had to jump the legal hoops to get power of attorney so they could get her situated in assisted living.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I have seen couples move to a seniors place together in instances like your folks. One couple knew that the husband was dying. The wife could not live alone (physical issues). So they moved into a seniors’ place together. They were there for a while- 2 years maybe- then he passed. By then she was with a group of people who knew her and knew her needs. Since the place had a graduated system of care, she could move to another level as needed.
          Maybe something like that would work for your folks?
          I think that in talking about it, you could say that you are concerned that they have a plan no matter which one goes first.

          As an aside- am sorry about your mom’s deterioration but it sounds like she’s had a lot of anger. I am not sure why but it seems to me that a lot of angry people end up facing dementia. I guess our anger can eat us eventually. I am sorry. You never stood a snowball’s chance in hell of having a solid relationship with all that is going on there. It sucks.

    7. Tennessee*

      When we were going through this with my mom, I found some good advice at agingcare [dot] com; both forums and articles.

      It helped me to understand that her mind didn’t work in the way it used to. I mean, physically not like it used to — the logic wasn’t there anymore. Where once she would have understood the concern and logic of suggestions, now that ‘thought pathway’ would be blocked. It’s really hard to explain, sorry, but it seemed to be like a water flowing. If the proper flow path was blocked, the water goes to the wrong place. That seemed to be what would happen with my mom.

      Not much worked with my mom either. Sometimes she seemed to respond more to my brother suggesting things than if I did. Other times, it was me she would listen to, or one of the grandkids. Often, like your mom, she would seem to understand and agree, then a little later, get paranoid.

      Others have remarked about once their loved one was faced with having to ‘give up’, they just died but that hasn’t been my experience with either my mom or other relatives. Mom died of an out-of-the-blue medical condition before she had to accept the limitations. Other relatives actually thrived in assisted living or living with a caregiver. Everyone’s different.

      Sympathy and good thoughts. It helps to keep a sense of humor, too. Yeah, not a funny situation, but it really does help if you can laugh occasionally — it helped me and it helped me be more patient with her.

    8. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I’ve seen a lot of wonderful advice here already. I’m an adult child of a parent who is caring for an aging grandparent. As such, I often end up assisting with or caring for this grandparent.

      My advice is this: be aware of caregiver fatigue. You and your sibling should ideally “attack” this together, and work together to support each other through this process. Your mom will likely only become more hostile and more defensive.

      Even as the grandchild, I’ve been the victim of many hostile comments, dealt with threats of suicide, and even dealt with temper tantrums in the grocery store over medications (I’ve helped care for two aging grandparents). I need breaks from it too. It’s overwhelming, exhausting, etc.

      Take care of you too.

      But, more practically, don’t put this off. Start figuring out a plan now. A relative has put off and put off, and it has made things more complicated than they would have been if earlier intervention had occurred.

    9. Roly Poly Little Bat Faced Girl*

      All these replies are very compassionate, thank you so much. I’ll definitely look into the resources being suggested. I knew I could rely on this commentariat. I also find it comforting to hear that to some extent, there’s not much I can do. I feel so helpless, but knowing that it’s essentially beyond my control will help me better accept what is happening.

    10. Soupspoon McGee*

      I work with the elderly in a long-term care home, and my partner’s mother is considering assisted living, so I have two perspectives. In no particular order:

      For people experiencing dementia, Sundowner’s Syndrome is a very real, scary thing. For a lot of folks, their normal sweet, reasonable personalities turn to paranoia, anger, and confusion late in the day. So, don’t have these conversations after dinner. The best part of her just won’t be there.

      Sudden changes in personality coupled with really odd behaviors and beliefs, and even hallucinations, are classic signs of UTIs in older folks. They often don’t have or aren’t aware of traditional symptoms like frequent urination or burning, so they don’t realize it. And people who are afraid they can’t get to the bathroom in time tend to drink too little water throughout the day, which can contribute to UTIs and a host of other crummy symptoms. Those behavior changes can also be signs of diabetes, so if that’s an issue for your mom, she may not be keeping her blood sugar in check.

      My partner’s mom has severe mobility issues and diabetes. She’s still living at home with a daughter and son-in-law, who take great care of her, but she’s losing her grip. One day, she wants to go to the nursing home with her husband, and the next she’s accusing them of trying to push her out of her home. She even complained to her sister that she was being abused at home (the state investigated and found no evidence of this). She also has battled depression all her life but is reluctant to talk to her doc about it. Her kids are having to involve themselves more with her doctor to really make sure she’s disclosing all the issues she’s having. She’s a wonderful, sweet woman, and it’s so hard to watch her feel this loss of control and understanding. I think she’d benefit from medication to help with confusion and paranoia (it’s out there–I’ve seen it work wonders with my most angry, unhappy patients, bringing them some peace without losing themselves).

      I can give my two cents, but she’s not MY mom. But I know, from talking to my patients’ families and my own, how very hard it is to watch someone who’s been a strong, guiding force lose bits of herself. Ultimately, the best thing you can do is communicate with your siblings and your mom’s doctor. Reassure her that she’s still your mom and you love her, even if she can’t do everything she used to do. And accept that when she accuses you of scheming, she’s expressing fear of losing control. You really are NOT betraying her by helping her get the resources and care she needs.

      1. V.V.*

        Well said Soupspoon McGee, if you don’t mind I am going to save this comment so I can have others read it.

    11. fposte*

      BTW, while this of course varies by location, the publicly paid nursing homes are often perfectly nice. A friend of mine’s mother was in one while waiting for a private space to open up, and the family decided she was better off staying–it was clean and comfortable, they were doing a good job with physical therapy, it was close for her kids to visit.

      I know it’s too late for some people’s parents, but for others and for those of us who plan to get old one day, I’d like to fight back on the notion that “old folks’ home” = “horrible Bastille for the aging.” There’s a lot of burden being put on people because of the fear of a fairly reasonable option.

    12. Catherine in Canada*

      We had my _very-ill, very-controlling_ mother-in-law live with us for the last five years of her life. It’s far too long a story, I’ll just say you have all my sympathies. Please remember the oxygen-mask rule and take care of yourself too.

      But, while it was so incredibly difficult, and she did some incredible damage to our relationship with the children still living with us, there was one good thing that came out of the situation. I learned a very valuable lesson; aging is inevitable. You can age with grace and dignity, letting go of things in a gradual way and making it easier on everyone including yourself, or you can hang on to all the control, all the decisions until they are ripped from your hands by urgent necessity.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I call it “the final lesson”. Even if it shows us what not to do, it is still a lesson. We do have to help the people who are helping us, it’s really not optional.

  11. It's me heh heh just didn't want to be searchable for this*

    I’m doing the Blogging from A-Z Blog Challenge right now–one alphabetical post a day except Sundays, all through April. The theme is narrative setting. :) I not only planned ahead and wrote notes for each letter, but I’m scheduling posts the night before so they’ll go up the next morning, so I’m actually a day ahead. We’ll see how long that lasts!

    My work team went to dinner last week at Fancyplace McAsian and I cannot stop thinking about 1) the salmon and 2) *koffthehotwaiterkoff*. Who was VERY friendly to me, thus stoking all sorts of annoying dreaminess. I’m an idiot. :P

    I also discovered that if I put Kevin Murphy smoothing creme on wet hair, French braid it, and sleep on it, that it comes out looking amazing the next day and the curls will last all day. \0/ Which may have contributed to friendliness, LOL, because I was rocking that hair. Even if I never see him again, it was super nice to have a moment where a hot guy was talking to me (and kept touching my arm, omg swooooon!) and I knew I looked amazing. :)

    *sigh* I need more of that!!!! Also, I’m re-reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower and just finished Wizard and Glass, which is not helping!

    1. regina phalange*

      regarding the hair – I don’t know if I can French braid my own hair, do you think a regular braid would have the same results? My hair looks great curly but I am generally inept at styling.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Re: ineptness–this tactic might be the best way to practice French braiding your own hair, because nobody’s going to look at it–it’s just to keep your hair held in place while you sleep, and with a slight twist.

        And eventually, you’ll get better at it. Incentive to try?

    2. QualityControlFreak*

      1) Five-spice salmon is the bomb.
      2) Re friendly waiters: at the Space Needle with spouse, son, FIL and (2) nephews. Son: “Mom, that waiter is flirting with you! ” Me: “You do realize he works for tips?” (I was *not* rocking the hair and said waiter did *not* touch me once. Think old married grey-haired lady with family in tow.)
      3) FTR, let me just say, you *are* rocking the hair! You look great and I’m glad you got a little confirmation from the universe on that. You deserve some attention from a hottie, so enjoy it guilt-free. :)

    3. Jean*

      Ooo. French braids! All that ingenuity and tucked-in tidiness! Excuse me while I turn _bright green_ with envy. I’ve always wanted to be able to French braid my own hair which is dry, ornery, wiry, curly, and utterly resistant to any suggestions, hints, mandates, or thermonuclear heat-styling implements (Credit here goes to Garrison Keillor who once spoke about “thermonuclear heat-seeking missiles.”) Styling products be damned–my hair does what it wants, when it wants, period*. Enjoy your ability to create a style that reflects instead of defies your manual dexterity!

      I hope your overnight French braids and subsequent curls give you lots more encounters with Attentive Gentlemen. (And if anyone is not a Gentleman or not Nice, send him to me for the Freeze-Your-Blood Glare that’s my equivalent to your kick with a foot in an ice skate). You look really happy in your photograph these days. Maybe the guy was picking up on that in addition to admiring your hair. I’m sending out good vibes. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      *Especially when it’s two weeks past Haircut Time and I look like the poster child for “Have You Been Sticking Forks into Electric Sockets Again?!”

      Signing off now,
      Jean aka The Cheering Section for It’s Me Just Temporarily Unsearchable :-)

      1. It's me heh heh just didn't want to be searchable for this*

        Hahahaha, the fork thing–that’s what I look like when I just wash and don’t do anything. I’ve always been frizzy, but it shows up WAY more with this blonde hair! Like that humidity rabbit meme, LOL. I’m struggling to master the blowout. It’s tricky but I’ll get it.

        I can’t say I’m happy–nothing has changed and doesn’t look likely to no matter what I do. I was just in a good mood that day, I guess. But I’ll take the vibes, with thanks–it can’t hurt! And thank you for being a cheering section. I will think of that the next time I talk to someone I like and it will make me feel confident. :}

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      I taught myself to French braid my hair when it was longer. I found that it was easiest to do if I took some hair at the top near the back, split it into three and use that as the anchor for the rest of it. I haven’t done it in a long time, my hair was too short. I wonder if I can still do it?

      1. It's me heh heh just didn't want to be searchable for this*

        I learned by doing it on my Barbie when I was a kid, ha ha. Then my sister and I used to do it to each other. I actually have a harder time doing it to someone else for some reason. For this style, I started it as close to my forehead as I could. My bangs are aaaaaaallmost long enough now to braid in. I got so sick of wearing them short and I’m never going back, though I have a long face and with no bangs I look like a horse, LOL.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I’m still mad at my sister because when we were kids, my two older cousins and I were all trying to learn French braiding at the same time. We each had a little sister, and the other two little sisters would let their sisters practice on them, and my little sister wouldn’t let me. Hmmph!!

    5. Sunflower*

      That’s so cool to find that out about your hair. I’m always looking for tutorials and such on how to do heatless curls and it so depends on each individuals hair. What works for 50% of people, doesn’t work for the other 50%. When you find something that works it’s such a win!

  12. regina phalange*

    Any advice for meeting people outside of online dating sites? I need to get back out there but don’t know where to start. However, my luck with dating sites has been so bad I would like to avoid them if possible.

    1. Alston*

      What was wrong with the dating sites? And did you stick with just one or try a couple different ones?

      1. regina phalange*

        mostly the misrepresentation. I would talk to guys who were one person online and a completely different person in real life and it was across multiple sites. I don’t know if Tinder counts or not, but if you include Tinder, I tried three. I usually have always had better luck meeting people in person first, but where I live is harder to do, so I feel a bit stuck.

        1. Dan*

          How much talking did you do online? I try to avoid too much — I want to establish enough mutual interest or whatever to determine that we can get through an hour long conversation, and also that you’re not completely crazy. After that, I think it’s too easy to build up an image of someone such that “real life” makes them look like they misrepresented themselves.

          I had at last one in-person date with about a half a dozen women I met online, and I can’t say that anyone truly misrepresented themselves — certainly not to the point where I could legitimately claim that they were “completely different.”

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Meetups? “Church” (could even be unitarian universalist and not necessarily Christian) of some kind? Volunteer work? Blind dates set up by friends?

    3. Rocket Scientist*

      Try a new activity or restart an old one. Examples might be joining a kickball league, volunteering at an animal shelter, checking out a new yoga studio.

      Also, ask friends if they have other single friends (or friends of friends) that are single and meet the criteria you would want in a mate.

      Good luck!

    4. SophieChotek*

      Yes I would agree with volunteer work, church or other religious organization if so inclined, or maybe even variuos Meetups based around themes (board games, etc.) That said, I’ve tried some of these myself with little success.

    5. TootsNYC*

      now’s a GREAT time to volunteer for a political party.
      My mom volunteered for Tom Harkin’s candidacy for governor of Iowa, and said, “If you weren’t already married, I’d tell you to go volunteer for a political cause. There are TONS of really great and interesting guys here, and a lot of them are single.”

      So–is there a political candidate you favor? a cause you want to work for? So do stuff there, and meet people.

      1. Artemesia*

        The great thing about campaigns is the people you meet are also like to be more or less similar in outlook and that can make getting to know and love someone easier.

      2. Jean*

        Took the words out of my mouth (fingers? keyboard?). But then I always think it’s a great time to volunteer for a political party.

        Seriously, why not? You get to meet people who share at least one of your major passions.

        If politics don’t float your boat, you do you. Find an activity and a setting at which you can meet kindred souls who fit the appropriate demographic profile of your potential mate.

      1. Artemesia*

        It works for old couples like us trying to meet other similar aged couples in a new town too. I love meetups. Some have just been great for pursuing hobbies and others have been great for meeting new girlfriends and new couples friends. Many people in meetups are also specifically interested in new social contacts so it is more fertile ground that lots of other groups. Of course, you have to do due diligence if you are planning to date just as you would with those from dating sites.

    6. Dan*

      Just get out and do social activities. Meetups, volunteer or whatever. But try and do things that you think are fun, not with the express purpose of “meeting someone.” I’ve got a couple of meetups that I do regularly and have met some great people through there. As a guy, it helps to just go out and have fun, because if I “try too hard” to meet women, it can easily slide into “tries too hard” and ends up creeping people out.

      Plus, people who enjoy themselves attract company.

      Strangely, the person I’m sort of seeing is someone a person I met through a meetup set me up with. Turns out to be a great relationship so far. TBH, I thought my online dating experience was fine (if not better than most), but my only real complaint (if I can even call it that) was that I didn’t meet “the one” through it.

    7. Gene*

      I met FirstWife at her first SCA fighter practice (1982). I introduced myself and offered to show her around and tell her what was going on. And I know scores of couples who have met through the SCA over the decades. Find something you like to do that involves other people and go do it. But don’t take in the attitude that you are there to meet someone, go do it to enjoy yourself.

      After she died, I met SecondWife online in 1996, back when that was unusual. And the misrepresentation was the same then as it appears to be now. And trust me, it’s not just the males who lie online. :-) Back then there were only a couple of dating sites; from what I hear, online dating now is almost a full-time job. One lesson I learned was to meet for coffee early, and trust your gut.

  13. Myrin*

    I bought on anatomical pillow just over a week ago – originally because the nerves in my neck tend to be somewhat tense and painful and I’ve also dealt with nervous headaches for all my life so I thought I might as well try this. Now as it turns out, I don’t yet feel much of a difference regarding the nerves but it helps a ton with my tinitus! My doctor has already theorised that there might be a connection between the severity of my tinitus and the nervous pain in my neck – he specifically talked about my cervical spine playing a role – but man, I had not expected this at all! I’m so happy and hope this will be a more or less permanent development.

    1. fposte*

      Did you get one of those wavy memory foam ones, or something else? It looks like Hästens makes one out of down, but the American ones seem more foamy.

      1. Myrin*

        I put a link below in my answer to Engineer Girl but yeah, it’s one of those foamy ones. I totally expected it to be very stiff and hard but it’s actually quite comfortable!

      1. Myrin*

        It is this one! I’m in Germany though but with what fposte says one comment above you should be perfectly able to get the same thing in the US. I really hope it’ll be helping with my painful nerves as well but at the moment I’m perfectly content with the tinitus relief (which was a much bigger issue to begin with).

        1. fposte*

          I actually got one at Big Lots (very cheap discount store in the U.S.), so that might be a place for an American to start the exploration.

      2. Sammie*

        I use the Tricore Cervical Pillow (Amazon) and I swear it changed my life. I tried a pillow like Myrin suggested but it actually made my particular neck issue worse.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Okay, I wasn’t sure what an anatomical pillow was, and I was picturing something like the body pillows my kids have been showing me, with “hot” anime characters in suggestive poses printed on them.

      1. Myrin*

        That’s hilarious! I think you can call them “anatomical” or “medical” or something to that extent – even my mothertongue has like five different words for it so I just went with the easiest one in English (and if you google that, it also shows the kind of pillow I mean – who knew that was an association that would come up? xD).

    3. Stardust*

      That’s great! I sleep on a foam pillow curved to support my neck as well. I’ve had neck issues since I was a teenager.

  14. Mrs. Dean Winchester*

    Hello everyone!

    I’m a longtime lurker but rarely have anything to add to the conversation. However, I just accepted a job in China and will be moving to Shanghai from Canada. Any tips on moving internationally in general, or to China specifically?

      1. Mrs. Dean Winchester*

        Thank you! I’ve never been outside Canada and the U.S., so this will be quite a change.

        1. kms1025*

          LOL! love the name…”Mrs. Dean Winchester”…always been team Dean and not team Sam :-)

    1. Cristina in England*

      I have only ever visited China for a few weeks, but I have moved internationally twice. In my experience, culture shock is real even for the most open-minded. I would say it takes at least two years to get used to a new country. You may not realise until that initial period is over just how hard it was. Denial kept me going through my first year or two in the UK.

      I loved China and would consider moving there for a few years when my children are a little older but to live there would take getting used to. Personal space is practically nonexistent. Hygiene is different (normal to see small children just pee in the street, they even have special openings in their little outfits to allow this). Public toilets are genuinely a hole in the floor in many places, and you have to BYO tissue (always always carry mini packs of tissues and hand sanitizer). This may sound obvious but there aren’t the freedoms you have in Canada: If you stand too long in one place, or try to take a picture of some completely innocuous random public thing, a plainclothes policeman may try to move you along. Then there is media censorship, etc. Oh and the air quality in some cities, especially Beijing, is terrible and people do actually wear masks.

      Sometimes my husband and I talk abut moving there for a few years. There are expat communities of Canadian, American, British and Australian language teachers, so you could find people from back home in even a moderately-sized city to help you navigate things. I would recommend trying to make some Chinese friends though. Chinese hospitality is AMAZING and you will get to experience things you never would otherwise. And, of course, it shouldn’t need to be said, but THE FOOD. I love love love Chinese food and I was in absolute heaven.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Just to add, Because of Shanghai’s history, it has more Englishy stuff and is more western than other cities. There will definitely be services for English speakers there, more so than many other places I imagine.

        Oh, and in the summer, Shanghai is HOT and humid. Like, at 7:30am I was standing still in the shade and I was dripping sweat. In the department stores you can get clothes that look normal but dry really really fast, which is great since everyone hangs their clothes up to dry in the air. If you are over a size 12 though you really should bring a complete wardrobe because it is nearly impossible to get clothes in larger sizes there (as of ten years ago when I was there).

      2. Mrs. Dean Winchester*

        That is very helpful, thank you! I have been doing research on what life is like, but I hadn’t read anything about personal space or police presence. I think the thing I’m most excited about is the food.

    2. SophieChotek*

      Congrats! I think just being as open-minded as possible. –I agree with what others said!

      I lived in Taiwan for a few months last year and I thought I was open-minded, and then I realized how not open-minded I was when I got there, and balked at some foods, etc. (Only been to China once, years ago.)

      The night markets and open markets will likely seem very dirty and unsanitary; at least the ones in Taiwan seemed to me. I’m used to my meat all nice and packaged, not hanging out for anyone to touch as they stroll by! Calves lakes (with hooves) and all types of things like that in the market. I got used to it. The way they washed dishes in restaurants in Taiwan made me wince; seemed unsanitary to me, but I didn’t get sick…don’t know if’ it will be the same in China. (By this I mean the little street stalls would literally take a bunch of dishes, have a little bucket, and run water from the street hose over them, while squatting in the street…clean…good to go!)

      I found Chinese/Taiwanese food to taste very different than anything one can purchase in the U.S. (except for maybe Cantonese food.)

      I loved taking advantage of all the different cultural sites–museums, temples, etc.

      The smells are so different! You get used to it (er…maybe not the stinky Tofu)

      At least in Taiwan I found everyone very helpful and polite; I don’t know about China; many Taiwanese I worked with seemed to consider the Chinese rude, loud, and unsophisticated. But I cannot speak to that at all; others have told me people in China are very friendly.

      If Taiwan is anything like China; more formal in terms of interactions and more patriarchical still.

      And learning to use a squat pot is helpful. Not my favourite, but I did run into them here and there.

      And I preferred to carry my own chopsticks with me; a lot of my coworkers did also. You could get all types of colors and materials and they often came in cute little bags or boxes.

      1. Mrs. Dean Winchester*

        Oh, chopsticks are a good idea! I wouldn’t have thought of that on my own. I’ve been practicing my squat muscles too. I have some concerns about that.

    3. misspiggy*

      Congratulations! I lived in China in the 90s and occasionally go back. Cristina in England is spot on. Shanghai is exciting but endless, and it can be hard to see a clear sky through the smog. If you want natural outdoors experiences, you will need to plan them carefully – possibly by scheduling regular breaks to beautiful places like Yunnan. It’s good to visit the unglamorous villages that many people live in though, to realise how different urban and rural life is.

      Definitely take people up on offers of hospitality – you will make a lot of great friends that way. You may get given a ton of gifts, and the only thing to do is accept gracefully. If you do somebody a favour, they may want to give a gift to say thank you. They may feel that not doing so leaves them open to you asking a favour of them down the line. But as a foreigner you’re not usually exposed to the same kind of expectations.

      People are quite direct, and this can seem rude – but I grew to find it a refreshing change. Avoid directly criticising anything Chinese, even if others are doing so. Be aware that many people, especially foreigners and ethnic minorities, will be under surveillance of some kind. Don’t draw anyone into actions or words that may be seen as negative, and don’t push too hard if you want something that doesn’t seem to be happening. Stay calm, and try to find out from friends what the reason for a blockage is, and how to get around it.

      I hear that train travel has been transformed, so it should be possible to take lots of journeys to amazing places. I hope you have an awesome time!

      1. Cruciatus*

        None of this is my direct experience, just going off of what a friend of mine posts on Facebook about her time there. My friend is 7 months in of a year teaching at an English school in Songyuan and the direct thing is causing her some aggravation. They will tell her she’s too fat, and laugh and make fun of her in Chinese. She doesn’t understand it but has a friend who will translate for her.

        She’s also having a difficult time with how they treat animals there and recently posted a truck of caged dogs with a dog carcass in the back. She found a pup there that she’s adopted but can’t seem to find good supplies or vets (and I hate to think what it will take for her to bring this dog back to the States when she comes back). I don’t know if any of this has to do with the language barrier or not since she does have people available to translate for her. But overall, she does not like how they treat animals, even ones as pets in her classroom.

        So I realize those are depressing things and I don’t know if her experiences are typical in any way but figured I would mention them just as a “the more you know” type deal. Judging from her posts, she mostly seems to keep to herself in her apartment or her classroom. I don’t know if it’s the language barrier or if she got a bum deal with the people she’s around most of the time, or if she’s too anxious to go out and explore for whatever reason. I know people who loved it (though they weren’t there for a year) and obviously this woman who doesn’t. Hopefully the OP will have much better experiences!

        1. Mrs. Dean Winchester*

          Thanks for including that. So far everyone I’ve talked to has said they loved it, and it’s nice to hear a different perspective from someone who isn’t loving it.

        2. nonnynonny*

          Yes on the animals thing! You can have a pet spayed or neutered but be sure to ask for pain meds, even if they give you the side eye. A lot of vets there don’t think animals need them!

          Hospitality is awesome, and definitely take the opportunity to travel if you can! Little towns are so different from the big cities.

          Ditto on the Kleenex thing too, and I wish someone had told me not to bring anything in my checked baggage. People go through them all the time, and I’m not sure if I lost my nice leather jacket, dvds/cds, and some cheap costume jewelry (!) in America or China, but I know I’ve never lost stuff going to Europe. There is plenty of bootlegged stuff in China, and you can have stuff tailored if you don’t fit in the store clothes. (Which, honestly, unless you’re a size 4 or less, you won’t. And even then be prepared to look in the plus size section!)

        3. Mephyle*

          What Cruciatus described is a good introduction to what culture shock actually is. It wasn’t what I thought it was. You might expect culture shock to be that you go around surprised at X or Y being different than in the home country.
          Yes, that’s part of it, but the part that’s hard to take is when you come up against people doing things that just seem wrong and bad, or rude, or contrary to good manners. And as it continues, you discover it isn’t just individuals, (bad apples, who are also present in every country, from one’s homeland to the best countries you might visit), but just about everybody in your new country does the thing or holds the opinion which “everybody knows is wrong”. And you start realizing that “everybody” doesn’t consider it wrong here, in fact people in your new country can’t understand what’s wrong with it. That is culture shock. And it happens even to those who are having a good experience.

    4. nep*

      How exciting. Congratulations. Wishing you all the best.
      A couple tips that come to mind (and you’re likely already going in this direction) — find out about expat groups / forums to learn a bit about the practical, everyday elements of living there.
      While there, always listen to your instinct. We tend to question ourselves when in a foreign land and all the newness can be overwhelming — just stay in touch with yourself, if that makes some sense.
      Seize this great opportunity — enjoy.

      1. nep*

        (And even though you don’t want to pack unnecessary things, do bring a few things from home that will be meaningful and comforting to you.)

    5. Wendy*

      After all that my family went through to get out of there, it always jolts me a tiny bit whenever I hear about anyone voluntarily moving there. Obviously it’s a completely different world now, but that’s still my immediate reaction.

      I was born in Shanghai but haven’t been there in over a decade, and the first thing I’d say is make sure you’re in the best possible health when you go. I’d become so spoiled by the climate and clean air etc here that I got sick pretty easily as soon as I go there (and this was during the relatively mild season of mid-April). The other thing is getting used to crowds – it’s pretty much all peak hour in Shanghai, and public transport users arent forgiving in the least.

      In terms of safety, there isn’t as much violent crime as there might be in parts of the US, but petty theft and pick pocketing are very very common, most of my friends who still live there have had phones stolen at least once. If you carry a backpack, never wear it the right way round if it contains things you don’t want stolen.

      I was going to write more but I just realised I’m been overly negative. I think because since I’m still in touch with people who are natives there I hear a lot more about the negatives and shady aspects of life in China than is usually presented to tourists or foreign workers (who are not long term). But with any luck you wouldn’t have to deal with any of that either.

    6. Sandy*

      Moving internationally in general: culture shock is a real thing. Do not underestimate it. There’s a chart around that you can google on culture shock, it maps out some of the ebbs and flows. Print it out and tape it to your fridge! It’ll seem dumb at the time, but when you reach that point where you are irritable, dragging your butt, and don’t want to do anything about 4 months in, it will all make sense. And it will remind you that it will pass!

      Also, poke around and see if you can find English-language web boards or Facebook groups for where you are going. You don’t necessarily have to hang out with the folks on there once you arrive (although that may be an option!) but it’s a godsend to have access to the first time you get stuck with a burnt out light bulb and you have no idea how to replace it.

      I don’t know if you are going with suitcases-only or if they are allocating you a shipment, but if it’s the latter, pack some “homey” things in your suitcases so you can settle in right away when you arrive. For my boss, it was family pictures. For me, it’s my own sheets and pillowcases. They fold flat, and that way you can snuggle in to your own bed almost right from the beginning. For a colleague, it was her kitchen knives (she used a knife roll).

      1. Treena*

        Yes to the Facebook groups! When I started moving abroad they didn’t exist, and then I stumbled on one by accident and it was glorious. Now I join those expat groups to do research. If you’re going to be looking/deciding where to live, look for neighborhood groups as well.

        Seriously agreeing with Sandy on packing tips. My husband and I use 6-8 suitcases (no containers) and for us, it’s worth it to have certain stuff. We bring 2 blankets and our fancy knives in a knife roll as well! Especially if you are using just suitcases (and actually, even if you’re not, it’s nice to arrive with actual stuff), pick your airline carefully. Whatever airline you fly for the first leg is the one that charges your baggage fees. Virgin America (only America, not Atlantic or Australia or any other subsidiary) has stupid cheap checked bags. We checked 300 lbs for $100. Flying NY to Shanghai direct on Delta will get you Delta fees, but if you fly NY-LA on Virgin America and LA to Shangai on Delta, you pay the Virgin America fees.

        Also, since this is your first move, start thinking about what things you really, really want to keep the same. Research what you can’t get there and start stocking up or getting creative. Depending on your size, this might be clothing/shoe related. Bras (ugh) for me are a pain. I like to read The New Yorker, and usually I can get a two week old outrageously priced copy somewhere, but if you want all of them right away, setting up a Kindle subscription or something similar is easier to do in the US.

  15. Eva*

    I find myself newly single after coming out of a 10 year relationship that has basically been all of my adult life – first boyfriend, lived together for 9 years of that time. I broke it off due to multiple factors which basically boil down to me wanting more from life.

    Most of my social life was based around his circle of friends and their partners, and I didn’t develop strong friendships of my own over the time we were together. Most of those people we hung out with have now disappeared from my life as they will remain friends with my ex and not me. I am not too sad about this as I always found the social things we did a bit boring or lackluster anyway. However I am suddenly single without people to socialize with.

    One of my close friends I still do have took me to a party last night. I never would have gone before because my ex wouldn’t have approved and wouldn’t have wanted to come along. I want to get out and meet new people and experience new things but I found this party just as lackluster as the ones I used to go to with ex and his circle. I feel empty this morning like I haven’t really made any new good connections and I wonder how I’m going to build any kind of social life of my own.

    Part of being single now I guess will be figuring out what things I do like and meeting people that way.

    I know in my future I want to have another relationship, have kids, get married, all the rest, but I want to sort out my own life first so I don’t end up going into another relationship without much of my own to bring into it including my own friends or social life.

    Does anyone have any advice on how to start meeting new people and basically having more fun? I can’t drink due to medical reasons but if I’m around the right people I can still have fun and enjoy things that normally involve alcohol

    1. NicoleK*

      I’ve been spending time with former coworkers. I typically initiate lunch, dinner, or happy hour but I’m use to it because it’s been the story of my life. I get to know them better and I’m networking at the same time. Win-win. By the way, I rarely drink and still coordinate and or attend happy hours. Most don’t care whether I drink or not.

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      meetup(dot) com? how about a book group or something? or even just some sort of group activity – volunteering, a gym class, socialise with your co-workers (if you like them!) a bit more at work etc.

      1. Eva*

        I have just checked out meet up dot Com and it looks quite good!

        I also feel like I need to make some changes in my life like living closer to work so commuting doesn’t take up so much of my time and I can do more fun stuff after work

    3. TootsNYC*

      I’m a big fan of getting a hobby, Something where you’re doing more at a gathering than sitting around and talking.

      I have a niece who has moved on her own to another city, and that city has a “social club” that has a game night. I was encouraging her to go, since she likes games, but she didn’t want to go the first time by herself, and I don’t live close enough to take her.

      But that sort of thing–something where the interaction kind of has to happen.
      (Part of the boring and lackluster thing for me is that I find most parties kind of aimless.)

      Is there someplace you’d volunteer, and thereby interact with people?

    4. Sunflower*

      So there’s a dating app called Bumble(which is like tinder in the swipe on profile sense) and apparently they now have ‘Bumble for friends’. Not sure how successful it would be but seems interesting and easy to try?

    5. AnotherFed*

      Look into local sports leagues or field houses – lots of the time they have teams looking for new members in whatever sport you’re interested in, and teams with a couple of new randos or all randos are usually pretty good about trying to make you feel welcome. You start with something in common with the people you’re meeting, and when it’s an activity you already enjoy, it’s a double bonus even if you don’t become BFFs with them.

      1. TootsNYC*

        There are also groups there who are willing to take members who aren’t great–a high school classmate was in 2 softball teams, one for competitive play, and one where winning was a bonus, and it was mostly to have fun. They actually policed people off the team by saying, “You’re’ too intense for us–we aren’t down with this berating people for a flubbed play. You’ll be happier on another team; we can suggest one.” He said those games were actually more fun.

    6. Snazzy Hat*

      First of all, I empathize with you regarding your post-breakup friend loss. I was lucky to have multiple circles of friends at the time, but it was difficult to suddenly be the enemy of a bunch of people who had been my friends for over ten years.

      My advice for re-socializing is to find an activity you enjoy or want to try, with the side focus of not knowing anyone at the activity’s establishment. I keep reading that over with my own scenario in mind, and it makes little sense without context, so here you go: I’ve taken a variety of bellydance classes (basic moves, folk, floor, prop, etc.) for about five years, with different instructors & different studios, but since childhood I wanted to learn ballet. At work one day, a coworker mentioned she was (at the time) also a dance teacher. Turned out she was teaching at a studio that has dance & fitness classes exclusively for adults, including ballet. By the time the first “I’ve never taken ballet before” class was in session, my coworker moved out of state. I showed up at the studio with no knowledge of anyone, save for a first-hand account that the instructor was awesome.

      Just the realization that there were people who didn’t know me who also didn’t know how to do ballet but wanted to learn, made me feel a hell of a lot more at ease in class. I eventually noticed some classmates knew other classmates, but once I developed a rapport with the instructor, I was not afraid to ask questions, crack jokes, request do-overs, or show pain.

      I’m picturing a similar scenario in which you join a group of people who are concentrating more on their individual growth in a non-competitive way, such as in a cooking class or art class. Whether you actually socialize and make friends is only part of the equation in getting out of the house and being active on your own. Hang in there!

    7. Engineer Girl*

      Make up a list of things you’d like to try. Go wild! Not sure? Put it on the list for a trial run. Classes, food, mini trips, museums, etc. Think about your childhood dreams – is there an activity that correlates to it? Pursue it. Volunteer at things you care about as you’re more likely to find like-minded people.
      Find out who you really are.
      Look in the news for free activities. Explore them.

    8. Turanga Leela*

      Organized fitness activities seem to be great for this. Based on friends’ experiences, people make friends at CrossFit gyms and by joining organized running groups, like Team in Training.

      Did you go to a university that has an alumni community in your area? My alma mater has book clubs and things scattered around the country.

      Congrats on taking this big step in your life and starting to figure out your social life as a single person!

    9. Artemesia*

      I was in this situation after a broken engagement nearly 50 years ago and then after a divorce 47 years ago and after moving to a new city in retirement (but this time with my husband and the two of us needing to meet people.)

      For me every single time, having a strategy was key. When the engagement went t. up at Christmas of my senior year in college I set forth to meet people by identifying activities I was really interested in. In a couple of weeks I met the guy I married later that year at a foreign film festival on campus; it was a mistake — I moved to fast and I left the marriage a few years later but the strategy worked. And it worked after that and I met the man I have been married to over 40 years.

      To me the rules are 1. engage in things you are interested in where there will be new people (and meet up makes that easier than it used to be, but there are also political groups, environmental groups, animal rescue groups, hiking and jogging groups, book clubs etc etc)
      2. when you meet someone interesting, follow up. Get their number and set up a movie or coffee date or lunch. (lots of people go to these sorts of things but don’t seem to know how to move it to a relationship; just following up with a plan to do something laid back really works. I have found that most of these result in at least a few get togethers and some lead to long friendships.)
      3. As a woman looking for a dating relationship, don’t just focus on guys. Making female friends can enrich your social life as well and when you get in the ‘meet interesting people’ mode, you are less likely to come across as grasping and desperate to guys. The key to those follow up moves being productive is to be fairly relaxed; it might work best to try to organize follow up events that include several people rather than just the one guy who seems interesting. The goal here is to build a circle of friends not just ‘find a boyfriend.’

      I’ll bet it works for you if you are intentional and force yourself to get out and do something with others every week.

      1. Eva*

        Thank you all for the advice so far. The common factor seems to be trying things I’d be interested in and meeting like-minded people there. I guess I thought that the goal was to go to more parties but actually there are many different ways to be social!

        When you so initiate that friendship with people who seem interesting / interested do you find people are keen for coffee or what other things could I suggest? My friend who has a very wide social circle seems to always have so many this on that she just invites a new friend to do those things with her and her other friends. I don’t have that option (yet)

        1. TootsNYC*

          Well, in addition to getting some sort of regular “there are other people here with me to converse with” activity on your schedule, make it an absolute project to have one thing to do every other weekend (go to the horse show, or a quilt fair, or an art show, or a new exhibit at the science museum). And ask someone to go along with you.

          Again–an activity that makes it easier to be together.
          And persevere; make it part of your schedule, that you call your new friend now and then for a short conversation, or that every weekend, you have to keep asking until you have one person who is available for SOMEthing, even if it’s just a brisk walk on a Saturday morning.

          once you find someone you seem to be clicking with, try to get something regular on the calendar: “Hey, let’s have lunch every first Wednesday.” (I did that with someone once, and until she moved out of town, it was a really great way for us to gradually build a friendship.)

        2. AnotherFed*

          “Hey, I heard about this new restaurant, but I’m not sure about it – want to try lunch there and see how it is?” Same thing for another activity, but match it to the group – if you play on a soccer team, see if people want to go to a sports bar to watch a match, ask the knitting group if they want to go to the spring craft show, invite the D&D group over for a LotR marathon, etc. I lean towards events where conversation wouldn’t be the focus, in case things just don’t flow – you probably don’t care if you talk through the soccer match, but if you’re eating a meal in silence it’s probably not a win.

        3. Artemesia*

          It has to feel right to you; I’d pick a free or low cost event you want to attend — a museum exhibit, a new coffee house, a free concert in the park — something you’d find interesting and does not involve a lot of money and see if they are interested. I had great success with that sort of thing. And if you are new to the area saying you are new and trying to meet people especially when you are trying to build a relationship with other women is fine — e.g. new and looking for a book group etc.

    10. Jean*

      When my life took me past the stage of meeting people in class or other student settings, I learned to form friendships over time by standing back and chatting with other people on the sidelines of the main activity. In my case, this was usually at the social/snacking period that follows religious services. (This is NOT an effort to drag everyone into organized religion! It works for me but I’m not breathing fire & demanding that it has to work for everyone else. The world already has more than enough people breathing fire.)
      I also learned how to befriend people in other “parallel lives” situations:
      – people whose children are friends or classmates of my child
      – people whom I meet because we are trying to Cope with the Same Life Problem (in my case this was parents who needed to advocate for special ed for their kids)
      – coworkers (or former coworkers) … I used to be terrified of mixing my work & personal lives … now I’m able to do this on a case-by-case basis. Works for me. May not work for others. That’s okay.

      I hear and read from people with dogs that canine relatives are a great way to meet other dog people.

      1. TootsNYC*

        re: social and work

        Sometimes you can have a less risky time of this if you seek out people who are counterparts, not coworkers. For me, it’s not terribly difficult to find people who have roughly the same job I do, similar level, but it another department, or another organization. So I check out whether they are interesting to me, and go from there.

    11. Mando Diao*

      Is there any kind of music or art community in your area? Gigs and gallery openings are fun because you can get dressed up and enjoy the entertainment without feeling like you need to be “on” or make conversation. You can gradually integrate yourself.

      However, if you decide to go this route, make sure you have a good filter for red flags. Creative communities are home to some great people who don’t fit into mainstream society, but they’re home to even more people who were rejected from society for very good reasons.

    12. Stephanie*

      I think whatever you do, the key is seeing the same people regularly in a structured environment. I met a lot of people via improv classes and a running group. I agree with everyone else that starting or continuing a hobby that puts you in regular contact with others is the best way.

    13. Dan*

      I do a meetup social group. It’s billed as a happy hour group, and yes, pretty much every one has a drink or two, but the reality people are there to be social. If you were to join it, I don’t think anybody would look at you funny. And you’d meet some great people. This particular group I make a point of going to regular events with because the people (guys and girls) are good company. I know that there’s always going to be a few laughs with that group. Plus someone from that group set me up with a friend of hers, so you never know.

  16. louise*

    Life without antidepressants:

    A few months ago my psychiatrist put me on a new antidepressant because I didn’t think pristiq was doing anything helpful for me. I hated how I felt on the new one (itched all the time and had out of character bouts of rage). I really wanted to try no drugs for awhile to see what me on my own is like. She advised against it, but because I’ve never been suicidal, relented. She also said because I’m in therapy and am so introspective she thinks I will be the first to know if it’s working or not.

    I go in Monday for a 2 months with no drugs follow up. I’m supposed to know what I think then. But I don’t. I’ve had done extreme ups and downs and some scary crying spells where I felt like I had no reasoning skills. But the ups have been better than hoe I’ve felt in years. And I’m SO much more alert in the mornings and don’t feel glued to my bed to the point of being late every day. Overall I think I like me better this way.

    How do I know if the instability and the crying spells are ok? Or at least worth it for the trade off of the more alert feeling? How do I know if I’m getting worse again and need to go back on something? I feel like the meds didn’t work, but at least I knew I was trying something and now I feel like I’m putting all my eggs into a therapy and good life basket–if something tips that happy life out of balance even a little, I don’t know if I have what it takes to make it through.

    I don’t know what my question is; I’m just thinking aloud. Depression and anxiety is a scary beast sometimes and I feel intimidated.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Well, there are some ups and downs anytime you go off a medication–your doctor should be able to help with answers about the bouts of rage, or crying spells.

      And you don’t have to decide now. You can keep trying for a couple of more months, and change your mind later and go back on. Nothing’s permanent here.
      Maybe start keeping a journal of moods, so you can see any trends without having to rely on your subjective memory.

      Also–if you have those spells still, you can talk about other ways to cope with them.

      1. TootsNYC*

        also–a vote for some aggressive Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, if you’re not already using it. It has a good track record w/ depression from a non-chemical point of view.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      How about doing some nutritional counseling? Talk about vitamins and minerals, talk about what types of foods would be supportive to what your body needs.

      How about what you are reading? Are you checking out books/websites that would provide you with ideas. suggestions of things to look at and consider? Over all, aim for reading materials that are supportive of your current setting. I went through a time in my life where I lived on Chicken Soup books. I needed brain candy and that is where I found it. I just wanted to read about nice things, people doing the right thing, and stories with satisfying endings. Yeah, my brain was pretty mushy, I needed positives desperately.

    3. misspiggy*

      Bear in mind that many antidepressants are only designed to be used for a few months (unless one has a very serious condition). If your life is going reasonably well without antidepressants, and you’re enjoying the extra alertness, great? I guess it depends on the effect the ups and downs have on your life – are you able to keep body and bank account in relatively good shape?

      I can see why you’d feel vulnerable without the meds, but they’re still there – you can go back on them, or try another one, if life starts to get too difficult. Could your therapist and you agree a short list of indicators that would point you back to medication?

      (I’ve never been on antidepressants, but several close people in my life have spent a long time taking them – most are now off them except for occasional dips.)

      1. JaneB*

        Mostly chiming in with some empathy here – GAD and depression are scary and hard, and so are medication decisions. I’ve been on one anti-depressant for more than 10 years, because my GP’s not keen on a change. I’m not “ill enough” to have a proper psychiatrist in the UK, apparently, since I’ve never been suicidal (when I’m really depressed I don’t think I deserve an escape option like that, the rest of the time it’s not on my mind) or missed more than a few days of work directly due to depression – mostly thanks to a flexible working environment, not because I haven’t been quite ill at times, and also have no regular therapist (short-term CBT is the only option available without having to find and pay for a private therapist, and I’ve had several shots of short-term CBT with no change).

        One reason my GP’s not keen to try & change my med is that the current one seems to work with managable side effects (the ‘glued to the bed’ every morning thing is one for sure), and when we’re tried a taper I stop caring about things, and showering starts to be really, really hard, and frankly, I get scared because it feels like the start of a bad episode. He reckons I’d have to expect at least 4-6 weeks of that getting off the current med, recommends a month break, then start tapering up a new one, and feels that I’d likely experience around 4 months of side effect and withdrawal type problems before the new one kicked in – and as I tried others before without success, there’s no guarantee it would work.

        I definitely have ‘wonky wiring’ which makes me prone to these problems, but my job makes things a lot worse – so my current plan is to try and solve THAT problem, and probably go through the rigmarole of finding a private therapist I like and trust and can afford, before I play with my meds!

        Look after yourself!

        Oh, and if you do decide to try and track moods, why not try a phone app? I’ve been using Pacifica, which has a decent mood tracker as well as some tools like short meditations or breathing exercises, a thought analysis tool and various ways to record things like caffeine, exercise etc. to look for patterns in mood and environment. The free version is fine, or you can pay a little for more features.

    4. Anon bc reasons*

      Such a hard choice. I’m definitely more even-keeled with lexapro, but it’s not magic. The anxiety in particular never really goes away, it’s just a matter of how much impact it’s having on my life. I took a break from meds for a couple years and also had a lot of “am I stable enough??” moments. Apologies for TMI, but the main trade off for me is orgasms. Which is a really unfair choice- who needs orgasms more than depressed people??

      So, no real advice, but you’re not alone. Be good to yourself.

      1. Christy*

        Omg I know! I decided I’d rather enjoy sex (because I wasn’t enjoying it at all, physically) and tried another med. fwiw, I switched from lexapro to Wellbutrin and I actually liked sex again!

    5. anonymous for this*

      First of all, I am sending you jedi hugs if you want them. I think it sounds like you’re approaching your situation really sensibly, with monitoring and guidance with your doctor and therapist. Go you! But I also know how hard it can be to figure out what’s “normal”, optimal or just good enough when you’ve got depression and feel like you can’t always trust your own judgement.

      My experience: I’ve had depression and GAD for over ten years, following a car accident. Some of the medication I’m on for my physical injuries exacerbate depression (which is a really fun catch-22 when you start taking meds to treat the side effects of other meds). I tried a few anti-depressants and found one that worked for about two years, and then my doctor put my on Effexor, which I’ve been using for six years now. It’s one of the biggest hammers in the anti-depressant toolbox – it works for many people and with serious depression, but it’s also a real bear to taper off of, and it’s incredibly unforgiving if you don’t take your dose on time. For me, if I miss it by more than two hours, I’m in for a day of really nasty flu-like symptoms. All of which is to I think it should be a drug of last resort, but it works for me so I’m sticking with it. A couple of years ago I tried to reduce my dosage, but my anxiety immediately flared up, so I went back to my regular dose.

      Some things I’ve learned: There are a ton of different antidepressant drugs for a reason. Everyone’s brain chemistry is a little different, and a drug that works for one person may not work for another. And the same thing goes for side effects. Your choice may not be between the drug that makes you groggy and saps your joy or no drugs at all – you can always try a different medication if you decide that the instability and crying jags aren’t worth it. I know it sucks to test-drive meds, but it sounds like you might be in a reasonably good place to do so with your support network. As for knowing if/when it is “bad enough” to go back on anti-depressants, I’ve found that a mood tracker app can help, or even just keeping notes of the times and ways you feel really bad (and good!) can be a useful tool to bring into therapy. Having a record of the frequency and types of mood changes can help you spot patterns and decide whether your current regime is working for you.

      1. Catherine in Canada*

        Seconding the cautions about Effexor! it really helped me with anxiety but a late or missed dose was sheer hell.

    6. Sunday off*

      It sounds like you made the 2 month mark okay, so maybe try for another 2 months. I have been on antidepressants during 3 different transitional periods of my life, and each time I went off them partway through the therapeutic process. I go on them when I really can’t cope, but once I get a bit stronger, I find I make progress more quickly in therapy if I go off them and allow myself to feel more of the ups and downs.

      1. Treena*

        Yep, even though the dr set a 2 month mark for seeing how it goes, you can go back and say, “So, the 2 months weren’t amazingly great (insert context), but I think it might be better than with meds. I’m not sure yet, so I want to try another 2 months and revisit the question then.” If they were okay with the trial because you’re introspective etc., I can’t imagine why they would have a problem with that analysis and plan.

    7. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I think only you can determine where your line is. It doesn’t help that you didn’t feel the meds were successful because you don’t have a “good” period to compare with the bad. Oh, wait, there is a good list on crazymeds.com that I’ve used as a rational evaluation of whether I need to go back on meds. Btw, don’t let the bad website fool you, the site is well respected and the information is reliable. It is a very frank and irreverent description of meds that goes far beyond the back of the box parroting that the more mainstream sites have.

      Also check out “the instinct to heal” by Dr David Servan-Shreiber. It describes several well-studied alternative therapies for anxiety and depression. Some are easy to do yourself like fish oil and exercise and others like emdr and acupuncture involve a trained practitioner.

    8. It's me only anon*

      Regular poster here.

      I’ve struggled with clinical depression since my early teens. I’m never truly suicidal but the thought crosses my mind several times a week (but it’s just a passing thought and I don’t feel I would ever take action). I’ve discovered that the most disturbing part of my particular depression is the anxiety that goes with it. When it’s bad, it’s almost out of control and it feels like you describe–crying spells where I am incapable of most rational thought. It’s like a spiral of anxiety that goes from 0 to 60 in about 5 minutes. For years, I took lorazapam to stop the anxiety spiral but I couldn’t always self-identify when I was getting anxious. Now I’m on something called buspirone that I take daily and I think it’s helping to keep the anxiety at bay. At least the embarrassing crying jags are under control.

      Good luck. It can be so hard to figure out what the right medications are, and in what amounts. I take a dose of anti-depressant that’s supposedly not even therapeutic, but if I try to double it to take the smallest therapeutic dose, I turn into a zombie and just sit staring into space.

  17. Cristina in England*

    Just a follow up from my post last week about Night Shift for iOS 9.3 (reduces blue light to stop your screen time from keeping you awake). Here is a list of compatible devices. Apparently even the colourful 5c can’t do it, not just my old 4s:
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/ios-9-3-night-shift-mode-full-list-compatible-iphone-ipad-ipod-touch-devices-revealed-1537915

    For those who can’t use Night Shift, you can still use a neat trick to dim your screen more than the lowest setting (in the morning light you may think your phone is off, that’s how dim it is):
    http://www.igeeksblog.com/how-to-dim-iphone-screen-even-more/,

    1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I don’t have an Apple device, but someone suggested f.lux to me some years ago and I recently re-found it, and it works wonders. I really think I am getting fewer headaches with it!

      It is noticeable for the first day or two you use it (the screen looks yellow-y), as it dims and brightens at dawn and dusk (in your area). But after awhile, you only notice it as it changes, and your eyes adjust immediately.

  18. Myrin*

    I first read that author’s name as “Olive Kittenridge” and thought you’d named Olive after her! :D

  19. AnotherTeacher*

    Thoughts on gift cards/certificates without amounts? A relative does this. She’s very kind in always giving gifts, even for minor occasions, but always leaves the amount blank. Of course, there’s usually a code to check the amount, and the thoughtfulness is more important than the amount. It’s odd to me, though, and I wondered what others thought?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I agree it’s odd. I’ve had that happen a couple of times, and I usually just buy something cheap and then ask the cashier how much is left.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Usually people put the amount, but if they don’t, I Google up the gift card and find it out on my own.

    2. Alma*

      I sure hope she includes the activation receipt with the card (which will tell you how much is on it, but also serves as proof someone put money on it).

      People often give me gift cards, and this one was from a grocery store, and I really needed the groceries and nothing in my account. When I got up to the cashier it had no money loaded on it, and I had no gift card receipt.

      I would never have gone to the gift givers to tell them the card wasn’t loaded. Too embarrassing!

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        For me personally, I save the receipt, and would absolutely, 1,000% want the recipient to let me know if the card wasn’t loaded. I bought it for them to use!!

    3. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I think it comes from the rule about not sharing the value of a gift with others. You’re not supposed to tell someone how much you spent on them. I struggle with this myself. I probably would include the amount but it would be after a long internal battle.

  20. Sparkly Librarian*

    I’m sharing here because I can’t talk about it yet to people irl and I’m mentally spinning in circles.

    My wife and I have wanted to adopt a child for years, but only recently put the process in motion. We haven’t even completed our homestudy yet (waiting on one last employment verification, and currently taking the required workshops, so it’s close). I’d mentally tagged our wait as 2 years from the time we went “live” in the profile pool — that’s a little longer than average with our adoption agency, and we would be thrilled if it happened faster but can’t count on that.

    Only at Thursday night’s workshop, the facilitator told us that she had a client who wanted to place her child with a family like ours (makeup, location, type of adoption agreement) but hadn’t been able to find the right one yet. On Friday she emailed that she’d told this client about us even though our profile isn’t live yet, and the client wants to know more and maybe meet us. Oh, and this baby is already born! (The agency rarely handles placements more than a few days after birth, so I’m waiting to find out why this is an exception.) We sent an introductory letter and photos that the social worker will present on Monday. If she chooses us, our timeline will be Real Soon Now. Good thing I hit my FMLA-eligibility next week.

    I could hardly sleep last night. I know it’s wise not to get emotionally invested just yet… but that is so hard!

    1. TootsNYC*

      That happened to a colleague of mine–he and his wife had settled in for a longer wait, and suddenly they were the right fit for a baby. It was about to be born–not already born, so they had a little bit of an adjustment period.

    2. Bluebell*

      congratulations and good luck! Adoption can have lots of starts and stops along the way, and bring the unexpected. Be patient and flexible. My family did an international adoption and I have many friends who adopted domestically. None of us had timelines that went exactly as we first expected. But we are all parents now.

    3. Audiophile*

      Congrats! I’m adopted (as are all of my siblings, we’re not biologically related), it’s a great thing.

    4. Connie-Lynne*

      I didn’t decide to surrender my daughter until I was significantly far along in my pregnancy, and she was born before I found a suitable family. By the time I found the right people (two weeks in) I was starting to panic that I would end up having to raise her myself because it seemed nobody who wasn’t entirely unsuitable was looking to adopt.

      Maybe this baby’s mother is in a similar situation and y’all are the one shining gem of a family, like my daughter’s parents, that works for her. I hope you are, for all of your sakes. Good luck!

    5. TheLazyB*

      Oh how very exciting! A colleague of mine has just gone off on adoption leave, such an amazing thing to do. I hope it all works out xxxx

    6. SophieChotek*

      Congrats I hope it works out! I’m adopted myself so I am thrilled you want to adopt.

    7. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I’m sending lots of good vibes your way that the best possible situation happens for both you and the birth mother!

    8. LibbyG*

      Wow! What a tremendous moment! And I can imagine how emotional it must be to write a whole letter about how ready you are to love and cherish your child and to select photos to best represent the wealth of love in your current family of two. Of course you’re spinning in circles! Best of luck with the whole process!

    9. Sparkly Librarian*

      She wants to meet with us and the social worker on Thursday. *makes frantic plans for short-notice parental leave while trying to be practical instead of emotional and all that*

    10. FelineFine*

      Congratulations! Adoption can be such a roller coaster of emotions. Fingers crossed it all goes well for you.

  21. ThursdaysGeek*

    What are some non-profit organizations that you support but that no-one really knows about?

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      For me, I support SIGN (signfracture.org), a local company that manufactures surgical implants and teaches doctors all over the world how to use them. Broken bones can devastate a person when they are a caregiver or breadwinner in the family, and SIGN helps people heal faster and cheaper.

    2. Snazzy Hat*

      Child’s Play (childsplaycharity dot org) : video games (and consoles), books, toys, and such in hospitals and therapy facilities. The annual fundraising drive, Desert Bus for Hope, is non-stop hilarity. One (or more) person(s) at a time plays the video game Desert Bus while donations of “here’s money, do this funny thing” roll in and other org members participate. For example, “I will donate $100 and I want Graham to sing an aria about poutine while wearing oversized sunglasses.”

    3. Turanga Leela*

      The World Food Program, which is the UN’s anti-hunger group. Obviously a lot of people know about it, but I never hear anyone talk about giving to it—people seem to give to a few big international relief groups like the Red Cross, MSF, and Oxfam, and the WFP gets kind of forgotten.

      1. nep*

        You’re right that not many people are familiar w WFP (UNICEF certainly being one of the best known UN humanitarian organisations). Just curious (if you don’t mind going into it a bit), how are you familiar with WFP?

        1. Turanga Leela*

          I took a class in college on global hunger, and the WFP’s work came up a lot. I think my professor had done some work with them. I’ve always been surprised since then how little I hear about it. I try to give regularly.

    4. Artemesia*

      I’m not sure it is ‘unknown’ but I like Donorschoose.com which allows you to help fund specific projects for teacher’s classrooms. Schools are so underfunded and teachers have so little to work with that it thrills me to know I can help do something so specific for kids. I helped fund 3 classroom reading projects and one high school science program in public schools in my big city this year and have received really nice notes from the kids. e.g. on fourth grade teacher was building a classroom library of leveled reading books for her half hour free reading activity each day. The kids wrote nice notes and drew pictures of their favorite book and I have pictures of the kids and their books. Same with the science program.

      The organization collects the money and buys the materials and ships them to the teacher so their is count accountability for funds and projects.

    5. Lamington*

      I support the Pacific Primate Sanctuary. They rescue monkeys from pet trade or research.

    6. Gene*

      Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance. It’s a genetic disorder that’s more common than Cystic Fibrosis, but is nearly unknown. My wife has a minor case. Usually the affected are severely developmentally disabled.

    7. Treena*

      The Innocence Project! They get folks who were wrongfully convicted of crimes out of prison (usually after many years). They exclusively work vis DNA exoneration so there’s 0 chance of them doing sketchy things. There’s lots of local chapters but I’m abroad so I donate to the national fund.

    8. Jo*

      If you’re looking for US-based ones, I can’t help, but if you are interested in international ones I have lots of ideas :)

      One of my favorites is SOLA – School of Leadership, Afghanistan. It’s the first boarding school for girls in Afghanistan, where public education is very much lacking. This school teaches critical thinking rather than rote memorization, as most Afghan public school do, and ultimately prepares students for higher education abroad. There is a nominal fee for attendance, but scholarships can be arranged to cover that. It also emphasizes recruiting girls from the provinces, where education for women is very rare and this type of boarding school environment is essentially the only way they can receive an education above primary school.

      Once students have been accepted to high education institutions abroad, it arranges scholarships, financial aid, living expenses, host families, flights, etc., so that all students, even the poorest, can attend.

      Their website is sola-afghanistan dot org

    9. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

      ReSurge, it provides surgical care to burn victims in third world nations who often didn’t get adequate care when they were first injured.

      Most burn victims worldwide are women, and without proper initial intervention the burns heal improperly causing disability. ReSurge conducts release surgeries to help these people return somewhat to functionality. Great organization.

    10. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think the least-known charity to which I regularly donate that’s not a local org. is Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. One of their activities that caught my attention is fighting “sponsored” classroom materials or TV or radio played in school or on the school buses. They also have an annual “Toady” award, for the worst kid’s toy; it’s voted on, but they usually come from at least a few of the categories of issues that CCFC covers:

      Marketing to Children
      Advertising in Schools
      Commercializing Toys and Play
      Food Marketing and Childhood Obesity
      Marketing, Eating Disorders and Body Image
      Marketing to Babies and Toddlers
      Materialistic Values and Family Stress
      Sexualizing Childhood
      Media Violence

    11. GH in SoCAl*

      Red Paw! They come to the rescue in the Philly Area of pets displaced by fire or other emergencies. They’re like a Red Cross for pets. When people of limited economic means lose their homes, they are often sent to living situations that don’t allow animals, and are forced to give up their pets. Red Paw gets the animals treatment and arranges foster care until the family can take them back.

      They are my designated Amazon Smile recipient.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I enjoyed the book very much. I read it, and then I found a book that sounded very intriguing and I ordered it from Amazon. When it arrived and I began reading it, I realized that I had already read it from the library before, but I read it and enjoyed it again anyway.

    2. Jerry Vandesic*

      I only saw the miniseries, and while I enjoyed the ending, I was constantly thinking “it would have been so much better if Olive had died and her husband had lived.”

  22. Much Anon About Nothing*

    Anyone have advice on getting involved in theater? I’m a huge theater fan (plays more than musicals, Shakespeare in particular) and I’ve been wanting to get more into acting/eventually directing/participating in some way in local theater. I’m just not sure how to make the first step. Any suggestions are appreciated!

    I usually just lurk around here, but this seems like a great community with a lot of good advice so I thought I’d ask. :)

    1. Cristina in England*

      What’s available to you will depend on where you live, but I have had some very positive experiences in community theatre in the US. Everyone worked during the day so rehearsals were at night, and the participants were from age 15 to retirement age. The people in charge were high school drama teachers for the most part, and it was very fun! If you search for community theatre in your area, I hope you will find some sort of notice about how to get involved. These things are often all-volunteer so they always need new people.

      1. Much Anon About Nothing*

        I’m in the Boston area, and I’ve looked at a few groups in the area – it’s harder because I work 9-5 but I don’t have a car so I’m limited in where I can get to. I haven’t found many community theater groups, most of the ones I’ve looked at are professional or semi-professional.

        1. SophieChotek*

          I used to live in Boston and have done a lot with theater.
          I agree with community theater; that’s always a great way to get your foot in the door. But maybe you’ll have to start at the “bottom”–ushering, etc. I think it depends on your skills set. For instance, carpenters are often in demand to help build sets or lighting experts to hang lights or costumers and drapers to sew costumes, and male actors that can act & sing & dance are often in demand in community theatre–it seems to be the lament of every theatre director i’ve worked with (not enough men, and we have 30+ girls audition for 3 roles, but I only had 2 guys audition for 5 roles) sort of thing.
          On weird occasions those volunteers end up on stage; I remember once an acquaintance volunteered with the opera company and ended up as a non-singing supernumerary in an actual production. (I think they really neeed guys.)
          Let me think; I no longer live in Boston but I’ll shoot a message to my friends in theatre that are still there and see if they have any ideas.
          I agree; as a rule it seemed like Boston had tons of theatre but it was either professional or related to a school (Tufts, Harvard, Boston Conservatory, New England Conservatory), not the more traditional “community” theatre for anyone.

          1. Much Anon About Nothing*

            I don’t mind ushering, although it is somewhat time consuming. I have good event management skills, and some art/design skills but I don’t know how helpful that is. Sadly I am not a man so I can’t get onboard that way. :p

            Thank you for reaching out!

            1. Lore*

              Speaking as someone who used to run a small off-off-Broadway theater company in NYC (so professional but super super low-budget), volunteers for event management and/or graphic design would have been a godsend. We were so thinly staffed that planning events often meant we couldn’t do them too close to shows–which is exactly when you want to do them–and having a volunteer who could have taken some of that on would have been amazing. And it was always hard to balance the need for professional publicity materials with the cost of having them professionally designed. The thing about volunteers, though, is it’s hard to tell the difference at first between volunteers who will be amazing and committed and volunteers who will be flaky. I would start by identifying some companies that are near you and going to see some shows. Once you’ve bought tickets to something more than once, if you don’t know anyone associated with the show, trust me, you’ll likely already be on the radar of a small company. When you pick up tickets, tell the box office manager you’d be interested in volunteering and ask them how to get on board, or call the company’s office (if they have one) during business hours and say you’ve seen a few shows and you’d be interested in volunteering. A lot of times there’s a big need for extra hands to do one-off things like bartend at fundraising events, or sell concessions (soda and candy) at performances, help with load-ins and strikes (when the sets and stuff go in and out of theaters).

              If you find that you like it, there may be technical stuff that you can pick up or be trained in–things like running a light board or a sound board. I will say, none of this would have necessarily been a good way to get into acting without having the chops–so if that’s your dream, I’d also recommend taking some classes or going to some open call non-Equity auditions just to get a feel for it.

              But I would say start by finding an organization whose work you like, going enough times to show some commitment to their work, and then start talking to people.

              1. Much Anon About Nothing*

                Thank you so much for this! This is just the kind of information I was hoping for. I’ve been trying to see more shows locally and find good local companies to keep an eye on, I’ll have to step it up! :)

          1. Much Anon About Nothing*

            Yes I have seen that list! Some of them don’t have much web presence which is sad.

        2. Bluebell*

          Are you north or south of the Charles? I’ve heard good things about Footlights club, and know people who have gotten involved w Arlington Friends of the Drama and post meridian radio players. Plus there’s Theater at First. Most places can use box office or tech help to start.

          1. Much Anon About Nothing*

            I’ll have to look some of those up! I’m south of the river which is less convenient, sadly.

    2. TootsNYC*

      first step? Look in the papers for a community theater group, figure out contact info, and call ’em.

      Big cities are harder, I think, because there are just more semi-pro caliber people.
      My dad ran a community theater group in our very small town (he was the high school drama coach), so we took EVERYbody.

      Also, support staff (costumes, scenery, front of house) are always welcome–sometimes you get can pigeon-holed and not get parts, but it gets you into the group.

      1. Much Anon About Nothing*

        Do you have any advice on how to sell yourself as support staff? I could learn most anything but I don’t have a lot of ready experience in tech or backstage type work.

        1. NYC Redhead*

          If you’re looking to get involved in community theatre, there’s no need to sell yourself; you’ll be welcomed with open arms if you’re willing to roll your sleeves up. They are generally unstaffed, though, so you may have to show up in person rather than waiting for a call back if you reach out. If you know they are having auditions, you might show up there, even if just to make a personal connection. Or you could see if they have a Facebook page, too.

          1. Much Anon About Nothing*

            Ah, that makes sense. I have reached out to one or two places before with general questions and not heard back (which is disheartening). I wouldn’t have thought of showing up at an audition to make an introduction!

    3. anon attorney*

      Welcome to the stage! Try finding a class. There are acting teachers who run evening groups. I started with the total beginners class, and now perform with the group regularly. It’s a fantastic hobby!

      1. Much Anon About Nothing*

        Thank you! I look forward to giving it a try. A class is a good idea!

  23. Cristina in England*

    Has anyone had experience trying to trust their instincts more? For some reason I do not ever trust my intuition. I immediately just start rationalising what I know, deep down, not to be true. Is this common?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yes, very common. I had a similar discussion with a wise friend of mine. He said to go back and think about how you felt the times you were right. Match you how you felt to how correct you were about your instincts. Then take your current intuition and see how close you feel to what you felt the times when you were right.

      I get a knot in my stomach. And when the event is close (time-wise) I get weak in the knees. Sometimes my intuition is in regard to a need. “Get the car to the repair shop NOW”. And I argue with me– if that is possible. “Oh I have to go to the store, I need to run to the vets…” And the feeling gets even stronger, “NO, I SAID REPAIR SHOP NOW!”
      I get to the repair shop and they find a cracked axle or something.

      One thing that helped me to develop/trust my intuition was to welcome my intuitive thoughts. By that I mean, stop being afraid of them. We are supposed to have intuition, it’s necessary for our survival. I have never had a time where my intuition put me in a worse place, I usually end up in a better or at least safe place.

      Now that I am in this sort of peaceful/friendly place with my intuitive side, I realize that there were many times as a kid, I felt this or that was going on. Whoops, why is my stomach all knotted up? As an adult I realize I was probably right about what I thought was going on then.

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        It’s totally possible. And the times I have argued myself out of listening to that inner voice have not gone well for me. I guess ultimately that’s what has helped me trust my instincts.

      2. Cristina in England*

        That’s interesting, I really like that advice, thanks. I wish I had a strong physical cue. For me my thoughts go “It is X. It cannot possibly be X.” I instantly try to disprove myself. That is as close to a cue as I can think of. It sounds similar to you arguing with yourself. How did you start to realise you were doing this and break out of it in the moment?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Am laughing, for me it took years of shooting myself in the foot. Okay it wasn’t really bad or anything but just too many times of, “I felt I should take the car to the shop and I did not. How stupid is that? Now I have a really big bill instead of just a big bill.”

          More normally, I would think something like, “The boss said she wants this Friday but I have a hunch she is going to ask me for it on Thursday.” Sure enough, Thursday rolls around and there’s the boss with her hand out.

          The knot in my stomach was a fairly normal off and on thing for me, so it took me quite a while to tie it to my intuition being in overdrive. You may have something similar, random headaches or maybe your shoulder hurts, some little thing that seems totally unrelated. So just keep an eye on that one.

          Another clue is the intensity of the thought saying “it is x”. Sometimes the intensity level can go up a little or a lot, when you are running on intuition.

          My wise friend had me start at it this way: Using your example, instead of saying “it can’t be x”, just check first. Granted you can’t do this in every instance, but in situations where you can do a quick check, go for it.
          He said the more willingness you show about paying attention to your intuition the more intuitive things will come to you.

          Then he went on to say that most of what we call intuition is not intuition. He believed that our minds take in scads of information that we never even really think about. We hold on to that unused/ignored information and when we finally remember it, it comes out in odd ways.
          Here’s a great example. Boss ordered some parts for me. She said they would be arriving by X carrier on Thursday. Well, Thursday arrived. I knew that X carrier always delivered after lunch. So I came back from lunch and set up my work so I could use those parts. The carrier came and I signed for my parts. I scared the CRAP out of Boss. She went as white as a sheet, “HOW did you KNOW those parts would be here?” She forgot she what she told me about Thursday and she did not realize that X carrier ALWAYS came after lunch. The whole thing was totally logical. But to her I had some big ESP thing going on.
          This brings me to my last suggestion of what to do: Remember that our minds take in lots and lots of info that we routinely tune out. Trust your mind to remember things that are not at the forefront of your current thoughts.

          1. Cristina in England*

            That is very interesting, I completely agree that a lot of the time, intuition is about adding up lots of things you don’t know you know. I like your friend’s advice about Just checking first, when I tell myself it can’t be X. Thanks!

          2. Cristina in England*

            I thought of another example of me disproving myself, to make you laugh. I figured out once that if I was shopping, and I was trying to convince myself not to buy something, I should buy it, and if I was trying to convince myself to buy something, I should not buy it, because I was just trying to make the opposite case for some unknown reason. I can also think of another example when I knew that because I had completely indicated total agreement with something, I was going to do the opposite.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Yeah, I get this. I did a lot of this opposite thinking, too. And somehow it messes with intuition. It helps to get out of that type of thinking and start focusing on “best judgement”. This could look like: “I can’t decide between the red X or the green X. Well I am going to put it with purple Y and I know I do not like purple and red together so I will get green.”

              It’s easy to get intuition mixed up with overthinking. How do you know when it’s intuition and how do you know when you are overthinking? I stopped overthinking as often as I could. I went with straight-forward reasons for doing or not doing something. This helped on so many levels, not just with developing my intuition more.

              1. Cristina in England*

                YES! Overthinking, guilty. I read something about people with brain injuries that destroyed their capacity for emotion suddenly becoming debilitatingly indecisive. This one man in the article could spend an hour deciding whether or not to use a blue or black pen because he had no feelings or innate preference for either, ALL HE HAD was overthinking. It make me really question the value of how much time I spend analyzing things. I think I need to lower the bar of what is actually good enough.

                Also, sometimes I mix up worry with intuition. That’s easier to spot because fake intuition which is just worry feels random to me, like I will have a thought out of the blue and wonder if I am having intuition about something. Real intuitive thoughts for me aren’t out of the blue.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  It sounds like you are really zeroing in on this. I think keep going with these things you are looking at and give it time. I have been working on making better use of my intuition for 20 years now and I am still learning- don’t get discouraged, just let each situation teach you something about how your own unique intuition works.

    2. orchidsandtea*

      Yes, absolutely. I think it happened more for me after I was gaslighted by a boss for a year. To the point of making the worst cup of tea of my life, because “the milk is curdling, could that be the oil of bergamot in the earl grey?” No dear, but it is diluted vinegar from your roommate cleaning the kettle last night. And I drank it.

    3. GreenTeaPot*

      I made so many bad decisions because I didn’t trust my instincts. Not trusting my gut hurt my career, my self confidence and my life in many ways. I often trusted the wrong people, people who seemed off in some ways. It shouldn’t have happened as often as it did, but I grew up in a very dysfunctional home and had no idea what constituted healthy, normal behavior.

      Listen to yourself.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      I’m a very intuitive person and I try to trust my gut as often as possible, but I’ve been learning to also ground my decisions in values. I’ve found that most of the time when my intuition says no, when I think about it more deeply it’s when one of my personal values is being violated. It’s an interesting second check on something that feels a bit hard to grasp.

    5. Dan*

      Is your intuition ever wrong? Mine isn’t. The kind of intuition I get is definitely along the lines of “this feels right” or “this feels wrong” or “something is off with this person.” I’m not saying that I can always do something with my intuition, but one thing I did learn from my marriage is that if someone you are dating seems a little “off”, don’t immediately write it off as a quirk. Appease your concerns before you go to the alter.

      Job interviewing can be that way too. If I get a sense that a person will be a pain to work with, I try and figure out how much influence they will have on a daily basis.

      So I guess I can summarize my intuition as usually being of the “check this out, you need more information. Proceed cautiously until then” variety. I’ve never gathered that more information and then thought it was a waste of time. I’m usually in a lot more trouble by *not* gathering more information.

      1. Cristina in England*

        That’s really interesting. My friendships and relationships are just about the only area that I have always followed my intuition, and with good results. I don’t know why the same doesn’t apply to the rest of my life!

    6. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I once turned down a job I had accepted due to a serious case of intuition over the weekend. It would have been my first full-time job out of college. The job was as store manager of a chain craft store. I felt sick to my stomach all weekend after accepting. I just knew I had to turn it down but I didn’t know why. I ended up taking a part-time job in that same store (gotta love retail!) to see if I could see what my intuition saw. I won’t get into the details of what I learned, but I’ve never regretted turning that job down.

      1. Artemesia*

        I almost moved my family including my husband giving up his hard won partnership track job to San Antonio when I got a great job offer as my first post PhD job. But there was this sort of spidey sense that told me ‘no.’ A friend of mine eventually accepted that job and moved there to discover that the stories they had told about the project in the community were lies (they had not only not achieved the milestones on their fancy wall size pert chart but had actually promised a bunch of local teachers jobs and then failed to follow through after the teachers had resigned their jobs and so were seriously crossways with the community) and it turned out the foundation head had his hand in the till. My friend was coming off a divorce and so the move and the disaster was something he could weather; he did what he could in the year he stayed there and then moved to a new position. It would have destroyed me; I would not have been able to cope with the situation at all and would have had the guilt of moving my family into this disaster. I have respected my spidey sense forever after that.

  24. Meg*

    Has anyone had any experience with compartment syndrome? (The chronic exercise-induced kind, not the acute kind, thank goodness!)

  25. Rebecca*

    I was having a ton of problems with my new Windows 10 Dell desktop, to the point I was ready to sell it second hand and just give up. I had it about 2 months, and it never worked correctly.

    -Home Group feature would not let me print from my laptop, even though the home group had been set up properly, all settings checked, etc.
    -Start button stopped working, and showed a critical error message.
    -Could not access apps.
    -Tried to download apps, but my browser did not recognize the path, so no go on that.
    -Every time I launched Firefox, it asked me if I wanted to keep it as my default browser, and when I clicked yes, the Windows settings box appeared as if to say “use Edge, use Edge”
    -Internet access randomly stopped, even though internet on the desktop is delivered via cable and not wireless. Had to reboot to restore access.

    These are first world problems, but still, very frustrating. I engaged a tech support person at Dell via chat the other evening, and when he wanted to restore factory settings, I said no, as it might or might not work, and whatever was causing the problem (Windows update or something similar) would just reappear.

    Fast forward to this morning. I was googling “start button critical error” once again, and came across a discussion that suggested uninstalling Dropbox to fix the problem. I was skeptical, since I have Dropbox installed on my laptop (upgraded to Windows 10 from 8.1) and it has zero problems, but since I was out of ideas and really frustrated, I gave it a shot.

    Lo and behold, all the issues are solved. I even booted up the laptop, left the home group, rejoined the home group, and proceeded to print a test page on the printer!

    I am really sort of stunned that a simple thing like Dropbox could have been causing these issues all along, and I can’t understand why I have it installed on the laptop with no issues, but on my desktop it apparently created such havoc. I made sure to tell one of my coworkers about this, as she was having the same problems with her PC as I was.

    So, passing this along to everyone, just in case you are in the same boat. I am still shaking my head.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Yes, that’s odd. But I’ve worked with computers long enough to know that the solutions to problems don’t always make logical sense. Glad you got it sussed out!

  26. mander*

    They buried my grandfather today. :-(

    Due to the international travel I couldn’t be there, but my sister showed me most of the funeral on FaceTime. I missed the actual burial part since there isn’t a signal in the church yard. It’s kind of funny to watch a funeral on a webcam but at least that way my husband and I could be a part of it.

    I did go visit last week, and I was able to get there and spend some time with him while he was still responsive. It was hard to withdraw care but he had so many problems that we knew it would only prolong his suffering to do otherwise. (He fell and had bleeding in his brain and a broken hip, plus pneumonia and advanced Parkinson’s).

    1. TootsNYC*

      My sympathies! It’s such a hard time–spending time while he was still responsive will hopefully be such a blessing to you.

    2. Mimmy*

      I think I remember you mentioning him a couple weeks ago, sorry to hear he has passed but I’m glad you got to see him one more time.

    3. Liane*

      So very sorry for your loss. I am glad you got one last chance to see each other. Hugs!

    4. NewCommenterfromDaBronx*

      May the good memories of your grandfather be a comfort & a blessing to you. So glad you were there for a visit while he was still responsive. And my condolences on your loss.

  27. Gingerbread*

    I met up with my high school best friends this week after 6-7 years of not seeing each other. I agreed to go to a bar tonight to celebrate one of their birthdays, but now I’m regretting it. What’s a good excuse to get out of it? I was trying to muster up the courage to go because I do want to be friends with them again, but I hate bars/nightlife and the thought of going makes me anxious.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Call them up and see if you can go to a restaurant instead. Tell them you thought about it and bars are so noisy, you are concerned you won’t hear them. “And wouldn’t it be nice to sit in a quieter place and really catch up?”

    2. Florida*

      It depends why you are not going? If you are going because you are anxious about seeing these friends, I’d probably go. I’ve usually been glad that I reconnected with old friends. If it turns out to be not so fun, just tell them that you need to leave, and leave.

      If you aren’t going because of the bar scene, you can text or email all of them and say, “I’m not much for the bar scene. Would y’all mind if we met at ___ instead?” Just pick a restaurant that is the type of place that has something for everyone.

    3. mander*

      Honestly, I’d just screw up my courage and go, if I were you. Perhaps promise yourself that you can leave after an hour or something. You might find that one of your old friends isn’t actually that keen on the bar either and would be happy to meet for coffee or something later.

      I’ve been in similar situations and I was always happy that I made myself go out in the end.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I agree-just go. Don’t give in to the “whiny teenager” part of yourself, and just go. So they picked a venue you don’t enjoy–there are 7 people, it can’t always be “your way.”

        Go, focus on the people who are there and not on yourself , and you are probably going to find (as I usually do when I feel the way you do) that it isn’t nearly as bad as you are telling yourself it will be.

        And if there’s another get-together, have a good restaurant (good food, allergy options, nice atmosphere) to suggest right away.

      2. LizB*

        +1. I use the “just go and let myself leave after an hour if necessary” strategy all the time. If it turns out the bar is terrible, you’re not there for long, and going even for a little while opens the door to reconnecting another time in a better venue. (“Sorry, I need to head home, I’ve had a really exhausting week/have a terrible headache/have to be up early for church tomorrow, but it was so great to see you! Would you like to go for brunch next weekend? How’s Sunday?”) And, if it turns out the bar isn’t actually that bad, you can have a nice evening!

        1. Hellanon*

          Yep, this would be why I always drive myself/take the train to social events, so that I have control over how long I stay at something. The way I like to think of it is in terms of generosity – I’ll go, be social, have a glass of wine or diet soda, whatever, and that’s me being generous with my time & energy so that the other people have a good time. Then, if I’m still not feeling it, I’ll make an excuse to one or two (no more) and slip out. That is me being generous with my time and energy but directing it toward myself. It’s a Jedi mind trick that also works with exercise…

    4. nep*

      I’m probably not a great source on this one because friends and family likely think I’m a little cold or aloof when it comes to such things — but I would simply say ‘I’m not going to make it after all’ and leave it at that. One time I called a friend about a party and said ‘I won’t make it tonight’…I didn’t say ‘I can’t’ — it felt, and was, honest to say ‘I won’t make it’. She didn’t ask for an explanation — it was just done.
      Be true to yourself. If you think it would be good for you to step out of your comfort zone, perhaps that’s what’s going on. But if you really don’t want to go, don’t go — you don’t owe anyone the ‘why’.

      1. nep*

        With all that said — if it is a matter of not wanting to step out of your comfort zone, whenever I’ve ventured out of mine, I was so glad I did. It paid off in a big way. So as others have said, good to really identify for yourself why you’re hesitant.

  28. Trixie*

    I bought a used iPod last week for $30, older model but fine for just the music and will make a nice MOther’s Day gift. Same seller is also offering used iPhone 5s with cracked screen for $75. I can probably offer less. I think the operating system is new enough to actually use some apps which my current 3s can’t. Again, mostly for music/videos but not as phone. I don’t think the cracked phone will matter but folks get them replaced, right?

    1. Alma*

      Check YouTube to see if there are any videos of people showing how to replace the screen (which probably includes the LED component) . If you look at several and think this is something you can accomplish, check prices on the replacement parts package on Amazon. (Get the model number from the seller so you know you’re looking for the right thing.)

      The repair package should include everything you need. Read the cushion reviews carefully – you want an extremely high rate of “everything I needed was in the box and it fit perfectly ” comments.

      I spent less than $25 including overnight shipping – and was fine until I got to the tiniest screws. The seller sent me the screwdriver I needed, but it delayed the completion of the repair one week (a long weekend was involved) .

      When I called the repair-your-cell-phone shops to get an idea of what it would cost it was over $125. And my cell phone insurance had a deductible of something like $185. (I cancelled that immediately. )

      I am very pleased. It took me less than an hour to browse YouTube for my specific model. I found one that seemed to be especially explanatory, and easy to follow.

      Make sure you’re able to repair it yourself, and that the repair shop (if you decide to go that way) isn’t more expensive than you’re willing to pay. That will help you decide.

  29. Noah*

    I have a date tonight with a guy I met at the library. I have tickets to a minor league hockey game, so we’re doing dinner and then the game. He doesn’t exactly seem like a sports lover, but I was struggling to think of anything besides dinner and a movie. We’ll see how it goes. I’m excited.

    On a slight tangent. I love the library. I was one of those people who bought a Kindle years ago and stopped buying or borrowing physical books. Within the last 4-5 months though I started going to the library again. I missed it. I enjoy spending an hour just looking through the aisles and finding a few books to bring home and read. I still use my Kindle, but it is nice to have both options.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Hockey can be fun to watch even if you’re not a sports fan, because it’s fast and not static. Jealous–I never meet anyone anywhere–it’s like I’m in a giant bubble. Have a great time! :D

      1. Nicole*

        I agree. I’m not really into sports but my company had box seats to a Blackhawks game and I was glued to the action. It was the first time I’d ever really paid attention at a sporting event.

    2. Nicole*

      I love the library too. I enjoy just browsing the aisles and sitting and reading a magazine or two. I get all excited coming home with a stack of books too.

      Good luck on your date!

    3. Snazzy Hat*

      I went out to lunch earlier this week with my retired father, to a place across the street from the main library. After lunch, we were at a loss of what to do next because I honestly had nothing to do for the rest of the day. Then he piped up with, “well there’s an exhibit at the library about pivotal science books, I’ve been meaning to see it,” and I happily agreed, adding, “I haven’t been to the library in a long time, anyway,” to imply I would still be up for going to the library if the exhibit wasn’t there.

    4. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Also, your library may have access to a system called Overdrive (or something similar), where you can download books for free to your Kindle! :)

      This isn’t Project Gutenberg either, so it includes popular fiction, new releases, etc.

      (Also, not a sports lover, but I always enjoy going to games. There’s a fun energy that isn’t there in a bar or at home.)

      1. Artemesia*

        I have saved hundreds of dollars a year by downloading books from the library and they have the most recent best sellers. It is a godsend when traveling; it is so expensive to buy ENglish language books abroad and who wants to carry that weight. My little Nook with the light so I can read in the dark and not bother my sleeping husband is great — and I just download new reading material as I go. Books are lent for 3 weeks and so my biggest issue is not loading more books than I can read in that period. (the library is only allowed to lend out a book X times, so if you download it and don’t read it you are burning up a ‘loan’ from an already cash strapped system. ) I donate to our local library once a year with funds earmarked for the Ebook budget.

    5. Dan*

      So… in general, I prefer sports games to movies. (FWIW, I’m a straight guy who is not a die hard sports fan.) Why? It provides something to do, some positive energy (if your team is winning), and yet provide an opportunity for conversation. (Movies don’t do the later.)

      I would not want to go on a date with a die hard sports fan who will focus all of his/her attention on the game, and none at all to me, or someone who is going to throw a tantrum if their team loses. Or a “know it all” for that matter.

      Side note: I went on a third date to a major league baseball game with a girl who works in professional sports (not baseball). She bought the tickets. She also spent the whole time taking selfies and texting her friends, and very little time with me, even though we had seats next to each other. I was pretty much like “this one is dead in the water.” Tells me on the way home that she hates life in town and is looking to work elsewhere. Ok, I figure it’s time to move on. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

      I get a text from her a few days later saying, “I think we left things on a bad note the other night. Want to talk?” Um, yeah. She formally “dumped” me a few weeks later, claiming that I wasn’t understanding enough of some scheduling conflict, and that apparently we weren’t “meant to be.” (Uh, I figured that out when you were texting your friends all night, and then tell me you’re moving out of town the first chance you get.)

      1. Windchime*

        So in other words you dodged a bullet.

        Dating after divorce is hard. After I divorced years ago, I went on a few dates with a guy who was OK. Not great but OK. I wasn’t heartbroken when he dumped me for someone of his own religion. They married, then divorced. I was surprised a few years later when he looked me up again. Yeah, no thanks.

    6. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I love going to hockey games. I’m not a huge fan, my husband is, but there is an energy I don’t find at other sports events. Im not a fan of all the fighting but there are often fun songs played at certain times, fun events between periods, and the zamboni is always cool. I think you’ve made a good choice; the game will give you something to talk about or something to ignore him with. Have fun!

    7. Windchime*

      I am not a hockey fan per se but I realized that it’s still kind of fun to go to the games. The crowd, the noise, and the game itself are all kind of exciting, even though I don’t understand the rules beyond “try to hit the puck into the goal”. Hope you had a great time on your date.

    8. Noah*

      Date went well, at least I think so since we’re planning to see each other again. Besides needing to have some of the more complicated rules explained to him icing and offside he seemed to enjoy it. I love hockey, but I’m not a mega fan who screams and yells (much).

  30. Dynamic Beige*

    Crafty people! Does anyone have a Silhouette cutting machine? How do you like it? I went to a store today to check out what a Curio can do because supposedly it cuts/embosses/etches and does more than the old ones — but they didn’t have any samples. It’s one thing to watch a video or see photos of finished projects online but… meh. I would prefer to hold something in my hands and/or see the final result with my own eyes. There were other brands, but they also didn’t have any samples of what they’re capable of.

    Someone I used to work with has been diagnosed with ALS and so they are putting on a fundraiser for her, including an auction of artworks. Everything I think of doing for this is becoming too complicated to do by hand, so I thought that using a machine would help. If I knew someone who had one, I’d rent it from them for a week or whatever but no luck there.

    1. Blue_eyes*

      I have a Cricut machine (similar to a Silhouette). I have an older model that just cuts and only works with cartridges (I think the new ones can connect with your computer to cut shapes that you create). It’s really useful for crafts and making greeting cards. I originally bought it when I was a teacher because it made making bulletin board displays super easy.

      1. 3D Queen*

        I have the most recent model Silhouette – it’s pretty great! It does connect to your computer, and I use Adobe Illustrator and import it into the clunky Silhouette software (you don’t have to do this — you can pretty easily figure out the Silhouette software, too, I’m just picky). As with any machine you have to play with it a lot to get a feel for the settings, but it’s pretty fun and I have to say the die cuts are REALLY impressive. I bought it on Amazon (generous return policy and best price) but never returned it because I got addicted quickly :)

  31. StudentA*

    What does everyone think of the push for increasing minimum wage? I am a strong Democrat. The way I feel about it is that I don’t know how much good it is going to do in the long run. It might work for a little while (I doubt longer than a year). But expenses will catch up quick and it will be deja vu.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I kind of feel the same way–a lot of price increases are arbitrary (like airline fees), and without any checks on that, they’ll just keep going up. But an increase is long overdue. Even if it’s not a lot, it will help.

    2. Allison Mary*

      That’s kind of how I feel, too. Either expenses will catch up and there will be inflation, or business owners will find other ways to balance out costs by cutting down on their labor force, which increases unemployment.

      A recent example – last time I was at Red Robin, they had little electronic kiosks at the tables where we could electronically order pretty much anything that wasn’t a main entree dish. We still had a server, but I bet you that one server was covering many more tables than they would have, otherwise.

      Plus, I feel like I’ve seen Suzanne Lucas (Evil HR Lady) talk about how minimum wage raises can actually hurt the people who need those jobs the most (think high school students, maybe some ex-cons, or people going back to work for the first time in a long time who just need to start building some experience back up), by increasing the competition for those jobs. And that makes a lot of sense to me – though I’m open to the idea that it could be wrong.

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        I hate those little machines.

        I enjoy interacting with a server…it makes the experience nicer. If I didn’t want to interact with someone, I would just…hang out at home with my computer haha.

        1. the gold digger*

          That’s funny! I am the opposite – I have no interest in knowing what my waiter’s name is or in interacting with him at all. All I want is someone else to prepare food for me! :)

        2. matcha123*

          Those touchscreens are in a lot of Japanese restaurants. I…like them. I never ate out much when I was back home and when I did come home it was so stressful trying to time my order to when the server was in the area.
          However, I don’t see why having one would or should lead to lower wages. The food still needs to be prepared by someone. It needs to be brought to the table by someone. Questions about menu items still need to be answered by someone. The biggest plus is that the order is sent directly to the back and you can see pictures of the food items.

          1. martinij*

            The ratio of questions about food/special orders to the majority of customers who will order straight from the menu is unbalanced. Kiosks will likely alleviate the employer’s need to hire additional waitstaff as fewer questions = fewer employees to handle said questions.

    3. mander*

      I’m of two minds about it as well. But I think overall the purchasing power of the current minimum wage is much less than it should be, so maybe raising it will help for a while.

    4. Artemesia*

      The minimum wage has fallen so far what it supported 20 years ago that it is not close to a living wage and so many more people are now forced into those jobs as good paying middle class jobs have been offshored by our industries. It isn’t teenyboppers serving burgers, it is single mothers and breadwinner fathers and so on who are trying to live on minimum wage.

      In the fairly near future most jobs including many management and other white collar jobs will simply be gone replaced with technology. We are going to have to decide what kind of a society we want and how we will support most people decently when most people will not have jobs or lucrative jobs. Either we adopt some sort of share in the economy for all or we have a society that will make medieval Europe look positively cushy. At least the serfs had work and sustenance.

    5. Noah*

      Raising minimum wage does not seem to effect inflation, at least historically. However, I wonder if substantially raising minimum wage could result in the loss of many low skill jobs. At a certain point it becomes more cost effective to develop and implement technology to replace workers.

      I also think we might see more Uber-like companies, where a huge majority of the workers are independent contractors and not employees.

      1. Observer*

        That is true. The problem we are facing now is that historically, raises to the minimum wage have been relatively small. What is being pushed now are very significant raises- NYS just recently went up to $9, which is not that much more than the federal Minimum wage. Now it’s going up to $15 over the next 3-4 years. We simply don’t have any similar situations to look at, to give us a real indication of what might happen.

    6. Cruciatus*

      I fully admit I am no economics expert, not even a pretend expert so all of this is just based on my feelings and things I’ve heard at some point… I feel like the minimum wage should be higher than it is but at some point it became stagnate due to multiple factors. I read somewhere that it should really be something like $20 an hour if it had kept up with previous rates. There is a huge problem with the decreasing middle class in the country that was once the backbone of the economy but is slowly (maybe not totally slowly?) dying as people slide more into the lower class sector. I don’t know if raising the minimum wage will combat this, but I think we are way behind where we should be–look at other countries’ minimum wages compared to ours! I mean, in my state it is $7.25. In my city COL is less than others so a single person *might* be able to live super frugally on this, but if they are adding dependents I don’t think so. And of course, not all cities have low COL. So I don’t know what the solution is, but I’m not convinced keeping it this low is helping *anyone*.

      1. Allison Mary*

        I don’t know if anything is “keeping it this low” though. Economically speaking, the demand for low-level, unskilled work balances out with the supply of workers who are willing to work at that level, at a certain price. The minimum wage we already have is likely higher than it would be at equilibrium of supply and demand for unskilled work. That’s called a price floor, and traditional microeconomic theory would say that it hurts suppliers (which in this case, are the “suppliers” of labor, i.e., minimum wage workers). Price ceilings, on the other hand, are supposed to be harmful to the “demanders” or consumers.

        Here’s a video on this concept, for anyone who’s interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EzY4Vl460U

    7. Mimmy*

      The minimum wage definitely could be higher, but I think $15/hr. is too big a leap. If memory serves, I think one state that passed the new minimum is doing it slowly, the other is doing it I think over just two years. Too much too fast.

    8. BRR*

      I think it should be tied to the city. Even state wide doesn’t seem great to me because COL can vary so much.

    9. Chris*

      I’m torn. I live in an semi-rural area that is becoming over saturated with rich retirees and tourists, making the difference between wage and COL in the area massively unbalanced. On one hand $15/hr vs $8.50 would mean a huge step up for many people out of poverty and I support it. On the other I don’t think the purchasing power will stay- prices will adjust around the new wage and businesses in the area will adjust their hiring practices.

      1. Dan*

        Peeps could end up in poverty too. I look at something like McDonalds, and while they probably make the revenue to pay $15/hr during the lunch rush and dinner rush, they may decided they could put up with longer lines by laying off a cashier or two, or curtailing the overnight hours, closing early, or something.

        I used to work at a restaurant where one of the shifts was called a “split shift.” The waiter would come in, work the breakfast rush from 8am-noon, and then come back and work the dinner rush from 5pm-9pm. Yeah, outside of work it sucked to have that shift, but at work you were making bank because you were working the peak of peak times. You also were only scheduled for that shift no more than once a week. I could see Mickey D’s scheduling like that for peak hours, and then cutting back staff during off peak hours.

        I also worked as a baggage handler for an airline. Our hub was heavily “banked”, meaning all of the flights came in and once and they all left at once. (Ok, arrivals were scheduled over a 45 minute period and departures were scheduled over a 45 minute period.) So, a “bank” was about 2 hours of heavy work. When the bank was done, you sat on your duff, on the clock, for 2 hours until the next one came in. We only had four banks in the entire day, so an 8 hour shift would work two banks and have a lot of free time.

        If rampers all got paid $15/hr, then one of three things would happen: 1) Airlines will increase ticket prices to account for that. 2) Airlines will restructure their flights to reduce the amount of staff necessary, resulting in layoffs. 3) Airlines will keep the structure, but force the staff to clock out when the planes are gone.

        1. Tex*

          Airlines already charged more when oil prices were up and then conveniently forgot to drop those charges when oil went down. They don’t have my sympathy.

          Also, these days CEOs make 150x times what a field line worker makes. It used to be a factor of 40x. Why is there wage inflation only at the top? These companies have the money to pay, they just don’t want to. Yes, there might be some inflation, but if we don’t raise it then we have the working poor who are still subsidized by all of us when they need government support to supplement their income.

    10. Snazzy Hat*

      Several times, I’ve had my wages auto-increase through minimum wage increases. One of the simplest ways to demoralize employees is to tell them, “you’ve worked here for four years and now that it’s January 1st, you make as much hourly as the people we hired three weeks ago for the holiday rush. We gave you those tiny raises before but now it makes no difference.” I get nervous when I recall how in late 2014 I was overjoyed to be told my pay rate at NewJob in NewField would be $12/hr, yet in mid-2015 people were already pushing for $12/hr to be paltry, and insult, and just plain not enough.

    11. bearing*

      I think a higher minimum wage is a great idea — but not a super-high *federal* minimum wage. What I’d like to see is a relatively low federal minimum wage, but every state set a higher minimum wage at a level that makes sense for their business climate/cost of living. And municipal areas could set it even higher than their state minimum.

      Some people are talking about raising the federal minimum wage to something like $15. I think that a lot of people overlook that this benefits people in dense, high-COL areas at the expense of people in more rural, low-COL areas with less business investment and infrastructure. Unsurprising since the latter are much less visible to the policy movers and shakers, who tend to live in high-COL areas.

      The thing is, possibly the most important bargaining chip held by workers in low-COL areas is the ability to offer their labor at lower cost. The “living wage” is literally lower for people who pay less for housing and food, and they should be able to use that ability to offer their labor at a discount, attracting industrial investment and encouraging small businesses to grow. Set the minimum too high across the whole country and you take that bargaining chip away from them.

      I kind of wish it were possible to have a slightly lower minimum wage for under-18-year-olds, too (while keeping other child labor protections), to encourage businesses to hire them. Youth unemployment is pretty high and I think it’s good for teenagers to hold jobs. I suppose that individual states could make that possible.

      So I’m on the raise-the-minimum-wage camp, but on a state and local basis rather than a federal one.

      1. Snazzy Hat*

        I am on board with this entire comment, especially “on a state and local basis”. As a resident of New York State but not New York City (in fact, about as far away as you can get from NYC while still being in NYS), I assure you my area’s cost of living is envied by residents of NYC. You can still find 3-bedroom apartments in decent areas for less than $600/mo.

      2. matcha123*

        A lower wage for me, as a teen, would have been devastating. I was paying my family’s bills with the money from my part-time job. And at 18, I was already a second-year student in university.
        Of course, this was the job where I was told, “There are a lot of people looking for work, people like you are a dime a dozen,” so…there’s that…

      3. Treena*

        But the thing is, having a low federal wage and higher state/local wages is a system that is already possible. But it doesn’t happen. Why? There are a million reasons, but one of them is that states/cities want to remain “competitive” (UGH)

        What people seem to not understand about higher minimums is that natural economics will take over and raise the wages of everyone else. Skilled labor will always get more than the minimum. It’s the reality now so why is it so hard to understand that this trend will continue?

        If you’re a social worker making $15/hour, you’re going to get bumped up to $20-25/hour because why on earth would you do such a stressful job with long hours when you can flip burgers for the same money? Employers are going to realize this (either proactively or via workforce movement) and raise the wages they offer.

        The same goes for geography. You think NYC will all of a sudden cost less because everyone is making $15 minimum? Nope, NYC employers are going to have to pay higher *market* wages because otherwise, why would you stay in NYC?

        If the federal minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would be over $20/hour. I don’t think $15 is outrageous in the slightest. Yes, there will be growing pains. But it’s going to be less painful than continuing to let people live in abject poverty despite working full-time.

        1. Greggles*

          Where are they going to get money to give the increases to social workers? If they are working for government or non profits which many do, the money isn’t endless?
          If an apartment complex has to raise the rate of pay for their employees, that will be a reason for rental price increases. It goes on and on. That’s assuming that everyone would get a raise. I am not sure that social workers would make much more just because the minimum goes up.

        2. Observer*

          What Greggles says is true. I can tell you that there is going to be huge dislocation in the human services sector as this goes into effect. Non-profits, where most of these services originate have fairly rigid budgets, and having to raise wages this significantly is going to be a huge problem, as many government contracts already don’t cover the true entire cost of providing the contracted services. Even if government agencies are willing to bump up the amount available for these contracts by the necessary amount, the fallout that everyone will expect from doing this is going to mean that some contacts and services are going to get cut, regardless of how needed they are.

        3. bearing*

          Higher state/local wages is starting to gain traction. If everybody who is agitating for a higher federal wage was agitating instead in localities where there is a concentration of people who want to see the minimum wage raised, I bet that it would be gaining traction faster.

    12. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d like to see a much higher minimum wage for any company that makes billions of dollars in profits. If you own a small business and make only $2/hour more than your lowest-paid employee, you should get an exemption.

      1. LCL*

        This, exactly. It’s why I stay away from fast food places. It’s not the food that makes you sick, it’s the exploitation of the workers. And yes, I’ve done time at fast food restaurants.

      2. Treena*

        To bounce off your small business owner that makes only $2/hr more than employees, I would actually love to see tax incentives for businesses that have a smaller disparity between the lowest and highest paid employees (including the owner). It’s not the huge profit margins that bother me, it’s the million dollar paychecks CEOs get while they pay 90% of their employees the minimum wage.

    13. Mando Diao*

      I think there will likely be enough exceptions (teen employees, part-time employees, small businesses) that it wouldn’t have the widespread effect people expect it to.

    14. Dan*

      Minimum wage is a weird thing. I’m with you completely on the cycle, in that there’s no way to sustain any sort of real living wage. Side note: There’s a guy who actually did this with his company (google Dan Price, Gravity Payments, and $70k). Everybody at his company makes $70k. While raising the minimum at the bottom has achieved its desired effect, it’s actually had negative effects on those above it. If I’m a manager making $75k and my employees are making $45k, fine. I have more responsibility and more headaches, so I should get paid more. But when they raised everything to $70k, that manager then says, “oh, I need more money to make it worth my while.”

      I’m not really a fan of a federal minimum wage though. I’d prefer each city/county do it at level that makes sense to them. I live in metro DC, and wouldn’t have too much of an issue with a $15/hr minimum. Most people at the bottom end are likely making close to that already. (A decade ago, I had a blue collar job paying $11/hr when minimum wage was $7.25). DC is expensive, and $15/hr still puts you in the poor house. (I wouldn’t even call that a living wage here.)

      My dad is a retail manager in a decent-sized city in the midwest. Cost of living is way lower there. He pays is people about $11/hr. If they raised minimum wage to $15/hr there, they’d probably end up closing some stores and laying people off. And $15/hr gets you a lot further there than it does in DC. So DC should have a higher one, and I’m not convinced that laying people off is the right thing for my dad’s company.

      I think if fast food companies had to pay $15/hr across the board, prices would have to go up. I’d eat at McDonalds less if I had to pay the same price there as I would a gourmet burger joint. Is it legally possible to convert McDonalds cashiers (and perhaps even cooks) into a commissioned based scheme where they get paid as a function of sales, and skirt the minimum wage requirement? This wouldn’t be much different than “tipped” employees today.

    15. Treena*

      Economics aside (there are as many opinions on economic ramifications as there are economists), the concept of the minimum wage is that it is the MINIMUM acceptable wage we as a society are okay with. Currently, there is no where in the US where you can actually live without being in poverty (except as a single person in the lowest cost areas of the country).
      Families should be able to just scrape by (but not be in actual poverty) with only one breadwinner. The second breadwinner is to have a more comfortable lifestyle, above and beyond poverty. Currently, 2 adults working FT at minimum wage would earn just enough to be above the poverty line for a family of 5. When you keep in mind that qualification for many social programs goes up to 200% of the poverty line, it becomes even more ridiculous (ie the “poverty line” is a really terrible measure of poverty). This should be unacceptable to us as a society, but it’s not because we blame poor people for the actions of the rich and powerful.

      The idea of solving this issue with a $10 minimum wage at the federal level and state/local gov’t raising them according to local costs of living is a joke. That option is already on the table, and it doesn’t work. If it did, then we wouldn’t have this issue because states and municipalities would have already risen wages.

      1. bearing*

        I’m going to play devil’s advocate and ask why the minimum acceptable wage for anyone to make has to be a family-breadwinner’s living wage. Why can’t it be a teen-summer-job wage? Or, to put it the other way around, why can’t a teenager who just wants to make some extra cash for spending money be allowed to offer her services for a less-than-family-breadwinner wage?

        Remember that whenever a minimum wage is set, there is a class of workers who lose the ability to compete on the cost of their labor. Set the minimum wage at the family-of-four-breadwinner wage and you literally eliminate the ability of a young person who doesn’t have to support a family to offer her labor for less, even if she’s totally willing.

        1. anonintheuk*

          Because then you go down the slippery slope of paying people more because they have kids. OK, they probably *need* more money, but is that their colleagues’ problem?

    16. Treena*

      Economic implications aside (there are as many economic theories about minimum wage as there are economists), the concept of a minimum wage is that this is the bare minimum that we as a society will allow you to work for. The idea is that you can survive off of these wages and not live in poverty. Well, that’s simply impossible now. As Artemesia says, the wages never got increased along with inflation and now you can be 2 working adults and just barely make more than the poverty line for a family of 5. And when you account for the reality that many social programs use 200% of the federal poverty line, the injustice of the system starts peeking out.

      A single person should make enough money to support 2+ people, nothing excessive, but not living in poverty (actual or official). A second breadwinner’s salary should be going towards saving, a nicer place to live, a car, vacations, etc. Two FT jobs should not result in being eligible for welfare.

      You can fear inflated prices all you want, but right now you’re paying inflated prices anyways. Instead of forcing businesses to pay a living wage (and by extension you pay more for the things those businesses sell to you), you’re just paying for everything yourself via your taxes which go into welfare programs. I think we’ve discussed here the McDonalds or Wal-Mart HR gives detailed instructions on how to apply for food stamps, right? As a society, we should not be supplementing the costs of doing business. This should be unacceptable to us as a society, but bootstrap mentality allows us to blame poor people instead of the law makers and the rich people who benefit from keeping the working class down.

      It astonishes me that absolutely no one has an issue when the government injects money into the economy via tax breaks but everyone questions and balks at the idea of businesses injecting that money instead. The idea that government having your money is evil but businesses having it is the primary reason for so many of our societal woes.

      1. Greggles*

        I think you’re going to have another set of problems if people reach 15/hr minimum. Assuming the wages don’t raise much fort hose above them, you’re going to create more competitive on at the bottom. I honestly believe that you will start having to have qualifiers for these jobs. Probably an associates degree or something. I think the qualifier will be that you have to have open availability Sunday through Saturday. I think you will see a level of management disapear or change and that the folks at this level will now have more combined responsibilities. I also think you will see a slight increase in prices, those who can absorb the slight increase will or those who can’t will simple change their habits. I think to that you might see change in hours in a lot of places. Everyone always raves about Costco (myself included) but one thing about them: You aren’t getting in their before 10 am or after 8pm. Also their morning cashiers come in to stock the store and get it ready as well. So you have to be able to get fork lift certified. I don’t want to be doom and gloom but there are a lot of other factors as well like taxes that will cause that 15 dollars not to go as far. For me personally it was easier to live on 12 bucks an hour then on 15, maybe things have changed. None the less a change is needed but we just need to be aware of all the affects.

      2. Dan*

        See, I don’t agree that a living wage should be high enough to support more than one person. The idea that a McDonald’s job should support more than just you? No.

        BTW, with government budgets running at a deficit, it is debatable whether government even “has” my money.

    17. Greggles*

      I think wha is often missed. Is those that work between current minimum and new minimum. Folks like EMTs and CNAs. Where I am at daycare workers and probation officers, jail guards, bank tellers and many more. Some of those jobs can obsorb. The costs. Some cannot. I spent. Many years as an assistant. Manager an manager in good service and made. Around or just a little over $15 an hour. I had lots of responsibility.
      I also think that raising minimum wage is a good idea in theory but people wi make closer. To the new minimum. Wage also may see less money if they get pumped up due to tax changes and other deductions.

    18. Gene*

      When the Federal minimum wage was originally put in place, it was intended to be a living wage for a family. It should have had inflation protection built in, but politicians of the time (just like always) weren’t forward thinking enough. Here are a couple of quotes from that time by FDR:

      “No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.” and

      “Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000.00 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you — using his stockholders’ money to pay the postage for his personal opinions — tell you that a wage of $11.00 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry.”

    19. Student*

      I’d encourage you to look up the data already available on minimum wage increases. Many states have raised minimum wages above the federal minimum, so there are plenty of studies.

      I’d also encourage you to look into the original implementation of minimum wage. Then, look at the historic progression of the wealth gap between the middle class and the richest people in the country. Rich people stash most of their money. Middle-class and poor people spend most of their money. The economy is healthy when most people are spending a significant chunk of their money. The economy is unhealthy when most productivity improvements give profits to only the wealthy instead of the workers, and the wealthy then stash the bulk of all that money under their figurative mattress instead of spending it on things. An immense amount of wealth is tied up with people who don’t do anything with it.

    20. Random Citizen*

      Hadn’t even thought about the inflation issue! My bone to pick with minimum wage laws had more to do with the fact that businesses are going to adjust, and higher wages will either mean higher prices (okay, I guess that’s the inflation thing) or fewer workers/hours at minimum wage jobs, which ends up hurting the people who have those jobs.

      Plus, the supporting argument I’ve heard most is the living wage idea, which isn’t necessarily applicable. I get that some people are trying to support themselves/spouse/family on a minimum wage job and that’s sad, but I don’t think raising minimum wage is the answer. When I was in high school, I wasn’t trying to support myself, so I was happy to work for less to have a job, while the business was happy to hire my inexperienced self for a lower cost than a more skilled or experienced worker. And I don’t have the solution, but I think more opportunities for workers to gain marketable skills outside of thousands of dollars and years in college may be more beneficial in the long run.

      tl;dr: Don’t know what the wage crises answer is (maybe something with education?), but think mandating wage raises misses the mark.

  32. mander*

    On a happier note: has anyone recently sent their iPad in to get the battery replaced? Did they fix your original machine or send you a new one?

    I have an iPad 2 that is losing its ability to hold a charge, so I’m thinking about getting the battery replaced. Really I want a newer model that can run the ad blocker on Safari and the new night mode, whatever it’s called, but there is no way in heck I am paying £350+ for a new one (I won mine in a prize drawing). I have heard reports that Apple sometimes just sends newer refurbished models instead of repairing the one that gets sent in, which would be awesome. I don’t care about having the latest one, just a slightly updated one.

    What do you reckon the chances of that would be?

    1. AleziA*

      Hmmm, well you might get something newer than a 2, but I doubt they’ll give you one new enough to run those for that. The 3 and the 4 aren’t compatible with Night Shift either, so they’d need to go to an Air at least, and the cost difference on that is pretty significant. But it’s entirely possible you won’t get a refurb anyway. My friend’s Air 2 just got the battery replaced last month.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Considering the battery replacement cost is £82.44, I don’t see how they would send you a refurbished one, especially since they don’t even sell refurb’ed iPad 2’s on their site any more.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      No idea. I think a lot depends on whether or not you still have Apple Care/warranty. Sometimes you can buy extended terms on that. But if your warranty has expired, they may want you to pay for the repair and then, maybe, you would get a refurb if that’s their policy. I think the only thing you can do is try. I would also suggest that you get a quote on how much it would cost to replace the battery then see if there’s an independent shop that does repairs on out of warranty products. They may be cheaper and/or faster. There’s a lot of places near where I live that replace broken screens etc. directly.

      Good luck with the Genius Bar. My one experience with them did not impress me at all.

    4. Treena*

      Have you checked what the trade-in value is? For Apple computers at least (not sure about other products) you bring it into the store and they will give you a credit towards Apple purchases. Sometimes the cost of the not-brand-new model minus the credit is less than a repair. Or if they don’t offer that program, see what you can get for it used.

      I definitely would not hope at all for getting an upgraded device. Like job hunting, let it be a pleasant surprise.

    5. Tara R.*

      I’ve sent in my phone with minor issues twice and got a new one both times, but a new one of exactly what I sent in. So I ended up with the same iPhone 5c, just newer and better at holding a charge (in addition to the speaker issue fix.)

  33. The Other Dawn*

    No question here. Just venting.

    Just received my clothing order and, as usual, the jeans don’t fit right. I bought the skinny jeans. Waist is good, but the hips and legs are big. It really ticks me off, because I ordered the same size and style from the same store as I did last time. The ones I got last time were very form-fitting and are great for wearing under knee-high boots. This time? Baggy. I can wear them with sneakers, but I was hoping for something tighter.

    I had weight loss surgery and lost a bunch of weight, which is great. But it makes shopping for jeans so hard! If I buy them to fit my waist, the hips and legs are baggy. If I buy them to fit my hips and legs, the waist is tight. And because I’m tall, I usually can’t find what I want in the store, so have to order online from the same store (Lane Bryant or Avenue). Oh, and then there’s the issue of having a million cats, which means no black or very dark blue.

    So, another reason why I eventually want all this loose skin removed.

    Time to ship them back…

    1. Noah*

      This would be the reason I can’t wear jeans to work. If I buy them large enough to fit over my thighs and rear end, then they are way to big around the waist. I have a few pairs that fit well, but I hate shopping for new ones because it is such a chore to try on so many to maybe find one that’ll fit. Dress pants are easier to have tailored to fit.

    2. Cristina in England*

      Ok, don’t laugh, but what about jeggings? They’re leggings that look like jeans. I haven’t tried them myself because I gave away all my trousers and wear only dresses and skirts when out of the house, but they might be more accommodating than actual skinny jeans?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        You beat me to it–I was going to suggest this. Try them on if you can because I had this exact problem with jeggings I got at New York and Company. They fit but the waist was too big. They were a lot more comfy than plain jeans, though, since the fabric had some stretch. But then I lost weight and they didn’t fit anymore.

    3. Hellanon*

      Can you get things tailored? Even just a bit in the legs can make a difference – we used to peg our jeans pretty radically in the 80s, I’m not recommending that! – but just getting the side seams taken in a bit can make a difference. I had a couple pairs of jeans that flared a bit more than was truly necessary and getting them tailored made a huge difference. And sometimes when jeans are baggy in the butt it’s a simple matter of taking in the waistband. If they fit otherwise & are long enough, it’s worth looking into…

  34. LizB*

    Shopping success story: I finally checked out the outlet mall in the suburbs, and totally scored at the LOFT outlet! Two new tops (BOGO-free) and a pair of cropped pants that I can totally wear to my business-casual office in the summer when it’s boiling hot. I didn’t think the pants would fit, because they weren’t my usual size, but I tried them for the heck of it and they’re perfect! I was this close to getting a short-sleeved cardigan that fit like a dream, but the color would have made it tricky to fit into my wardrobe and it would have really stretched my budget, so I skipped it. I’m going to put myself on a clothing spending freeze for a month or two now, and once I have a little more in the bank maybe I’ll go back for the cardigan… and another pair or two of the pants.

    1. GreenTeaPot*

      Yay for you! Love outlet malls. Sales plus outlets plus resale can make for such fun wardrobes.

    2. MaryinTexas*

      If you like Loft, check out eBay. I love Loft and know what size to buy. Go to eBay and you’ll find brand-new items for such a steal. I’ve also bought a few used items, I just have them professionally cleaned before I wear them. It’s still a huge bargain!

  35. Mimmy*

    Please send up some healing thoughts and prayers for two special friends: one is having knee replacement surgery on Tuesday, the other injured her foot when an elderly man hit her with his car.

    1. LCL*

      Good thoughts for your friends! Everyone I know who has had joint replacement has been thrilled with the results.

  36. Intrepid*

    I have a favorite bag that a mouse recently pooped in. It had a Hershey bar and a package of Kleenex, and apparently a rodent found this irresistible. The bag is unharmed, but I’d like to clean it– only the lining is permanently attached, and the outside is leather and suede. Is this something I can take to a dry cleaner? What should I expect to pay (major US city location)? Am I overreacting, and it’s fine to keep using as-is?

    1. Cruciatus*

      I’d probably just do a little vacuuming and wipe the lining down with an antibacterial wipe (assuming it wouldn’t discolor). Can you pull the lining up so it’s outside the bag? You could maybe do a little spot cleaning that way and dry it before you push it back down into the bag. However, I am a frugal person so my way may not be for everyone!

      1. Intrepid*

        Frugal tips are always welcomed! The bag is of both sentimental and practical value, but the other reason I’m so keen to save it is because I know it’s better quality than I can afford to replace it. Do you have any suggestions for something that would be antiseptic but not discoloring? I have uh, colorx wipes, Windex, and hand sanitizer on hand, and none of those seem like quite the right thing.

        1. Cruciatus*

          What is the lining made of? I’m not a cleaning expert so hopefully other people will chime in. If it’s silky I would look for some silk spot cleaning tips online. I have a purse with a silky-ish lining (but it’s just a Fossil bag). The lining can be pulled up so I did that, lightly dampened the spot, cleaned the spot with an old toothbrush and basic dish soap (no more than a drop), wiped it off with a towel, dried, and it’s fine. You can’t tell I did anything. But I also wasn’t as worried if it did discolor (though fortunately it didn’t). I wish I had better tips for you!

          1. Intrepid*

            Thank you for the toothbrush suggestion! I think I can do that. I’ll probably go over the entire lining, just because having mice in the house puts me in a mood to scrub things…

            The inside is actually a just a sturdy cotton– it’s a huge bucket bag that’s really sturdy and useful for traveling, grad school, and uh, packing as much as I want to go to work… I bought it a few years ago at 70% off. Which is to say, I’m not defacing a designer anything if I do discolor it. I just love the thing.

            1. Natalie*

              Clear alcohol (vodka or rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle) should disinfect without staining. Spot test first, of course.

      2. the gold digger*

        Unless you are planning to lick the lining, I don’t see doing anything more than vacuuming and wiping it with something that won’t discolor. NB I am not squeamish.

        1. Student*

          Clearly, she keeps food in it, so I suggest trying to find a thorough way to clean the interior. And finding a place to store it where there’s less rodent access.

          Soap and water do an excellent job of getting particulate out of something, and a mild soap shouldn’t hurt the exterior.

          For disinfectant, I’d consider a bleach wipe on the interior. Who cares if the interior lining is discolored a bit, as long as it doesn’t soak through? Better than having the interior be smeared with rat feces and potential diseases. If you’re not able to disinfect it well, personally, I’d throw it out and get a new one. This is a thing you touch every day! You don’t want it to be a bacteria factory for yourself and any family you might have.

          1. Intrepid*

            I had a single wrapped candy bar in it, not a picnic! I would like to be able to keep cliff bars etc. in it, but no, I don’t really store bunches of food in it. I appreciate all the commenters who have suggestions about how I might be able to keep the bag AND make it hygienic AND have it still look nice– that’s the dream! Unfortunately, we’re getting to that point in fighting mice where the mice get desperate– this bag was on a bookcase, four shelves up from the ground when the mouse found it.

        2. Intrepid*

          Ha, thank you! I’ve been dealing with mice just long enough that I want to rain down disinfectant on everything, so having some perspective is great. =)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If you go the dry cleaner route, you will need to find one who will do leather and has a good reputation. Not sure how it is now, but years ago I did not recommend it to people. (I worked in a leather shop for a few years.) People would come into show me what happened. The leather, especially the suede, just was not right. It looked more like an over-cooked noodle than leather. It lost it’s body, it’s ability to hang straight.

      If you can wipe it down to your satisfaction at home, I think that is the route to go. Yeah, cleaning leather is spendy, too. I’m not up on current prices, but it was not cheap when I was selling it years ago.

      1. Intrepid*

        Thank you for the advice! I knew I’d have to upgrade from my usual dry cleaner (which just doesn’t mangle my interview suit per se, just starches the bejeezus out of it).

        Do you have any tips on cleaning the suede? It’s a bit longer(?) than the suede usually used for shoes. I’ve read that I can take a dry wash cloth and sort of rub it against the grain/up and down– do you think that would do at least more good than harm?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I am not sure if you are trying to remove stains or just trying to get it sanitary.

          For stains, I used to use Nature’s Miracle on suede and got some decent results. I found it worked on food and natural things like mouse poop stains, dog spit, blood that sort of stuff. I would spray it on and just let the enzymes do their thing. Leave the item in an area with good air circulation for a few days so you know that it is very well dried out. You might need to take a soft brush and brush it gently to get off any “crumb” or loose type stuff.

          I think I’d stay away from the dry wash cloth route because you may tend to push stuff down into the pores of the leather*. You want to pull whatever is almost loose away from the item. So like, hanging the bag on a hook to brush it is a great idea. Anything loose will fall to the floor and not just move to another place on the bag. If you want to stay away from wetting the suede with anything then I would start with the softest brush I can find. I have a very soft brush here used on babies’ hair. Start with something that, see what comes off and see what you think. If your not happy then move to a slightly stiffer brush and try again. This is not like sanding a piece of wood, you want to take light, gentle strokes. Once you get a feel for it, after a couple of strokes, you will be able to better gauge, how much pressure to put on the brush.

          * I wanted to explain. Suede is the second layer of an animal hide. The top layer is what most people call leather and has a finish to it. They market it as “top grain leather” all that means is that it’s the outside of the skin– it’s the most durable part of the hide. They split the hides into layers because some hides are so thick. The lower piece is what we call suede. Suede is grainy on both sides. The top layer of leather is only grainy on the underside. So suede can have pores and sometimes it can have the little holes where hairs used to be and you want to be aware of this. And, phew, long read, but my point is that you can accidentally push debris down into the suede and make it lodge in the natural pores of the suede. The idea is to work in such a manner to pull the debris away from the suede entirely. I hope I am making sense here…

    3. hantavirus?*

      Mouse poop? My first concern would be possible hantavirus. Do you know if this is a concern where you live? If so, you might not be able to save the bag, or it might need more serious cleaning to make sure any trace of the virus is gone.

  37. Carrie in Scotland*

    Ah, I was wondering why Olive Kitteridge’s author rang a bell – her new novel, I am Lucy Barton has been getting some terrific reviews and it’s on my order list :)

  38. Rowen*

    A former classmate from college and her husband are moving to my town and she’s thinking we can be BFFs and I’m not interested. How do I keep my distance?

    1. mander*

      Maybe just be generally unavailable when she calls? You don’t have to be unkind, just not necessarily enthusiastic.

      1. Intrepid*

        Having a difficult schedule would also be my go-to answer. I think it would be kind if you could at least meet every three weeks or so for the first few months, until she has a few people she knows in your town, but I don’t think you owe her even that– it depends on the relationship you had and her actions now.

        1. GreenTeaPot*

          Yes, I can see a quick drink, coffee, or even lunch at first, but once she’s settled in, letting her down gently with a busy schedule should do the trick.

    2. Mando Diao*

      It depends on why you don’t want to be close with this person. If she’s kind but just has some annoying quirks, I’d stretch things out and get together every two months or so. You never know…you might find yourself at a juncture where your closer friends aren’t around much, and you’ll be glad that this person is available to have dinner with you.

  39. Amber Rose*

    Two rather silly questions today.

    1) My barbecue has been sitting sad and alone in the backyard for about 2 years. Is it useable, you think? What warning signs would tell me the unit or the propane tank are unsafe?

    2) Best places to buy size-friendly summer dresses? Given that I’m in Canada and I would like them unfancy for everyday wear. I need comfortable modest clothes for walking around Japan and I think my best bet is light dresses and leggings.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Second. I LOVE Maurice’s. Only found out about it in the year before I moved out of the US. I miss it.

    1. Grumpy*

      Winners, Joe Fresh, Old Navy, those little independent stores in the mall that sell summer shirts and shift dresses.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think the biggest problem about the grill would be the burners or the hose for the tank. If the tank itself was bad, it would probably empty very quickly. You can spray soapy water on the whole hose and burner assembly, turn on the gas, and look and listen for leaks, while spraying it with fresh soapy water. There shouldn’t be any gas escaping with the tank open and the burners off, of course.

      BE CAREFUL to do this when there’s a breeze, and not to stick your head into the grill where the gas could collect.

      You not only have to be careful of leaks, but of something clogging the burners. I’ve heard that spiders in particular like to build nests in places like that.

      Luckily, even if there is something that is rusted through, those types of parts are easy to replace.

  40. Chriama*

    Advice on buying stuff! Specifically, a new laptop.

    Tl,dr; I’m thinking of getting the hp spectre with the 360 degree hinge and a 512gb ssd. It’s about $2000 all in and I’m debating if the 3 year warranty is worth the extra $120 over the 2 year warranty and I’d also like to hear if anyone here has a convertible laptop and if you like it?

    1. Amber Rose*

      I find the warranty is never worth it for laptops. It’s a lot of extra money and I’ve never had a laptop go on me before the warranty would be up anyway. But ask yourself how accident prone you are, because that will factor into it.

      1. Chriama*

        It would be an accidental damage protection warranty, which I’ve made use of in the past. I seem to have kind of bad luck with laptops so I want to try buying one that’s made for being carried around in different positions. Just wondering if anyone else has used the spectre and whether or not they like it.

        1. Audiophile*

          When I had a Dell laptop, yeah that warranty paid for itself. I have a Lenovo now and I DID buy an extended warranty with accident protection and never had to use it. It’s 4 years old and still runs pretty well, only issue is the optical drive doesn’t work any longer. It’s likely a screw, as drive definitely receives power and attempts to open.

          I had an HP and it didn’t hold up, but it was a relatively cheap one from Best Buy, I’m not familiar withe the Spectre laptop models.

          I’ve looked at a few convertible laptops and just haven’t pulled the plug on one. I’d love to hear from you once you buy this or something else. Personally, I like Lenovo’s yoga models. But I’ve looked at other companies too.

          1. Chriama*

            Yeah, I’m strongly considering the lenovo yoga 900. But I think the hp spectre slightly wins out in terms of build quality and available ports. Also, I don’t think the newer Lenovos have the same sturdiness as the old IBM thinkpads. I would be open to other models (dell has a convertible) but I find the sdd’s are too small. Has anyone bought a newer laptop with a 256gb ssd? This would be my primary machine and I’m worried about running out of space in a couple years, but I’m willing to be convinced.

            1. Sunday off*

              Almost our entire staff of 30 is on Lenovo laptops, with about 6 of us on Yogas. They have been great.

              1. Chriama*

                How long have they been using the Yogas, and what size hard drive did they get? I’m looking to hear from people on the space constraints of the 256gb model.

            2. Audiophile*

              I’ve checked out the Yogas in person, at Best Buy. I definitely found them thinner than the Thinkpad versions. They also seemed pretty sturdy. I was torn between the 900 models and the Edge versions, which also can be switched to tent, tablet mode too.

              My current Lenovo, an Ideapad V500 series, has a few dents and dings but that’s over the course of 4 years.

              I honestly can’t imagine going back to an HP or another Dell. My old HP the screen went after a month and a year exactly it was completely dead. That might have been because it came from Best Buy, I know they often get models that the manufacturer doesn’t sell anywhere else, but it definitely wasn’t worth what I paid for it.

              Is it the HP Spectre x360 that you’re looking at?

              1. Chriama*

                Yup I’d be looking at the spectre x360. I think if I was willing to go for a 256gb model it would open up more of my choices too. I think some of the MacBooks are sold in 256gb models – has anyone had difficulty with running out of space?

  41. SL #2*

    I’m not sure if this is really “work” because it’s not really about my job, but it is sort of work-related… but what’s your favorite conference free swag item? I got back from one yesterday with multiple reuseable grocery bags (like 5 or 6), a toothbrush, lots of pens, a really nice coffee mug, and some stress balls. I think my favorites were the grocery bags!

    1. Noah*

      One conference I attend almost every year has a big party the last night with a open bar. After the party, one vendor had staff handing out small bags with a bottle of water, two Advil, and little note that said “take two of these and call us in the morning” or something. Silly, but memorable and actually useful the next morning.

      I will always pickup chapstick. I have a picnic blanket in my car that I picked up at a conference somewhere. Also, the metal water bottle I carry everywhere came from one. I’m way too picky about pens to pickup many from conferences, but I will grab a few to try and then stick in the mug on my desk for coworkers to steal while my nice pens stay locked up in my desk drawer.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Just gotta say, that is an awesome idea and would make an excellent room drop. Because some of the meetings I’ve done, the party doesn’t end, it just continues at a local bar.

        Room drop: sometimes at conferences/sales meetings/whatever the attendees get gifts. These may be handed out when they pick up their welcome packets or they may be delivered to the rooms during another event, such as an awards gala dinner when everyone is not expected to be in their rooms. The room drop may be as simple as a piece of paper with departure details. One job I did a lifetime ago, we were accidentally given the room drop which was samples from selected the vendors in a reusable cotton bag. It was like an Xmas stocking! Coming back to my room after a long day and finding that was a bit of fun in an otherwise hard slog.

      2. SL #2*

        That’s really awesome and memorable.

        One booth was giving out really nice pens instead of ballpoints, so I snagged a bunch of those; the regular old ballpoints can go into the communal storage mug.

    2. Mimmy*

      Not a conference, but this past November, I attended a function for alumni of my university’s School of Social Work, and one of the items was a thumb drive!

      1. Mimmy*

        Whoops – I should clarify: The swag items weren’t from vendors – every alumnus who attended this reception got a large mug (which I honestly don’t need) along with other little gifts tucked inside.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      Since I work at conferences… or meetings. Same difference! It’s not often that the crew (at least in my experience) gets SWAG. It may mean Sealed With A Gift to some, but to us it’s mostly Stuff We Aren’t Getting.

      Having said that, there are three things that I have gotten over the years that I still use. An iPod shuffle, a beach towel and a polar fleece jacket (the most awesome jacket ever, I wore it all the time and the zipper recently broke *sniffle*). From some other jobs I have gotten cookbooks, tea towels and reusable shopping bags but I already had a bunch. And that’s the problem: eventually this stuff just becomes too much “stuff”. Oh, and once I got a cowboy hat.

      1. SL #2*

        Oh, I run workshops/conferences too, and so I’ve got my own collection of our stuff that’s outdated. But it was nice to go to one and not worry about a single thing except “oops, am I late to that panel I wanted to see?”

        An iPod shuffle is a pretty impressive item to hand out! I think the fanciest item I saw yesterday was that coffee mug.

    4. Video killed the radio star*

      Husband is a sports broadcaster, and at some of the big events you get “media swag”. He got to cover the Cotton Bowl in Dallas one year, and he got a really nice Columbia half-zip pullover with the Cotton Bowl emblem stitched on the chest in the same color as the pullover. (So it wasn’t garishly obvious it was “swag”)

      I went to a conference in college nearly *cough*20*cough* years ago, and I still have two ginormous coffee mugs that were all the rage then. I use them as my soup bowls.

    5. GreenTeaPot*

      Fun topic! Best ever: a first-aid kit for the car, not much larger than a wallet. Second best: small packets of Bio Freeze, just right for travel.

      1. SL #2*

        I had to google Bio Freeze, but now that I know what it is, travel-sized packets sound incredibly useful!

        1. GreenTeaPot*

          Very useful, especially for someone with neck problems who sometimes falls asleep on airplanes…

    6. Stephanie*

      I always liked those dual pen-highlighter combos. They were super useful when I was in college.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Pens are always useful if not original. I got one of those foldable shopping bags one and a nice USB stick where the top was hinged so there was no danger of losing it.

    7. Gene*

      One regional conference gave all attendees a high quality embroidered messenger bag one year. I’ve been using mine daily for the last 10 years.

    8. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Back before the AMA started to crack down on “consideration” given to doctors by pharmaceutical companies, medical conferences had amazing swag. I got a metal pen, laser engraved with my name right at the booth, and a laser pointer that also has a “forward” and “back” button, that sends left-arrow and right-arrow keyboard commands to a USB dongle for PowerPoint presentations. I actually also got 2-3 other plain laser pointers, and those were VERY popular with my coworkers!

    9. Lindsay J*

      My boyfriend got both a Yeti and a Contigo mug recently, along with some type of wheeled duffle bag thing. I was really jealous.

  42. Just feeling sad*

    How do you know when a general bad attitude could really be depression? And anyone who has been in therapy for it – what did you actually do in those sessions and how helpful was it? If it was situational, did therapy help if you weren’t able to leave your situation for a while?

    1. nep*

      Not to ‘diagnose’ or go off track from your question here, but referring back to recent threads, do you know your vitamin D levels? Whatever’s going on and however you plan to tackle it, good to have those levels in the normal range.
      You ask about ‘situational’. Is your sadness situational? Have you experienced this state in the past?

      1. Just feeling sad*

        Vitamin D is probably something I could improve. I know my doctor has told me I should be taking something like 4000ui a day and I’m not regular with the pills at all.

        By situational I just mean that there are stressors in my life that I don’t think can change in the immediate future. My goal is to eventually leave this situation but that’s a year or 2 off. So in the meantime, I don’t know if therapy will be helpful. At the same time I can’t be positive that if I were in a different situation I would be happier.

        1. catsAreCool*

          If it helps, I found that chewable vitamin D pills were more fun than the regular kind.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I had a really bad attitude going on because of numerous life changes. I went to a shrink. In passing, I said, “I was driving down the road listening to my tunes, bopping along….”. He interrupted me, “What were you doing?” I repeated I was listening to some music I liked annnd he interrupted me again! to say that I did not have clinical depression.
      I did not think I did. It was raining in my life and I was upset over all the negatives that were going on. I found it unsettling that he could decide I was not depressed simply because I listened to music.
      After several unsettling remarks I stopped going to Dr Clueless. I ended up taking control over my diet and eventually I quit the job. Quitting the job was the miracle I had hoped for.

      1. SL #2*

        …yikes. A friend of mine is dealing with depression right now… and works in radio. If she couldn’t listen to music because ~she has depression~ then she’d be out of a job.

      2. Just feeling sad*

        Sounds like the therapy didn’t work for you. Did you end up talking to anyone else? What sort of dietary changes did you make that you found helpful? I think about moving a lot, at least I wouldn’t be any unhappier than I am now. But it’s complicated, and I’m looking for ways to stay sane until that can happen.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I had a horrible diet of chocolate, coffee and diet coke. There was no where to go but UP! lol. I started eating whole foods and simple meals, with not a lot of ingredients and not a lot of steps in prepping. With this, I found I started sleeping at night, which is always a good thing. Taking back control over this part of my life, gave me some mental clarity to deal with other things.
          Just my opinion but I think the therapy did not work because I needed practical advice– advice I could put into use today. Talking about things that happened a decade ago set me on edge because I had too many things in current time that needed work. I ended up taking one current issue at a time and figuring out where to get advice on that issue.
          So I worked two ends against the middle. I made some life style changes (health related) and deliberately chose one problem at a time and faced the problem head on. Interestingly, that confrontation was not as bad as it sounds. On some things, I found I could just get a book at the library and read. That was a while ago, now, of course, I can just google if something comes up.
          A simple thing to do is take regular walks each day if possible. Not only is it good for your body but it is amazing how much thinking you can do while you walk. I have used the time to think through “how will I handle x, let’s see.. what are my choices?” or “what is my next step for problem y?”.

          1. TootsNYC*

            My therapy was useful, but this from your comment stuck out for me:

            “Talking about things that happened a decade ago set me on edge because I had too many things in current time that needed work”

            My therapist was big on the idea that we’re reliving our childhood hurts. But my childhood, while not painfree, was pretty idyllic. And I argued that “feeling unlovable” hurts badly enough RIGHT NOW that I don’t need to travel back to childhood to have it be a painful problem.

            Also, the five big “hurts” of childhood are the five big “hurts” of people-dom. They hurt like hell at ANY age. It was not at all helpful for me to think about what happened in my childhood–the source of my pain was right now.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      That is a really good question and one that I’ve been asking myself recently. I went on anti-depression meds about a year ago. My GP prescribed them, I didn’t go to a therapist. But now that I’ve been on them like this, I’m not sure if I truly have/had depression or there’s something else going on. I mean, my mood has been stabilised, but I’m not sure if that was what I needed. I find myself wondering if I have some form of ADD and that is the thing that causes me to get low, more than depression. Could it be a mid-life crisis? I dunno. Part of me wants to wean myself off of the meds, but part of me wonders if that would be wise. I wish I could afford therapy!

      I think that if you know why you are feeling depressed — bad job, relationship issues — you may be more depressed by feeling trapped/brought down by the situation. If you have no idea why you’re feeling down all the time, talking it out with a neutral third party can be helpful. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a therapist, but friends and family members may not have the training or tools to help you see things in different ways. Or to challenge you over the bullshit you tell yourself because they don’t want to hurt you. Journaling can also help, if you can be honest with yourself.

      1. Just feeling sad*

        What effect did the antidepressants have on you? Like, I never do anything drastic. I don’t think about hurting myself or anything, and I don’t lose control of my emotions or actions in front of other people, and a lot of the time I’m just fine. So it doesn’t seem to rise to the level of needing medicinal intervention. At the same time, I just don’t think it’s normal to be unhappy as strongly and as often as I am.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Last year, I burnt out big time. I have a family full of negative thinking/alcoholism and probably depression — but no one would ever admit they had a problem. I was losing control of my emotions and actions. I was exhausted and had no motivation to do much of anything.

          So I had thought (or hoped) that once my emotions were under control, when I had rested enough, I would regain drive and motivation. But that didn’t happen. I no longer go into as big and deep troughs as I was before, but at the same time, it’s like there’s a governor on my “lower” emotions. In the past few months, I have often found that I feel like crying but I just can’t. I have to really get worked up before I can let go and it’s kind of weird and unsettling.

          The one thing that all of this has done, though, is made me more aware of the thoughts I think and my inner voice/how I talk to myself. Instead of focusing on feeling bad, it’s made me focus more on the *why* I might be feeling bad, issues with self esteem and things like that. So, like I said, I’m not sure if the meds have “helped”, as I don’t have the results I was hoping to achieve, or if without them I would be stuck where I was before. It’s like the rut I’m in is deep, but it’s not as deep as it was before, if that makes any sense.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      Therapy, when you’ve found a good therapist at least, is useful in helping you to explore why you react to things in certain ways, and if there might be more productive ways to react. The stimulus, might be the same–like a crappy job, or a challenging relationship–but how can you re-write how you respond to that stimulus so that it makes you feel more in control and less miserable. That’s what you’ll talk about.

      And just as some additional optimism for your situation: I had been going to therapy for, maybe, 4-5 months, trying to find my way out of a situation that I felt like I had no immediate way out of, and out of nowhere a totally unexpected opportunity popped into our lives that helped eliminate a very major source of sadness. I hope the same happens for you!

    5. Today's anon*

      Does it really matter whether it is depression or a bad attitude? what I hear from your comments on this thread is that you are unhappy about something right now, and don’t really see a way to make that situation better. So why not try a therapist and see if you can learn how to deal better with that situation? if it doesn’t help, you can always stop.

      As an aside, even situational problems are partly subjective because you are in it, so any change in yourself will inevitably change the situation, even if in some factual change the situation has not changed.

    6. TootsNYC*

      I think if you at all suspect depression, you should talk to someone. I wish I had; I waited too long. if it’s not depression, you’ll find out. And even if it’s not depression, you might benefit from having a “coach” to help you deal w/ the bad attitude (because it sounds like you don’t -like- the bad attitude)

      Mine was also very largely situational (job), and I couldn’t quit and couldn’t get any interviews. The cognitive behavioral therapy I did for it was actually very helpful.

      I had meditations I did about my own worth, and I also did these exercises in which I conjured up a “trigger,” and then immediately launched into a mental litany of why I should feel strong and in control.

      It was sort of amazing–and I didn’t even do the exercises as aggressively as I should have.

  43. Ruth (UK)*

    There’s a string of posts going about claiming Americans don’t have electric kettles in their kitchens. Ok, I’m willing to believe this even though hot drinks must be super annoying to make (I assume you’d have to boil water on the stove…?) but I always get doubly-shocked whenever I find out some cultural difference between the UK and America that I didn’t know about, since I have an American mother and feel like I should therefore have known this, or not been shocked by it… huh.

    Incidentally, a little over a year ago, I moved out of a houseshare and into a flat by myself. It took me a couple weeks to get a kettle. During my kettle-less period, my friends were all very concerned. Real phrases used over my lack of a kettle included “you need to take care of yourself” and “you can’t go on like this”. Ohyeah, it also took me 3 months to get a bed but literally no one cared.

    By the way, did you know that ‘TV pickup’ is a real thing that happens here – during TV commercial breaks, so many people across the country boil their electric kettles at the same time that it causes large synchronised surges in national electricity consumption, meaning electricity networks have to spend time predicting these and making sure they have enough power for them, etc.

    It’s basically cause of 2 things: 1. Unlike in America where there are so many channels and people are watching so many different things and lots of commercial breaks happening at various times, less choice here means that a lot of the time, the same show is being watched across the country in all the different houses. Therefore, the commercial break happens at the same time. And therefore the 2nd thing happens, which is that British people feel the need to make a cup of tea. So all these people across the country put their kettle on to boil at the same moment!

    Wikipedia says about it: “TV pickups occur during breaks in popular television programmes and are a surge in demand caused by the boiling of kettles […] by millions of people”

    With a Kettle Culture like that, it’s no wonder we’re shocked by the idea of not having one :D. I am not sure why I’m making this post (it was initially short but then I started looking up about TV Pickup and things escalated as I typed). Anyway, on a site where post posts seem to come from America, I thought it was an interesting topic. (but do you actually not have a kettle?)

    1. nep*

      Interesting. In our house (in the US), a kettle is on the stove pretty much all waking hours, low flame, ready for the water to be brought to a full boil for tea. Friends and family know that there’s no need to ask, ‘Is there hot water?’ because they know that kettle’s always there.

    2. Noah*

      I actually do have an electric kettle, but most American’s don’t. If we want boiling water we will use a tea kettle and boil it on the stove or put a cup of water in the microwave.

      I think the big reason is most American’s don’t drink hot tea very often. Coffee is generally the morning drink of choice, and it is almost almost made with a drip coffee pot or a Keurig style machine.

      I don’t really drink hot tea in the morning either. However, I’m one of those weird people that actually prefers instant coffee, and the electric kettle is so much faster than waiting for water to boil on the stove.

      1. Allison Mary*

        I also have an electric kettle (and I’m in the US). I don’t drink coffee, but I do drink lots of tea. I love it.

        1. salad fingers*

          I have one too, and so do probably an even half of my close friends/family. I make pour over coffee every morning and drink a lot of herbal tea, and also use the kettle to expedite a lot of things that require hot water (pasta, egg poaching, steamy hot washclothes for at home facials, etc). I’m actually an electric kettle evangelist and have even given one as a gift.

          It seems for now we’re outliers, but I think that might change.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I have a kettle that sits on the stove, but it is mainly for making hot chocolate in the evenings. My kids sometimes make a cup of hot tea in it, but my husband and I drink coffee, and I, being from the south, drink my tea sweet and iced.

    3. ZSD*

      Nope, I don’t have an electric kettle. But you don’t have to boil water on the stove; I just microwave it. (When I lived in Germany, nobody there had microwaves. Are Brits the same?)

        1. Doriana Gray*

          Microwaving water is a godsend. I have no room for a kettle, electric or otherwise, so when I do drink tea, in the microwave my mug goes. Two minutes later, I have delicious hot tea.

          1. hermit crab*

            My mom got rid of her stovetop kettle when renovating her kitchen and just uses the microwave now. I hate it, because I want my water to be actually boiling and when you do that in the microwave the mug gets way too hot — the microwave at her house is elevated (built into a cabinet), and I’m kinda afraid of dumping hot water all over myself when I reach for it!

              1. hermit crab*

                Good to know! It’s probably good that I don’t have a microwave at present because kind of want to do a science experiment now…

          2. Cath in Canada*

            You have hot tea; I doubt it’s as delicious as it could be ;-)

            I’ll admit to microwaving water for tea in an emergency, but then I pour the boiling water onto a tea bag in a second cup. Putting a tea bag into the water just isn’t cricket, old chap.

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          You know what’s awesome about microwaving water? I use the steam from that to clean out my microwave. Put some water in a Pyrex measuring cup, let it boil a bit, loosens up the crud that can get attached to the ceiling or walls of the oven, wipe it out with a clean sponge or paper towels.

        3. Ann Furthermore*

          A friend of mine was telling me that she read about a science fair project done by some high school students. They had 2 sets of plants. One was watered with regular tap water, and the other was watered with water that was boiled in the microwave. The plants watered with tap water were fine; the ones watered with the microwaved water died. Weird.

          I’ve heard many people say that they don’t think microwaves are safe. I don’t know that I believe that, but I do think they change food somehow though. If I cook fish in the oven, it doesn’t stink up the house. But we all know that you’ll be a pariah at the office if you put fish in the office microwave!

          1. Yetanotherjennifer*

            That only suggests boiled water is bad for plants. If you want to implicate the microwave you’d have to compare stove boiled water with microwave boiled water and perhaps also electric kettle boiled water and use un-boiled tap water as a control.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              I believe they did let the water come down to room temperature before watering the plants, but that’s a good point. A better control would be to boil water on the stove, and also in the microwave, let them cool down, and then water both sets of plants and see what happens.

    4. Chris*

      I only have one friend that owns a kettle (does stove top variety count?)
      Whenever we’ve needed hot water I either use the microwave or the coffee maker. I’ve never really considered a kettle- which is weird, cause my grandmother had several.

    5. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      My mom (in the US) is a huge tea fiend, and there has been a kettle on the stove every single day as far back as I can remember. In fact, the rattle of the kettle boiling on the burner is one of the memories that most strongly reminds me of home. I knew electric kettles existed, but had honestly never used one before age 18 when I moved away, because there was no reason to. There was always a kettle on the stove!

      Now (where I live in Canada), we have an electric kettle both at home and at the office, both of which get pretty good usage. My Asian in-laws have actually taken this one step further and have a hot water machine so they have boiling water available 24 hours a day. It is very nice being at their house!

    6. Mephyle*

      I’ve heard this about Americans since I was a child (50 years ago). We use electric kettles in Canada, too, and I heard stories (urban legends?) about giving electric kettles to the American cousins as wedding presents, and them ruining it by putting it on the stove to boil the water, not realizing that you plug it in.

      1. hermit crab*

        Oh my gosh, this is too funny!

        I had an electric kettle when living in the dorms in college, and people’s responses were about evenly mixed between “great idea, let’s have tea” (among people who knew electric kettles existed) and “wait, what is this sorcery!?!?!?!” (among people who didn’t).

        1. Overeducated*

          I had one too and people didn’t think it was weird. They were common enough that we all called them “hot pots” not electric kettles. Unfortunately they were considered a safety hazard and I got fined $50 for it my junior year when I forgot to hide it properly over winter break.

          1. fposte*

            We had those! They were a lot less efficient than my electric kettle, though; it was about Easy Bake oven level of heating. Maybe, in a couple of hours, you’ll have warm soup!

    7. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      No electric kettle here, haha. I can’t imagine someone even asking if I had one, letting alone be concerned about my well-being if I didn’t have one!

      I did grow up with a lot of tea drinkers though, so having a kettle on the stove top was normal for me. It’s always full of fresh water.

      1. Artemesia*

        Brits who travel in the US or Europe are often appalled that there is no kettle in the room; it is so standard in the UK. When we rent from Britons in Europe, those apartments always have them but otherwise no. I use a drip cone for coffee and do drink tea but I just use the microwave to heat the water. But when I was working, a kettle was always on my desk in my office.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I heard that we have a national problem with everyone flushing during Super Bowl commercials… does that count for anything?

      Am really not getting the electric kettle thing. My boss has one. She pointed out that it shuts itself off. Well that is handy but…. I don’t have one because I don’t drink a lot of tea. My stove top kettle is good enough. I try not to buy a lot of counter top appliances because I don’t have a lot of counter top. It gets annoying trying to figure out where to plug things in, too. I guess if you drink a lot of tea, it’s no different than having a coffee pot if you’re a coffee drinker. (If one did not drink a lot of coffee they would probably use instant coffee and just add hot water from the electric kettle, I guess?)

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        I guess the national flush is basically the same thing as our tv pickup. So we have synchronised tea drinking and the Americans have a synchronised loo break. Love it.

        Speaking of coffee, I only know one person who has a cafetiere, no one who has one of those ones where you put a pot on the heated bit and the stuff drips into it, and definitely no one who has means to make espresso-based coffee at home. Even though I know people who prefer coffee at least as often as they drink tea, it’s always instant.

        1. Elkay*

          I think I’m bolstering any sort of UK national average for coffee making equipment we have:
          Bean to cup coffee machine (grinds the beans as required)
          Single cup drip filter
          Pour over coffee filter (like a drip filter but manual)
          Stove top espresso maker
          Aeropress
          Caffetiere (French press)

          I don’t drink tea. At work we have bean to cup machines or drip filter pots and some people have their own Nespresso machines.

    9. bearing*

      I live in the US (Minnesota). In my entire life I’ve known exactly one family — my closest friend up here — who owns an electric kettle.

      Her husband was born in the UK to a British mother and American father. And they drink a lot of tea.

      I have a kettle of the “metal container that you put on the stove” type, which I employ when they are here visiting. The rest of the time, I boil water by microwaving it.

    10. MsChanandlerBong*

      I’ve never had an electric kettle. You just put a regular kettle on and boil water…takes less than five minutes. What does an electric kettle do?

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Not necessarily. The older ones like mine do not have a shut off switch. One of the offices I sometimes work at, they have an electric kettle with the shut off switch, but they do not have a stove or hot plate to use a regular kettle on.

          While I do have a small electric kettle, I don’t use it at home because I have hard water (I sometimes take it with me to local hotels when I work). Even with the water softener, there are lime deposits that build up. So I buy the sturdiest stainless steel kettles (with a whistle, very important) that I can find and use them to boil water for tea/hot chocolate. At least once a year, I have to put some CLR in there to get the build up off. If I used an electric kettle, it would soon become useless because of the lime.

      1. LCL*

        It works by induction, so the bottom stays cool, so you can pour boiling water from it then set it directly on the counter! It’s sorcery, for real. Maybe next week all the overseas people can explain about induction stoves. I really want one, but wasn’t able to convince the boyfriend when we replaced our stove.

    11. Doriana Gray*

      Real phrases used over my lack of a kettle included “you need to take care of yourself” and “you can’t go on like this”. Ohyeah, it also took me 3 months to get a bed but literally no one cared.

      This KILLED me! LOL! “You can’t go on like this” over a tea kettle while you’re sleeping on the floor – I love the priorities.

      (but do you actually not have a kettle?)

      I don’t, but my mother does, though I don’t think she’s used it since I was a kid. And it’s not electric.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Correction: Just texted her, and mom said she threw the kettle out years ago. Looks like I’ll be getting her an electric one for her birthday.

      2. Ruth (UK)*

        ah yes, priorities. I think they saw my lack of a kettle as a breakdown of normal routine and therefore basically reacted as though my life was veering off track or something…

    12. Carrie in Scotland*

      My mind is blown. I love my electric kettle…or any kettle. I can’t imagine not having one.
      Actually, a question: in hotel rooms, there’s always a small electric kettle. Americans have them in hotels rooms…right? Even if you just make instant coffee?

        1. salad fingers*

          Right – only electric kettle I’ve seen in an American hotel room was at, well, the Virgin hotel here in Chicago. So, basically at a British hotel.

      1. fposte*

        Nope. There’s a coffeemaker, which can sometimes be adapted for tea (but may retain coffee overtones). Coffee is the default American beverage the way tea is the British default beverage.

        (Love my electric kettle, though!)

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          If there were a kettle instead of a coffee pot, I probably wouldn’t need the only grumpy American wondering Joe in the heck I’m supposed to make my coffee with this thing?

      2. Swoop*

        I’ve seen mostly coffeemakers (either with the little pot or the pod type) which you have to run the water through at least once to get the coffee out of, but I have stayed at some places that had an electric kettle, and one that had both (luxury!)

    13. Anonymous Educator*

      American here. Spouse and I have an electric kettle, but we’re outliers, for sure.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        @ fposte, noah and doriana – my mind is like:
        ………
        Such a little thing in the world, but I never would’ve known the difference.

    14. periwinkle*

      I have an Aeropress for making coffee, regularly enjoy a soothing cup of tea, and have an unabashed preference for instant hot cocoa over the made-from-scratch version. Consequently, I have an electric kettle (Hamilton Beach cordless in a cheery red). After boiling dry two stovetop kettles (oh, that’s not a good odor) and decided I was too easily distracted for such things. The electric kettle has auto shut-off.

      Our kitchen has limited counter space so the small appliances get stored when not in use… except the electric kettle, which has a permanent home on the counter.

    15. Lore*

      I am a big tea drinker and would love one, but it’s hard to make space for both it and a coffee-maker on my small countertops, and the kettle is easier to substitute for (with a whistling stove-top kettle). I think maybe instant coffee is more common in the UK so the kettle can be used for both, whereas here it’s pretty much drip/filter coffee or nothing.

      Funny story: someone gave my parents, who are even bigger tea drinkers, an electric kettle as a gift. They loved it. Until my dad absentmindedly filled it with water and instead of plugging it in, put it on the stove top and turned the burner on. The house reeked of burning plastic for days, and the fumes made the dog seriously ill…and that was the end of the electric kettle.

      1. Overeducated*

        You can use a french press for coffee with the kettle. But it takes up slightly more space than instant, especially if you grind it at home too.

    16. Jean*

      American here. I bought an electric kettle about 3 yrs ago because I thought it would be nice to take along on driving trips to make hotel-room tea in the evening without having to run out to a coffee shop. (when one doesn’t have to streamline the luggage as much as when going by airplane or train). This ended up being too much trouble to take along when traveling (because I still had to find space for cups! teabags! honey!) but it was lovely to have at the office.

      At home I boil water in a stovetop kettle, just like most of my family & friends. If I’m feeling particularly energy-efficient, I will use the microwave, but I don’t consider microwaved water to be properly heated or boiled for tea.

      Very funny, the notion of having an entire nation heating their kettles at the same time. Could you work out a system so that various geographic regions take turns at preparing a thermos (insulated flask) of pre-made tea?

    17. Ellen Ripley*

      The voltage difference in electrical systems between the UK and the US actually makes a difference in this case – electric kettles are much faster than the stove in the UK, whereas in the US they’re not, and definitely slower than the microwave.

      I’ve got an electric kettle, but I’m definitely an outlier, and I first learned of their existence while spending a semester abroad in Australia. There’s been a bit of a recent renaissance of them in the US because of the trend for pour-over coffee, but most of the people I know who have one are expats from Commonwealth countries or India (is India in the commonwealth? I can’t remember).

      1. Treena*

        The voltage thing makes sense, because I never noticed a time difference between the stove kettle I grew up with and the electric kettle I had as an adult. I find a kettle to be a kitchen essential, even though I use one rarely. Spent six months without one and it was horrible. To be honest, it never occurred to me to use the microwave, but I don’t think I would have. We actually boiled water in a pot several times.

        India is in the commonwealth. Pretty much all former British colonies are.

      2. Elkay*

        Being the UK I’m fairly sure I’ve been told that heating water in the microwave is dangerous (I want to say because it will explode). I wonder if that’s connected to the difference in electrical systems.

        1. Artemesia*

          I have been heating water for tea and coffee in the microwave for decades and have yet to have anything explode yet. It doesn’t matter how you get the water to boil, it is just boiling water.

          1. fposte*

            Ah! I was referring to this elsewhere. Apparently there’s some truth to this, and it does matter how you get the water to boil. Between the usual smoothness of a ceramic mug and the evenness of the heating, microwaved water lacks the usual amount of nucleation points (things that make the bubbles in boiling water) and can even become heated above the boiling point. If you put sugar in or even a spoon while it’s still superheated, you can get some fizzing around the suddenly introduced nucleation points. It’s pretty easy, in my experience, to make this happen if you like sugar in your beverage; it’s just that it’s not hugely remarkable.

            There are urban legends about this reaction being explosions that will burn your face, but that seems pretty mythical. (Maybe they’re cross-threading with the microwaved gobstoppers.)

    18. Overeducated*

      My parents have an electric kettle and we’re American. I just have a stove top kettle but if I’m only making a single cup I use the microwave. The electric kettle is nicer in some ways but my kitchen doesn’t have much counter space. Plus it whistles so I don’t forget I was boiling water in the first place (which is how I ruined a previous stove top kettle that didn’t make noise). Didn’t know this was a British vs American difference! Interesting about the TV pickup.

    19. orchidsandtea*

      Bunches of my friends have electric kettles, but I prefer my stovetop kettle, though I drink tea constantly and am absentminded enough I boil the kettle dry more regularly than I care to admit. I use a french press when I do make coffee (3x/week?) so the kettle works for both.

    20. Felicia*

      I’m Canadian , and I’m shocked that Americans (apparently?) don’t have electric kettles. Everyone here has one and I can’t imagine not having one. I’m not sure why that is. We are much closer to our British roots and tea is more popular? (people here don’t say hot tea, because tea is by default hot and you only specify for iced tea)

      It also never occurred to me to microwave water. Maybe because electric kettles are ubiquitous? I don’t know anyone with the stovetop kind though

      1. Artemesia*

        Re Hot tea. In the US south the default is the other way. Years ago in large southern city where we lived, people ordered coffees after dinner at an Italian restaurant; I ordered tea. A few minutes later the waiter arrives with lots of little espresso cups and a tall glass of iced tea. It had never occurred to me, not being a southerner, that ‘tea’ meant anything but hot tea and that you would specify ‘iced tea’ if that is what you wanted — especially in an Italian restaurant after dinner. But there we were.

    21. danr*

      Depends. When my mother went into assisted living I bought her an electric kettle. It had safter cutoffs for boiling dry and boiling too long. She loved it. My parents had an electric coffeepot (percolater type) for years. We had a drip pot and it could make tea. And, does an Keurig count?
      In general, we boil fresh water in the tea kettle on the stove for tea and instant hot chocolate.

    22. AnotherFed*

      We have an electric kettle, but we both lived in England for a while. Definitely not the norm – in America, coffee is king, so if we had a smaller kitchen, the kettle would go and we’d make do with the microwave or stove (and keep the coffeemaker).

      One thing to remember – in England, the stove is slow compared to the kettle, but it’s the reverse in the US. I used to boil water in the kettle, then pour it into the pot on the stove to get enough boiling water for pasta dinners while it was still dinner time! In the US, the stoves are usually much higher powered, and my current electric kettle takes about 4 times as long as the one I had in England.

    23. SaraV*

      When I was a kid, we had a Sunbeam Hot Shot that would dispense a single serving of hot water. (Oh, and yes, in the US) I grew up drinking tea, and still do, although I have the conventional stove kettle that stays on the stove. Nothing like two slices of buttered whole wheat toast and tea for breakfast.

      I do also drink coffee now, but it’s hit and miss when I do.

      1. Rubyrose*

        I still have my Hot Shot and use it 3 – 4 times a week. At work, there is an electric kettle in the kitchen.

      2. SaraV*

        So all this “tea talk” has me putting on my kettle when it’s about 72°F out. Even washed my TARDIS mug to use.

    24. Elizabeth West*

      Hahaha, all those people suddenly craving a cuppa–I love the UK. :D <3

      And I have an electric kettle. Best gift my mum ever gave me–I use it ALL the time, mostly for tea and cocoa. At work, I use the hot water spigot for my twice-daily tea.

      When I was a kid, we had a kettle you heated on the stove and it whistled when the water boiled. Oddly enough, though, I heat the water for my giant cup of morning instant coffee in the microwave. It's more a habit than anything else…I don't know why I don't use the kettle!

    25. Kara Zor-El*

      I’m American and just boil water in a stovetop tea kettle when I want tea (once a week or so). It really doesn’t take too long! My partner is half Korean and his mom got him an electric water heater, but we just don’t use it enough to make it worth the counter space.

    26. Nina*

      I’m laughing, because we just got one this year, and it’s a big hit in our house. The biggest surprise is that my mother not only loves it, she actually uses it! I can’t get her to try anything new technology-wise. We got her a mini-Keurig for her birthday a few years ago, and she’s used it twice, despite our many explanations of it to her. But the electric kettle has won her over.

      I have noticed that electric kettles were a thing in the UK (at least England) and I had no idea why. I just figured they used stovetop kettles for their tea as well. EKs are slowly being sold more regularly here in the states (I live in Illinois) but I have yet to meet a person who has one.

      That said, my mother still uses her stove kettle, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she eventually retires it for an electric one, especially if it’s in red. That’s the kitchen’s color scheme. :)

    27. Jillociraptor*

      We have an electric kettle (in the US) and love it.

      My boyfriend’s childhood home has what he calls an “instahot.” I’m not sure if that’s a real name or just what he calls it, but it’s a spigot on your sink that automatically dispenses very hot water. It’s on his list of must-haves in our future dream house!

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Ooh. I’ve seen the “instahot” taps in homes before. Pretty cool. Although I think my favorite in the “automatic water dispensing” category (that’s a thing, right?) is fridges that have seltzer in the door. Like the door can dispense still or sparkling water. Blew my mind the first time I saw it.

      2. Sandy*

        Everybody here (Middle East) uses something like this. Press one button for cold, another button for hot, another button for extra-hot.

        Instant tea! Not sure how I’m going to live without it when we move back…

    28. Blue_eyes*

      American here. I LOVE my electric kettle! My parents always had a stove top kettle in the house growing up. I first learned about electric kettles in college because it was one of the few appliances we were allowed to have in our dorm rooms and it was super handy to be able to boil water for tea, hot cocoa, instant oatmeal, ramen, etc. I actually own two electric kettles because I bought one for the office at a previous job and brought it home with me when I left. We also have an electric kettle in my current workplace (I work in a private home as a PA). At least in my experience, kettles (electric or otherwise) are common in the US but not nearly as ubiquitous as in the UK. And Americans wouldn’t generally consider a kettle a necessity.

      My absolute favorite discovery is that you can make hard boiled eggs in the electric kettle! Fill the kettle almost all the way, carefully drop in 3-6 eggs (my kettle has a wide enough mouth that I can reach my hand in and gently place the eggs inside), and boil the kettle. When the kettle turns off, set a timer (I’ve found that 12.5 mins is perfect), then remove the eggs when the timer goes off.

    29. Swoop*

      stovetop kettle. could not live without it… been thinking of an electric kettle but it has to be one where the water doesn’t touch plastic and that’s been proving hard to find :/
      (microwaved water and hot water from a machine or a pipe do not make proper tea. It will suffice when there is no other option, but proper tea can only be made with boiling water!)

    30. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I have an electric kettle! I love it, and I’ve bought them for others. But I drink a ton of tea. (In fact, I’m going to go use it right now to make some peppermint tea, which I will then carry up to bed, where I will drink it while reading The Luckiest Girl Alive, which I’ve just started and have mixed feelings about.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I finished it at 5:30 a.m. this morning after staying up all night reading it, so it definitely scores high as far as being engrossing. But I wouldn’t say I loved it — I feel like it’s one of those books that bruises your soul a little. (I felt the same way about Gone Girl. Engrossing, but doesn’t leave you feeling great.)

          1. CM*

            I felt EXACTLY the same way about Gone Girl! I stayed up late reading it. And while I’m glad to know what everyone is talking about, I sort of wish I hadn’t read it. Like it increases the ugliness in my life without giving me anything.

    31. Stephanie*

      I’ve always had an electric kettle. It’s too much of a PITA to boil water on the stove or heat some up in the microwave.

    32. Searching*

      I’m a dual national (EU/US) who has lived in the US for decades now and I love my electric kettle. It seems to boil water much faster than the stove-top kettle (we have an electric stove). The one we have now is “cordless” (a corded base with a removable kettle). We keep our old (smaller) corded one around to take on road trips. I find it easier for boiling water than dealing with those puny in-room coffee makers. I don’t think many of my American friends have electric kettles.

    33. YaH*

      I have an electric kettle because I drink coffee using an Aeropress. That’s funny/interesting about the power surge during commercial breaks!

    34. Turanga Leela*

      American here. I love electric kettles. They’re my go-to gift for people who are starting college or getting their first apartment. I don’t currently use one at home (stovetop kettle and coffeemaker are both just as fast for tea), but I’ve had one in my office for as long as I’ve been working.

    35. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I had an electric kettle when I studied in the UK, and I loved it. But I drank a lot more tea then! I considered getting one a few years ago, but we lived in NYC and had no room– the kettle on the stove was just fine. I once suggested an electric kettle to my boyfriend and he looked at me like I had two heads, but I think that’s because he wakes up in the morning by putting the kettle on, going back to sleep, and waking up with the whistle. An electric kettle would cut that sleeping time!

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

      American. No kettle, electric or otherwise. We have a coffee maker, but it sits in the closet most of the time unless my MIL is visiting. We’re not the hot beverage type.

    37. hermit crab*

      This thread cracks me up! I have an electric kettle at work (it’s for everyone, but I brought it in and I’m the main one who uses it). I don’t have one at home right now because my old one broke — you have to hold down the button the whole time for it to get hot, so what’s the point. I just use a metal teakettle on the stove, and it doesn’t take noticeably longer than the electric one used to.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am giggling, too, who would have thunk electric tea kettles would have sparked so much comment?

    38. matcha123*

      When I was a kid, we had a kettle. At some point, the kettle disappeared. But, I will always remember the sound of the steam screaming out as a part of my childhood.
      After the kettle disappeared, we would just fill our cups and stick them in the microwave.

      Since moving to Japan, I’ve bought an electric kettle that I use to make ramen, tea and coffee. Yes, I have an individual cup/filter thing and I pour the boiling water over the coffee grounds since I have no room for a coffee maker. I bought an analog kettle a few years ago that I rarely use, but it is nice…LeCreust.

    39. Elsajeni*

      I’m interested to see people saying that their (US) electric kettles aren’t any faster than boiling water on their (US) stovetops, because that’s definitely not the case for me — I do have an electric kettle, and I find it WAY faster than the stovetop. (Maybe it’s also partly a gas stove vs. electric stove difference? Ours is electric, but a few weeks ago I stayed somewhere that had a gas stove and it did seem like the stovetop kettle boiled faster than I was used to.) Anyway, we use the electric kettle for tea, but also for anything else where you need to mix boiling water with something but not actually keep it at a boil for any length of time — instant oatmeal, instant mashed potatoes, making beef broth from bouillon, that sort of thing — because it’s so much faster than waiting for a pot of water to boil on the stove.

      1. fposte*

        Heh, me too, but I have a gas stove. Admittedly my microwave is very low wattage, so that may be why it’s faster than my microwave.

    40. Cath in Canada*

      I’ve found that a lot of Canadians don’t think of electric kettles as being essential kitchen items, whereas in the UK it’s usually the last thing packed and the first thing unpacked when you move house! I bought one my first weekend here and my new flatmates were perplexed. Same thing when I moved in with other flatmates. My husband’s parents are British so he had a kettle when I moved in with him, but a lot of our friends don’t have one. The comments I got when I bought one for the office, you’d have thought I’d brought in a bread maker or something. But the water heater in the office kitchen a) doesn’t get water hot enough for tea and b) isn’t always ready when you need it. A week of peelywally tea and two incidences of having to go into a meeting with no tea at all was enough for me!

      1. Cristina in England*

        “in the UK it’s usually the last thing packed and the first thing unpacked when you move house!”
        YES. Totally. The kettle goes in the box marked “ESSENTIALS, UNPACK THIS FIRST”.

        My mom (American) still uses a stovetop kettle but when I was really little I remember that she boiled water for tea in a saucepan every day. She bought me an electric kettle for going away to university, so I’ve never been without one. I use it for so much more than tea, like to thaw frozen vegetables (I don’t have a microwave).

      2. Mephyle*

        This Canadian got two electric kettles as wedding presents. Oddly, they were from guests who had also attended the shower where we got an electric kettle. So we started married life with three electric kettles.

    41. Aisling*

      American here. My mom has an electric kettle, but I only have a stovetop kettle, and I only drink tea in the winter. I live in an area that gets to 100F+ during the summer, and in spring or fall it can still be 70-80 degrees, so I don’t drink hot tea year round. I’d melt at that point.

    42. Tau*

      I’m German, and my parents have REFUSED to get an electric kettle for years. They argue that heating water through electricity is energy-inefficient and it is much more environmentally friendly to boil water on a gas hob. I argue that it is not more environmentally efficient if you forget you’re boiling water and end up destroying the kettle in the process (this happened multiple times), with little effect. It’s only now that they’ve got solar panels on the roof and frequently have more electricity coming in than they’re using during the day (resulting in epic attempts to time washing machines and dishwashers to current cloud cover, among others) that they’re admitting an electric kettle might be worthwhile. I’m not sure inhowfar this encapsulates typical German attitudes vs just being… my parents.

      Me, I got introduced to electric kettles when I moved to the UK at eighteen and never looked back. In fact, I think I’ll make myself a cuppa now. :)

    43. SAHM*

      My mom always has a kettle on the stove, if we want hot water for hot cocoa or tea we just check to see if there’s water and turn on the stove. It’s a habit I’ve kept bc sometimes I want a cup of tea in the afternoon. And microwave water is gross.

    44. dear liza dear liza*

      I’m American and a tea drinker. At home I have a kettle that sits on the stove (driving my clutter-hater husband crazy) and at work I have a plug-in kettle. When we built our house we wanted to get an instahot tap for the sink but that wasn’t a thing in our area, so we had to let it go.

      I went to the UK for a conference recently and it was HEAVENLY for a tea drinker. Tea was always offered, along with milk and sugar. Here, you never know for sure if you can get tea at conference breaks. I bring my own tea bags because sometimes they’ll only have yucky herbal tea. But even the hot water can be questionable. The conference centers will have big vats for coffee and hot water and some of them just do a quick rinse of the containers and use them interchangeably, so the hot water has a terrible, terrible coffee tang. Yuck.

    45. Sunflower*

      I was at the dept store today wandering around and saw electric kettles and wondered if anyone actually bought those!!! I’ve never known someone to have one.

    46. JJtheDoc*

      American born, with English (Yorkshire-born) second “Mom”. My birth family used a stove-top kettle – I’m the only tea-drinker in the family, so it didn’t get a lot of use until I reached my mid-teens. I received a couple of nice stove-top kettles as wedding gifts when I married the first time.

      Post divorce, I met my second Mom, learned the right way to make tea and have had an electric kettle ever since. My current husband and I are in our 3rd house with an instant boiling water tap in kitchen. The electric kettle has a place of honor (with other appropriate supplies) in my office at home, and a second smaller kettle lives in my work office.

      I hate boiling water in the microwave, adore my electric kettles and am enjoying my second cup of tea as I type!

    47. Master Bean Counter*

      My water cooler both at work and home dispense hot water. Two work places ago I got them to install an instahot tap. We were big tea and cocoa drinkers there. The last one I got them to replace the kitchen cooler with one that had the hot water just before I left. They loved using it for their oatmeal and cup of noodles. I actually gave notice two days after we got it set up, so I never did bring tea in there.
      Now, this magical place where I currently work, got the cooler with the hot water right before I started. I’ve enjoyed a cup or two of tea daily since starting work.

  44. ActualName*

    I like horror stories and the creep factor more than is good for me. I’d like to not have night terrors tonight so… does anyone know of a good way to get rid of that lingering fear?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      You may have to quit. But you could try turning the show off an hour or two before bed and doing something light/pleasant. I read where we should do that anyway, spend our last waking hour winding down so we do not toss and turn once we get into bed.

    2. AnotherFed*

      Whenever I creep myself out on r/nosleep (which of course I only do when DH is away), lock all the doors and close all the windows, then take our mace-sized maglite and go through every closet and every room in the house to make sure there’s nothing in there. Usually by the time I’m halfway done, I fell ridiculous, but if I finish the house then my brain can’t wake me up to say ‘but you didn’t check the spare bedroom closet, something could totally be there – don’t you hear it breathing?’

    3. Turanga Leela*

      Sleep with the TV or music on. It covers up ambient noise so that you can’t hear the house creaking. I don’t know if that will help night terrors, but it’s how I fall asleep when I’ve been reading Stephen King novels.

      1. Cristina in England*

        This makes sense! There is something called the spotlight effect, in which playing Tetris(!) within 24 hours after a traumatic event will reduce visual flashbacks, which are one of the harder to treat aspects of PTSD.
        I think the idea is that it makes your brain to busy to dwell on the horrible thing.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, that’s really interesting–I hadn’t heard of that! Off to look further and to rediscover Tetris, just in case.

          1. Cristina in England*

            I have downloaded it too, “just in case”! I am just guessing, but I think Tetris is probably more effective than Candy Crush because Tetris is more repetitive. Candy Crush varies the screens and types of objects on each level, even if the basic moves are the same (that hasn’t stopped me from playing it when I want to take my mind off something really irritating though).

        2. Mephyle*

          I expect that the “match 3” games like Candy Crush and Bejeweled and all their variations would be good for that, too. Perhaps some of the ones with cute or pretty pieces like baby animals or flowers would be the best, if it makes a difference.

    4. Elsajeni*

      Games like Tetris, like Jem suggested, sometimes help — any game that you find yourself “playing” in your mind when you’ve been playing it for a while, so your brain will be distracted doing that and you’ll have less free brainpower to wander off and think about creepy things. Tetris, solitaire, Minesweeper, sudoku puzzles, whatever has that effect for you.

      I also find it helps me be less anxious if I feel prepared. I have an irrational level of fear about home invasion, so I spent some time developing an escape route if someone did break in downstairs, and I keep a set of clothes, slippers, and my phone on my bedside table so that, if I actually had to execute that plan, I’d be able to do it without banging around opening drawers and trying to find my phone and making a bunch of noise that would alert the axe murderer to the fact that I was escaping. (The side benefit of this is that I’m much better prepared for more realistic emergencies, like if the smoke alarm goes off at 3 in the morning.)

  45. Lizzie*

    How in the name of all that is holy do you keep bees and wasps AWAY from your doors and outdoor areas?!

    I am super, super allergic to their stings (like, “if Lizzie doesn’t have an EpiPen she will die” allergic) and as much as I know and understand bees are beneficial to the environment, I (reasonably, I think!) don’t want them near me. I have paper wasps nesting near my door as we speak and I’m terrified. I literally sprint in and out of the doors.

    1. Camellia*

      Look for a good pest control company. They will come on a regular schedule, usually monthly, and if you need them for anything special, like a sudden wasp infestation, just give them a call. Additionally, I keep a can of wasp spray handy. You don’t want to try to use it on the nest but it is good for the single flyer.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Ugh, that is the worst. I don’t have allergies, and no one in my family does either, but wasps and yellow jackets are horrible pests and will chase us inside sometimes during the summer. My husband patrols the yard and the outside of our house pretty vigilantly. They are relentless little bastards. Any little tiny hole they can find, they will get into. He will blast them with wasp spray, and then fill the hole with silicone goo to seal it up.

      If it’s really bad, having a pest control company come to spray at regular intervals is probably your best bet.

      One day about a year ago, I was working at home, minding my own business, and one of those evil things came flying out from behind the window blind. I completely freaked out. I texted my husband to tell him “THERE’S A F-ING WASP IN HERE!!!” and he very texted back, “Well, what do your expect me to do about it?” He was at work, so it was a reasonable question. I ended up sucking it into the vacuum, and then I put the vacuum in the garage, because I was sure it was in there, plotting its revenge.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        Heh, I called my husband home from grad school to take care of a roach I found when I was unpacking from our move to KY from MN. He came. It was late at night and my first cross-country move so it was good for everyone for me to be accommodated.

        Also in KY, I was upstairs in our family room one sunny afternoon looking out the window and HTG, a huge, mean-looking hornet or wasp Looked Directly At Me and then found a way into the room. That one I took care of myself.

    3. Artemesia*

      Get a pest control to come take care of it today. One of the things that wasps do that bees usually don’t is just attack people walking by. My husband once walked out our back door where there was a paper wasp nest under the eaves and a wasp came flying down and stung him in the ear. He wasn’t all that close and wasn’t doing anything to the nest. You need to get someone other than you to take care of that nest now.

    4. Master Bean Counter*

      After you get the ones you have now taken care of set out traps. They help keep them from setting up a nest. I kept them away from my house for years with those traps.

  46. Aurora Leigh*

    Craziest/most funny/ most bizarre thing someone has ever said to you? Bonus points if they were a random stranger!

    I, apparently, “look like the sort of girl who will have triplets”! And I’m pretty skinny, so it’s not that I looked pregnant AT ALL.

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      I was on a train once and the man sitting across from me started up a conversation because… he wanted to talk. Anyway, at one point he said that if I ever travelled to Brazil, I would get sold into white slavery like that (snaps fingers). Allrighty, then. This was a couple of decades ago and he was telling me about how you don’t stop for red lights, just keep on going or you would get carjacked in some areas of Rio. And then… white slavery.

      1. AnotherFed*

        Speaking of white slavery… The very first trip I took as a fed was international to somewhere warm and dry. The senior engineer on the trip threatened to trade us for camels if we were badly behaved/not as useful as we should be, because ‘pretty white kids sell well’. To this day, I’m only 90% sure he was kidding.

        1. Artemesia*

          I remember reading a news story (in a legit paper) a number of years ago about some teenage kid who actually sold his mother while traveling to a country where that sort of thing is done.

    2. AnotherTeacher*

      It is too difficult to pick a single thing for this question, because I have the kind of appearance/demeanor that invites conversation from strangers. If I had to pick, though, it would be comments from people who assume I share their biases. Ummm…please keep your racist/homophobic/etc. comments to yourself.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        I have the same problem! Although it tends to be people who want to tell me about their health problems!

      2. Mephyle*

        The weirdest one was someone who couldn’t or shouldn’t have assumed that I shared his bias, because he made a derogatory comment about women. To me, a woman. (While waiting in line to pass through immigration in an airport).

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      When I was young and working the fast-food drive-through, a customer told me, “Girl, if you didn’t have those glasses on, your looks could stop a freight train.” Umm, thanks for the backhanded compliment?

    4. Not Karen*

      I’ve had multiple people tell me I look like a vegetarian.

      At a party I said I didn’t like beer and someone asked if I was a Mormon.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Someone told me that one of our friends smells like a vegetarian, and claimed that vegetarians have a distinct smell, which I’ve never noticed.

    5. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      After watching an ethnic soap opera about concubines in an ethnic country, my mom (also of that ethnicity) dreamily told me I’d make an excellent first wife (as opposed to 2nd/3rd concubine wife). I was 10 yrs old at the time, and it creeped me off/nearly put me off dating entirely when I was a teen.

      My bf isn’t of the same ethnicity as me, and sometimes I wonder if that played a tiny part in that….

    6. Sunflower*

      My esthetician asked me if she could read my aura and I was like umm ok sure. And she said ‘you totally have the aura of a stoner’. Not sure how one has the aura of a stoner or what it was about me that made it seem that way(i didn’t hang out with people who smoked so I know I didn’t smell of it). Esp since I saw her once every 8 weeks for about 15 minutes.

      1. Mephyle*

        My kids (early 20’s) recently got into a taxi, and the taxi driver remarked on how grey their aura was. They very quickly started a conversation between themselves so as not to give him a chance to elaborate.

  47. Emma*

    I’m moving to the UK soon. I’m reasonably familiar with the British vernacular but was wondering if there are any not-so-obvious words I need to watch out for (e.g. Using words like ‘pants’ or ‘fanny’in the wrong context)?

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Oh, buzzfeed UK just had a post on this – 20 Wonderful British Words That Will Confuse All Americans.
      Depending on where you’re going to be living in the UK, much like different areas of the US, there are local variations/slang for words.

      1. fposte*

        That’s a really fun list! Though I’m intrigued that apparently the author thinks Americans don’t say “thingamajig.”

        1. Cruciatus*

          Yes, that one is odd. I knew many on that list, but thingamajig has been around here forever. I apparently use it so much I even learned the German version for the time I was there (Dingsbums!).

      2. Cruciatus*

        I was even going to post “be prepared to hear the word twat a lot” but figured it was a stupid thought. But it made the list!

      3. Emma*

        Lol I googled that and, while it was a fun list, I wish the words weren’t written in such a huge font ^^;

    2. Cruciatus*

      When I was in Germany I joined a Stammtisch group with a guy from the UK. Every time I signified #2 or a V with my fingers I was reminded by him that it could be offensive! I guess if your fingers are in a V and the palm is towards you, that could be rude. You need to keep your palm outward!

    3. AnotherFed*

      Pavement refers to the sidewalk, where pedestrians go, not the road. So if you gripe at the driver to stay on the pavement, they will think you’re a psycho.

      1. AnotherFed*

        Also, the floor numbering confused me most – they start with ground floor and count up from there, so the first floor is what Americans would expect to be the second floor.

          1. AnotherFed*

            Ground floor and first floor both refer to the ground floor in the US; floor numbering starts at 1.

          2. Noah*

            Buildings here start at 1. Elevators (especially in hotels) will have the ground floor labeled as L for lobby.

            1. hermit crab*

              Or just G for ground — that’s what my office building has. After the parking levels, the elevator buttons go: G, 1, 2, 3, etc. I figure that must be weird for people who consider “ground” and “first” to be the same!

    4. Ruth (UK)*

      Even though I have an American mother and family, there have been words I’ve ended up using on various trips to the US and finding out for the first time that they are particular to British speech and not used there.

      On the other hand, luckily there is enough American TV etc out there that if you use American terms, people will typically know what you meant (esp if you have an American accent and they put it into that context). So if you ask someone for the ‘bathroom’ or ‘restroom’ they’ll know what you want even though we would say ‘toilet’ or ‘loo’ (the latter I think is slightly more common).

      England has a lot greater dialect variation in the states. Despite our small size, it changes a LOT. You have to travel a lot smaller distance here to get a change. This is simply down to how long English has existed in England compared to how long it’s existed in America. So there’s been more time for different dialects to change and develop.

      Watch our for terms of endearment. Up North, ‘cock’ is a term of endearment. If someone says ‘all right cock?’ to you… they basically mean hello.

      Where I live (Norfolk) it’s common to address people as ‘my man’ or ‘my woman’ and you can call literally anyone ‘boy’.

      “Cheers” for “thankyou” has, I think, baffled some Americans when I’ve used it there but it’s just too natural to pop out of my mouth. I typically finish work phonecalls with ‘cheers, bye’ and this is the norm throughout my office and among the people I regularly deal with on the phone. “Cheers mate” slips out when I am being served tea/coffee by someone who isn’t a friend (eg. over a counter / in a cafe).

      I don’t know if this one is particular to the UK or is just an English term in general, but a German woman I climb with was recently confused was asked if she wanted to go out for a ‘bevvy’ – short for ‘beverage’ it means an alcohol drink. It’s basically like saying ‘wanna go out for a pint/drink/beer/etc’

      Tea will get lots of slang terms. People might ask you if you want a ‘cuppa’ or ‘brew’. I have noticed some americans say ‘hot tea’. That will never be said here as it is assumed tea is hot unless you are specifically stating ‘iced tea’.

      Speaking of hot drinks, we call a flat black or white espresso-based coffee an ‘Americano’ (apparently I guess we assume it’s the type of coffee Americans drink?). As opposed to a latte or cappuccino. So espresso+water+small bit of cold milk (milk is optional) is called an Americano.

      One that confused me as a kid (because all the words started getting used interchangeably by my equally confused American mother) is Jam/Jelly/Jello.

      What you call jelly, we call jam. What we call jelly, you call jello. Basically:
      Jam: stuff you spread on toast, similar to marmalade.
      Jelly: Wobbly dessert
      Jello: not a word.

      Things on your feet are ‘trainers’ (never sneakers). ‘sweatpants’ are ‘jogging bottoms’ but people will understand ‘sweatpants’. We wear ‘cardigans’ (‘cardi’ for short) or ‘pullovers’ not ‘jumpers’ (but people will understand ‘jumper’).

      That’s all I’ve got off the top of my head…

      1. fposte*

        But Americans don’t call sweaters jumpers either–that’s an old English thing that seems to be going away.

        I don’t know if Americans have another term for “tracksuit” but I never hear Americans saying “tracksuit.” “Matched athletic gear” doesn’t seem to have much traction.

        1. hermit crab*

          I grew up in Pennsylvania and we called tracksuits “warmups.” I don’t think I’ve ever needed to refer to that particular type of clothing since I grew up and stopped doing sports, so I can’t say if that’s a regionalism or not!

        2. hermit crab*

          Also, to me, “jumper” means a dress with straps over the shoulders, meant to be worn with a shirt underneath (like overalls, but with a skirt on the bottom instead of pants). I think they were really popular for little girls in the 80s/90s — I wore them all the time in elementary school!

            1. hermit crab*

              I just googled “pinafore” and that’s exactly what it is. I don’t think I’ve ever heard “pinafore” used in the U.S. except in the context of Gilbert & Sullivan!

          1. Mephyle*

            Yes, to us in North America (Canadians as well as U.S.) a ‘jumper’ is a pinafore dress only. It sounds very odd to us to hear of a man wearing a jumper. ‘Sweater’ to us covers both cardigans and what you call jumpers, although we also use the word ‘cardigan’ to be more specific about what kind of sweater it is.

        3. Treena*

          Jumper is going strong in Australia! It’s funny, I think now that we’re about 50 years post-colonization, we’re going to hear a lot of “archaic” British terms around the world as England linguistically moves on.

          I feel like I’ve heard Americans say tracksuit but can’t recall specifics–maybe athletes?

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I think you’re right that I’ve heard it in an athletic context. But never with people wearing the stuff around town, which I can assure you they do. And I’ve never heard an American say shellsuit in any context–either it’s only in serious athletics, which I’d never hear, or we just don’t do it.

      2. Felicia*

        This is fascinating for me because I’m Canadian, and some things we say the American way and some things we say more like the British way, like a weird hybrid.

        Though jumper is definitely an older British word, I don’t think it was ever an American thing.

        Also interesting thing, but the things on your feet are only called sneakers in certain parts of the US and Canada. Other parts of the US and Canada call those running shoes, tennis shoes, gym shoes. Here, and in the nearby parts of the US people say running shoes.

        When I was a kid reading trainers in Harry Potter really confused me, because in Canada we get the British versions of the books.

      3. Artemesia*

        The thing I always notice about British speech ( I am familiar from reading with the usual differences like lorry for truck or jumper for sweater) is the tendency to do what I think of as ‘baby talk’ e.g. Prezzies for presents and Brekky for breakfast. There are a bunch of those to me infantile locutions that are just standard speech as far as I can tell in the UK. We have British relatives and they all talk like that.

        1. Artemesia*

          I think one of the reasons I find this ‘baby talk’ thing so weird is that I have this expectation of English English as being more ‘distinquished’ and formal and so it jumps out when a grown man is talking about ‘brekky.’