weekend free-for-all – May 14-15, 2016

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

Book recommendation of the week: A Spool of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler. Several generations of a Baltimore family, and you will care about them more than makes sense. The Washington Post called it “an act of literary enchantment,” which seems right.

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

{ 902 comments… read them below }

  1. the gold digger*

    So yeah on the way to our neighbor’s house to give him a birthday cake I had made (NB – use full-fat cream cheese for your cream cheese frosting – I am here to tell you that reduced-fat cream cheese is not the right thing to do), the cake carrier handle broke.

    And the cake fell.

    Frosting side down.

    Onto the sidewalk.

    And it snowed here today.

    1. Caledonia*

      I feel your pain, gold digger. I’m mourning the cake over the internets for you.

    2. Vancouver Reader*

      I think today’s a do over for you. Go back to bed and start over. Your cake carrier was protesting the lack of fat in your cream cheese frosting, you’ll know better for next time. ;)

    3. Wendy Darling*

      Did you just stand there and scream?

      I once lovingly shepherded a box of a dozen cupcakes carefully through its day without dropping it only for a friend to pick it up to carry it to be served and immediately drop it. Fortunately all the cupcakes stayed in a box, they just formed a giant cupcake pile, so I just got a lot of spoons and we had Choose Your Own Frosting Adventure.

      1. the gold digger*

        Is it wrong that I scooped most of it up, leaving a quarter-inch layer of frosting on the sidewalk (that I later returned to scrape off with our junk mail, including the catalog from Wind and Weather, which I am insulted anyone would send to me, as I would never buy tacky lawn art – the legacy of my dead in-laws just doesn’t stop!), and took it to my friend anyhow?

        I explained to Keith that nothing I was delivering had actually touched the ground and that I thought it was still safe to eat.

        As in, I had to lick my fingers as I cleaned it up and I am not dead yet.

        And yes – clearly the universe was giving me a very strong signal about reduced-fat cream cheese. I will heed the warning. No more reduced-fat cream cheese. (Except in bacon-wrapped cream-cheese stuffed jalapenos. Those are fine.)

        1. Mephyle*

          I feel for the loss, I rejoice for your solution, and I am nosy enough to ask what flavour the cake was under the frosting.

          1. the gold digger*

            Thank you for the solidarity, Mephyle. It was a carrot cake and it was/is delicious. I use the Joy of Cooking recipe and it hasn’t failed me yet. (But they should have warned me about the reduced-fat cream cheese. And really – they say the butter in the frosting is “optional?” It’s not. It’s necessary.)

            1. the gold digger*

              (I made two nine-inch layers and one four-inch layer. The two nines went to Keith; the small layer got frosted and stayed with us. It didn’t have a layer of driveway on it.)

            2. Mephyle*

              Oh, carrot cake! – extra sad (and glad at the save). But was reduced-fat cream cheese even a thing that had enough currency to mention when Joy of Cooking was published? Maybe it depends on which edition…

            3. Phyllis B*

              Reduced fat is okay, especially if you use butter. Just don’t use fat-free cream cheese. I did that once and NEVERAGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        2. Vicki*

          When the Universe gives you a sign like this, heed it.

          (btw, We call this sort of experience, the Cosmic Laugh Track.)

        3. LBK*

          I’d have liked to see the face of anyone who passed by before the cleanup and paused to wonder why there was a circle of icing on the sidewalk.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This is the saddest thing I have read all day. But I agree with Vancouver Reader– the cake was protesting! I have only sympathy.

    5. enough*

      Snow on May 14th? You have my sympathy. We’re getting too much rain but snow would put me in a padded room.

    6. TootsNYC*

      I once spent hours decorating Christmas cookie cut-outs–noses and buttons on snowmen, etc.

      Took them to a cousin’s house for a Christmas party. One of her friends picked up the platter carelessly and jokingly and tipped it, and they all slid off to shatter on the floor.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I was making a 3D birthday cake for my father. This was back when I did not know the instructions in the book would not work. It was a dragon. it was kind of cute. I had gathered up the ten thousand items to make the dragon and the 1000 ingredients and I was eight hours into the project. I could not get the head (an egg shape) to stay on the body (the lower 3/4 of a bowling pin shape.) You had to keep the frosting cool. I fussed and fussed. I got the head on there. I was almost done. Fifteen minutes later the head fell off the body, rolled down the side of the cabinet and continued on to roll across the kitchen floor. The body, also frosted, fell over.
        I picked the whole thing up and put it in the garbage then sat down and cried. And that was the end of my cake decorating days. Years later, I found out, “Yeah, those instructions did not work for that dragon.” Thanks.
        GD, I so relate.

        1. Artemesia*

          I skimped by buying a crust for my Thanksgiving lemon merinque pie — tried to lift it in its golden perfection by the edges of the tin which of course buckled and splatted upside down onto the kitchen floor. Luckily I had enough lemons and sugar and another crust and was able to make another but it was pretty annoying. Now when I use a prepared crust, I put it inside one of my grandmother’s wonderful glass pie plates to prevent this from happening.

        2. MsChanandlerBong*

          I swear there is a conspiracy going on to force people to buy cakes from bakeries. Last year, I tried to make my husband a medieval castle cake (using instructions on the Wilton website). I’d taken a few decorating classes, but I wasn’t an experienced decorator. I followed the instructions to the letter, including coloring all of the icing ahead of time so I wouldn’t have to stop and mix colors while frosting the cake. I thought one of the measurements was a little off, but I wasn’t confident enough to stray from the directions, so I colored each bowl of icing as instructed. Finally get all the icing done and start frosting the cake. I was supposed to cover the entire cake with gray stars….but I only had 3/4 c. gray icing. There was no way to make 3/4 c. of icing cover the entire cake. I ended up covering it all in blue icing and serving it that way. He loved it, but I was so mad that it didn’t work out. I’d spent $80 on supplies (pan, icing colors, etc.)!

        3. Phyllis B*

          I can relate. This is not a decorating story, but one time I invited my sister and her husband to dinner decided to make this elaborate cake that used ground almonds instead of flour. Well, everything went well UNTIL it was time to get said cake out of the pan. It fell all to pieces. I threw it in the garbage and cried. I can’t remember what I served in its place, (something store-bought I’m sure) but when I told my sister about it, she said I should have served it anyway, they wouldn’t have cared what it looked like. But when you’re a new bride trying to make a good impression ….

          1. Mephyle*

            I am sorry it’s too late for your ground almond cake, but it may help someone else in the future. When a cake falls apart, whip cream, make up a package of pudding, open a can of fruit (if applicable), and pretend you always meant to make trifle. It will be delicious no matter what, because whipped cream.

            1. Vicki*

              I have heard stories of people serving things like this along with the page from the magazine that shows what they should have looked like.

              If you ever make an almond cake like that again, here’s a suggestion? Serve the pieces in bowls with whipped cream.

            2. Phyllis B*

              Mephyle, your suggestion turning it into trifle) is one I have used a number of times. (I just didn’t know that at this time.) I made a from-scratch Angle Food cake that suffered this same fate (falling apart) and I turned it into a strawberry trifle, which everyone loved, but it that’s what I had planned to do I would have used a bought cake or cake mix. The process for home-made Angle Food cake is a bit labor-intensive to do that.

      2. Phyllis B*

        I also have a cookie story. When my oldest grand-daughter was in Kindergarten I made cookies for her class Christmas party. I found a recipe in Taste of Home for these cute little mouse cookies made with peanut butter cookie dough. There were supposed to be rounded like a mouse with tail, ears, whiskers, ect. I never had a fail with a TOH recipe, so we made them, following directions to the letter. I want you to know those mice came out looking like they had been run over by a steam roller. Luckily 5 and 6 year-olds are not real discriminating, so I sent them along, and they were all thrilled, and my grand-daughter said they were “yummy and delicious.” Can’t ask for higher praise than that.

    7. Clever Name*

      I guess I’ll stop feeling sorry for myself because it’s cloudy and 55 here today.

      1. Tris Prior*

        I was thinking that too. Cloudy, windy, and 40s here…. but no snow, so yay?

        This spring is fired.

      1. Perse's Mom*

        Every time the weather does something weird here, my response is just “welcome to Wisconsin.”

    8. Cheryl Becker*

      somehow this reminds me of the song MacArthur Park: “Someone left the cake out in the rain / I don’t think that I can take it. . . .”

      Tomorrow will be better!

    9. Dynamic Beige*

      It snowed here today, too. I think this might be a record. I remember it once snowing on May 8th, and I think that was the latest snow we ever had. Until today. Waaah!

    10. Vicki*

      Many years ago, we went to my SIL’s house for Christmas eve. MIL brought cheesecakes. Two cheesecakes.

      As she walked into the house, she stumbled slightly. She was fine. However, both cheesecakes flew off the plates and landed on the carpet.

      The dogs enjoyed them.

    11. harryv*

      I once bought a mango cake for a youth group I volunteer at. It’s a monthly tradition. The box holding the cake hit the side of the car door as I was exiting and did a 180 flip. I still took it in and the kids got a great laugh. The cake was still edible. This was a good 10 years ago and we still get a good laugh about it.

  2. Not allowed to call myself Anon*

    So I am a relatively new parent (toddler), and oddly, the hardest relationship to navigate so far has been with my own mom.

    Put bluntly, she was a terrible parent. As an adult, I can recognize that she was doing her best, but she was still terrible.

    Unfortunately, she seems to be treating my daughter as her opportunity for a “do-over”, going as far as to try to call *her* mommy (rather than Grandma or some variation thereof). No, I’m not kidding.

    We currently live several thousand miles away, so I can limit exposure naturally, but we’re moving back to the same major city soon. My mother is over the moon, and is already concocting plans for all the quality time they are going to spend together. The closer our moving date gets, though, the more anxious I get about this whole business.

    It’s one thing for her to be choosing outfits, or food, or whatever (I’m not going to agree with everything, and it’s a grandparent’s prerogative to spoil their grandchild, no?) but the whole do-over thing creeps me right out, a) because it’s objectively weird and b) because there’s obviously a lifetime of baggage there.

    When dealing with non-reasonable people, is there a middle ground between getting completely bulldozed and having to say no more access?

    1. Kyrielle*

      *winces* You have my sympathy. I’ve never faced this scenario so take my thoughts with a good sized helping of salt.

      But I think it’s going to be like _any_ boundary issue: you’re going to have to decide (before you talk to her) where the boundaries are, advise her of them, and be prepared to withdraw access (for a bit or forever) if a boundary is violated. Ideally, you want to have that conversation with her before the move, so that she has time to absorb it and get through her first – doubtless defensive – reaction.

      This is probably not the right phrasing, but in terms of content, I’m thinking something like: “Mom, I understand you want to enjoy your time with your granddaughter and enjoy her, and I want that for you and for her also! Having you in her life is going to be awesome, and obviously your house rules may not be mine. But, at the same time, I need you to remember that we are her parents – and that there are some things that need to be true for her to spend time with you.”

      On the ‘mommy’ thing maybe: “I’m so happy to be a mother! I don’t want her to be calling you Mommy, that’s my title. Would you like Grandma, Granny, Nana, or some other title? I’d be happy to help her call you what you prefer, as long as it’s distinct.” (Any chance she’d like ‘maman’? As long as you’re not mama, that might be distinct enough. Might not.)

      Things to consider:
      * Safety – toddler-proofing of grandma’s house (chemicals, electric cords) or general level of watchfulness; if she has food allergies, handling thereof; car seats.
      * Rules – yes, grandma’s house will have its own rules, but in no way should she undercut yours. If it’s a negotiable area it should be “that’s the rule at home, yes, but it’s not the rule here” or the like – no undercutting you.
      * How often / how long she’ll be with Grandma

      You may well have to pull back on time together (or specific types, for example driving if the car seat is an issue) when she violates your boundaries, but hopefully not, and if you do, hopefully once or twice of a backing-off and then trying again will lead her to respect your boundaries.

      Honestly, figure out what you are willing to yield on, how far you want to yield, and what’s non-negotiable – and make the last bit clear up front and enforce it.

      1. Lindsay J*

        My grandmother was Mommom (pronounced “mum mum”) because my oldest cousin had difficulty pronoucing grandma or anything similar when she was very young, and my grandmother was her mom’s mom. And it just stuck for the rest of us (even though she was my dad’s mom, not my mom’s mom). She might like that while still having it be distinct from mommy.

    2. Sparkly Librarian*

      Well, the way I dealt with my non-reasonable mother was to keep my distance by withholding my home address from her for a number of years. People think that’s excessive, but it helped me hold my boundaries while still having limited contact on my terms. And we have a better relationship now. So maybe there’s a middle ground (although it’s harder to find with constant contact).

      May I recommend a book for you? I found Becoming the Parent You Want to Be really helpful in planning my own family. The book acknowledges that there are readers who had crappy parents and need better models, but doesn’t come at the whole parenting shebang from a trauma perspective. http://amzn.to/23QD7x1

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        My husband and I moved across the country and have not given his father/stepmother our phone number. They have our address in case of emergencies, but we don’t want anything to do with them as far as regular calls. Yeah, people think it’s weird, but they’re not the ones who get screamed at on the phone over unreasonable things!

      2. Not allowed to call myself Anon*

        I’ll definitely check out the book- thanks!

        Ultimately, I don’t *want* to get to a point where I need to cut off access. They both adore each other, and I like the idea of them having a strong relationship.

        At the same time though, my mother is absolutely terrible with boundaries. I feel like the whole thing is careening towards a power-struggle that I have no interest in having.

        1. Kat*

          OK, so I am in a similar boat as you. And it may not be something you want to consider, but therapy has helped me a lot with setting boundaries with my own pushy, domineering mother who my toddler loves.

    3. Sara smile*

      I am going to recommend another board – DWIL Nation (part of babycenter). It deals with drawing boundaries with parents and parents in laws, specifically when dealing kids. The board is really no nonsense and seem a bit jarring as a newbie but the posters there are very good at recognizing patterns of behavior.

      I found DWIL Nation through Captain Awkward, which is often recommended here. Now knowing the advice on both DWIL and CA, it is very similar, if this makes you feel better about the DWIL recommendation in anyway.

    4. Today's anon*

      My mother would do this not as part of a do-over but because her sense of boundaries is non-existent and she is narcissistic so obviously her wishes are the only ones that matter. I don’t know if this fits but you say she was a terrible mother so maybe some of this is also at play.

    5. TootsNYC*

      That middle ground might be absolutely iron-clad boundaries for anything remotely parent like, even if other grandparents might do it.

      And you can always be busy for anything but holidays. Or, maybe one day a month; having a set time for preplanned interaction might make it easier to say “no” to any other interaction. “No, mom you can’t come over after work–we will see you on the second Saturday as always.”

      Kyrielle is so right–boundaries are SO much easier to hold when you decide them in advance.
      But of course she’ll always throw herself up against them, so having one time when you DO see her makes it so much easier to just always say no to everything else, no matter what it is.

      Also, often people get excited about the idea, but the day-to-day just gets too boring or too chorelike, and they fade out. Here’s hoping!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Not speaking as a parent because I am not, but when I was growing up my parents limited access of people who were boundary challenged. This was at a time when society was less aware of these things. They kept their explanations short but I definitely understood what they were doing and why. They told me that one aunt was too pushy. An uncle hit his son. They did not explain further until I got older and I asked for more detail.
      I think as I got older they realized that they were not going to know where I was all the time. So they decided to answer my questions and I would be able to make my own choices based on what I experienced. It did open up conversation so if I had a problem, I could say what the problem was. I knew it was okay to talk about it.

      1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

        I think that was wise of them – kids can handle a certain amount of information at a fairly young age.

        My parents did the same as yours and I appreciated it even if others might have found it jarring. For example, they didn’t get into the details of why our once favorite cousin was gone (drugs, then suicide). They did say that he’d gotten in with a bad crowd who had gotten him into drugs and he couldn’t get out. Or the irresponsible much older cousin: they simply said that she wasn’t respectful of our family rules so she wasn’t a good role model. The most serious one was a cousin who was fleeing from her abusive husband. It was important that we didn’t accidentally tell a family member we had seen her so they told us (I was probably 6 years old?) that her husband was abusive so she had to hide from him. We understood that enough to know never to tell anyone that we had seen her and it wasn’t traumatic for us kids.

    7. Artemesia*

      I am a grandmother and there are red flags all over this. I would make this name thing a hill to die on and make sure your child has a grandparent name well established before you arrive. My daughter had me and my MIL choose our grandma names — I am Gram and she is Grandma and there is a Grandpa and a Granddaddy. I have friends who are Nonna or Nana (this one is actually a genius choice because little kids often have ‘banana’ as a first word — every 12 mos old can say ‘nana’) If your mother doesn’t have a choice other than MeMaw or Mommy or whatever then you choose and teach it to your child. I’d go with Nana since it is so distinct from Mommy.

      I would start by having your Mom join your family for activities where she can interact with the child but you are present. It is a big red flag if Nana demands to have the child alone. What can she do alone that she can’t do in your presence? With sane people this is not an issue; I am sure my SIL and daughter have never given it a thought because they know we won’t do things they don’t want done i.e. we won’t be spanking, feeding foods they don’t want fed, badmouthing the parents (this is common in territory grabbing grandmothers), inflicting toilet training regimens they haven’t decided on etc etc, it is not the being alone, it is the insisting on ‘alone time’ that is worrisome.

      Don’t worry about being accused of being clingy or overprotective when you arrange things so that your mother is not in charge of the child on her own. Don’t let her or other meddling relatives try to bully you that you are fussing over trivial things. Your spidey sense is tingling for good reason. Dinner doesn’t matter but fighting to be the authority over your child does — nip it in the bud.

      Another area where some grandparents try to intrude is grabbing ‘firsts.’ Nana wants to buy the Christmas dress, do the Santa pictures, cut the kids hair, choose the halloween costume, make the birthday cake whatever. For things that matter to you, firmly assert yourself. Put the dress or costume aside and dress your child the way you planned (‘I’m sure she’ll love the tiger suit when she lays dress up’ as you put the Princess Leia costume on her for trick or treat) If she arrives with a birthday cake when this is your thing, put the cake aside and serve it after the singing and such as an optional second flavor choice.

      You are less likely to have disaster and tension here if you calmly nip in the bud turf encroachment. No access might be the outcome, but it is less likely if you are authoritative and welcoming even going so far as to tell her clearly at an appropriate moment ‘there are somethings that I as her mother will be deciding; her halloween costume is but one of those. I would appreciate it if you would relax and be Nana and not constantly try to take over my role as her mother.’

      I had a lovely mother, but one who had to be told clearly if you wanted a message to get across. I’m betting your mother is one of those too.

      1. SAHM*

        +1 love this advice. I’m lucky enough to have a mom who doesn’t try to overstep boundaries, but even with sane moms this can get skewed. Being firm on, “this is my kid and we’re doing it this way.” is not only your right, but your responsibility as the parent.

      2. Observer*

        Mostly, I agree with you. But not on the name thing, necessarily. Don’t get me wrong – I’m “bubby” to my grandkids and that’s just the way I like it. But as weird an inappropriate as this is, I don’t think that telling the kid to call her Mommy is that big of a deal – unless she also tells the child to call her mother something else. You can be sure that, especially if OP holds her ground and maintains the lines of authority, the child will know exactly who is who.

        But, for the rest – yes, choose your battles, hold your ground and make sure that it’s clear that YOU – mom and dad – get to make decisions, NOT grandma.

        1. Artemesia*

          I strongly disagree here. Having the child call Grandma by a ‘mother name’ is the very best sign of a boundary challenged grandparent who wants to take over and be the Mommy. The OP has already observed that her mother wants a ‘do over’ , letting her be Mama or Mommy is an enormous mistake if she hopes not to end up cutting off her mother, which would be sad.

      3. Not allowed to call myself Anon*

        So much practical advice here, thanks.

        The alone time/me present time is an interesting one. My mother really doesn’t have any problem forcing these issues when I am right there. I’ll patiently reinforce the boundary, she’ll ignore it, I’ll remind her (nicely) again, she’ll ignore it, it quickly devolves into an argument, and she’ll admonish me for “arguing in front of the baby- it’s not good for her”.

        Leaving me feeling like the jerk every time.

        Clearly more practice and some quality time with Captain Awkward is required.

        1. misspiggy*

          That’s not good, and how exhausting for you. Captain Awkward might advise that next time this happens, you leave after the second boundary violation attempt – ‘well, look at the time, we’re off, thanks for having us!’ Which might suggest you don’t invite your mother to your place that often at first.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            This is exactly what my mom used to do to her mother whenever she got out of line – she’d say it’s getting late (once we were only at grandma’s for 10 minutes!), and grab me Andy brother and leave. After awhile, my grandma started to get the hint and eased up on the passive-aggressive comments and undermining.

            1. Laura*

              It’s the same thing parents do when their children throw tantrums– cut them off from the situation. And it works well for all ages!

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            In addition to this, you might want to limit your child’s interactions with your mother to public places/places you can leave.

            So, Grandma doesn’t come over to your house, you go to her’s. She starts in on the “Call me Mommy” stuff (or whatever), you can correct her once and say that this is unacceptable and that if she tries that again, you’ll have to leave. Then do it. Next time, no warning, just leave. It’s harder to kick your mother out of your house graciously than it is to just get up and leave the McDonald’s/library/park.

            And I totally get that this is a thing you don’t want to have to deal with, OP. You shouldn’t have to train your own parent to not be a jerk. But, unless you decide not to move back into the same town, this is going to have to be the struggle you undertake. There are a lot of people on r/RaisedbyNarcissists who are fighting the same thing. Along with DWIL, they might have some extra tips and suggestions.

        2. Yetanotherjennifer*

          Just remember, it takes 2 to tango. She too has the power to stop an argument. But she wants you to cave so she keeps it going and then blames you. You however have the ultimate weapon: access to your daughter. If your mom crosses your clearly stated boundaries or argues with a decision you have made then it’s time to go.

          But maybe don’t stay away too long. I remember watching some show ages ago where an educator was working with a toddler or preschooler. The rule was no balls in the kitchen; only in the living room. Of course the child would bring the ball into the kitchen, and the educator would take the ball away. But only for a minute. Then he’d give it back to her. I rhink most parents would be done with the ball after one infraction. Hos lesson for parents was that the child needed many opportunities to practice the rule. It’s a frustrating theory to practice but may lead to earlier success.

        3. Observer*

          Don’t argue – stop whatever it is, even if you have to walk out of the room with the kid. (Which means you really need to decide in advance what you are goingto fight about and which not, and always have a backup plan.) Your mother is actually right that it’s not good for the baby to fight about her in front of her. So don’t fight – just be a broken record and / or walk away, as needed.

          I do know that this is much easier said than done, but, in the long term, this is something you are going to need for your health and that of your child.

        4. Artemesia*

          A direct challenge should be met by ending the visit. This is like a toddler. If you take them to the store and they throw things, and you reprimand them, and then they throw them again (looking at you from the corner of your eye) then that trip is over. A parent who gets off their dead ass and takes the child home from an event they love (a party, swim trip etc) when they misbehave repeatedly will probably only have to do it once. It is inconvenient which is pretty much the definition of parenting, but by meaning what you say, the kid learns to respect the boundaries.

          Grandma is the same way. If you assert a boundary and then she overtly challenges it, it is time to leave or ask her to leave. If she is the sort to refuse to leave then make all visits at her house so you can do so. If you just arrange the next 5 visits that way and ACT when she acts out, you might change the behavior.

          Your mother is a toddler; use the same tricks you will be using soon on your own. And meaning what you say and then enforcing it, is the most important one.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Agreed about the leaving thing. Adults do this on other topics also. Years ago a friend was over. He was having a serious discussion with my husband about where to go with his life. The conversation got heavy. He pulled out a joint. My husband said, “If you want to smoke that, you need to go home, smoke it and come back.” The friend was in my husband’s (and mine) castle.

            Boundaries are not for challenging, that is why they are boundaries. No debating, no discussion. You disagree, you leave or they leave as the case maybe.

            Our friend put the joint away and said he would prefer to sit and keep talking.

            You may have to leave or ask her to leave several times before you make your point. A good rule of thumb is the longer you have allow this to go on then the longer it will take for you to set your boundary. Nip the boundary crossing behavior ASAP, is a good approach to use going forward.

        5. TootsNYC*

          Make wellthought-out rules for yourself in advance.

          And state them in advance.

          Like maybe one of those rules is, Grandma gets one chance to be reminded of aa boundary at each visit (it doesn’t even have to be a pre-stated boundary; you’re entitled to set a boundary right in the moment; you can’t anticipate every way she will try to go too far, because people forget; but if she defies tthat boundary in the same visit, that’s not forgetting, that’s defiance, and we go home immediately.

          And maybe /to keep it from being the same dance, you say, “If we have to go home because of a boundary violation, we don’t come back for a month. And if there’s a boundary violation then, we don’t come back for 2 months.

          And work out a script that you say every time: “Mom, II’ve told you that I don’t want you do to this. You’re disrespecting my stated desire as Child’s parent. We’re leaving now. We won’t be in contact with you for a month. I hope this won’t happen again.”

          And it doesn’t matter how big or small the issue is–if it’s snacks or car seats (snacks have a smaller consequence than car seats–but it doesn’t matter, because the issue is, “not respecting my authority over my child.”

          Plan for it to happen, and craft your response ahead of time. Then you just have to play the script, and you won’t get sidetracked by being angry or trying to think on your feet.

          Also, focus not on trying to change her basic motivation, her entire personality, etc. You can’t remake her; don’t try. Simply give negative feedback, and protect your family. In a way, you’re offering her an opportunity to learn different BEHAVIORS (not motivations or personality). If she isn’t willing or able to learn those behaviors, then your family will be on “six months/a year” of no contact.. Which is peace, right?

          1. Not allowed to call myself Anon*

            Thanks for this.

            In some ways, it sounds so much like the advice Alison gives here every day: clear instructions, clear consequences, if it happens repeatedly, it’s a question of disobeying the authority/instruction, and THAT’s the problem behaviour that needs to be dealt with.

            And yet so much harder when it’s your mom. This is why nepotism is bad, people.

            1. Yetanotherjennifer*

              Soooo much harder when it’s family. i had to start small and work on looking shocked at what my mom said. The next step was to say “wow. ” Then finally I was able to state a boundary.

              1. bearing*

                I went no-contact with my narcissist father for a while. Then I felt I should give him another chance, so re-established contact very cautiously with low contact and lots of deflection and subject-changing on my part. He continued to push what ordinary people would consider boundaries; I tried just to minimize the impact on me. Finally he crossed a line I could not ignore (making homophobic jokes in front of my tween sons). I decided to set a boundary there — the first boundary I had verbally set in eight years of working to rebuild that relationship. (“Dad, I don’t want you to use slurs for gay people in front of my kids. I don’t like to hear them, either.”)

                He immediately informed me that it would be easier for me to stay out of his life.

                Biggest relief I ever experienced. It has now been about 18 months since I have heard from him. I don’t miss him one bit, and I am completely confident that the kids are better off without him. Their other grandfather is kind, generous, respectful, and wise.

                1. Laura*

                  Can I just say… good for you! That is such a difficult situation to be in, but you set an awesome example for your sons. I’m so happy that things worked out for the best. :)

    8. Rahera*

      All my sympathy. I think on this one, I would recommend checking the Captain Awkward archives, and if there’s nothing there that really fits, I would consider asking her about this specific situation.
      Wishing you the best.

    9. Anonsie*

      I’m a pretty laid back person but the mommy thing has my pearls thoroughly clutched.

      1. Mander*

        Me too. I don’t know why but it kind of freaks me out.

        My niece did call my Mom “Mommy” for a while, as well as my sister, but I think that was just toddler confusion. It’s definitely Grandma now.

        Maybe you could encourage her to be like one of my cousins, who has always called everyone by their first name (except Grandpa). Even as a toddler he called his parents “Sarah” and “John”, not Mom and Dad. Nobody knows why; he’s just weird that way.

      2. Temperance*

        Mine too. It’s something that my mother would do with my niece when she was very small – my mom is a class A manipulator, so it was clear what she was doing. My sister called her out every time she did it, and when my mother couldn’t comply with the very reasonable boundaries sister laid out, she limited contact.

        On a more hilarious side note, my niece called me “Grandma” for a while, because she doesn’t really know her actual grandmother (my mom), and she knew that Peppa Pig’s grandmother came to her house to hang out with her. She just naturally assumed that all kids have a grandma, and obviously I was hers. (I’m 32 and don’t really look my age.)

    10. Maya Elena*

      If you’re married, maybe your husband can weigh in and put his foot down? Maybe yout mom will take more seriously a threat from him (“next time you do that, we leave and sont visit again”) than even the firmest boundaries from you.

      I have, in fact, known of this among my own relatives: the same grandparents were reasonable and respectful of one daughter’s wishes about her kids, and later undermined the rules set by the other, with the main difference being how much they respected and deferred to the two respective sons-in-law.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        This is a good point. My mom wouldn’t dream of misbehaving while my husband is around.

      2. TootsNYC*

        Though in some dynamics, it sets up a “that horrible interloper” sort of relationship. So many people say, “each spouse should handle all conflicts with their own family of origin,” for exactly that reason. Though I personally think that should be a guideline only, and the in-law child absolutely should feel they can speak up.

    11. Belle diVedremo*

      If I’m reading this right, your mom wants her “do over” with your daughter, but wants to continue treating you the same way she always has. That doesn’t work.

      The advice to set boundaries is g0od. Just be sure that as you set those boundaries, they are for how YOU are treated as well as how your CHILD is treated.

      Your child does not need to learn that it’s ok to treat you poorly, ignore your decisions, or hide things from you so that she and Grandma can have things Grandma’s way when you aren’ t there.

      It’s not a grandparent’s prerogative to spoil a grandchild. It’s up to the parents to decide what is ok.

      It is in your child’s best interest to take care of yourself in the larger family setting. You’ll be teaching her what you think is good behavior and good self care in standing up for yourself and your role, and in intervening when your child is in any kind of emotional or physical danger.

      One approach might be to find a good family therapist to consult on just these pieces. (You can give a therapist a limited scope of work.) Ask for help in recognizing patterns earlier, and in stopping things before they get too far. If you have a partner moving with you, include Partner in these sessions. Having another person to point out what’s happening and help bring things to a close helps present a united family and might help catch things earlier. You can ask for help in setting boundaries, ask for a variety of things to try. If you have a partner, get Partner in on this with you.

      If your mom complains that you are keeping her from her granddaughter, just say that she’s keeping herself from her granddaughter by being disrespectful of your family. If she’s pushing you hard enough to complain that you’re hurting your child by fighting with your mom in front of her, she’s pushing too hard for you to stay there. She’s still pulling your chain. You and your family should be ready to pick up and go before things get angry. It’s your job to look out for your children and yourself first.

      Kudos to you for looking for ways to make things better, to being able to see that your mom tried her best, and to still see that her best isn’t yet good enough for your own child. That doesn’t make your mom a bad person, it does make your mom a person who only has managed, supervised access to her grandchildren. It’s more than ok to make her work for your trust. Especially a grandmother who wants to be “mommy” to her grandchildren in the presence of their mother.

      We’re cheering for you.

    12. Temperance*

      Actually, no, your mom doesn’t get to spoil your kid and feed her things you don’t allow, or do things with her that she didn’t do with you. You get to set boundaries, including not allowing your mom unsupervised access to the kid.

      My mother did a terrible job with us. She’s a selfish, lazy person and is also mentally ill, so I had a very limited childhood fraught with forced parenting/caretaking of my younger siblings. Once my sister got pregnant, my mother begged her to move back “home”, not to get married, and to “raise the baby as part of our family”.

      There was a lot of back and forth, until my sister finally put her foot down and told our mother, in no uncertain terms, that the time to raise a child was back when we were children. She also told her that it’s very, very hurtful that Mom thinks that it’s reasonable to request doing all these fun things with her kid when she didn’t bother with us.

  3. I'm anon for this too*

    Sometimes, I wish it were possible on facebook to hide all the pictures of my friends’ children (babies/toddlers). I don’t want 4856847238 pictures of everything your child does.

    1. anon for this*

      I hide those people from my timeline. My timeline was exploding with baby and toddler pictures and I do not find babies or toddler cute (the happy screeching sound they make is like nails on a chalkboard to me), so I just hide those people so I don’t have to see their posts. If they’re someone I haven’t talked to in the last 2 years, I just defriend them completely.

      Also, the whole practice makes me super uncomfortable because I know I’d be mortified and upset if my parents had posted 8745845 pictures of me on the internet to chronicle my growth and the first time I pooped or spoke or ate on my own. I always wonder if some of these kids will grow up used to displaying their entire life on the internet or hating it.

      1. Caledonia*

        That’s funny you should touch on the kids being mortified part – there was an article on the guardian’s website about if children could sue the parents in the future because they haven’t given up their privacy/permission for the photos to be up there.

        1. anon for this*

          I really do wonder about this because I always hated my parents taking home videos or pictures of me, so I know that if I had grown up during the facebook age, I would have been so embarrassed to find those pictures there.

          I hate when people post childhood pictures of me without asking. I know it’s hard to get people to take them down, but I really hate the idea that if someone takes a picture they can do whatever they want with it regardless of whether or not the person in the picture wants them to post or share it.

        2. Yetanotherjennifer*

          My rare Facebook photos of my daughter never include her facing the camera. I post her shoes on the first day of school. The big haircut was from the back. Dance recital photos are of the bun. It’s a fun challenge to get a shot that can be shared that doesn’t reveal her identity.

        3. Rana*

          Yeah, I try to be cautious about what I post about my daughter on Facebook, and that’s the only forum I post pictures of her on. I’ve got years of pseudonymous blogging under my belt to give me a pretty good sense of what’s not okay to post about other people, and I’ll often also ask my husband if he thinks what I’m sharing is okay. When my daughter’s old enough to understand social media, I’ll be asking her permission as well.

          My in-laws are a lot less cautious about what they post about their kid, and I wonder about the long-term effects of that, to be honest. (Not so much the pictures – they’re mostly just cute kid stuff – as the idea that the kid’s a sort of family property to be shared as widely as possible.)

      2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

        I love seeing shared photos of some babies and almost all animals but I totally agree about being uncomfortable with the oversharing. I share photos of our kid with a very select group of friends and family, and even fewer are shared on Facebook (almost none), under that premise that these are the people I would share photos with even if we weren’t online. However, I am NOT going to have my kid’s face / body / shenanigans smeared all over the ‘net before ze can even speak, much less give consent. Hell, I won’t even share hir gender online because my blogging, tweeting and commenting are my business, not hirs, and ze hasn’t agreed to have hir identity shared with a million and one strangers. When ze is older, we’ll talk about it and see.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m childfree but love seeing my friends’ baby pictures. That said, I’m fully in favor of this feature being available. You should get this feature. And I should get a feature that lets me block anything related to professional sports.

      1. Cruciatus*

        There is something called F.B. (Fluff Busting) Purity. I use it to mainly block ads, though it also tells me when I’ve been unfriended (you can turn this feature off, but I’m a weirdo who keeps it on). Anyway, you can also set it up to block words in posts like “football” or “donald trump” or whatever might (not) float your boat. You can use it to customize many features.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Yeah, I think it may be a bit too involved for me to customize that. A lot of times when my friends talk about football or basketball or whatnot, they aren’t necessarily using those exact words. Thanks for the rec, though. Sounds intriguing.

      2. Lily Evans*

        I can’t stand the posts about professional sports that start with “We” and contain no actual information about what team or sport it’s even about. Like “We scored!” or “We had such a good game!” it’s so annoying.

    3. Wendy Darling*

      I think I have the opposite problem — I’m on Facebook for photos of babies/dogs/vacations but my feed has exploded with politics so I’ve been hiding like crazy for the past… six months.

    4. Hattie McDoogal*

      I think there is an extension that replaces baby pictures with pictures of cats (doesn’t help if you also don’t like cats, of course). Google “unbaby me”.

    5. No Name Poster*

      Yes! Mother’s Day was heartbreaking for me, because of over sharing. My mother, probably a narcissist, does not generate arm fuzzy feelings for me. My stepdaughter ignored the day.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      My staunch belief about Facebook is that it should used exclusively for pet photos and amusing commentary on tiny moments in your day. I wish there was a national educational campaign about this.

      1. Rahera*

        And pictures of kakapo, which are about the only thing I pelt people with on mine :).

      2. Lady Bug*

        And complaining about weather.
        complaining about traffic.
        posting pics of people who don’t clean snow off the roof of their car.
        sharing music.
        threatening QBs who throw too many interceptions.
        sharing inspirational stories of people doing good things.

      3. Bibliovore*

        That’s interesting. Facebook for me is all about my pets. I do appreciate everyone else’s baby pictures, health updates, travel to exotic lands, shameless self promotion and invites to events.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I hear you–I get tired of them because they only remind me of what I don’t have. (Yes, yes, I know; other people’s highlight reels, etc.). I skip past you all’s pregnancy and marriage posts for the same reason. Sorry.

    8. AdAgencyChick*

      I don’t mind the zillions of baby and kid pics NEARLY so much as I mind my SIL document every single meal she cooks! (Yes, I’ve changed my settings for her. Thank goodness there’s a way to do that.)

    9. TootsNYC*

      I just remind myself that they’re not actually posting picture of their kids for ME.

      It’s not all about me. I’m not their only audience on Facebook.

      There are people on their “friends” list who actually do want to see those photos.

    10. Anon For This*

      I usually don’t mind the photos, but I had a moment of eye roll yesterday when a friend posted a picture of her two kids at brunch and I thought, “Are you really going to be so happy you grabbed yet another photo of your daughter and son being adorable at breakfast?” I can imagine going through photos when the kids are older. “Where was this taken?” “Oh at brunch some day.” “Where were we?” “I don’t remember.” “What was the occasion?” “Just brunch.”
      I think pictures to save moments of specialness are important, but if you’re kids are always being lovely and adorable, they’re just being themselves and now you’re making a documentary. Stop making a documentary of your kids’ lives people.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Eve has been stealing those tomato stems and using them as toys. From that ledge, she also has access to the sink, where she hangs out while I cook and steals stray cilantro stems or cucumber peelings.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        My cat (Jasper) has ruined my dreams of having fresh herbs on hand. He gets obsessed over any kind of flower or plant, and our house is all open (no doors, even on the master bath/bedroom). The only door in the house is on my husband’s bathroom, but it’s not all that sanitary to keep herbs in there. I tried putting them outdoors, but it is just too hot and sunny here. I brought in my dying dill plant the other day, watered it, and set it by the kitchen sink to give it a break from the sun. Next thing I know, there’s no dill on the plant. Jasper ate every piece of dill and left just the stems in the soil. He’s also the reason my husband can’t buy me flowers anymore. The only way to keep Jasper away from them is to hide them in the shower, but then I can’t enjoy them.

            1. Back in the saddle*

              Oooh, that’s a good idea! My cats are the same–they believe anything green qualifies as ‘salad’. And then give it back to me on the floor. Ik.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I fully believe that theft is a tortie thing. I owned a tortie when I lived at home, and she loved to steal things. Usually my clean bras from the laundry basket (I was very lazy about putting clothes away), and always when we had company. She’d come trotting down the stairs with a bra in her mouth. Always entertaining…and highly embarrassing to my teenage self.

        I currently own two torties, and they also like to steal. At least these two don’t take my bras.

        1. Laura*

          YES. My tortie (who lives with my parents) has been a thief since the day we brought her home! She was really bummed when my brother stopped playing with Legos… those were her favorite things to steal!

  4. periwinkle*

    I have a literature review to finish writing this weekend; consequently my brain keeps wandering far, far away from the topic at hand. So… Is there a fictional character that others find heroic/swoon-worthy/etc but makes you say “hey, wait a minute…”

    For me it’s the dashing Mr. Darcy. Handsome, wealthy, intelligent, introverted… and who did some hardcore negging on Lizzie when he first proposed and again in the famous explanatory letter. “Your dad’s a weirdo, your mom’s a tacky ditz, your younger sisters are worse, your family isn’t worthy of being connected to mine, and even though I talked my best bro out of hooking up with your acceptable-to-me big sis, I’m prepared to risk that ignominy for myself – so, marry me?”

    1. Lily Evans*

      Edward from Twilight. Which there’s already a million articles online about, but I went through a huge Twilight phase as a teenager and looking back I’m like Yikes. That relationship was so unhealthy. Also the Fifty Shades of Gray guy. What a creep.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      I spend most of my adolescence having a huge crush on the Phantom of the Opera. Who is, you know, a kidnapper and murderer. BUT SO CREATIVE AND MISUNDERSTOOD!

      Fortunately Adult Me has better taste than Adolescent Me.

      1. breadrolls*

        Oh man, seconded on the huge PotO phase. I watched the movie, saw the musical live, read the book, read Susan Kay’s Phantom, read the crappy book Love Never Dies is based off of, read a Sherlock Holmes crossover book–plus oodles and oodles of fanfic. Adult Me has realized what a complete creep the Phantom is, but I can’t help but still love the jerk. Just, you know, in a “I wish your life had been less tragic, but also cool motive, still murder” way.

    3. all aboard the anon train*

      Yeah, I feel that way about Darcy too. In fact, I loved P&P when I was younger, but found myself annoyed with both Darcy and Lizzie when I reread it later on.

      I know so many women who think Darcy’s Austen’s most dashing heroine, but I’d take Frederick Wentworth any day.

      1. periwinkle*

        The Captain has many fine qualities but Henry Tilney is more my speed – witty and sarcastic. Colonel Brandon leaves me a bit concerned – he falls instantly in love with an underaged girl nearly half his age because she reminds him of his tragic ex. OTOH, Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon…

        1. INTP*

          Marianne winding up with Colonel Brandon always kind of bugged me. He seemed like a big consolation prize. “Here’s a man that doesn’t excite you at all, didn’t appeal to you for the first months you knew him, but he’s decent, he’s not poor, and he loves you, so it’s your big happy ending!”

        2. all aboard the anon train*

          Oh yes, Henry Tilney is my other favorite. Really, I go back and forth depending on my mood. Persuasion and Northanger Abbey are so underrated!

          Yeah, I sometimes overlook Colonel Brandon’s questionable decisions because of Alan Rickman.

      2. Rahera*

        I’m inclined to prefer the Captain too.

        I always thought Colonel Brandon should have ended up with Elinor (partly based on Alan Rickman, partly on the story itself :D.).

        The dodgiest Austen move for me, though, is Mr Knightley marrying Emma. He’s a good, wise, sensible character in most respects, but that is just wrong. I can’t remember the maths off the top of my head, but he was what, sixteen or seventeen when she was born, he watched her growing up, he was so close to the family he played a sort of older brother/mentor role, and he married her? Ewwwww no.

        1. Artemesia*

          Brandon was attracted to young helpless women and so Elinor was just wrong for him. I did love Rickman in that role. I once ran into him in a shoe store in London. He was cool. One of his last movies ‘A Little Chaos’ which he directed and in which he played Louis the XIV is a sweet film and showcases him well.

          With Darcy, I think it helps to remember how young he is. If you see him as a guy in his mid 20s at most then it is easier to forgive his clumsiness. Remember he grew up in a family where Lady Catherine perhaps set the social norms.

      3. Liz in a Library*

        Persuasion is my favorite Austen, but Wentworth is just such a jerk when he first comes back! Like, he has to find himself trapped in an unwanted engagement before he realizes that flirting to show Anne how wrong she was had gone too far?

        I also prefer Henry Tilney. He’s so calm, even when Catherine is so thoughtless about his parents; he’s funny, and can even give you good fashion advice!

        1. misspiggy*

          I think that’s why I’ve come to love Austen so much. All her male heroes are jerks or weak in terrible ways, just like all most of the other men. And some perfectly nice chaps are just not in a position to marry and that’s flat. But the heroine always makes an informed decision to choose the available man that’s most compatible for her – they all seem to be saying, ‘he may be a jerk, but he’s my jerk’. If you read Austen with close attention there’s no way you will have unrealistically romantic expectations of men or marriage…

    4. INTP*

      Not exactly a classic literature character, but Jim from the office seems like a massive bully to me. He treated Pam very well so I guess I see where the swoon comes from there, but he sure spent a lot of time tormenting people just for taking their jobs seriously. (And don’t get me started on Michael. I think we are supposed to find him endearingly annoying but he seems like a toxic narcissist who ruins lives to me.)

      And Ross and Rachel – I don’t think people swoon over Ross the character so much as their whole soulmate-ness, but to me it seemed like a toxic and controlling relationship, not romantic.

      Also, once I passed 25 I found myself rooting for Paul Henreid over Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. Witty, cynical drunks are fun to watch in movies or have a little fling with but seem utterly exhausting for a relationship.

      1. catsAreCool*

        I liked the Monica and Chandler relationship much more than Ross and Rachel. Ross tended to whine a lot and disrespect Rachel’s career. Monica and Chandler were so sweet together.

        1. Elkay*

          I’m sure there was a poster on here who shared a link about how dreadful Ross really is when you look at his behaviour (although I suspect you could apply that to all the Friends).

      2. LBK*

        Ross is the only character on Friends who I like less and less every time I go back through the show. Often I’ll find elements of the other characters that I hadn’t really seen before (like how Phoebe is actually the voice of reason in many of the more serious situations despite generally being the weirdo) but Ross is the only one where every time I think “Yep, still an annoying, controlling jerk.” Rachel certainly wasn’t a model employee in the later seasons (mainly when she started dating Tag) but I always admired her ambition in breaking herself off from her dad’s money and her well-off fiance in order to try to make it on her own. Ross basically crapping all over that and saying she needed to pay attention to him instead of having a career always made me hate him.

        1. Master Bean Counter*

          Seriously, Even in the end. To heck with him, I’d gone to work in Paris. I’m pretty sure at that point she made more money then him anyway.

    5. Sami*

      Yes! Jess from Gilmore Girls! I know some people are drawn to the whole James Dean attitude but honestly he’s almost always a jerk, even to Rory.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        It’s been a while since I read it, but Heathcliffe in Wuthering Heights should have been arrested.

        Also, I talked about trying to get into Georgette Heyer’s books a few weeks back. I really detest it when the dashing hero calls the (usually quite a bit younger) heroine “brat” shortly before declaring undying love in the last paragraph. I have often wondered what would happen if she had told him to get lost instead.

      2. brightstar*

        Jess was a real jerk in seasons 2 and 3, but I feel he redeemed himself in season 6. I feel like he grew up good.

        1. Elkay*

          Yeah, by the end I thought Jess and Rory should be together but I never thought that when they were actually dating.

      3. Emily*

        He’s pretty awful when he’s dating Rory, agreed! I recognize that some of his bad behavior is a result of him working through some pretty heavy emotional baggage, but that doesn’t excuse it.

        I do feel like he grows up a little after he leaves Stars Hollow, though.

    6. Cass*

      Spike from Buffy. He stalks her, pesters her and eventually tries to rape her. And when Buffy was at her lowest and in a deep depression, he exploited it by starting a physical relationship with her. It never seemed like love to me, just obsession.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        He stalks her, pesters her and eventually tries to rape her.

        But it was love! Or so the writers would have had us believe. Spike is a textbook sociopath – he doesn’t know what that means.

        Man, I hated his character after Season 4.

        1. LBK*

          I think it’s more nuanced than that – I think Spike does believe he loves Buffy, but it’s meant to be clear from a viewer perspective that he doesn’t. It’s not like Scandal where it feels to me like Shonda Rhimes is constantly trying to get us to believe Olivia and Fitz are in love, but I’ve never bought that for a second; Buffy is pretty blatant about the fact that she doesn’t love Spike and that she uses him and his obsession to her advantage (even sleeping with him is just using him as a form of emotional self-harm, because she’s feeling self-destructive at the time and she knows she’ll regret it). The rape scene felt like an unmistakable signal from the writers that Spike’s proclaimed love was not meant to be taken as genuine.

    7. Sail On, Sailor*

      I love “Jane Eyre” but sometimes really want to have a serious talk with Mr. Rochester about his behavior.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Oh yes. There was an anniversary thing about the Bronte sisters earlier this year and Mr Rochester is nearly as bad as Heathcliffe. (The husband of) The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is another one.

    8. Clever Name*

      So spouse and I watched reality bytes for the first time a few years ago (despite both of us coming of age in the 90s) and we both agreed Ethan Hawke’s character was a loser and we thought Wynona Ryder’s character should have gone with Ben Stiller’s character. He was such a nice young man, and he had a real job! #shakescane

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Ugh, yes. In my early 20s (when Reality Bites came out), I thought Ethan Hawke’s character was all kinds of appealing. I watched it again a few years ago and was totally repulsed by him. Get a job! Wash your hair! Stop being a gloomy storm cloud who thinks your nihilism is the height of profundity, and don’t be a dick to Ben Stiller!

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I have always hated that movie with a passion, because everyone seemed so whiny in it. I think I saw it in the theater for some reason when it first came out and I was maybe 5 years younger than the main characters. Agree that Ethan Hawke came off as a dope I personally wouldn’t have wanted hanging around eating my snack food, which has translated to a lifelong distaste of the actor himself!

        Recently tried watching this again maybe 4 months ago or so and I had to turn it off after the first 20 minutes. Totally agree she should have gone with the Ben Stiller character – didn’t he treat her decently too?

        (I did like Janine Garafolo in there, but thought she was better in The Larry Sanders Show)

    9. Elizabeth West*

      My bank robber in Rose’s Hostage. He’s good-looking, seems romantic–but he’s SO the wrong guy. I wish you could read it.

      And any dude in any movie where he makes the woman over or only dates her after she’s made over. It’s like this big romantic thing–change your hair, etc. and the guy will fall in love with you. That’s a load of bollocks.

    10. Anonsie*

      Most of them. In fact this is what keeps me from being able to get into a lot of romantic storylines, the guys are always a little bit gross it seems.

      This is why I think Link from Legend of Zelda is the only perfect hero, because he doesn’t say a god damn thing.

    11. Rena*

      Rocky. I don’t understand the fascination, his character is so gross and terrible to Adrian.

    12. Maya Elena*

      The Three Musketeers. I think Dumas does a great job of this repeating pattern of “man demands affection from woman, she gives it because he won’t leave her alone, she gets in trouble for it.”
      It happens with Constance, Milady, and the Queen in various ways. And the Musketeers themselves are kinda… Not paragons of morality.

    13. Willow*

      Ron Weasley with Hermione. I don’t dislike Ron in general, but I hate him with Hermione because he doesn’t respect her.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        He doesn’t deserve her! She was so brave while he was chickening out! Yes, he came back in the end, but you know who I think pulled out all the stops and should have gotten Hermione? NEVILLE.

        (And not just because Matthew Lewis turned out to be HOTTTT.)

        1. Computer Guy Eli*

          They slaughtered ron’s character in the movies. In the books ron was the brave one and hermione was the smart one. They complimented each other perfectly. The movies, however, decided to throw that dynamic out in favor of a strong woman character and a bumbling, cowardly oaf.

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        I always figured that bickering like that wouldn’t lead to a healthy life later on. I know banter is a big draw in a lot of fictional relationships, but it doesn’t form a solid relationship and I always figured they’d end up resenting each other at some point down the line.

    14. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Laurie from Little Women. He was a sulky Good Guy (TM) who felt like he deserved to marry Jo regardless of her feelings about the matter and had to be told off to quit pestering her. I think he did, in the end, realize he was being a punk, but I never liked him a great deal after his behavior toward her.

      1. Elizabeth*

        I liked him when I first read the book at 8, but I never wanted him to marry Jo. When I re-read it at 40, I was horrified by his behavior! It wasn’t until Little Men that he really seemed to wise up and recognize how awful he was to her.

    15. Liz in a Library*

      Rhett Butler seems an obvious one…he rapes her and we’re supposed to consider it romantic? Horrifying.

      1. Emily*

        Yikes, really? I’ve never read nor watched Gone With The Wind, and this is the first I’ve heard of that. I’m surprised no one else has mentioned it to me before.

        1. Liz in a Library*

          It’s been a few years, but there’s a scene where he drags her, literally kicking and screaming no, to bed. Obviously marital rape didn’t even exist then, but it’s a pretty horrifying moment that’s written as “He’s so manly, how could she help but enjoy it?” It icks me out every time I hear someone wax rhapsodic about Rhett.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        I’m not saying she deserved it… but she wasn’t exactly the nicest person who ever walked the planet either. Marries someone she just met so she can be close to Ashley when it becomes clear he’s going to marry his cousin (ew). Steals her sister’s long-term beau so she can get her hands on his money. In the book, she has a child by each of these men. In the movie, after she has Rhett’s child she loses her figure so she doesn’t want to have any more children. In the book, she constantly complains about her first child and how whiny and simpering he is. So yeah, not exactly a great romantic heroine either.

    16. Nicole J.*

      Darcy does learn though – thanks to Elizabeth’s initial rejection – what a prideful, conceited snob he has been. And you see how much he’s tried to change when he is so friendly and well-mannered to the Gardiners.

      1. Liz in a Library*

        I really like what misspiggy said about this above. Austen’s men do tend to have bad behaviors, but they are not evil and they do often improve after having their flaws pointed out. They’re realistic.

        I still love Darcy, even though he’s a total self-involved blowhard at times. :)

      2. Rebel Yellow*

        Well, that’s the point, after all. He’s pride and she’s prejudice and they both have lessons to learn in order to overcome those traits and achieve their HEA.

    17. ginger ale for all*

      I was always puzzled by Pretty in Pink. Why Andie didn’t choose Duckie, the guy who loved and supported her just for being who she is still bothers me to this day. I read somewhere that there is an alternate ending where she chooses Duckie and I would love to see it.

    18. LBK*

      I mentioned him above, but Fitz from Scandal ruined the show for me. I feel like Shonda Rhimes was trying to recreate the kind of complicated charm that made Shepard work on Grey’s Anatomy but it was a complete swing and miss for me. Every time he and Olivia had a romantic scene I would just be screaming “You can do so much better!” at the screen, and too many of those scenes where she inexplicably went back to him were what made me ultimately quit watching.

    19. AFT123*

      I don’t know if anyone is still reading this thread (I like to read it all throughout the week since it’s so long) but I really loathe the admiration and love for Snape. I mean… it’s straight creepy to me that he obsessed with Lily for so long, and then burdened Harry with that knowledge. When I see people using the “After all this time?” “Always.” quote it makes me sigh… I guess I find unrequited love thoroughly unromantic and quite disrespectful to oneself. Also, he was a jerk face in general. People always want to excuse bad behavior when they show just a tiny smidge of vulnerability. And then harry names his kid after snape… there were so many other more deserving people to memorialize!!!!!! Just my dos pesos though, if you’re into Snape, you do you :)

  5. Lily Evans*

    I’ve been spending all week dealing with my inner five year old who’s jealous about one of my close friends’ new girlfriend. Objectively, I’m really happy that she’s happy and she so deserves to be in a loving, stable relationship. Less objectively, I’m sad because we were supposed to hang out weeks ago and she cancelled and I’ve brought it up several times but we haven’t been able to reschedule, yet she has plenty of time for the new gf. And I get it, the honeymoon period and everything, but I also miss my friend! And today my ridiculous jealousy reared its ugly head when she texted me that she’s having her gf read the book series we’re both really into. Which is so stupid, because several of our other friends have read those books too and I didn’t feel that way. But the voice in my head is like “but that’s Our Thing to talk about. If gf can discuss those too, then she’ll never text me anymore!” and also “maybe she just doesn’t even want to be your friend anymore.” And I’m sure neither of those things are true. But I just needed somewhere anonymous to vent because we’re friends on every social media site and I don’t want her to feel guilty because I can’t handle my feelings.

      1. Lily Evans*

        I’ve done that. It led to “We’ll hang out soon!” where soon apparently means “maybe sometime in the next six months, if you’re lucky.”

    1. JaneB*


      A few years ago it seemed like ALL the friends in my college-friends circle were coupling up and disappearing on us singles, and my other one remaining single friend summed it up by private-messaging me “there’s another one lost to the Mires of Matrimony!” when another wedding invite appeared.

      I’m single and childless, and I guess it’s “by choice” in as much as I didn’t put searching for a tolerable partner as a priority in my 20s after my last steady relationship broke up (I moved a lot for work, too), or my 30s (as I kind of put work and then mental health first), but it’s not something I actively desired or desire now – and one of the reasons is that you just get bumped down the priority order of other people, and I think it’s OK to feel like that!

      My ‘best friend from school’ is a lovely person, but she lives a long way away, and it’s HARD knowing that her partner, her children, even her partner’s sibling (who all live near her) and her school-gate friends are all more important than me, now, because I haven’t ‘demoted’ her in my ‘order of caring’ nearly so much. I’m really happy for her that she found a lovely man, has great kids, and has made lots of friends in her current town, but… how dare she do it all without me, or with the occasional monthly text for me?

      1. Lily Evans*

        That’s pretty much what’s happening. Almost all of my friends are getting married or have found someone to seriously date. But I’m only 24. I thought I had more years of fun girls single going out left. (And I’m sure I do. I just might need to find a new group of friends to do it with). And she was my only single friend left, so it’s a super bummer (for me).

        1. Dan*

          Yes, there’s plenty of time for single fun left.

          At 36 and divorced, I have no desire to give up my all of my free time and spend it with just one person.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Sounds like all your eggs are in one basket. As you get new eggs, get a variety of baskets also. In other words, gather up more friends but have different types of things you do with each friend. Not only will it help to fill up your time and your brain space but it will also help you to meet many, many more people.

          1. Lily Evans*

            That’s my goal! I’m in the process of moving to a much bigger city than where I’d been living and I’ve already scoped out a few classes and meetups and things that I want to try! Hopefully those will widen my horizons friend-wise.

        3. Mando Diao*

          Find some older friends. I’m 31 and last night I went out with two friends who are both around 50. They’re divorced and totally over the BS.

    2. Rahera*

      I’m very sorry. I’m going through a similar situation and I really feel for you.

    3. Christy*

      Ugh, girl, I totally feel you. I TOTALLY feel you. And like, it still sucks when you yourself are coupled. I’d still like solo friend time! But no, new gf is life changing. Just like old gf was when she wasn’t being awful to you.

    4. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      I’m sorry.

      No advice since you didn’t ask for it, just commiseration having been there. My BFF through my teens and twenties was like that – any time there was a man in her life, she was basically gone for months and only came back when there was drama. I resented the heck out of it but lacked the social skills to address it in a way she could hear me and also to just move on to other friendships and let her do what she needed to do. It got a lot better years down the road, because I do now have so many other deeply close friendships that while I miss her, I don’t have a gaping emotional chasm for lack of her regular presence in my life but that wasn’t the case with other friendships that started down that path.

      1. Lily Evans*

        I have another friend from high school who’s exactly like that. She’s always had a boyfriend since we were 13 and when she doesn’t have one all she can talk about is how sad she is that she doesn’t have a boyfriend. We only see each other about twice a year now and that’s a big reason. It makes me so sad because she’s a really great, supportive person to everyone but herself, but I just couldn’t take it anymore.

    5. Ms. Didymus*

      Oh I’m sorry to hear this.

      This actually ruined a really great friendship I had. My (former) best friend repeatedly blew me off for a new guy and when I brought it up to her she lashed out cruelly. There were all kinds of accusations on both sides (I won’t be happy unless she is unhappy…she doesn’t value relationships that aren’t with men, etc)

      It still makes me so sad that we let a relationship come between a 10 year friendship. But I’m not sure anything could have saved it.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m really enjoying Candy Crush Jelly (different from the original Candy Crush). Ski Safari is also fun. Oh, and Mitchiri Neko Dash!

    2. fposte*

      I’m obsessed with Nibblers, a match-3 by Rovio; I play it on iOS, but it looks like it’s available for Android as Fruit Nibblers.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq*

      I spend an embarrassing amount of time playing Magic Rush. I’m not sure how memory hogging it is (I’ve never had a problem with it), and there’s just *so* many things to do. It takes a lot to get to that point that you can’t play anymore until you put real money into it (I’ve never paid for premium currency/other privileges in a mobile game, but I’m thinking about it for this, just cause I’ve gotten so many hours of enjoyment).

    4. Mander*

      I like one called Magnetic Balls. It’s just another colored ball matching game but with an added “wobbly” effect as if the balls were, well, magnetic. Very mindless but sometimes I play it on the train.

      Not sure how much memory it uses; I’ve never had a problem but my phone is quite new and has a relatively large internal memory.

  6. AvonLady Barksdale*

    A question for you runners out there! How long does it or should it take to build a little more endurance?

    I recently started incorporating jogging into my morning walk– every morning, my dog and I walk about 5000 steps, so I figured I should start running a little. (He hates it, but he manages.) I’ve been doing this almost every day for about 5 weeks now, and while I’m not frustrated, I seem to be a bit stuck. My routine is this: we walk for about 5 minutes, then we run for 30-45 seconds, then we walk again for a bit, run again, etc. It amounts to no more than 4 minutes total. After every “burst”, though, I find myself totally out of breath. I want to be able to go for at least a minute for each burst, but I can’t quite seem to get there and I can’t figure out why. Is it just a matter of time and getting used to it?

    Here are some of the mitigating factors, I guess:
    – I’m almost 38, and I used to work out– like, gym for 45 minutes in the morning– until I got the dog 3 years ago. Now we just walk. I used to live in NYC, now I… don’t, and I don’t climb stairs or walk at the speeds I used to.
    – I’m overweight– about 5’6″ and 220 lbs, and I’m really densely built. Most people think I’m taller and lighter, but I know I’m dragging a big ass behind me when I run.
    – My overall health is really good with the exception of my blood pressure, which is borderline high (genetics).
    – I live in the south, where it gets ridiculously humid at times, so that sometimes makes it hard to breathe.

    I started running mostly to get more benefit from my walking, get my heart rate up, try to lower that blood pressure. So I don’t have any kind of immediate goals, like losing 10 pounds or running a 5k. I kind of don’t care if I ever run a 5k, I would just like to go for more than 45 seconds without getting totally winded! Any ideas?

    PS At least after 5 weeks, I no longer feel like my whole body hates me, so I suppose that’s a plus.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Former non-runner turned serious runner turned non-runner turned sometimes runner…

      My advice is this:

      1. Run a little more each day. Start with 30 seconds. Then the next day do 35 seconds. Then the next day 40 seconds. Then the next day 45 seconds. That way you aren’t killing yourself to improve quickly, but you will be improving your stamina eventually. After a year of that, you’ll be running 30 minutes.

      2. Humidity stinks. I used to run in the summers in New England, and it was terrible. The best way I got around that was running late at night after the sun set. It was slightly cooler then. I don’t know if that works with your schedule. You say you walk/run in the morning. Could you do earlier morning?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        No. :) Not that it’s not a good suggestion, but we’re up at 6:10am as it is. But it does make me feel better to know that humidity is a killer regardless. When we moved down here, in August, I was shocked by the number of people running in the late afternoon/early evening. There’s a lot of marathoning ’round these parts.

      2. Massachuset*

        seconding the advice to just start running a bit longer. with running i find it easy to get into a slump – my body may be capable of doing more, but without the intention and purposeful goal i havent found that my body will go farther or faster. but i also have found it easy to push myself because i usually can get myself to go one more step or one more second than the last time. i would also say don’t necessarily expect the out of breath feeling to go away the more practiced you get. i definitely am out of breath anytime i run! my husband is a much more experienced runner, and i think a lot of the ways he is better at running comes from the extra years of experience he has and formal coaching.

    2. Come On Eileen*

      Even if you never want to run a 5K, I’ve found the Couch-to-5K app really helpful to step me up to longer intervals of running interspersed into my walking. I think it’s either free or a couple bucks to download from the App Store. It’s nice because it paces the running in your walking so you don’t have to think about when to start or stop, the app just tells you. Maybe something to look into!

      1. Lady Kelvin*

        I second the Couch-to-5k training plan (although I’ve never used the app). I’ve noticed that if I run the same distance/time over and over again I don’t notice that I am improving, but when I vary my mileage I never feel like I am improving when I run the longer distances, but then I run a short run and I feel amazingly fast. So I’d apply the same thing to your walks. Vary the amount of time you run each day. If you run a minute every 5 minutes now, tomorrow run 2 minutes for every 5 and maybe increase to 3 minutes, but then go back to 1 minute every five occasionally too see how much easier it is. I find it helps to be able to see that I’m improving rather than hoping that I am, it keeps me more motivated.

    3. Felix*

      I posted on here back in January saying I had signed up for a 10k run clinic, and was worried I’d be miserable since I wasn’t a runner.Turns out, you can actually train for a 10k in 14-16 weeks or so. Our whole clinic, which included people at a wide range of ages, fitness levels, and body shapes started out walking for 5 min, running for 30 sec, and by the end almost everyone was running 8 min/walking 1 min (including a woman who was in her 40’s with the same general body weight/size as you). At my medium level of fitness, I ran the majority of the race- walking only 4 minutes of my 1:08 finish time. This was shocking to me as I could barely run for 3 minutes straight when we started the clinic.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is – you can totally increase your stamina. I’d recommend following a training schedule for a 5k or 10k race to help keep you on track.There are some great free apps that I was using in conjunction with my clinic training (couch to 5k etc.) that totally help keep you inspired while running on your own. I LOVED it when the voice would say “Good job runner, you’re doing AMAZING” :)

      If you are able to join a run clinic, they are a great way to keep motivated as everyone is in the same boat and really encourage each-other. My only other advice is to make sure you are taking days off- our clinic leaders strongly suggested only running 3 days a week to let your body rest. I thought that was stupid, so I was doing 4+ days a week but really struggling. When I scaled back to 3 days, it became a lot easier.

      Also, make sure you have proper shoes- I didn’t realize you normally go up one full size for running shoes to protect your toes. My toes were so grateful when I figured that out in a proper fitting.

      Also: GOOD JOB runner! You are doing AMAZING! Run/walking is nothing to scoff at! :)

      1. Ms. Cellophane*

        Felix, this sounds like JUST what I need. I just googled my area to see if this is available and all I find is clinics having to do with form. Would I maybe not expect to see the type you describe in a smaller city (I’m in Richmond, VA)?

        1. Felix*

          Oh I’m so glad this was helpful. I’m not in the states, so maybe clinic isn’t used in the same way? I tried googling “beginner run group” instead of clinic and that pulled up some results that looked promising.

          Looks like Richmond road runners and Fleet Feet sports might have some running programs that would work for you! I’ll link below. :)

    4. LifeOrDeath*

      I agree with Come On Eileen about CouchTo5k app, found it very helpful. I own 2 dogs but find that they make lousy running partners so perhaps you should go solo for runs. I would also suggest that you find out if you have exerzise related astma – I was diagnosed at 25 and by then had a very dark outlook on running and exerzise in general because I sort of like breathing – I’ve begun running and for the first time in my life enjoy it with a little help from my inhaler – best of luck to you!

    5. Today's anon*

      My suggestion is to run slower, much slower than you think. That is often the problem when starting to run. Like, how slowly do you need to run to last for a minute? Typically the rule of thumb is that you should be able to be part of a normal conversation – that is pretty slow in general; talk to your dog or sing or have conversations with imaginary people. Pacing is really difficult when you start, it seems everyone is running faster effortlessly or that you “should” be able to run faster. The couch to 5k is good in that it gives a structure if you are interested (and even then you can take things slower/repeat weeks) but the being totally winded I think is a matter of pacing. And you will get faster and be able to run longer distances/times.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        It’s funny– I recently passed a woman running really slowly and wondered if that might be my problem, that I’m just trying to go too fast. That might help the buddy tolerate things more too. I’ll give it a shot!

      2. blackcat*

        Yeah, running more slowly and/or with a different gait can help. If you are finding yourself totally winded, slow down. You might even try just really briskly walking for longer periods to build up your stamina first. A brisk walk shouldn’t be that much slower than a slow jog.

        One thing that I found made a HUGE difference in my ability to run was getting really lightweight, minimalist shoes (not barefoot style, but close). This makes it easier to run with my natural gait, where I essentially bounce off the ball of my foot without my heel ever really touching the ground. It may be worth going to a running store and getting some advice on this front.

        1. K.*

          I second going to a running store. I got my running shoes from a place where they ask you really detailed questions about how much you run, where you run, other kinds of exercise that you do, they check your stance, etc. It’s staffed by runners. At the end, they put you on the treadmill for a minute so you can really see how the shoes feel when you’re running. It was a process, but worth it – my running shoes are just right.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            The one thing I know I absolutely did right was go to a running store– two years ago when we started walking longer distances every day. After less than a month in our new home, my old shoes were down to the foam. I wear Brooks Ghosts (I supinate and need a good stability shoe) and I love them. I have terrible, terrible feet and have suffered multiple stress fractures in each foot, but beyond a minor ligament issue in my big toe (my very first stress fracture didn’t heal properly, leading to some problems), my feet have done really well.

        2. CheeryO*

          This is late but in case anyone comes back to it in a search, you should definitely use your heels when you run! A mid-foot strike is great, but the heel should lightly touch down just after the ball of your foot. It’s inefficient to run only on your toes, and you risk injuring your calves.

      3. AnotherTeacher*

        +100 to running more slowly

        A training routine of run/walk intervals and a slow running pace helped me move from 5k to 1/2 marathon in about 6 months. At time, I felt like I could walk faster than the slow run, but it worked.

      4. Kate M*

        Yep, that’s what I was going to say. Go so much more slowly than you think you need to. Generally, the idea is that you can’t add both speed and distance at the same time. If your goal is to run a 5k, get to the point where you can just run the 3.1 miles without stopping. Then, once you do that, you can start working on speed.

        Also, the distance you run is never going to feel easy until you hop up to the next distance. Like, with the C25k program, when you’re at the “running 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes” (or whatever) part, running 5 minutes is always going to feel hard. You could keep at that stage for weeks and it would still feel hard. The only way running 5 minutes is going to feel easy is when you make the jump to running 10 minutes. Then the 10 minutes will become your hard level, and 5 minutes will feel easier. So sometimes just making the jump, even when the level you’re on still seems hard, makes all the difference.

      5. LBK*

        Totally agree – this was my problem the last time I tried to start running again. I didn’t even realize it until I went on a run with a friend who’s a long-distance runner/former marathoner and found we had roughly the same natural pace – which was way, way too fast for me since I wasn’t in nearly as good shape as him.

      6. Jillociraptor*

        Also try running a bit faster than you are. This is a little counterintuitive, I know! When I started running, I was having this same issue, really struggling to move forward in the C25K program each week, so I kept going slower and slower, which oddly seemed to make it worse. Turns out, my form was collapsing at such a slow pace, and when I added about 0.5mph, everything was TONS easier.

      7. Agile Phalanges*


        (I know I’m way late, but hope you’re still checking in.) I joined a running group, and even though they had a “slow” group, I was really struggling to keep up with even the slowest folks in the group. I really was starting to wonder if I had exercise-induced asthma, and even got an inhaler to try from my PCP. But then I read something about ideal heart rate, calculated it, and got a heartrate monitor. Turns out that in my current state of (zero) fitness, my ideal heartrate was reached by a VERY slow jog. Like nearly walking. Walking speed, picking up my feet a little more. If I went any faster/harder, I went anaerobic. So yeah, slow down. And try calculating your heart rate and wearing a HRM (borrow one if you can?). I’m sure eventually fitness improves to where you can/should run faster–I ought to pull out the HRM and check again, but my body’s telling me that going slow is still what I need.

    6. stevenz*

      Remember, it’s 20,000 steps for your furry friend.

      (And, there is no medical basis for the 10,000 steps a day thing. Someone made that up and it caught on, sort of like the 8 glasses of water.)

  7. clothing frustration*

    Why are all the spring styles in stores so unflattering? All I want is some pretty sundresses that are fit & flare or a-line and everything seems to be that billowy, shapeless material that is horribly unflattering. Or pale peach, tan, and yellow-green colors which really do not complement my cool toned skin.

    I have an hourglass figure, so it’s really hard to find separates that are flattering, so dresses are my go-to because they’re so easy, but the common stores in the city don’t seem to cater to any body style but straight. Even more frustrating is that I always look online first and all the dresses I want are on the website, but the stores almost never have them! I went into J.Crew and Banana Republic this morning and nothing I saw on the website was in the store.

    Shopping for clothes is hard.

      1. clothing frustration*

        I actually find them too twee and try-hard hipster and a lot of the dresses are inappropriately short on me. I have mixed feelings about their prices too, especially since some of the clothes aren’t great quality.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          I actually find them too twee and try-hard hipster

          I think this has more to do with the way they style their models as opposed to the clothes themselves. The styling is more often than not hideous. However, I buy 75% of my clothes from them, and my style is definitely not hipster, but that’s because I stick to the dresses and sweaters. My look is very 1950s, early 60s Jackie Kennedy. The fit and flare dresses the sell by Closet London are staples in my wardrobe and are perfect for spring (I actually can wear most of them year round though because of the fabric). Yes, these dresses are pretty pricey, but the colors pop and stay vibrant after years of wear (I have them in deep purple, emerald, goldenrod, and hot pink to name a few), and they fit like a glove.

          1. Ms. Didymus*

            You know it is funny that you say your style ins’t hipster but most hipsters around here dress pretty close to 1950s early 60s Jackie Kennedy with a little variation on the basics.

            Maybe it varies by region?

            1. Christopher Tracy*

              It does, because the hipsters where I’m originally from and from where I live now don’t dress like that. They do the rockabilly thing, which I think is cute, but not everyone can pull off. And I accessorize in such a way with shoes, bags, and jewelry that the whole look ends up more modern than costume. Again – styling is everything.

          2. AnotherTeacher*

            I agree about the styling with Modcloth. With my regular accessories, hair, and make-up (all minimal), the hipster level of the clothes was balanced out. Unfortunately, I had issues with fit and quality and haven’t ordered more dresses from them.

            Have you looked at Boden?

          3. clothing frustration*

            Maybe I’ve just had poor experiences with the clothes, then. The few dresses I bought did not hold up that long. I don’t mind paying a lot of money for a dress, but when I do it’s with the expectation that it will last for years, not maybe a year before it starts stretching or fading.

            1. Christopher Tracy*

              Yeah, unfortunately with ModCloth, you have to do some digging and go through some trial and error to find the quality pieces. I bought a couple of dresses from them that I promptly returned because the fabric was hella thin and/or the stitching was coming undone straight out of the box! Luckily, their returns process in the US is pretty good or I would have been pissed.

              This got me thinking they’re a lot like TJ Maxx and Marshall for me in terms of time spent to looking for quality pieces. I know some people hate shopping at places where you have to dig for good finds, but have you tried those two stores? I’ve gotten beautiful dresses that have held up years later from them at a fraction of what I would have paid in a department store.

              1. clothing frustration*

                Oh, that’s a good comparison. I have no patience for TJ Maxx and Marshall’s because it’s just a jumbled mess and I’m the type who goes into a store, does a loop to pick up anything I like, and that’s it.

          4. Whitney*

            After buying my first from ModCloth, I actually buy my dresses straight from Closet London’s website! It totally saves money on the sale dresses (though not on the shipping!).

        2. Becca*

          I’m also an hourglass figure and I definitely agree about Modcloth… I haven’t bought anything from them, but just looking at the photos, it looks like almost all of their dresses are uncomfortably short and/or unflattering for larger busts.

          I haven’t had a chance to buy from them, but Biu Biu is a Polish company that sizes based on waist/hip measurements *and* bust measurements. They have a few cute summery dresses (I like the look of the CITY dress). Good luck!

          1. clothing frustration*

            Yes! I gave up on them because so many of the dresses did not pass the bend over and sit down test. And the larger bust issue was a huge problem for me as well. If say a size 2 or 4 would fit my waist, it would be tight over my bust.

            I’ll look into Biu Biu. Thanks!

            1. Becca*

              You might want to look at Thin and Curvy, if you would be wearing a 2 or 4— they’ve got a list of companies that make clothes targeted at busty women and it includes a number of reviews. :)

    1. Lily Evans*

      I’m trying to find a nice dress to wear to a wedding (all of mine are either mostly white or black…) and it’s been really hard! I’d love something from ModCloth, but I wouldn’t have time to return it and get something else if it doesn’t fit.

      1. clothing frustration*

        Have you tried Rent the Runway? They have some decent selections and you can rent dresses for 4 or 7 day periods. They let you pick out a backup size in case the first size doesn’t fit, too!

        1. SusanIvanova*

          My brother’s an exec there – at his wedding last year it seemed like most of his female friends got their dresses there, and they all looked quite nice!

    2. Fantasma*

      I feel you. All the feels. Hope someone has some magical store suggestions for those of us with hourglass figures.

    3. fposte*

      Because those are the cheapest to make–and, I would bet, the lowest percentage of returns. Skip brick and mortar, seriously–you’re too dependent on local whims, as you’ve found out, and ROI on cost-per-foot there. Online is the only way to go.

      1. fposte*

        Which reminds me–I just went dress-shopping last week, and Amazon has a *ton* of stuff and a lot of good filters for neckline, length, etc. as well as size (though they lack a fabric filter, which annoys me). Might be worth looking there.

        1. DoDah*

          Really? Amazon? Unless I know what brand I want to purchase I find the way they serve and filter fashion to be really crappy. The UX is terrible.

    4. all aboard the anon train*

      I found StitchFix helpful for hourglass figures. It took me awhile to find a stylist I liked and to get them to understand the style and fashion trends I liked, but I’ve gotten so many cute dresses. A lot of their stuff tends to default to suburban fashion instead of city fashion or West Coast versus any other region of the US, so you have to be really clear about what you want in your style notes.

      Whenever I request boxes, I always ask for a couple of fit and flare dresses and they’ve sent me some of my favorite dresses. They’re fashionable without being cutesy or too young/old/nightcluby/frumpy. It’s a bonus that they’re unique enough that unless everyone in your office gets StitchFix, you won’t catch someone else wearing it. You can request different prices, too, which is also great.

      It’s definitely a trial and error process, but I do recommend them for hourglass figures. They’ve worked wonders for me!

      1. Annby*

        I’m curious what you mean about “suburban fashion” vs. other styles. I also subscribe to StichFix (and love it!). My first box had some stuff that was too conservative for me, but by the second one I was getting stuff that I find really appropriate for me as a 20-something, non-suburban, west coast resident.

        I don’t have an hourglass figure, but I’ve had great experiences with StichFix finding clothes for other hard-to-fit attributes (for example, my torso is very long and it’s hard to find dresses that sit at my natural waist).

          1. catsAreCool*

            I take this as a sign that the store doesn’t know much about how to serve shoppers – clearly they aren’t good at selling things that people want to buy.

          2. Mander*

            I hear that. It’s one reason why I dread any event that doesn’t involve jeans.

            1. the gold digger*

              We went to visit my mom last week. She had asked me to sing in the church choir with her on Saturday night. I reluctantly said OK – Primo got out of it because he had driven to a city an hour away to visit a college friend for the day – and said I would need to wash the one pair of jeans I had brought with me.

              She said I couldn’t wear jeans in choir and that she had thought I would bring Nice Clothes with me.

              Um. No. At $25 a checked bag, I am only carrying on. I wore jeans and knew I could wash them at my mom’s.

              So. Not only am I stuck 1. going to church with my mom 2. singing in the choir with her – and it’s bound to be awful music because someone who publishes Marty Haugen and David Haas’ music clearly has compromising photos of someone high up in the Catholic Church, now I 3. do not have the right clothes to wear.

              Which I thought would get me off the hook, but my mom is made of better stuff than that.

              She lent me some clothes.

              You guys – here is how I spent my Saturday evening last week:

              Sight-reading in a choir (I have not sight-read since I was in 8th grade and that was with a violin, not my voice – I have never sung parts in a choir) singing PUTRID MARTY HAUGEN MUSIC wearing the clothes of a 73 year old woman.

              It. Was. Not. Pretty.

          1. Lindsay J*

            I’m doing Gwennie Bee right now. They have a free one month trial. The first two sets of clothes I got weren’t really my thing (though I had chosen them so I guess I can’t really complain too much) and I was about to cancel, but my last box I really liked. I’m planning on keeping the shirt they sent for sure, and possibly the dress as well. The clothing costs are definitely much more affordable than Stitch Fix as well.

      2. Nye*

        I did StitchFix for while but was pretty disappointed – by the 3rd box, things had only gotten worse (and they didn’t start out great). Most of what I got seemed too young and too trendy for me (at the time, 33yo). I wonder if part of the issue is that this was pretty early in the company’s history, and I never had the same stylist twice. Can you pick and stick with someone now? I think this would probably help.

        1. always anon*

          I had the opposite problem when I first tried them. The stuff they sent was too old for me and more something you’d see on middle aged women (I was 27 at the time). I did start when they were fairly new, and then I stopped for awhile because I never had anything I liked. I started it up again about 6 months ago and have consistent luck with the same stylist. I think maybe they had to work out their growing pains and realize they had various types of clientele.

          You can choose the same stylist. You just have to write their name in the notes section. I’ve had the same stylist for the past 4 boxes and I adore her. I’ve kept everything in the boxes she sent whereas before I’d usually only keep one item.

    5. Alston*

      Try Asos, lots of fit and flare stuff. If your purchase is over $40 shipping and returns are free.

    6. Kyrielle*

      They aren’t cheap and I’ve yet to talk myself around to trying them, but have you seen eShakti? After you pick your basic style, you can apply customizations (I think there’s a cost) to change the hemline/neck/sleeves (which options you have depends on the item) to what you want. I know a few people who have tried and liked them.

      1. clothing frustration*

        I’ve tried them, based on a recommendation from someone here, I think. The few dresses I got made me look frumpy, so I had to return them. I love the idea of the store and I think it’s great that it exists, but it didn’t end up working out for me.

    7. INTP*

      Yes, see below – I’m an hourglass, in a climate where I really need to wear some type of short or dress, and having a hard time. My fashion sense is also more minimalist/Parisian/chic than girly, so I don’t really like girly sundresses either, so I don’t really know what to wear for the summer. Too shapeless makes me look pregnant, but anything very structured doesn’t fit properly because I wear about two sizes larger on my chest and shoulders than my waist, and I’m more of a chubby and lumpy hourglass so I don’t like the way bodycon items look on me. It seems like something with a nice drape and stretch to the fabric, with a tie at the waist or other waist-defining feature, works best, but those are hard to find in a petite size. It’s far easier for winter fashion when I can wear long-sleeve wrap dresses, sweater dresses that are fitted but don’t show every flesh dimple, and v-neck sweaters.

      I also haven’t found a strapless bra that works in my size, so that makes a lot of summer items off-limits, but I ordered a few on Amazon so maybe something will work out.

      1. clothing frustration*

        Yeah, the fit and flare style is about as girly as I get. I definitely prefer the minimal/Parisian/chic styles, though I am trying to get more color in my wardrobe than black, white, navy, and grey. So much out there is pastel and floral and that’s so not my speed. I have some minimalistic sundresses from years ago before Banana Republic changed their designer, but I haven’t had a lot of luck since.

        I usually have to go into petites for tops just to get something to flatter my waist and the non-petite sizes for bottoms because of my hips. Sometimes even the normal XS tops have that weird drape where the material falls from my bust like a it’s a shelf, making me look super pregnant. No thanks.

        1. Tex*

          Try Lands End Canvas. I’m mostly a banana or j crew fan, but am drooling over a couple of their dresses. They got a new CEO from dolce and gabanna.

      2. Kimberlee, Esq*

        I recommend Cacique for strapless! I’m not sure if your problem is largeness, but if it is, they sold the only strapless bra that’s ever worked for me. And it’s even a size smaller than I would typically buy from that brand, and its a perfect fit (so, I guess if you’re desperate try going down one cup size for strapless and trying it out?)

      3. Nye*

        Re: a strapless bra, if you can afford to spend a bit, find a really good, non-chain lingerie shop near you and get fitted by the pros. Also, consider something like a basque or bustier rather than a more standard strapless bra. I have a great basque I wear with strapless dresses, and it’s amazing. No hiking it up, minimizes lines under the dress, and feels so much more comfortable than a strapless bra. Mines more of a nice cocktail dress type of garment, rather than for under sundresses, though.

      4. Yetanotherjennifer*

        I can’t remember the brand but look for a longline strapless bra. I think the name is something like Alina. It’s about $50 and comes highly recommended. I’ll post the link later if I can find it.

    8. enough*

      The not in store thing is very normal. the stores have three sets of clothes. Store, online and ads/catalogues. What I find most annoying is when they have different colors for different sizing. So while petite, ladies, and women’s may all have the same style they will be different colors and why do they think that the bigger women always want prints?

    9. Mando Diao*

      I love ASOS. Their namesake line and New Look are my favorites. New Look’s fits are ridiculously nice on curvier figures. Both those brands do a lot of dresses that are like if Forever 21 grew up. Longer skirts, nicer fabrics, better detailing.

    10. hermit crab*

      Have you tried Talbots? I never would have considered it (my 90-year-old grandma shops there!) but my mother-in-law gave me a gift that didn’t work out and I ended up with a bunch of store credit. So I went in today, looking for a dress for an upcoming family event. Turns out they have spring dresses in a whole range of shapes, almost none of them billowy, and in actual colors! I’m a young-looking, petite hourglass type who looks like a child in a hospital gown in anything that doesn’t have a defined waist — and I ended up choosing between a handful of dresses that were all equally flattering. I was really surprised (in a good way).

    11. V dubs*

      I just got some awesome dresses from Lands End! So excited to wear them. Good quality, range of styles, and color choices. I find the pricing reasonable also.

      1. Violet_04*

        +1 to Lands End. I have a few fit & flare styles from them that I love. In the past I’ve also found some at Old Navy and Target, but haven’t seen what they have this year.

    12. Ellie H.*

      Have you tried Boden? Their clothes are typically really flattering. It’s a little expensive but really high quality and the best customer service of any company I can think of.

    13. themmases*

      I really do not understand this spring. I actually like neutrals and straighter, more androgynous fits, and I still see a lot of clothes this year that are just strange and unflattering even on the models. I would say once a week I get a promotional email that I forward just to laugh at the picture.

      Anyway I really recommend Shopstyle, which is basically a search engine for clothes. Don’t be scared off by the expensive things they feature– you can refine by price and they search stores at all price ranges. I’ve found great stuff on there from stores I never would have considered and sometimes that I’d never heard of.

      I am an hourglass and I have actually been really into the Gap lately after years of never looking at them. They have a couple of linen fit and flare dresses right now that are very cute and come in multiple colors and a print I think. I would also recommend Boden and giving eShakti another try. Boden has great selection and prints. EShakti has a lot of vintage inspired dresses that I also think look dowdy, but their style has gotten better over time and they’ve also added more options to customize them. Most of their standard necklines are cuts I can tell won’t look good on me, but now they can almost always be changed to one of several better choices. I got my wedding dress from them.

    14. Fenchurch*

      Have you checked out eshakti dot com? They have a variety of styles that are more conservative but still flattering. You can also customize them to fit what you are looking for.

  8. Fantasma*

    I haven’t taken a real vacation out of the US in years. This year I have plenty of PTO and recently sold my house so I have a healthy budget. Recommendations for travel destinations? I like to eat and would be open to going places to learn how to cook local dishes. I also like to explore (museums, libraries, places with interesting architecture, etc.). Which vacation destinations have you really enjoyed, especially as a solo traveler?

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Italy and spain are good for food. Madrid has some awsome museums and galleries, Barcelona is a really lively city and I’ve had a lot of fun their.

        1. K.*

          I should say where I went – Madrid, Seville, and Granada. Granada was AMAZING. So, so, so beautiful. Also, I was a solo traveler although I was visiting friends in Madrid.

      1. Aardvark*

        I went to Spain (Madrid and Barcelona) and Italy (Rome) last fall, and both were amazing! I explored Spain with family and went to Rome solo. Spent most of my time wandering around taking pictures and eating food. (I clocked > 25k steps on my busiest day).
        Madrid is gorgeous and orderly and you get the impression it’s a lived-in city. I walked around all over the place and felt safe the entire time (I’m a fairly young lady-person.) Check out Mercado San Miguel if you’re there and interested in food. There are lots of parks and fun places to walk. Definitely check out Templo De Debod if you are interested in history.
        Barcelona has a lot of great markets, and many bars offer pinxtos, which are basically tiny appetizers on sticks. You can try a bunch of different things in a single place, or make a meal by walking from bar to bar. Highly recommend El Born Cultural Center and Sagrada Familia for things to see.
        If you go to Italy, look up Eating Italy and reserve a spot on one of their food tours. I did the Twilight Trastevere tour when I was in Rome and it was worth it. They also do cooking classes.

    2. Lady Kelvin*

      My husband and I loved Greece/Crete! We spent 2 days in Athens then 10 days in Crete staying in several of the big cities (Herakilon and Chania) as well as tripping around to see some of the more off the path places like Elafonisi the White Mountains. They also have awesome archeological museums and sites chronically their history all the way from the Minoans to current. It was a bit expensive to fly to, but once we got there the trip was surprising inexpensive for food and lodging. Some friends of mine rented a sailboat and sailed to some of the smaller islands that aren’t so touristy and they loved that too, but we aren’t sailors so we stuck to places we could access easily with public transportation or a rental car.

    3. New girl*

      I loved Russia. It was beautiful. Great food, great museums with history, but a little expensive.

      1. Artemesia*

        We spent 9 days in an apartment in St. Petersburg last year and we loved Petersburg. The housing was very cheap and we didn’t find the museums or the food expensive at all. We were eating lovely Georgian meals in small restaurants for about $30 or so for the two of us. The Hermitage entry is only about $9 for what has to be one of the two or three greatest collections of art in the world. We spent 4 days at the Hermitage and are planning to spend another day there this fall, when we will be there for 5 nights. If you go to Russia get a 3 year visa as the cost is the same (and the hassle the same) as with a single or double entry.

        Another fabulous place is Tuscany. We spent two weeks in Montepulciano visiting other towns and abbeys and gardens in the area about 3 years ago. I love this part of the world. You must have a car to do it.

        We also just love Paris and will be spending a month there this fall. A magical city and even more so after you have done all the tourist things and are just there to enjoy being there.

      2. stevenz*

        I’m glad to hear the food in Russia has improved. I was there in 1990 (the Soviet Union) and the food, when you could find it, was awful. The bread was good – the first day. Then they kept bringing out the same bread until it was like eating shingles. Then there was the raw bacon….

    4. Trill*

      Well my favourite travel destinations have been wildlife viewing in Africa or trekking mountains in South America, but given your interests I’d recommend Vienna and Budapest–both great cities, great culture, great food, and only a few hours apart by train.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I like cruises as a way of seeing lots of different places all in one go. Scandinavia and the Baltics is full of interesting museums and palaces and the Mediterranean would cover Spain, Italy, Greece and Croatia, depending on the itinerary you took.

        1. JaneB*

          Or what about a European river cruise? Same bedroom every night, but parked in a new city each morning! And the boats are smaller than normal cruise-ships (100 or so guests) with nearly all window cabins, so could be a fun way to see a variety of places.

          Or go to a cookery school – there are amazing ones in Ireland, if you don’t mind your summer destination not having a near-guarantee of sunshine (and all in English)

          1. Artemesia*

            We are doing our very first cruise this fall from Moscow to St. Petersburg on the Volga with a Russian company. We have a cabin with a little balcony with two chairs. We are not ‘tour people’ and cruises have never appealed but this seemed like a good way to see a few towns in Russia easily. We shall see. There are 200 on this river boat. If we love it, we may try a few of the other Eastern European or Asian river cruises.

    5. Dalia524*

      Thailand. Went last year on my honeymoon, so not solo. It’s quite a flight, but we had a blast. They don’t have many libraries that I saw, but there’s a ton of temples, statues, and cool architecture. The food is amazing, from the street food to the expensive stuff. They have a lot of cooking schools, mostly in the north. There was an attack there last year, but in general it’s pretty safe and the people are friendly.

    6. Dan*

      I’ve been to 26 countries or so, and hitting up a new one for memorial day weekend.

      Most places I’ve been as a single traveler. The only places that are truly going to suck are isolated resorts. The types of places that hold you “captive” are geared toward couples. You will be the odd person out by yourself. Not to be confused with “city beach” destinations, which are fine.

      BTW, Bali rocks. Thailand is fun too. If you have a month you could spend two weeks in each country without overdoing it.

      1. Dan*

        Also meant to add that I prefer Madrid to Barcelona. Barcelona really didn’t do it for me, but I seem to be in the minority on that one. IMHO, Madrid rocked.

        Later in the year im going to visit Lisbon and San Sebastian, which if the foodie capital of Spain.

        1. Lady Kelvin*

          I spent a week in San Sebastian in March and I’m going back in June for another week for a meeting. The food was amazing! And the area was absolutely gorgeous even though it rained every day we were there.

    7. blackcat*

      Quito and the surrounding areas, if you speak Spanish. There are some cool museums and really, really cool architecture, but I found that many didn’t have English translations/guides.

      A big plus is it’s easy to get to–daily flights from Miami & Atlanta.

    8. Anonsie*

      Japan. Japan Japan Japan.

      For starters, food, oh my god, food. And you can get so much extremely good extremely cheap food in Japan. Traveling there is expensive in terms of hotels and airfare, but you can eat really well there for not a lot of money. And if you do have a lot of money, you can eat even better. Aside from types of food, exploring types of restaurants can be really fun. Some of these have made their way to parts of the US, like shabu shabu or conveyor sushi. If you want a real adventure that is more adventurous than enjoyable, get pizza.

      There is a lot of wonderful architecture (this is also one of my big things when traveling) both new and old, parks/gardens, and so many beautiful historic buildings and museums. There are also a lot of cool pop culture museum and general pop culture-y things to tour around checking out.

      If you like architecture, there are many historic ryokans that are surprisingly affordable to stay in. I really recommend doing this at least for a little bit. The luxury of this has never worn off for me, it’s like… You’re telling me I can stay in this gorgeous historic building, lounging around in a soft kimono, and they’re going to feed me delicious multi course meals in my room, and I can go take a hot spring bath after? Who am I, Beyonce? There are some that are considered cultural gems and have been in the same family for many many generations, which I’ve never gone to personally but this is on my bucket list.

      And for solo travel, it’s a dream because aside from being exceptionally safe it’s also so easy to do things because everything has a process. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out at first (like making sure you’re planning on the correct rail line for your rail pass in Tokyo) but things just work the way they’re supposed to and you can really rely on that. I really enjoy this because I’m highly uptight and I don’t like uncertainty in my travel, heh. It also means you can be a little more impulsive and sort of wander without being worried you’ll get stuck somewhere, because by god the train back is going to be there when it says it will be on the schedule.

      Also for solo travel, people are really friendly. I think there’s a big misconception in the US that Japanese culture is very reserved and closed off. That’s true in some ways, but not nearly the way people think. Unless you’re Japanese, you do stand out a little. More the farther you are from a city, and not just with local people- I was in rural Hokkaido once eating in a restaurant and another foreign guy came in, did a double take at me, and said “Why are you here??” But anyway, the mixed strange/cool thing about that is that a lot of people are interested in meeting you and it’s pretty easy to make friends and find people to hang out with, if that’s your bag. And if you want to be left alone, you can also do that, though you will occasionally get random people wanting to speak English with you.

      1. Anonsie*

        Oh lord this is long.

        And this concludes Anonsie’s Paid Advertisement from the Japanese Ministry of Tourism :P

      2. lfi*

        we loved japan. high speed rail makes it so easy to travel the country. we never once felt unsafe, and the food/history/culture is amazing.

        also adore italy (florence/cinque terre/lucca), spain (barcelona), and paris. i would like to go back to prague too.

    9. Jubilance*

      My husband and I just spent 10 days in Italy and we had a ball! We did Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan but you could totally skip Venice to spend more time in the other cities if you wanted. Lots of culture, interesting museums and architecture, and I ate my weight in gelato!

      1. Artemesia*

        Prague is stunning. We got a little apartment in a building behind the Intercontinental Hotel and managed by them which was both cheaper than the hotel and had the advantage of a kitchen for breakfasts and snacks. We also like having two rooms as my husband sleeps later than I do and we are in the entirely self indulgent phase of our lives.

        The first night we ate in a small out of the way restaurant recommended by someone which had zero tourists but us. My dish was a sort of sliced roast beef topped with a bit of whipped cream and cranberry (probably lingenberry) sauce which I thought odd. Turns out this is apparently a standard Czech dish as we saw it on menus repeatedly after this. It was fine. We didn’t find the food great there, but fine. I think my favorite thing was the library of the monastery by the castle — just stunning. We also got adorable toys for our granddaughter. My favorite was a little stage with wooden figures you manipulate with magnetic wands. They have them with fairy tale characters and forrest animals among other choices.

    10. Vancouver Reader*

      My husband, dad & I were just in Hanoi and Siem Reap this past April. The hotel we stayed at in Hanoi, Hanoi La Siesta, offers cooking classes and restaurant tours. The service there is second to none and all the food we had in Hanoi was amazing. We went to Siem Reap for the temples, specifically Angkor Wat, but really all of them are such sights to behold. We had the hotel we stayed at arrange for a tour guide for us for 4 days and it really helped because he knew where to take us, what routes to walk, where the best photos to take were. Plus, with a tour guide, you’re less likely to get hassled by the security for tips.

      We also loved Istanbul for the food and the people. Of course being an old city, they have lots of interesting architecture with lots of history. Super friendly people and such good food.

    11. stevenz*

      I’d consider Provence. It’s magical and the food is the essence of simplicity, healthy, and so dam good. Or, the Dordogne. Richer food, but the pre-eminent comfort food. Or, do both. And don’t forget the wines.

    12. SophieChotek*

      As a solo traveler I’ve been to London (2x), Vienna (2x), Nurnberg and Bavaria (5x) and highly recommend Vienna and London for the museums, historical sites, interesting architecture.
      Also had to work for a few months in Taipei; on the weekends I was by myself for exploring, etc. and that was interesting too.
      Also been to New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, Portland by myself and of course DC and NYC and Boston are great for museums and libraries too.

  9. Mela*

    Ireland! Tell me about everything wonderful and all the tiny gems that are worth a stop. I have to spend a week in Dublin, so please include it! (I know most people like to spend as little time as possible there)

    1. Theguvnah*

      I am heading there this weekend for a trip! We are only doing one night in Dublin; As soon as we land we are heading to Galway and spending time west and then south before making our way back to Dublin. Aran islands, Killarney and maybe one other city are on our list. Enjoy!

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      The Guinness brewery and Jamesons whiskey distillery are worth visiting.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I went to Ireland on my honeymoon a couple of years ago. In Dublin, you should tour the Kilmainham Gaol, which is sobering, and see the bog bodies at the National Museum, and visit the Trinity College library, which will make you think you’re at Hogwarts. Other than that, we just walked around (it’s very walkable) and ate and drank things.

      Once you leave Dublin: The Ring of Kerry and the Cliffs of Moher are ridiculously beautiful. We really liked Kinsale, which is a small fishing town. We ended up feeling we could have skipped Killarney (very touristy).

      Some of our photos are here:

      1. Annby*

        I would have given the same top three for Dublin! The National Museum also has Caravaggio’s “The Taking of Christ”, which is the most breathtaking work of art I’ve ever seen.

        1. Artemesia*

          Have you read the book on its re-discovery ‘The Lost Painting’ — it is pretty interesting. Author is Harr. I love Caravaggio’s work — For the 400th anniversary of Rembrandt, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam did an exhibit that paired Rembrandt and Caravaggio paintings on the same, mostly Biblical, themes. Hands down the most mesmerizing exhibit I have ever seen.

          For a country — well we have been lots of places but we always end up back in Paris.

          Spain is also wonderful. Don’t miss the Mezquita in Cordoba if you go — you can do it as a day trip from either Madrid or Seville — but it was the most wonderful thing we saw in Spain (and we also saw the ALhambra, itself pretty wonderful).

    4. NN*

      I also have a week in Dublin coming up for a conference, so would appreciate any recommendations!

      1. orchidsandtea*

        There’s a little restaurant called Farm that was beyond delicious for lunch, and Glendalough isn’t so far out of town—monastic ruins, old cemeteries, hiking trails. It was one of the prettiest things I’ve ever seen.

        Legit try some Guinness, it’s the tastiest (and this is coming from someone who despises American Guinness / most beer). Try and find a woolen mill outlet if you like nice sweaters and blankets and things.

        The food is good as long as you skip the veggies. They overcook and blend carrots, it’s like bizarre curried baby food. Breakfast, though, was MAGICAL everywhere.

    5. GH in SoCAl*

      My fondest memories of Dublin involve pubs that had live Irish music, and I don’t even like beer.

      Also seconding the Trinity College Library. And I happened to be there on Bloomsday (June 16) so I went to the James Joyce museum and went out to Martello Tower (where the story starts.

    6. Ismis*

      I assume you’re working if you have to spend a week there but it’s heading into very long days in Dublin, so it will be nice and bright quite late, even if it might be a bit chilly.

      Trinity College Library has been mentioned but sometimes there are cricket matches at College Park. You can sit in the sun or get a beer at the Pavilion and watch.

      You can take the DART from the city centre to go to Howth (north) or Bray (south) and have a walk around. There are great views of the coast from the DART too. Howth has lots of fish restaurants if you’re a fan!

      Dublin Castle is nice and central and just behind that, the Chester Beatty library is well worth a visit.

      If you are tired of walking, you can do a Viking Splash Tour where you get to wear a Viking hat and shout at pedestrians. There is also a faster Sea Safari that goes around the bay. On top of that, here are the usual bus tours that stop at the Guinness Brewery, Phoenix Park etc. which are quite handy if you are tight on time and don’t want to walk everywhere!

    7. pumpkin scone*

      I was in Dublin around Easter for a conference. It’s the 10oth anniversary of the Easter Rebellion, so I was warned that unless you can get to the Gaol just as it opens, don’t bother- tickets go fast, and you can’t get them online. I found Dublin to be a very fun little city, though. The Hop-on, hop-off buses do a good job of showing you around. If you can get away for a daytrip, Rover Tours has very well run tours to the Cliffs of Mohar, Killarney, and, my favorite, Northern Ireland. Have fun!

  10. LSP*

    My husband is being deployed. We found out just a couple of days ago. I made it ten seconds before I burst into tears. 11 month deployment.

    We’ve been together for 6 years, married for 2.

    We got a very advanced notice due to his ranking which is nice, but this still sucks.

    We are going to get legal affairs in order this week. We never got around to combining bank accounts (two different banks, so we were going to both leave our banks and probably go to Chase, meh). I might move back home, I might not. There’s a lot of “I don’t knows”.

    Any words of wisdom?

    1. Emmy*

      No words of wisdom. Got tears in my eyes though. Very wise to get the legal stuff out of the way and when he comes back, it’ll all already be done. Thank you both for your service and sacrifice of your time. We appreciate it.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I’m a fellow military wife. Condolences.

      Get all your affairs in order: wills, power of attorney, and check with your bank to see if they require anything else. Check with the chain of command to see if they recommend anything else.

      If you move home, I’m guessing you will have family and friends there, which is a huge boon. But if you stay at your current duty station, look to see if they have deployment groups run by the unit or family readiness centre. These can be great or awful, but when they’re good they’re amazingly helpful and beneficial. Sometimes it’s very hard to relate to civvie side friends who don’t understand what you’re going through, and having people in the same boat helps.

      What frequently helps is planning a big project: maybe a new workout plan, a home decor change, or something else. Or a smaller plan for each month: one goal for September, another for October, and so on. Plan to do things for holidays and long weekends so you won’t be alone.

      Best of luck!

    3. Jean*

      Thinking off the top of my head, and without direct experience in this, so use or disregard as you see fit:
      If a military spouse support group sounds good to you, join it. There may be online or phone support if it’s not available locally.
      Try to set up or solve some of the tech arrangements that help people stay in touch (email, Skype, chat or messaging…?). I’m not super-techy myself so can’t offer specific suggestions. I also don’t know details re any security-related tech restrictions for deployed people.
      Consider starting some sort of project to keep yourself too busy to miss him all the time (handcrafts, volunteering, taking classes or working towards a degree or certificate, social action or political action, whatever sounds workable to you given your location & other life activities).
      Good luck. This sounds like one of those un-asked for life experiences that make you stronger. (Not trying to be snarky here. Spouse is facing serious illness–not the same as deployment, but still one of those challenges that makes one ask, on a bad day, “out of all the people in the world, why did the universe pick US?”)

    4. Ms. Didymus*

      Oh my, this is tough.

      Good for you both for getting everything in order. You don’t want to need something arranged while he is overseas and not be able to complete it – that is one more worry you don’t need right now.

      Do whatever you need to do to find support. While I’m not a military spouse, I have a huge amount of family in the military and some very close relatives have been deployed (including one sibling on their 8th deployment right now – it never gets easier). Some spouses have stayed at the duty location, some have returned to where the majority of the family is. It is all a personal preference. Do what makes sense for you.

      I will say that the one thing I have seen work best time and again is to make sure you have something to do to fill your time. Pick up a hobby to fill the hours you used to spend doing things with your spouse. Do something you love, that you are passionate about. Do something to distract you from the worry and distance.

      And above all else know that even those that cannot possibly understand are eternally grateful for the sacrifices you and y our spouse and family are making.

    5. Temperance*

      My SIL moved back “home” and seriously regretted it. She didn’t get to be the kind of parent to her baby that she wanted (because family elders interceded, because they knew better … which she should have expected), and she regretted losing her autonomy.

    6. AnotherFed*

      I haven’t done this as a spouse, but my dad did sub duty when I was a kid. There’s a lot of help out there for military families, whether it’s official military sponsored things or local community outreach – don’t be afraid to use anything that helps, even if you don’t think you NEED it. If you stay near a larger base, more of that will be local, but with the internet there’s tons of online forums and blogs to connect you to other people in similar situations.

      The first few weeks are the worst. Whether you do projects or join totally different activities, do something to completely change up your routines. Pick something that you’ve been excited about but never had time for or got around to doing before so that you have something to look forward to, and start building new routines so you aren’t stuck in a rut of missing husband (and having nothing but time to miss husband). My mom would pick a new something every time – cooking classes, stained glass, a Christmas craft something – while I would join an extra sport or school club.

      On paperwork, make sure you have all of his information you could ever dream of – you’ll probably have to do the taxes (or at least hand all the paperwork over to the accountant), so you’ll need this year’s taxes, AGI, his SSN, and enough access to any investments to know there’s a 1099 to look for.

    7. Engineer Girl*

      I’ve had such a poor experience with Chase. I would recommend a credit union instead, especially one that caters to service members. I know that Andrews is pretty good though they focus mostly on people stationed in Europe. Everything is via internet. I don’t know where you’re at so can’t tell you more.
      Think about what you’ll do during deployment. Take a class? Learn a skill? Think about a surprise for your guy. Is there a type of food that he loves? Find a class to learn how to cook it. Short term volunteering. If you wanted to go on a diet then it would be a good time to do it – no one to tempt you out of your food selections and more time to exercise.

    8. Amy M in HR*

      I’ve been through four deployments and countless TDY’s that lasted several months at a time. My advise is to remember that this is not a vacation for him – although he is leaving, you are able to stay behind with all your comforts, your friends, job, church, whatever, and he will be missing all of that. I was left behind each time with three kids and a full-time job, but told myself that no matter how hard it was on me or how frustrated I was, it was 10 times worse for him. It is important he knows you are doing okay while he is gone, so I always made sure to not vent too much to him so he wouldn’t worry about us – his focus needed to be on keeping himself alive!
      Good luck, you can do this, and please please please use your family support center and key spouses if you begin to feel overwhelmed.

      1. Amy M in HR*

        Also, for banking needs I would go USAA all the way as they are very military friendly, and would also get with a credit union (they generally have lower rates on loans and higher savings rates, as well as fewer fees). I recommend Service Credit Union out of New Hampshire.

  11. Terrible person*

    My father has just been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer (so,basically, he’s terminal) and I find myself so angry. This can’t be normal, can it?

    I’m in my late 20s and really just embarking on my career, so I don’t make much money. I feel so angry at my dad because as an only child I’ll have to deal with EVERYTHING myself once he dies. My mother is mentally ill and can barely look after herself, so I’m going to have to do that once he dies. He and my mother have neglected their house (they need tonrwnovat me their kitchen, get a new bathtub, new windows, etc.), so if I we need to sell it after he’s gone… I have to do that all alone. I am so pissed off right now, he’s literally put all of this stuff of for 10+ years and now he’s dumping all this shit on me. I feel like I have to give up my life now.

    I am a terrible daughter because of this, I know… But is there anything I can do? I am so furious at him for putting off everything for all of these teyears.

    1. Wendy Darling*

      Anger is a stage of grief for a reason — it’s totally normal. Also, starting grieving when you find out someone’s gonna die is also totally normal.

      Can you talk to a therapist or grief counselor or someone? I find that even just having a pro validate that my feelings were not unusual was really helpful. Also if your dad’s affairs are not in order it might be worth working with an attorney to get them that way if your dad is at all amenable. It sounds like decision making should fall to you, not your mom, if/when your dad is no longer able to make decisions for himself. (Sorry to push more stuff to do at you, but I think Now You may be able to make like 1x effort now to save Future You 5x stress. Also, action makes me feel better.)

      1. Terrible person*

        I know this is going to sound stupid, but how am I supposed to work with an attorney to get my dad’s affairs in order…w hen he doesn’t seem to give a shit? I asked him a few days ago if he was going to make a will and he honestly said “maybe one day.” Okay… Like, I have no idea how to process this. I feel so fucked.

        1. Student*

          If at all possible, give him some time to process things, then start trying to get him to do practical things about it. Talk to a financial adviser yourself, without him, to figure out what the options are for your mother’s care. Then, when he’s gotten used to his impending doom, insist that he help you figure out what to do for your mother’s care.

          I don’t know you, so I won’t presume this is the right course for you, but I’d play hardball. I refuse to sacrifice my own life to help my parents deal with their mental illnesses [yes, I got the two-for-one sale there], and personally I don’t regret it. I’m sad there isn’t a better option for their care, but they never made reasonable plans for an obvious, oncoming issue – and it’s not my problem now just because they try to make it my problem.

          If he dies and there is no will everything goes to your mother. That’s another thing you can talk to a lawyer about.

          1. Terrible person*

            How much time should I give him, it’s been almost a month since he was diagnosed and he’s barely done anything about the situation. I mean, he has small cell lung cancer… 50% of people with small cell lung cancer die within 11 months!!! I feel like there is NO time. Maybe that’s just my shock and my issues, but there nos *no* time left. I wish everything could be organized RIGHT NOW, because he could fucking die at any time it sounds like. He’s not in palliative care, but it’s not like there’s any sort of guarantee chemotherapy is going to work and this isn’t the type of cancer that goes into remission.

            1. misspiggy*

              I’m really sorry. Would it be worth proceeding as if he’s on board, and then presenting him with the papers ready to sign – or with draft papers with gaps for you and him to fill in where he needs to make choices? If you’re worried about the ethics, you could let him know up front that you want to do this, and if he doesn’t want it, speak now. What I’m getting at is that he may find the process overwhelming rather than actively not wanting to do it.

              1. MommaCat*

                That’s essentially what we did with my mom; trying to suss out all the details would have stressed her out way too much.

            2. Yetanotherjennifer*

              I’m so very sorry! There are things you can control and there are things you can’t. This will forever be in the can’t column. Along with his cancer. It really sucks and you are not a horrible person for being angry about it. I think your anger is very healthy, but don’t turn it towards yourself. In the end, what do you want to remember about this time? Who do you want to have been? Try to focus on playing that role now and focus on what you can control.

              Who are your support people? Do you have friends you can lean on for comfor and support? Cousins? My daughter is an only in a family of old people. Old, single and childless people. I know she will be the one left to turn out many lights. All I can do is hope she will have family and friends to lean on when the time comes.

    2. Anon Accountant*

      It is completely normal to be angry. I’m sorry about your dad.

      If you can find a support group for cancer patients and their families, check into it. Is your dad on hospice? If so they have resources for family support. If not ask the social workers at your hospital about hospital support groups or check your local newspapers for listings. Start small with immediate repairs (if keeping the house). What needs fixed immediately? Does the kitchen absolutely need renovated or can it wait? Prioritize what absolutely must be done first and go from there.

      FWIW it’s also completely normal to burst into tears at the drop of a hat and if someone says “take it one day at a time” to be ready to body slam them to the ground. As though 1 month or 2 at a time is an option. It’s completely normal emotions to have the shock, anger and denial at his diagnosis.

    3. MommaCat*

      I feel your pain; my mom was recently diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. My siblings and I split having her live with us for a year until we finally got her into a decent care center; we also had to deal with her house, which she basically did NOTHING for once I moved out for college. I mean, there were still half-eaten dog treats on the floor; her dog died five years before her diagnosis. Add a hoarding personality, and it’s been horrible. I’m just obscenely lucky to have siblings to help deal with this. Do you have any aunts or uncles that could help? And I hate that guilty anger; angry at the mess your parents got themselves in, guilt about feeling angry when they’re dealing with terrible crap… Internet hugs.

    4. The Little Prince(ess)*

      I would consider not fixing the house at all and selling it “as is” when the time comes.

      You save yourself the expense and stress of making updates/fixing stuff, especially since people buying a fixer like to choose their own upgrades.

      If you haven’t, can you meet with an attorney to plan/understand/finance your mother’s care?

      I’m sorry for your troubles.

      1. fposte*

        Totally agree. This is the time to let go of the way you feel things have to be and understand that walking away is often a worthwhile option.

        Even if you decide to take stuff on down the line, make it a choice, and limit your stress now by reminding yourself you don’t have to.

      2. Laura*

        Late to the thread, but I second this. My mom and her brother will do this when my grandparents pass– the house is in such bad shape, it will probably be torn down, but that’s not something they want to have to deal with.

    5. Kyrielle*

      First, and most important: I am so very sorry.

      And this is totally normal, to feel anger as part of grief.

      I didn’t have quite the experience you did, but when my parents passed away, as an only child I did have to sort out the house and property – you just kind of do it. Because you have to. You will get through it, and it will almost certainly suck at times. Give yourself permission to not like that.

      As others have said, find professional support – not because your reaction is abnormal; it’s not. Because your reaction is normal, and very human, and they can help you with it.

      Regardless of that, find yourself some coping outlets that help you deal, and *use them*. You have to take care of yourself, not just your parents.

      And if you have a close friend or friends, or a cousin or other family member, who would be willing to let you lean on them a bit during this time – I can tell you that having my husband around to deal when I couldn’t, or help reality-check me when I was too stressed to sort myself out, was invaluable and awesome.

      Things that you want to get in order while your father is still alive if you can:
      * Is your mother legally able to take care of yourself? If she is, should she be?
      * Does your father have a will?
      If the answer to those two items is “yes and no” then your mother will, by default, inherit everything and you will have no legal control over it without first taking action to alter the first one. You’ll have only what control you can talk her into. Which is fine if you’re fine with it, but it sounds like that could potentially be a problem.

      Speaking of your mother: should she move into a long-term care home after your father passes? Will she need to do so sooner, in fact, or should they both move into one together now? (At some point, your father’s health will decline to where he cannot take care of her, if it has not already.)

      Speaking of the house:
      * Will your mother (and you?) continue to live in the house? If you’re going to keep it, you may have to tackle renovations. Which leads to….
      * How much money (not including the value of the house/contents, just money) is there? Because hiring minimal necessary work done is easier but more expensive than doing it yourself (where DIY is even possible, obviously).
      * If you’ll sell the house, it may be better to sell the house ‘as is’ than do the renovations, provided that what is needed doesn’t actually preclude sale…rarely do renovations or other work actually return their full value on the house, unless you do them yourself and are good at it. You might be better off cutting the stress and expense and just accepting less money as the price for not having to deal with it. While an as-is house will drive away some people, others will see it as their chance to get a deal and really put their own stamp on it (or as a chance to flip the house, if they have some appropriate skills), so there will still be people willing to deal.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Oh man. Account numbers. Make sure there’s a record of account numbers, if you can. (Bank accounts, 401k, pension plans, insurance policies, investments, regular services that might have bills due, etc.) It can greatly simplify sorting things out. I’m not sure what kind of legal red tape arises when you find an account with $5k in it during the middle of probate, or worse after closing the estate out, but you probably don’t want to experience it.

        1. the gold digger*

          See if he will put you on the bank accounts. It will make bill paying so much easier. Otherwise, once he is incapacitated and once he has died, your mom will have to sign and that sounds as if it might be complicated.

          Also, if he is in the signing mood (and that may never happen – my husband’s ex wife had cancer for seven years and would not make a will – she was that much in denial. Her two daughters are still dealing with her crap even though it’s been 18 months since she died), see if he will sign a financial POA and a medical POA. Husband’s ex also refused to sign a medical POA but then would not make her own end of life decisions, telling the docs that her daughters could decide about when the life support would be removed, which I think is one of the most horrible things she could have done.

          I am very sorry you are in this situation. I watched my husband deal with his parents and their refusal to address their situation and I know how awful it is. You have every right to be furious. Your dad is not doing it right. If you decided to do only the bare minimum, I don’t think anyone would judge you. I certainly wouldn’t.

    6. Sara smile*

      You aren’t a terrible person.

      You can be angry because of grief. But, you know what, you can be angry just because you don’t want to have to deal with the mess of it. You don’t have to fix up the house (sell it as is) You don’t have to personally take care of your mother (nursing home, in home care, etc.). You don’t have to give up your life for anyone else.

      You may want to consider some therapy in the short term. Grief therapy but also therapy can help with making some of these decisions going forward and help with your concerns around burdens and obligations.

    7. TL -*

      It’s totally okay to be angry. You’ve been handed a bad hand here.

      Try not to think of what you have to do. Think of what results you want and how to get them – for instance, if you want to not be burdened with the house, then your objective may just be to sell quickly instead of renovating.
      You want your mom to be taken care of, but maybe the proceeds from selling the house can be used to pay for professional care instead of you doing it yourself. Things like that – you don’t have to anything just because it’s expected of you.

      And I’m so sorry.

    8. Undine*

      It’s very difficult being a caretaker (or executor, etc.) for a person who you feel has never really acknowledged your needs. See if you can talk to him about what needs to be done and what you need to make it work (power of attorney? healthcare ditto?) If you think he will say no to everything, you might try a family mediator– my experience wasn’t great, but at least I feel like I tried.

      Also, think a lot about pacing yourself, taking care of yourself (because no one else is going to), fighting only the battles that you have to (you have to sell the house, you don’t have to fix it up first, etc.)

      Siblings don’t necessarily help–one of mine lives in Europe and the other one thinks I’m worse than Hitler, so I dread having to balance all of this.

    9. Today's anon*

      I don’t think you’re terrible at all. I would try to see if you can work with a therapist to figure out in more detail what exactly is your responsibility. His shit as a rule is not your responsibly at least, I bet, not all of it, but it often feels that way with family. A therapist can help you figure out which is which, which you must do, which you can let go, which you want to do.

    10. Mirilla*

      You aren’t a terrible person. My mother is mentally ill also and I have a narcissistic grandmother to boot. I’m an only child too. I used to be very involved in my father’s care when he was ill but it just became too much. However, I was still the one to usually deal with it because my mother rarely drives, and won’t drive too far, or at night, or if she doesn’t feel like it, you get the point. It’s really really hard to be an only child in a dysfunctional family. The other option is to sell the house as is with the understanding that things need to be done. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about it. A house near my parents was sold this way and they basically gutted it and started over (not saying yours is that bad but just pointing it out). My parents have neglected their house too and actually mine needs major structural repairs (just found that gem out a couple of weeks ago). Hang in there. I hope you and your dad have a good relationship because that will help. Unfortunately I don’t have a good relationship with either my parents or my grandmother due to their difficult personalities. My in-laws basically adopted me as their own and they are the ones I go to for advice and support.

    11. Dan*

      You’re not terrible. Your parents are adults. Their inability to plan is their problem, not yours.

      My parents don’t have much money. I live 600 miles away in an expensive city. I ended up with $100k in student loans. I’m dreading the “guess what, we’re broke” call in a couple of years. Well guess what back? I had to pay for my own college education, and I’m broke too.

      The thing that drives me the most bonkers is that my mother only worked part time at $10/the jobs. She took early retirement a year or two ago.

      You’re broke because you don’t feel like working much, and somehow that’s supposed to be my problem to fix?

    12. TootsNYC*

      That anger sounds like a pretty healthy coping mechanism, actually. This si pretty “rock my world” news.

      Also–you don’t have to renovate before you sell a place; you just have to be OK w/ whatever price cut you have to take to unload it. And in some places, it doesn’t ding you as much as you think, because people may plan on remodeling a kitchen or something anyway.
      Sure, your folks might not get as much money, but that’s the price they will pay–and it is THEIR price, not yours.

      from a totally practical point of view:
      The anger about it might help you identify what you need to deal with, so that if it does come down to that, you’re good. It’s also common for people to fixate on the most dramatic crisis and overlook the simpler things that are actually more important. I’m wondering how you can find someone to advise you here–an end-of-life lawyer, maybe? To tell you which are the most important things.
      Things like wills, care for your mom, reverse mortgage that might provide money to care for your mom, etc.
      And maybe write stuff like this down, so that it starts to feel as though you’ve begun handling it. The way writing a to-do- list often helps people stop stressing.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I am angry for you.
      I am an only child also.
      Do not forfeit your financial security in the process of helping your parents.

      I will say it again, because this is super important. Do not do anything that jeopardizes your health, finances or personal safety in the process of helping your parents.

      Think of it this way, if you are living on the streets or stuck in ICU, how much help are you going to be? None, right? If you are sick or homeless there is nothing you will be able to do for them. And their bills will continue to roll in and their house will continue to deteriorate, long after your resources have been totally drained.

      Please do not be offended by what I say next. There is no one person, working alone, on earth that could bail them. It is going to take a team of people to patch their situation. That is how huge their problems are. Of course you have huge anger, they allowed themselves to fall into a huge pit. Do not make the same mistake, don’t fall into a huge pit trying to rescue them.

      My mother died first. Her out of pocket medical was $80K per year for the last three years of her life. My father had a bad heart and several other problems. He managed to pay off her debt, but he had nothing left. At that point, I was newly married and I did not feel I could offer him money that me and my husband needed to pay our bills. It wasn’t fair to my husband. (These things are always clearer to see if there is another person depending on your income. But you depending on your income is enough, trust me.) Ten years later, he passed. I was left with a shell of a house. He had started building a vacation home decades earlier. He crammed everything from the primary home into this little house. There were footpaths through the piles. None of the rooms were finished, there were no stairs to the second floor loft, there was so much that was missing/wrong.

      I could have knocked down the walls with my fists, I was so angry. As others are saying here, tell the realtor that the house is “as is”. Keep the price low and it will go. Someone will buy it. Some one told me take your first offer that will be your best offer anyway. I took the first offer. It was 60% of what the realtor initially said the house was worth. My husband said something wise, he said, “You could try to hold out for the best price. But that extra X dollars would all get spent on your medical and counseling bills because this is tearing you up inside.” He was right, I just got out of that whole thing.

      Conversely, your parents might have to sign the house over to the state if they need state aid to help them with their medical. Once they pass the house becomes the state’s and that is the end of that.
      Additionally, if your parents do use state help, any money you give them may have to be reported as income. This is a whole can of worms you do not want to open.

      What to do? Really the best you can do is offer advice from time to time. If they go to a church maybe some of their church friends will help out. They will have to ask professionals around them how to navigate this situation.

      I don’t have kids, so I know upfront no kid is coming to help me when I am old. I have started preparing for that day. I have had some work done on my house, I had better locks put in and so on. This is what we have to do. One thing that I did was watch my parents and made sure I was not making their mistakes. You can do this, too. (Actually, I have made my own mistakes that are uniquely mine, because none of us are perfect.)

      While your anger is totally understandable, don’t allow your anger to drive your decisions. Start by figuring out what you need to stay afloat. You need X dollars to pay your bills. You need to report to work every day. If you have a car you must maintain it. The list goes on from there. If you feel you must give your parents something, then make sure to only give them what you do not need. Set your boundaries and stick to those boundaries.

      I wish you the best, this is some of the hardest stuff in life. Let us know how you are doing.

    14. Artemesia*

      I would feel the same way. Let me suggest that once things settle down a bit that you focus on ‘how can I make this easiest on myself.’ What options for your mother are there? Would she be eligible for a medicaid supported nursing home? What other options are there for her?

      Could the house be sold as is to a flipper; would the work you would have to do be enough to pay back the money and effort? If your mother is not in a condition where a nursing home is the right idea, then I would be looking at selling the house and using the money to support her in whatever assisted living situation can be afforded with her social security, house proceeds, whatever is left from your father etc.

      When my mother died she left everything in apple pie order except a house that while not hoarder level — was full of everything my parents had ever owned. WE took what we wanted, and then hired a guy who sorted through and discarded the rest, donated and got receipts for some stuff and auctioned what was valuable. He then cleaned the place and got it ready to sell. One thing he did was get rid of an enormous 50 year old chest freezer full to the brim of what was partly 50 year old food. WE ended up with what we wanted plus about $3000 in ‘profits’ on the sales less his costs for cleaning. It was worth every dime and we were able to sell the house quickly because it was in good shape. If you can find that kind of guy — who can do the heavy lifting once you figure out what it is, that would be excellent.

      Try to figure out how to make it easy on yourself. Your father’s lawyer who handles his estate may have connections like that. Ours did.

      But make your priority 1. how can I make this easy on myself. 2. how can I get my mother in a place where she is not primarily my responsibility — nursing home, assisted living, or studio apartment she can afford with her resources.

      It will be tough but do your best to get out from under as much of the misery as possible.

    15. Sibley*

      You’re not a terrible daughter. You’re dealing with a lot, and this is how you’re handling it right now. How you handle it tomorrow may be different. Or next week, or next month. It’s ok, and take care of yourself.

      Self-care: see Captain Awkaward’s blog.

    16. Schnapps*

      Oh, honey. Take care of yourself, and be gentle with yourself. It’s ok to be angry at him and the world.

      It’s hard for only childs – both my husband-type and I are are only childs. We’re older than you and have been through our own fair bit of parental illnesses. But it sucks because you are the only one. We went through 4 rounds of cancer treatment, a hip replacement, two knee replacements, a “clean out all the arthritis in both knees” surgery, and a major heart issue, in 5 years.

      It’s ok to be angry. I recall sitting my mom and dad down at one point and telling them, “You have to stop having medical things going. We can’t take take any more cancer or heart issues.” Husband type did the same with his mom (who then had an aortal aneurysm the next year).

      (FYI, my dad is 81, has had bladder cancer for a couple of years, and is currently attempting to enter a chemo round – unless they say the only thing is bladder removal and in that case is considering no treatment).

      I would suggest you:
      – talk to your dad; tell him he has to help you figure out what’s going to happen with your mom before he passes.
      – make a list of stuff that needs to be done on the house. Ask him what he needs help with arranging. Then get a general contractor and have them do it (get your dad to pay for it and monitor things as long he’s able)
      – ask for copies of their wills read them and encourage your dad to make changes where necessary.
      – ask your dad what his plans are for your mom.
      – get a power of attorney for your mom. I know it’s rough; you need to be able to make decisions on your mom’s behalf.
      – get some legal advice on what can happen.
      – talk to a counselor if you can.

      I swear, someone should start a support group for only children who are adults with aging parents.

      Here’s a story: when I found out I was pregnant, I didn’t tell anyone for a few weeks. After I saw a heartbeat, I phoned my parents. We both had news to share, apparently. I demanded to share my news first. My parents were over the moon.

      A few days later, my dad called to tell me he has prostate cancer (he was 77 or so at the time). And then he told me about his treatment and how it would end right around the time that I would be having my child.

      Turns out, what he was going to tell me on the initial call was that he had prostate cancer and wasn’t going to seek treatment (I kind of knew this, deep down). My being pregnant changed everything.

      Now, I know your situation isn’t the same as that. But if your dad is a dad, then he’ll be ok with you asking these things.

      It’s ok to be angry at him. He’s messed up on some stuff. He may not realize how you feel and exactly what the consequences of his (in)actions will be on you. He’s also dealing with his diagnosis and probably trying to figure out what to do.

      I’d encourage you to open a dialogue – write a letter to start and see what happens.

      And know that you are not alone on this, even though you may feel that way. Be angry at him. You’re allowed to feel that way.

      1. Artemesia*

        Good advise. Especially get your mother situated now and get your dad to deal with some of the steps that need taking. The biggest challenge is getting your mother into a situation that is sustainable — not a big house in poor repair. She needs to be in an assisted living apartment situation. Being in a place where a big meal is served every day and there is transportation and someone monitoring is critical to keeping as much off your back as possible.

    17. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      You’re absolutely not terrible. I’d be angry too. Heck, I AM angry knowing that I’ll be in a similar position when my dad becomes ill, he won’t stop smoking and since Mom died five years ago after prolonged illness and dementia, the house has been falling apart except for what I do to get it fixed up.

      Honestly, if he’s not going to do anything, as others have said, you have to take care of yourself first. Consider not wasting time now on trying to fix things if he’s not going to cooperate. From hard experience I know that’s incredibly frustrating and you’ll probably lose sleep over it. Do NOT give up your own life to take care of the end of his. If he leaves you a mess, so be it, dump as much of the mess as you can with as little effort as you can because the emotional stress and agony of trying to make the most of a crappy hand that they left for you is not worth whatever extra few dollars you’d save out of the deal.

      Perhaps he’s still in shock or denial, and that’s his right, but you are not obligated to pick up after them both and fix all the damage that their neglect and mistakes have made. You can do the best you can but your “best” should be situational, if you know what I mean. Selling the house “as is” instead of renovating it, for example, and putting that in trust for your mom’s care. Set up your mom’s care if the estate can afford that, so that you’re not a direct and constant caretaker because believe me, that’s an enormous drain.

      *hugs* I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

    18. Ms. Didymus*

      You are not a terrible daughter.

      You are grieving. Anger is a very, very normal part of the grieving process. In fact, it doesn’t matter what you feel: your feelings are legitimate they are ok and they are normal. The only thing I can recommend is remember that your time may be limited and try to see past your immediate anger and spend what time you have enjoying your father.

      I am so sorry for you and your father. Cancer is horrible and cruel. One day we will beat this. I have to believe that.

    19. Absentor*

      First, I am so sorry you are having to deal with this. The impending loss, uncertainty, and burdens you are facing are tremendous. Anger serves a purpose in that it energizes us and it helps us cut through the crap to focus on what is most important. Embrace it.

      Right now, what is most urgent is probably a power of attorney and a will. You should really consult a lawyer to help you get these two fundamentals taken care of because they will help you to have some control over what’s coming.

      Web hug.

    20. Vancouver Reader*

      Your dad is making you deal with stuff that he should’ve been dealing with, and you think you’re the terrible one? Hardly! I can only offer sympathy and hugs, others here have very good advice. I hope this situation will get better quickly and you can get on with your life.

    21. Belle diVedremo*

      Your anger is entirely normal.

      Assuming there’s a hospice in your area, you could call them and ask for a consult (doesn’t have to be where your parents are). They’ve seen everything, you won’t surprise them. They may or may not want you to pay for a consult, but even if they do it’ll be cheap compared to going without the information. If they don’t do this in your area, do they recommend someone/s or particular resources to turn to with your questions? They probably won’t say Jane is the best attorney for X, but they might well say to look for an attorney who does X or Y.

      Describe your situation, and ask their advice. What are the primary legal things to cover? What are the usual kinds of choices families face? What are their suggestions for self care for you? What are some of the common emotional hazards in these situations, and what are some likely ways to manage them? What are common threads in the emotional roller coaster for care givers and families? What do they usually ask for or need from families during the course of caring for someone? What are some good ways to address these? How much of this/these can easily be done by or hired out to someone else, that your parents can pay for or might be covered by some services?

      Once you have this kind of information you can begin to sort out what you are and aren’t willing or equipped to do. Don’t be at all surprised if that changes over time. Let your anger serve you – it’s good information that something isn’t right. What needs to be adjusted/tossed/redefined? What boundaries are being crossed?

      You can’t force your father into making a will, or setting up a power of attorney or health care power of attorney. You can’t force your father into fixing up the house, or making arrangements for your mother’s care. And your parents can force you to do for them what they aren’t willing to do for themselves. You can point out the choices before them and the benefits and consequences of how they make those choices.

      You’re in your twenties, with a long life before you. Don’t give your parents your future. Give them what makes sense for your own life, and what you will want to have done for them. Find out what your options are at work for FMLA and such. Take care of yourself, so that your choices are the best ones for you to make as you go along.


    22. Temperance*

      You aren’t a terrible person. At all. I get being angry, especially with something like lung cancer, which is largely preventable.

      You don’t have to take in your mentally ill mother. She’s not your responsibility. If she can’t look after herself, contact Adult Protective Services or speak to her doctor about assisted living options.

      Don’t give up your life. Your career is just starting. Do what you can and what you feel comfortable with.

    23. stevenz*

      You’ve really been handed the dirty end of the stick. However, a lot of people end up in this kind of situation with their parents. That means there are a lot of resources out there for support. Look first for county services for the elderly and disabled, or the legal aid society. They may have services that you can use, or at least point you in the right direction. The first thing I would do is try to get power of attorney for your parents. Your father would have to sign it, but he will. Just threaten to hide the remote. Depending on your mom’s mental condition, she may have to, or your dad’s signature may be enough. POA gives you full control over all their assets and decisions. If you’re near a university with a law school, they may have some outreach services. POA also gives you money – theirs – to pay expenses with because you become the money manager. Hopefully they have a fair amount of the stuff. (But you won’t be getting your Porsche 911 Carerra out of it.)

      Don’t hire a lawyer until you need one. This isn’t going to be a fast moving train wreck, so you’ll be able to predict when low- or no-cost services aren’t going to cut it. But when you do need one, get one. And get whatever other homecare help that is available through medical insurance or public programs, and get other family members to help. And, get familiar now with whatever life insurance your parents may have.

      Other commenters are right about finding counseling. If anyone ever needed it, it’s you, now. You’re not a terrible person (at least from what you have written you’re not), you will get through this though it will seem endless, and you’ll be fine. But DO NOT under any circumstances let this situation derail you from leading your own life, by which I mean something extreme like living with your mother until she dies, and foregoing marriage and kids and ski vacations, etc. A surprising number of very unfortunate people do that and they end up with major problems of their own.

      Yeah, there’s a lot to this. It makes one’s head spin. But think of this. In many many cases, when a spouse dies it is usually when they are old, which means the surviving spouse is old, too. That spouse may be far less able to deal with the situation than you are but they get through it. My mother had to deal with my father after a major stroke – harden to deal with than if he just died – and she was very fragile, depressive, and already had a martyr complex. She managed somehow, but did get some help now and then (much easier to complain, though, if she didn’t have help). She died of lung cancer, my father lasted another six years with his sons (i.e., me) picking up the slack. I feel for you.

  12. always anon*

    Anyone have a portable air conditioner? Or recommendations on how to make an apartment less stuffy?

    My 1 bed apartment has horrible ventilation and opening the windows doesn’t get much breeze. My landlord won’t allow an air conditioner and putting a box fan in the window isn’t that much of a help. I’m thinking of getting an air purifier for my allergies to cut down on pollen and dander, but I don’t know if they actually help make air less stuffy?

    Likewise, I don’t know if a portable air conditioner is worth the money? They seem to be $400-$500 and that’s a lot of money. I have a lot of fans going during the summer, but it doesn’t do much when the humidity and heat kick in.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      We used to have a portable air conditioner. I don’t remember how much it cost (I think less the $400, but not by much—maybe in the $180-250 range?). It wasn’t very good, though. About the same as an in-the-window air conditioner but not as effective as central air. The key for portable air conditioners (or in-the-window ones) is to make sure the seal around the window is as tight as you can make it and to make the space you’re cooling as small as possible (keep the door closed in that one room).

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        Yes, we have one and we’re not wild about it. The heat it generates negates the cooling and it doesn’t remove humidity that well. We use it when we have company during the really hot weeks which isn’t that often.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      I’m also considering an air conditioner and I’m not sure if my building allows window boxes. A friend who lives in an outrageously hot apartment that doesn’t allow window ACs has a Whynter ARC-14s and says it’s worth it but it’s $520 and she also says it was 79 degrees in her apartment yesterday so I’m kind of wondering how good it could possibly be.

    3. danr*

      Floor fans in the room do help. And move your thinking away from box fans and look at dual in window fans. The motors are sealed against moisture and you just run them continually. Get two fans. One set to intake and one toe exhaust. You don’t need much air movement to get the fresh air in and the old stuff out. Just search on “dual in window fans” on Amazon.

    4. Amber Rose*

      I have one. Got it used for $100. It’s a short term solution. It’s massively noisy and once it fills with water it shuts off until it’s emptied.

      But on a severely hot day there’s something to be said for just sitting in front of it for a while.

    5. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      You may have already tried this, but I’ve found that a box fan is most effective at making air flow through a large space when the fan is pointing out a window, not in. Full in around the fan if possible. Then open another window at the other end of the apartment. This pulls a current of air all through the apartment rather than just blowing it around a bit in one room.

      1. always anon*

        My windows are next to each other, not on opposite sides of the apartment, which probably doesn’t help the stuffiness. And pointing the fan out the window hasn’t really helped. It’s still 78 degrees in my apartment with windows open and fans going.

    6. Ninja Penguin*

      You can also try a swamp cooler for short-term cooling. You can google for easy instructions on how to make them (basically fan + ice).

      1. always anon*

        I have considered that! If it gets as bad this summer as it was last summer, I may resort to it.

    7. Kyrielle*

      We had portable ACs at the old house and loved them. If you get one, things to check for:

      1) The size of space it’s rated for. They’re not kidding, it will do some good in a larger space but it will not keep it comfy. (Just using it in the bedroom may be enough, at least you’ll have somewhere to retreat.)

      2) How it deals with water. Some have a second tube you put out the window and it drips down (but your landlord might not like that), others have a catch-basin inside that you must pull out and empty. Letting that fill up all the way means the AC shuts off until it’s emptied _and_ when full you have to be careful not to spill it when removing and emptying it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The ones I saw the buckets had to be emptied every seven hours. How often did you have to empty yours?

        1. Kyrielle*

          I think a maybe once or at most twice a day? It’s been the better part of a decade now, and I’ve forgotten details, I’m afraid. But we also were only running them while we were there.

    8. Schnapps*

      We have them! they are awesome!

      Most of the more modern ones also do dual-function as dehumidifiers. The trick is to have the main a/c unit above the level of where the hose drains so that gravity does the work for you (ours drains into a 5 gallon bucket that we empty out every so often). They are well worth the investment.

      Depending on the size of room you’ll want anywhere from 10,000 to 14,000 BTU. They can be noisy, but I found I just got used to it. If you want to try one out, look on a buy & sell or craiglist type thing. Costco will sometimes have really good deals on them.

      Or buy at the end of season and save it until next year?

    9. Gene*

      We have one for the week or two it’s too hot to s sleep here near Seattle. Things to consider:

      If it says 150 square feet, that’s a maximum.
      If it doesn’t vent out the window, it won’t cool your room.
      Get one that evaporates the condensation and seems it out the exhaust instead of using a drain pan.
      If you can find one that uses a double hose out the window, you won’t be exhausting conditioned air.
      If you’re cooling only one room, shut the door.
      Power, they need quite a bit. In our old house we have to run a heavy duty extension cord from the kitchen. The bathroom and both bedrooms are on one circuit, the AC unit overloads it and pops the breaker.
      They aren’t quiet.
      We have an LG 10000 BTU/hr one, says it will do 450 square feet. I know it can turn our 180 square foot bedroom into a cold room suitable for hanging meat.

  13. Anonymous Educator*

    Any Los Angeles fun/food recommendations?

    Spouse and I often go to So Cal but end up usually spending most of our time at “the happiest place on Earth,” which is a lot of fun, but we want to explore a bit more of what the larger area has to offer. We’ve already been to the Getty (both locations), the Huntington Gardens, the La Brea tar pits, the Holocaust Museum, and the Japanese American National Museum. We’re not big partiers—we like museums and parks and low-key fun stuff. We also have a few places we like to eat, but I’d love to hear more restaurant recs.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Odyssea*

      If you’re in the Orange County area, San Juan Capistrano is both historical and lovely. The gardens there are beautiful in the spring and summer. It’s about a 20 minute drive from Anaheim. The Queen Mary in Long Beach is also lot of fun; it has a long and interesting history, and is right on the ocean.

      Hope these help!

      1. LotusEclair1984*

        For culture, check out LACMA (Miracle Mile), The Hammer (UCLA campus), The Fowler (also UCLA campus), The Skirball (Brentwood), Pasadena Museum of California Art, Bergamot Station (Santa Monica)… There is so much to take in. Enjoy your visit!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Thanks for all the suggestions so far. If others have more, I’m paying attention—keep ’em coming!

    3. Come On Eileen*

      I went to UCLA for 4 years and can heartily recommend the fun you’ll have at Venice Beach. It’s a people-watching mecca, plus great food, a few fun shops, great to stroll and be outdoors.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Thanks! Any shops or food places in particular you’d want me to look out for?

        1. 3D Queen*

          Agreed about Venice! Also, check out the Broad downtown (need tickets in advance but they’re free). While you’re there check out Grand Central Market for food or the Pershing Square farmer’s market. Coles or Phillipes for a more casual, old-times feel. LAist and LAWeekly have regular features on cheap or free weekly events, there is so much fun free stuff to do that depends on when you’ll be here. Cinespia is fun if you’re here in the summer, it’s an outdoor movie screening in the Hollywood Forever Cemetary and people get dressed up! Crazy awesome people watching.

    4. Older not yet Wiser*

      Drive up Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica if it is a sunny warm day. There are some fun seafood restaurants right on the ocean in Malibu or further up the coast across the highway from the ocean. Maybe not the best in gourmet dining but fun and interesting to people watch and enjoy the ocean and sea air.

    5. GH in SoCAl*

      Heritage Square Museum is cool (vintage houses and Pharmacy), also the Space Shuttle at the Science Center. Did you go to the Griffith Observatory yet?

      bld and Milk are two of my favourite restaurants in the West Hollywood area. bld is sort of high end but still casual; Milk is great for lunch and their desserts are unbelievable.

    6. Aardvark*

      Check out downtown Anaheim, just north of said happiest place, for interesting restaurants. The whole area got redone a couple years back and there’s a lot of restaurants around that area (including a food hall).

    7. Searching*

      One of the funnest things I’ve done in LA was a guided bike tour with L.A. Cycle Tours. We’ve done the Pastry Tour (which, while fun, was waaaay too much sweet stuff) and the next visit we did a combination Neighba’hood Art Tour & DTLA (Downtown LA) Tour. That one I really enjoyed, tons of street art and some of the classic downtown sights. He put that tour together at our request, he’s really amenable to working with you if you bring a few people (we had 3 of us the first time and 5 the second time). Since you’re looking for food suggestions, his signature tour is the Taco Tour, which is still on our list (we just didn’t want to take a chance right before our half marathons). The owner is Art, and he is a hoot. He pulls this cart with a sound system on it, so you’re riding with tunes and it’s a blast.

  14. INTP*

    Anyone have advice for completely developing a style/wardrobe from scratch? I’m in a new climate (Deep South, having lived in coastal socal and in Wisconsin for the past 5 years) this summer that is not so compatible with my clothing taste or current wardrobe. In the past, fashion has been a pretty rewarding hobby for me, in terms of creative expression and making me feel good about how I look, but I’m now staying in my yoga stuff all day, or one of the two dresses I own that work. It is far too hot and humid to wear things like jeans/jeggings/leggings, long sleeves, polyester, or too many layers in the summer, and even things like closed toe leather flats get sweaty. I do NOT like shorts (I hate the way they fit on my body in addition to them just not being my style), not the biggest fan of sandals (I tried some last summer but returned them all as I just didn’t like how they fit on my wide-toe-box feet), and prefer wearing leggings with my dresses.

    My clothing taste is more in the minimal chic area and not brightly colored and girly like people tend to wear here, so it’s also a challenge to find inspiration images of outfits that are both weather-appropriate and appealing—I started a Pinterest board specifically for this summer’s wardrobe but right now it’s mostly inspiration pics of Brigitte Bardot and not actual current items that I could go buy. I also have a chubby hourglass figure, so flowy, breezy, shapeless clothing tends to look bad on me, but more structured clothing doesn’t fit well with the waist being a tent and the chest/shoulders being tight (I’ve been losing about 2 lbs/month for a while so while I don’t plan to shrink out of these new items too quickly, it’s not the time to invest and get things tailored).

    Basically, I have to start over with not just obtaining new stuff, but figuring out what types of items even work for my body and fashion sense—lengths and cuts of dresses that are flattering without leggings, types of sandals that work on my feet, can I wear a romper without feeling ridiculous, etc. It’s also complicated because I essentially MUST shop online, as I need petite size clothing and wide size shoes and even when stores have a petite section, the selection is invariably small. The good news is that I work from home so I only need casual items.

    Has anyone done this? Does anyone have more efficient ideas than just ordering a bazillion things online, trying it all on, and returning most of it? Or do you know of fashion bloggers/websites/pinterest boards that have true hot weather clothing that isn’t super preppy and girly or super skin-showy and Coachella-y? Stores that have nice cotton or rayon dresses in petite sizes at a decent price? I just placed a massive Old Navy order with a lot of basic knit dresses and maxis, and I’m working on a Nordstrom and Loft cart. I could go to the mall and try on a lot of non-petite clothing but I don’t know if that would really give me an idea of how things look when they fit properly.

      1. The Little Prince(ess)*

        Sorry, I hit enter too soon. It’s nice because they bring everything into the dressing room and usually have a good eye for someone else’s figure and shape. Plus, if you find one or two good options, you can “duplicate” the style/idea from other stores later.

    1. Felix*

      You should check out the blog “the vivienne files.” Someone on here recommended that blog to me about a year ago, and it’s changed my wardrobe life! She has a series called “starting from scratch” which walks you through how to build a wardrobe from scratch. It blew my mind. I needed help as I’d lost a ton of weight, but I expect it would be helpful for creating a new wardrobe for a new climate.

      (oh and – THANK-YOU to the kind soul who recommended the vivienne files to me. I can’t remember who it was, but seriously, thank you!).

      1. Windchime*

        It might have been me. I am a huge fan and I’ve recommended it several times on this site. Love her sense of style and the way she puts ensembles together.

        1. Felix*

          Thank you! I literally read her blog every day. It’s been so helpful for me with work wardrobe planning!

      2. INTP*

        TY! It looks like the “Starting from Scratch” is geared towards a more professional/officey wardrobe than I need, but I’m sure I will find helpful stuff as I explore the site. Tons of information on there.

    2. Small Creatures Such As We*

      For figuring out what items will work for you, I highly recommend InsideOut Style Blog (will post the link in a comment).

      For shopping — I know petites sections are always very small, but can you approach, say, your local Loft’s petite section, as a way to try on what they have (even if it’s not your style) and take notes about how they fit, then compare to the fit reviews for their online selections?

      I’ve been in coastal socal for the past few years, but I spent years in the mid-Atlantic states and remember your pain all too well. I didn’t wear shorts then either, and I basically lived in cotton/cotton-blend skirts during the summer. Speaking as another hourglass, full or A-line skirts are nice because you can buy them to fit your waist and then they’re full enough to fit easily over your hips. I have very sturdy/short legs, and I look for skirts where the hem hits the slimmest/shapeliest part of my legs (for me, that’s either just above/at my knee). Think something like the Athleta Bodega skirt or the Fair Indigo full skirt, although I don’t own either. Knit skirts can be chancy about whether they will be too clingy or not, but they also drape nicely and don’t exaggerate the size of your lower body the way that a more traditional woven A-line/full skirt would.

      For shoes, I just had to suck it up and wear sandals. I have a wide foot with a wide toe-bed too, along with ridiculously high arches. Cobb Hill is my favorite shoe company: wide/narrow widths and owned by New Balance. Back on the East Coast, I mostly wore Clarks and Naturalizer sandals, which do come in wide widths. If you’re not used to wearing sandals or do any regular walking, I recommend sandals with ankle straps, rather than flip-flop style.

      Hope that helps.

    3. louise*

      I found Nike Dri-fit shorts under skirts to be a godsend. I have big thighs and also don’t like the looks of shorts, but having my thighs touch makes me want to die. These shorts have various length inseams available and o bought mine at a sporting goods store. They help keep me cool when it’s too hot for leggings.

      1. Felix*

        I do this too! I have a couple pairs of cotton/spandex bike shorts I got at a department store and there’s line of under dress shorts by Jockey that are also great, and leave a super smooth look, but they aren’t cotton and I prefer that on a daily basis. Shorts under skirts/dresses are how I get through summer!

        1. Artemesia*

          I have been looking for some cotton bike shorts forever. I have an old pair which I wear over my bathing suit. It is a better look on an old lady than my crepey upper thighs and I started doing it when I was snorkeling and didn’t want my butt and thighs burned. I’d wear the suit and the shorts and a rashguard shirt. I have not been able to find them anymore — mine were like from target 15 years ago and really need to be replaced. Where did you find them?

          1. Felix*

            I got mine at Sears and Walmart. I love them and they last quite a long time. You might have some luck with Old Navy too!

      2. Vancouver Reader*

        Or if you want something cute and fun, check out the etsy store for Creampuffbygg. Her site is under rents right now, but she makes the cutest little shorts that are great for thigh rub.

      3. Laura*

        I live in Arizona and LOVE my Nike shorts for under dresses and skirts. They’re also incredible for work-outs.

    4. Sibley*

      Honestly, go to thrift stores, etc. Stretch your budget so you can experiment more. Plus, you never know what you’ll find. I got a brand new dress for $8 that originally was $180ish (still had original tags).

    5. Tex*

      I don’t think you have to change your style as much as you need to be mindful of the fabrics you purchase. Only all natural fibers (silk, cotton, linen, rayon, viscose). For me, even a small percentage of polyester blends don’t work.
      I mostly shop at j crew, some Boden. Be sure to check out garnet hill, Eileen fisher is pricey but may be your style.

    6. Leslie Knope*

      Re: leather ballet flats getting sweaty, check out hidden liner socks. These changed my world, especially after I found a brand that stays put all day.

      I live in the South and am a huge ballet flat fan, and I’ve had to throw out many pairs after stubbornly wearing them in all weather sockless. There are plenty of brands, but I’ve been stocking up in the Tommy Bahama brand sold at Costco lately. Some of the patterns are silly, but they’re easy to position so you can’t see them under your shoes.

      1. Felix*

        This also helps prevent your shoes from smelling. I can’t go back to barefoot, little liner socks are a godsend! :)

      2. littlemoose*

        Liner socks are amazing, and I always wear them with my closed-toe flats. I like the tan ones from Banana Republic because they have little grippers on the heel to keep them in place.

        For open-toed flats, or flats that aren’t cut in a way amenable to liner socks, I have to plug Zederna insoles from Amazon. They are lightweight cedar-type insoles that are extremely comfortable (I never notice them once they’re in) and do an amazing job absorbing any odor for a few months before needing to be replaced. They have been game-changing for my summer shoes. If you’re on the fence between sizes, get the bigger one – they’re easy to trim down with regular scissors at the heel.

    7. Nada*

      Before doing any shopping, I might think about what a “capsule” wardrobe would look like for your needs. This will help you avoid buying things that you don’t really need. Then, you can build on the core items.

      I also love the Stylebook app – it lets you combine your clothing and accessories into outfits. You can track the cost of your wardrobe, add clothing items to a calendar, etc.

  15. Anon Accountant*

    So Thursday the car door swung back and my hand was completely closed in the door. It happened in the parking lot at work where the lot is on a hillside. The door was 100% shut on my hand below the fingers. It swelled immediately and the skin was dented in with the imprint of the car door round part on it (it closed on me at the top). I had x-rays done and they said it wasn’t broken. I’m about 90% sure that there’s a hairline fracture. There’s not much they can probably do but do they use a brace or something to protect it?

    I’d went to urgent care (not the emergency room). I was in and out of urgent care in about 3 minutes from the x-ray to the physician’s assistant saying “it’s just bruised and swollen”. Should I call my regular doc to check it or not bother?

    1. MommaCat*

      If getting it checked by your regular doctor will give you peace of mind, go for it. And DANG that sucks!

    2. fposte*

      I’d buy a drugstore brace and do ice, rest, and NSAIDs for a few days. If it didn’t seem to be healing well, then I’d call my regular doc.

      1. Colette*

        Agreed. That’s probably close to the treatment if it is broken, and you ‘ve saved yourself time reading obsolete magazines in a waiting room

          1. Colette*

            I hate waiting for doctors’ appointments, and I’ve had a lot of them lately. :)

            A few years ago, my doctor moved to a newly built office, and less than a year after it opened, they had 5-year-old magazines in the waiting room. Not sure if they purposely moved them in or if it’s a magical property if medical waiting rooms.

      2. blackcat*

        Yep, that’s what I’d do, particularly on the weekend. Keep it as elevated as possible. Often, soft tissue damage causes even more dramatic swelling than fractures.

        For a brace, I might just wrap an ace bandage around the upper wrist, palm, and lower figures.

    3. New girl*

      Omg that sounds painful. I’m so sorry! I would go to the doctor. Better to be safe than sorry.

      1. Rahera*

        Me too. Massive sympathy, and involuntary swearing from here as I read what happened. Yow, hope it soon begins to feel much better.

    4. Absentor*

      Sometimes those tiny fractures don’t show up on xrays until calcium starts depositing around the break. If it is still bothering you in a couple of weeks, have it re-xrayed. They might give you a brave to immobilize and assist healing.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Willow bark does a great job on swelling. I gave some to a friend when she broke her toe, she said she saw a difference the second day of taking the stuff. You can find willow bark in some grocery stores and health food stores. Don’t waste money on the double strength you may not notice any difference, get the regular strength.

      And yeah, lots of ice.
      I did take calcium for my thumb when I thought it had a hairline fracture. But I don’t think the calcium helped a lot.

    6. Artemesia*

      My son came home from camp saying his arm was broken. The counselors had blown him off. We took him to the ER since it was a weekend. That cost 25 years ago over $500 and we were told ‘oh just sprained, no break’. Two days later he was saying ‘my arm is broken’; he was 16 and not a hypochondriac. We took him to the regular doctor who had it x-rayed. It was broken. He ended up with a cast.

      If you have a fracture which is possible, you probably need a splint at least so I’d get it checked out again.

      and ‘ouch’

    7. Ms. Didymus*

      While this isn’t what you asked: depending on your state, this may fall under worker’s comp. I know in my state anything that happens while I am on my work’s property has to be reported, even if I’m not doing a work related event. The idea is, I wouldn’t be there (and therefore not injured) if not for my work, therefore: worker’s comp.

      I only mention this because you may be obligated to report the injury depending on your company’s reporting policies.

      Other than that, feel better. That sounds terrible and painful!

    8. Evie*

      Keeping following up if you feel something is wrong. I fell a few years ago and went right to the ER where the doctor smugly told me by ankle wasn’t broken, then the orthopedist said the same thing after another set of X-rays and more advice of just keep walking to help the sprain heal.

      I kept going back and finally 12 weeks to the day of the fall, 4 X-rays and finally an MRI they found the now healing breaks and told me I had to go on back crutches immediately for another month.

      The damage I did trying to walk on a broken tibia for 12 weeks required 5 months of PT 3 times a week.

      Listen to your instincts. And I hope it heals quickly.

  16. Sparkly Librarian*

    Do many people have current good photos of themselves? What’s your secret? This week one of our kind generous friends got out his good camera and took some portraits of my wife and me, so that we have some current photos for our adoption profile and photobook. The agency insisted on a photobook cover that was a high-quality semiformal posed color portrait, with both of us smiling WITH TEETH and looking directly at the camera. We had… one of those. From 2012.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve found the best photos of me are candid ones. I hate posing, and my posed photos always end up awkward. Not sure if that tip will work for you.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Oh, there were plenty of awkward ones in this shoot! Especially with the toothy smiling. But out of… 200? shots we got about 8 decent couple pix and 2 or 3 each of one of us looking great (so I just cropped them). Reminded me how gorgeous my wife is. :)

    2. skyline*

      I actually had some headshots done at an ALA midwinter career center. Not terribly expensive, and a good option for more professional/formal settings. Not sure if they are still offering this at conferences, though.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Smart! I swiped one (of just me, in a bookstore) from our engagement shoot that generally works for professional things, but when I need an update that will be good info to have.

      2. Chocolate Teapot*

        The last cruise I went on had the photographers set up most nights for photoshoots. I asked them for a formal portrait shot and was quite pleased with what they did as they advised on poses. It wasn’t too expensive either.

    3. Mando Diao*

      Honestly, I practiced by taking a bunch of selfies to figure out my angles and develop a good “picture face.” I also figured out that if the photographer is shorter than me, I’m always going to look bad. I often bend my knees or often squat in the front for group shots.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        I hear you! The person who takes the most photos is my mother, and she’s 3 inches shorter than I am, and I never love them. Our friend stood on a chair. :)

        1. Mando Diao*

          I’m friends with quite a few professional photographers, and all the art and skill goes out the window when they’re caught up in the moment and taking fun group pics at the bar. Lots of people think they “just don’t photograph well” because of this – if a pro can’t make them look good, then what help is there?

          Nope. The photogs are shorter than you, is all.

    4. Anonsie*

      That is such a weirdly specific and unusual thing to have. Like I’m not gonna adopt to you if you don’t have a formal portrait?

      I have this really really rural Midwest part of my family though, where AT LEAST once a year they drive into the nearest town and have professional portraits taken of themselves in different outfits with different backgrounds. They make appointments on a regular schedule and this is totally normal for them. Every year my grandmother asks me to send her my most recent pictures and has never, ever seemed to believe me that I don’t have any such thing.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        A friend joked, “Well they look like wonderful people who love each other and have everything I could possibly want for a child….but, then again….how can I be sure they have teeth?”

    5. GH in SoCAl*

      I used to use a picture a friend took — it was a casual snap against the white walls of my kitchen that just came out really well. When it got too old, I had pro shots done. I was lucky because I went to an awards thing that featured really lovely, natural-seeming photos of the recipients. I got in touch with the photographer who’d taken them, fearing she would be really expensive since she had done this high-profile thing, but a session with her was only a few hundred dollars (I guess freelance photography is a tough business to make a living in so even the in-demand professionals keep their prices reasonable.). I got a ton of wonderful photos and had a great experience as well. I came out feeling beautiful and confident. I joked that it was better than therapy. (If anyone’s in Vancouver, I highly recommend her: WendyD Photography.)

    6. Mephyle*

      I read a thing online – you can probably find various versions of these tips, and when I put them into practice, I finally got pictures of me that I don’t dislike. I can’t find the articles now, but you can probably find them by searching for some of the key phrases. The advice that helped me the most was: don’t lift your chin nor tuck it in, but subtly press your forehead forward. And squinch your eyes slightly. Don’t face the camera straight-0n, but turn slightly, up to 3/4 full-on.

      1. Mephyle*

        I found the links. The Squinch, explained and demonstrated. At the bottom of the article is a video explaining the forehead-forward thing.

  17. New girl*

    Well, not sure what to do. I was in the process of adopting a dog from a shelter. He was scheduled to come for a home visit this weekend and if all went well he’d be mine! Got an email yesterday that he growled and nipped at a child this past week at his foster families house so they want to keep him to do some evaluations and training.

    He is two years old so I was expecting 8-11 more years of life in him. I currently don’t have kids but could in the next 8-11 years. Plus, I feel uneasy about a dog that doesn’t like children. I really was exciting about getting this dog but I’m not really so confident he’s a good choice anymore.

    Does anyone have any input or been in a similar situation? Some of my friends think it is no biggie, the children were probably teasing him. Other friends say it’s a deal breaker and I could be putting myself in a bad situation.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Agreed. It might be good to find a different dog who is easier going. There are a lot of dogs looking for homes.

    1. anon for this*

      I think adopting a dog is great, but a lot of shelters take in dogs with behavioral issues because they have a savior complex. There’s been quite a few articles over the past few years about how rescues and shelters take in more dogs with behavioral issues in an effort to save and rehabilitate them than dogs who are perfectly well adjusted. And then people who’ve never had dogs don’t know how to deal with these types of dogs and it creates an awful cycle.

      The thing with dogs growling and nipping is that sometimes it is justified. A lot of people assume that a dog needs to be put down the moment it growls at a child, but if the child was poking it or pulling its tail….well, it’s an animal. You were provoking it. Not that anyone deserves to be bitten, but kids (and adults) need to know how to behave around dogs and the first thing they should be taught is not to annoy the dog.

      It really does depend on the situation. It’s one thing if kids were annoying the dog and another if the dog snapped without any provocation or warning. Shelter evaluations and trainings should be taken with a grain of salt, too, since some dogs act completely different in a shelter than they do outside of a shelter.

      1. also anon for this*

        I totally agree with you. I’ve worked peripherally with a local shelter – or rather, I used to and now no longer do because I’m horrified by some of the dogs they attempt to rehome. Massive health problems, massive behavioural issues: they put an enormous amount of resource into these animals because their rhetoric around no dog being left behind is more important than actually saving animals.

        1. anon for this*

          To be honest, I take a lot of rescues and shelters with a big, big grain of salt. There are so many dogs who need homes, but they really have to realize that some dogs do have to be left behind and it’s really not okay to give a dog with behavioral problems to owners who have either never had a dog or aren’t capable of dealing with a dog with issues.

          My best friend has worked at a few different rescues and shelters and she always talks about how horrified she is by the savior complex a lot of them have. She says there’s a big issue with rescue/shelter workers not letting perfectly good applicants adopt dogs because the rescue/shelter doesn’t think they’re good enough, mostly for petty reasons like judging someone by the way they look or where they work, etc. Or workers who had favorite cats or dogs at the shelter that where their “work pets”, so they didn’t want to see them adopted. It’s awful.

          Adopting pets is great, but there are so many rescues/shelters who really need to rethink their practices. They make it so hard for prospective pet owners sometimes, which defeats the point of their existence.

      2. TootsNYC*

        Actually, growling and nipping is pretty good–that could easily be “tremendous self-control,” not “dangerous dog.”

        Growling is communication–it’s what a dog says when someone ignores his non-verbal cues. It’s “get away from me,” not “I’m going to bite you no matter what you do.”

        And a nip is often a very deliberate “not bite.”

        So–you’d need more info about the dog, of course.

        But…if you’re unsure, there are other dogs.

        1. blackcat*

          I spent a huge amount of time around cats and dogs as a child. I was definitely growled at and nipped at, but it was never aggressive. Now spending more time around mom dogs and puppies (my mom’s BFF fosters for a rescue), I realize that a lot of what I experienced as a young kid was dogs treating me like a misbehaving puppy. Which was fair–I very vaguely remember getting nipped at after pulling on a dog’s ear, for example. According to my brother, one barn dog once grabbed me by the shirt collar and pulled me back over to my mom, barked at her, and then walk away. While the shirt grabbing wasn’t ideal, the dog was being super reasonable–she brought the misbehaving child back to its mother!

          While I don’t recommend doing what my mom did with me as a child (basically, putting me down with dogs I didn’t know when I was a toddler), I do think that dogs will generally teach children how to treat them. Ideally, the child is also getting direction from you, the parent, about what is and is not appropriate. By the time I was 5, I was AMAZING with dogs. I have no memories of the nips–I mostly know what my brother reported (and why didn’t he stop me from pulling on dog’s tails?! Big sibling fail).

          In my experience, it’s a pretty rare dog who won’t growl & nip when harassed to a certain point. Mama dogs definitely growl and nip at their own puppies to teach them appropriate behavior. So, again, the dog could be perfectly fine. I’ve also known quite a few dogs who treat “their” children differently than other children–I’ve known dogs who were otherwise a bit aggressive who were as sweet as can be with their owner’s kids.

          1. Aurora Leigh*

            This was our dog growing up. She loved my sister and I unconditionally. I don’t think she ever growled at either of us. But strangers were a different story. If someone had tried to hurt any of us, I’m pretty sure she would have tried to literally kill them.

      3. New Girl*

        You see, they told us in the beginning he didn’t really have any behavioral problems. He was kind of shy, the type of dog that you should allow to approach you. He doesn’t really like it when someone he doesn’t know runs up to him and just starts touching him. When we met him, it took him probably 10 minutes to finally come over and start interacting with us. He was so sweet.

        We asked his back story and they told us that his previous owners got him as a puppy. They had an adult dog and he adult dog was aggressive towards the puppy so they go rid of him.

        1. BuildMeUp*

          I would say to first try to find out more about the incident and exactly what happened.

          I don’t see this as a definite warning sign, but I do think a dog with the temperament you describe will have some challenges. If you end up adopting, I would be prepared to do some training and work on slowly getting the dog more used to meeting new people, interacting with kids, etc. You just have to be prepared to be honest with yourselves in the future – when you do start thinking about kids, you need to feel like the dog is ready and will be okay in that situation, and know now that you’ll have to have a plan for rehoming the dog if it isn’t ready.

      4. Lindsay J*

        I love my dog, but I feel like I was purposely misled when I adopted her. They waited until after I had spent like an hour with her in the “bonding room” and said I wanted to adopt her and they were drawing up the paperwork before they were like, “By the way, she’s heartworm positive. And keep her away from cats because she has a strong prey drive and accidentally killed one here.” I mean those are kind of big dealbreakers to a lot of people and should have been disclosed up front, not as like an afterthought as I’m ready to sign to take her home.

        And I won’t deal with actual rescues because their adoption process is so invasive and ridiculous. No, I’m not going to let you come drop by my house whenever you feel like it to check on the dog.

    2. fposte*

      It’d be a dealbreaker for me unless I was already on board for rehab as well as adoption. Growling would be a maybe, but growling and nipping–otherwise known as snapping or biting–is a no.

      There are so many nice dogs that need homes. I would rather move on to one of the others than sign up for a dog displaying signs of an aggressiveness that I don’t want to have to constantly police. (And I doubt that the kids were teasing him in any way that he won’t encounter in other locations, so it’s pretty likely to happen again without retraining.)

      1. Artemesia*

        This. The people I know who do dog rescue and have kids have kids who know about dogs and are active in the socialization process. I’d not want to take an animal that nips and bites. There are many fine fish in the sea.

    3. also anon for this*

      I would expect children in a dog foster home to be more comfortable and experienced with dogs than other children. Maybe that’s unfair, but I would take that to mean that this dog should not live with children without a lot of additional information suggesting it’s okay, and so I would move on. You can have the world’s most dog-savvy child, and there will still be times when their impulse control fails and they tease the dog.

      1. New Girl*

        The foster family doesn’t have children, he snapped at a child visiting the family.

        1. blackcat*

          This, paired with what you said about this being a shy dog, makes me think that this was not the dog’s fault.

          I’m picturing something like this:
          Kid runs towards dog. Dog has no escape route (cornered). Dog growls. Kid pets dog anyways. Dog nips. Kid cries. Dog runs away.

          In that scenario, I don’t think this dog poses any risk to your future children. You can teach kids how to interact with dogs from a VERY early age. By the time that kids are big/old enough to actually chase the dog by running, they can learn no to do so. Prior to that, dogs can mostly just walk away. They will correct the child’s behavior by nipping if they feel they have no other choice (like in the above scenario), but, generally, they will avoid doing so.

          This might be a dog who gets put away if other kids are coming over, but it could really be just fine. If you teach a kid to leave a growling dog alone, scenarios like the above can be avoided.

    4. 3D Queen*

      Wow, shelters/rescues are by no means perfect, but I don’t think it’s quite fair to say a lot of them take in problematic dogs because they have a “savior complex,” that’s…harsh. So harsh it made me wince! I have one of “those dogs” — we adopted her from an awesome no-kill shelter knowing that she came with some major behavioral issues, knowing that she nipped and pulled on leash and tried to attack all other dogs. Thank god for the “savior complex” that led them to try to save her, she’s made my life so much better! She had a rough start, was violently abused, never learned to interact with dogs, and was most likely used as a breeder. The shelter wanted to euthanize her, a rescue saved her first. Now she’s amazingly well behaved, absolutely loves people, still hates other dogs but that’s ok we knew that going in.

      I think they did the right thing by being transparent with you, which is a sign you’re working with good people. Just because some folks don’t mind dealing with aggression doesn’t mean this dog is right for you. It could be nothing (sometimes dogs get spooked), it could be signs of a problem. There are so so many out there that even if this dog isn’t right for you, don’t give up hope! I do understand what other posters are frustrated about, there are some rescues not doing it right. But do your research and you will absolutely find the right dog for you. Depending on your area, I have lots of amazing rescues to suggest if you decide to expand your search!

      1. anon for this*

        Some of them do take in problematic dogs. I volunteered in a shelter a year ago and like the two anons above said, some people do have a “save all the dogs” mentality and it led to people having to return dogs they adopted because they had problems.

        You clearly have strong feelings about this, but you had a good experience with your dog. Other people do not because some rescues aren’t equipped or qualified to retrain them. That doesn’t mean it’s fair to snark about other people’s experiences with shelters.

        1. 3D Queen*

          Definitely not here to snark, nothing but puppy love coming my :) and I totally agreed that shelters can be problematic and some take on dogs they can’t actually help. My shelter was transparent about the fact that they took on problematic dogs and I was clearly open to it, not all are, and there’s nothing wrong with that. She doesn’t have to be open to a snipping dog, as I said, but maybe reducing people who believe in the save-them-all mentality to having a savior complex is … perhaps much? I don’t think that’s crazy off-base? Either way, I think we pretty much agree! Good luck New girl, wading into the animal rescue world is a tricky but rewarding experience.

    5. Mando Diao*

      I have to agree with a lot of commenters on this one: there’s no nice way to say this, but when you adopt a dog that someone else has given up, you are very often inheriting someone else’s problem. There’s this weird idea that if you’re not willing to rehab a problematic dog then you shouldn’t be allowed to adopt at all. As if bad people get to have the blank-slate puppies and you’re not a good person unless you enthusiastically sign up to clean up a mess that someone else created.

      I’ve known a lot of really wonderful people who wanted to adopt dogs but were turned down for dumb reasons. Their kids had fallen in love with the idea of having a dog, so the parents eventually gave in and just bought puppies from reputable breeders.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. There are a lot of very strange people in rescue work and I have met a few of them. In some cases it leads to ridiculous attitudes about who is fit to adopt an animal. I have a relative who does a wonderful job rehabbing and placing rescue dogs so I know many non-neurotic people do this for love and do a great job. But the field is also full of very difficult people.

        We once tried to adopt a stray kitten from a rescue group. We had had a cat for 18 years who had just died a couple of months before and we wanted a kitty. We had a house and the cat would be a house cat. We were willing to take a pair of kittens. They just didn’t want to let go, they wanted reams of information about us that was not any of their business, they were creepy and projected this sort of image that they just knew everyone was looking for cats in order to make coats or something. We went to the pound and got a lovely cat we had for another 18 years.

        1. Mando Diao*

          One of my friends is a professor who is constantly spearheading events on veganism and animal rights at the college where she works. She was rejected by a local rescue. Just ridiculous.

          It’s a hard line to walk, but if little kids want the experience of raising a puppy and having it for a long time, it’s unfair to act like their parents should opt for the 11-year-old grown dog with health and behavioral problems. You’re not a bad person for getting your kid a puppy.

        2. Jen*

          There’s a shelter near me that won’t adopt to anyone that won’t sign a contract to put the dog on an organic diet with holistic medical treatment.

          I love dogs. I know some dogs do better on raw diets. But I also know plenty of super mutts that are super market dog chow and wore a flea collar / used advantix and lived to 15+. If the option is to stay in the shelter or go tons house that serves (gasp) Purina…

          We had a dog that got basic Purina chow and did all the regularly scheduled vet visits/shots. No fancy dog toys, but the occasional supermarket (raw) meat bone. The vet said *every time* we brought in the dog that he was in the top 1-5% of animals health and fitness-wise, and when we asked if we needed to upgrade dog food, he just laughed and said “just keep doing what you’re doing!”

          The shelter also requires a 6′ fence for all adoptions. While I absolutely get that a fence is preferred…there are plenty of dogs out there that would do fine without one.

          1. New Girl*

            Wow, a organic diet with holistic medical treatment? My dad cooks dinner for his dogs every night, and I thought that was going too far.

            1. Artemesia*

              LOL — yes this is the sort of animal rescue that gives it all a bad name. We had an easier time becoming foster parents for little humans than adopting the cat.

      2. catsAreCool*

        I don’t know as much about adopting adult dogs, but I know of 3 (out of 3) cats who were adopted as adults and turned out to be good cats. One of them really qualified more as great. I’m still surprised anyone would give away/abandon any of those cats. I’m guessing there are great adult dogs out there too.

        Try to find a dog that will love being with you and that you will love having!

      3. Temperance*

        I have close friends who were denied because the dog wouldn’t be raised in a Christian home.

    6. Bluebell*

      My advice is to be as honest and candid as possible with the shelter. Ideally they are committed to finding dogs “furever” homes and not “til he nips again and gets surrendered. If the shelter then turns you down, maybe there are rescues in the area? I volunteer at a rescue and our applications clearly ask about whether the dog needs to be good with cats, other dogs and children, and also about unacceptable behaviors. We have a return rate of about 4-5 percent and always ask that if the adopter wants to return the dog they will surrender the dog to us.

    7. Jen*

      Six years ago, I’d have felt differently, but I say look for another dog.

      We got a dog that was fine with kids, and then one day wasn’t. He started getting uneasy and while we did training (and $2000+ in private lessons with a highly certified behaviorist), it never got to the point where we trusted him around our young kids other than helicopter supervised.

      Well, we were helicopter supervising and our two year old ran up to hug DH. Dog was on the OTHER side of DH, and freaked out and nipped. Poor kid was scared and had a nasty finger cut but was otherwise fine (it could have been so much worse since the dog is BIG). We did everything right, and we still had an issue.

      We were able to rehome our dog to a good friend of our trainer; the dog is great but truely an adult-only dog. Our kid was the model kid and truely did nothing wrong. And there are so many times when kids aren’t on their best behavior…

    8. Anonsie*

      I’m in the cautious no biggie camp, as someone who has adopted a lot of “problem dogs” from shelters. A dog that isn’t safe around kids would have shown multiple and potentially much worse behaviors in a home with children than that, so this sets off zero alarms for me. This is not a description of a child anxious dog to me, though I would like more details.

      Dogs in shelters and fosters are under so much more stress than normal. Many are more skittish and unpredictable there than they ever will be later. This is like a perfect storm of stressors, so a lot of the time you’re going to see their worst possible behavior. If this dog’s worst possible behavior in a home with children is a one time air snap, in the security of a permanent home with people he trusts he is most likely going to be a perfectly lovely family dog.

      1. Anonsie*

        Woops, forgot to note: My “cautious” bit there is because I don’t know the details of what they mean by a nip and what the circumstances were. My notes above are assuming this was 1) a situation with a small child that was new to the dog and not old enough to recognize the dog was uncomfortable harassing it and 2) the dog did one of those warning “snaps” that’s never meant to make contact, like where they open their mouth and just sort of whack you with their snout but aren’t actually biting anything. This is what I usually hear people describe as a nip. But those are big assumptions, too.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I agree–more info needed. Some nips are good communication. As are most growls, actually (though dogs that stress at small provocation, and growl to reflect that stress, are probably not a good fit for a lot of homes).

          But…as I said earlier, if you’re nervous, don’t get this dog. You need to be comfortable, and you’re entitled to be uncomfortable for any reason you choose. You don’t have to justify it at all.

          1. Anonsie*

            though dogs that stress at small provocation, and growl to reflect that stress, are probably not a good fit for a lot of homes

            That’s the real ticket here. We don’t know the size, so to speak, of the provocation to know which way this goes. I really firmly believe that most (if not all) dogs will do something like this if they’re in a bad enough place. Giving this many warnings in a bad enough place may actually be a sign of a dog that really really really really does not want to hurt anyone. But you need a lot more information to know which is which.

            And I do agree with your second point, for sure. I stressed more the reasons I think it’s probably okay because I got the sense New Girl really did want this particular dog but was unsure how seriously she should take this news. If that’s not the case and she’s now uncomfortable with taking the dog, that’s fine too.

    9. Another anon for this*

      I would be very wary about adopting a dog who nipped at a child. I had a dog for a couple years who turned out to have aggressive tendencies (no children in the house, and didn’t really know anyone with kids at the time.) We tried training, exercise, antidepressants (for the dog), and nothing worked. We eventually had to put him down, which was one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever done. It also wears on you to see an animal you love suffer–because that’s usually what’s happening when they act out.
      However…this pup was only one of five dogs I’ve had in my life, four of whom were rescues. There are a lot of great animals out there, and I bet you’ll find a companion who you do feel 100% comfortable with.

    10. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      I’d want a lot more details about what happened before I would say he was a dog that didn’t like children. All my dogs were rescues of some sort and one nipped at my cousin, once, because the cousin was trying to stomp him and we didn’t know his parents weren’t watching him. In a case like that, well, I wouldn’t blame the dog considering he was 1/10 of my cousin’s size and he was trying to defend himself.

      Our current guy has never ever growled or nipped at a child, including our unruly one, he has the patience of a saint but also because it’s clear that we adults are Alpha and we enforce very strict rules about behavior around dogs so an unruly child bothering the dog would be separated from him. So he never feels trapped and therefore defensive. And as much as we trust him implicitly, we never allow kids to be alone with him for both party’s safety. I know how kids can be, I was one of those Elmira types and didn’t learn to respect a dog’s boundaries and got nipped for my presumption too, but I knew it was my fault. If I don’t want a kid to be bitten by an normally patient and reasonable dog, then it’s my responsibility to make sure that there’s no way a kid can provoke him past his breaking point.

      That said, there is always a possibility that the dog might be getting too nervous to be around children. It sounds heartless, perhaps, but if there are older children you can safely and with permission borrow to have a controlled environment visit with him, maybe you can observe how he acts around them before they ever get too close. Is he nervous and on edge? Walking stiff-legged, darting to avoid them, wary? If reasonably friendly and/or relaxed around non-provocatory kids, then you may be ok.

      1. blackcat*

        “If I don’t want a kid to be bitten by an normally patient and reasonable dog, then it’s my responsibility to make sure that there’s no way a kid can provoke him past his breaking point.”

        How I wish that had been my mom’s attitude. Her attitude was that once I got bit a couple of times, I would learn my lesson. I am lucky I didn’t get any severe bites (apparently I was occasionally bruised, but never bloodied by any of the poor dogs I harassed as a child). I did, indeed, learn my lesson.

        My mom, having been raised with farm animals, generally had the attitude that animals tell you how to treat them. Minor injuries were a part of this, except with the very patient pony who taught toddler me how to interact with horses. When I would misbehave, she would holler for my mother and then herd me either into a corner (if she was tied up or in a stall) or towards my mother (if she was free to roam). That pony had the patience of a saint combined with a love of small children.

        1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

          That pony sounds AMAZING.

          I am all about a kid learning from their own mistakes by getting a little hurt, cuz in my family that’s what happens, but not for toddlers and younger and animals! For one thing, maybe it’d be a minor injury, but it could be a Serious Freaking Deal injury too. And the animals don’t deserve to be used as training tools without supervision. That’s super stressful to them too.

          Also I am unconvinced a 1 year old up through a 2.5 year old is going to be able to read animal social cues.

          I’m glad you survived childhood somewhat unscathed and had the world’s most amazing pony looking out for you!

    11. Ms. Didymus*

      I mean…did they give any context around how this happened?

      If it was out of nowhere or during normal interaction then yea, I could see it being a deal breaker for some. But it could have also been a situation where the dog was being hurt or injured or was woken out of a deep sleep. Children are not always great with dogs and without context of the situation, I personally could not make a decision on one interaction.

      My dog is great with kids. Heck, he’s great with everyone. But three weeks ago he snapped at my nephew. My sister freaked out but what she didn’t realize is my nephew had accidentally tripped and stepped on my dog’s injured paw. My dog was severely hurt and, yes, he snapped. He did not bite, although he easily could have, and he’s never done something like that before. So if the situation is like this, no it would not be a deal breaker to me (although your calculation may be different).

      I think the key is to remember that these are animals. Animals act instinctively even with the best training. There has never been a single dog that “could never” or “would never” bite or snap or growl. People who tell you otherwise are seriously underestimating the “animal” in their pet. In fact, I view things like snapping or growling (when uncommon events) to be a good sign. That is the dog opting not to bite and showing restraint.

    12. New girl*

      We don’t know much about the situation other then he growled and nipped. They said they would contact us this weekend with more information but we have yet to hear anything.

      1. GH in SoCAl*

        I think you said this will be your first dog. So I want to give you some support in your worries. I got my first dog when I was over 30. I wasn’t raised around dogs, I didn’t really have friends with dogs. When it’s the first time, things that are no big deal to experienced dog owners can be a Very Big Deal. The care advice I received when my guy was new was impenetrable to me because it all assumed a basic knowledge on my part that I didn’t have. Luckily, I had the best dog in the world and figured things out along the way.

        When my dog was 6, a close friend who spends a lot of time at my house got pregnant. We researched theories and strategies for dogs and babies. We saw the classic behaviors — he treated the baby like a puppy at first; he got stressed when she came into “his” spaces, i.e. under the coffee table. He growled at her once or twice to communicate his discomfort. She learned to growl back, so adorable! We separated them if he growled or seemed perturbed. They grew up together and earlier this year she helped me bury his ashes. :’-(

        As a now-experienced dog owner, I wouldn’t be too concerned by this report. But I understand that it’s very different when you’re a newbie yourself. It’s okay if you want a different dog. OTOH if you do move forward with this dog, you will likely be an experienced dog person by the time you have kids.

  18. Regular poster anon for this one*

    Regular poster going anon for this one. Advice for complicated family?

    I have a complicated family… Family moved every 2 years or so and grew up really isolated from extended family. Parents were super conservative and very controlling. Sibling and I were home-schooled on top of all the moving, so I was very isolated. Parent2 and I butted heads ALOT until I realized it was easier to grin and bear it and wait until I was 19 to get the hell out of dodge (although it took until I was 24 to really establish independence). Parents were very devout and religious (while I left religion, I don’t want to offend anyone and would rather not have a debate in the comments about religion). Parents also subscribed to ideologies like courtship (shudder).

    Long story short, I left pretty much all their beliefs behind me and established myself as the person I wanted to be. This created a lot of tension as I am VERY different than I was raised to be. No one talks about this, but I assume it feels like I’m disrespectful or don’t value their parenting (while I had a loving family, I have had to work SO HARD to get over my childhood). We didn’t live in the same city for about 10 years and this really helped establish my new life.

    We all live in the same city again. Help! I don’t really know how to cope. Family wants to spend a lot of time together catching up, but I’m not that interested. I do care about them, but I’m having a hard time finding activities to do together and ways to engage without being really angry, or it causing me to slip back into emotional places that I’ve worked so hard to get out of. Parent2 has a chronic illness that prevents any physical activity, which means a lot of sitting around and talking/reflecting. Sibling has a multitude of medical issues ranging from mental health issues to obesity, which is also really hard to witness. My partner is really supportive of me, but my relationship also emphasizes how different we are as a couple from my family.

    Can anyone relate? Any ideas for how to engage? I’m seeing a counselor which is really helping, but sometimes I’m just at a loss.

    1. fposte*

      What about creating a structure? You call x times per whatever and come by once a whosis. That means you can put the relationship on autopilot rather than managing expectations, guilt, doubt, etc. with every request; I also find that a lot of my stress is not knowing when something will end, so making it finite takes a lot of strain out of it.

    2. The Little Prince(ess)*

      Family wants to spend a lot of time together catching up, but I’m not that interested.

      Clearly your family is aware that you completely changed your life because the one you started with didn’t work for you. You sound worlds apart and they must think so, to… so why spend more than, say, one 3-hour visit every two months? Bring a meal and a board game over so you have something to do other than talk, maybe?

      1. Regular poster anon for this one*

        We do a regular games night every 4-6 weeks. That seems to work well, but they often want to do more things in between… it’s the more things piece I’m struggling with. I think they feel guilty for the past and are trying to make up for it? Not sure. It’s hard. Particularly when both parents and sibling all want to spend one-on-one time together with me on top of the family get-together’s. I feel ungrateful, since I’m sure other people would kill to have a family wants to spend time together, but it just dredges up all this old stuff…

    3. Mirilla*

      Boundaries. Be sure to set them and set them early. It’s good to want to connect with them but keep your limits on how long you stay, don’t get sucked back into negative patterns with them (that will happen eventually in time if you aren’t careful to disengage quick enough.) When they start up and you see it coming, change the subject. If that doesn’t work, time to go home.

      I live in the same town as my dysfunctional parents and honestly it sucks. We never got along when I lived at home and we don’t get along now. It doesn’t change. People don’t soften in their elder years or at least that’s my experience. I used to wish I was adopted because we were so different. That hasn’t changed and we still have nothing in common. I limit my time with them to holidays, birthdays, etc… and occasional phone calls. That’s about all I can muster, unless they need something, like a dr. appointment, something urgent, etc…

      1. Regular poster anon for this one*

        Ugh, thanks for commiserating. Mine seem to have softened a bit, which is almost more confusing – why couldn’t they have done this years ago and saved me from a world of emotional pain?! Despite this changing, we still do get sucked into negative patterns…

        I hear you on the adopted wish- it would help make sense of the genetics… I like your idea to limit time to holidays and birthdays. I seem to have a three-hour maximum window before I start to get all twisty.

    4. Today's anon*

      When you say you get angry when you engage with them, I wonder if it means you are not respecting or acknowledging your own boundaries (thus the anger). Maybe they want you available the way and times they want you and you are trying to accommodate (thus the anger). Do you want to spend a lot of time together? I would work really hard to figure out what you can stand, what you can’t and work within that. It’s like you need to exercise the “setting a boundary with family close by” muscle. Also, it is ok to acknowledge to yourself if you don’t like them or only want to spend x amount of time together (and x can be zero) and then manage the relationships from that place of knowing.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I wondered if OP is getting angry because not much has changed. She can’t get through to her parents what is wrong and why. It’s tough to pretend everything is peachy when the relationship is riddled with problems. It feels like being fake, being untrue to one’s self.

        Sometimes when we cannot let go of anger that is because the problem or a variation of a problem is still happening in present time.

        1. Regular poster anon for this one*

          It’s a bit of both. I get angry because I feel guilted into spending time or doing things I don’t want to do (i.e. we recently went to a super awful chain restaurant because it’s what they like, when our city is full of amazing local and affordable fresh eateries… ). I try to be accommodating and that also makes me angry … it’s hard because it’s 3 against one …

          I also get angry because a lot has changed, but also it feels like nothing has changed. I mentioned above that parents have softened over the years. Parent1 is no longer religious, but we don’t talk about how much almost all of their big parenting decisions f-d up my life. I’m just supposed to pretend like everything is fine now, and want to spend copious amounts of time together. My partner often asks why I don’t talk to family about any of this stuff, but I honestly don’t want to let them in enough to even KNOW I have these frustrations/hurts.

          It feels like a catch22.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            ugh. I feel your pain. You know, I did ask my father about one of the issues I had as a kid. Now this is a big moment, I have waited a long time to ask this and it took a lot of nerve. I asked my question.

            He responded with “I don’t know.”

            You could have knocked me over with a rolling pencil, I was so stunned by his total lack of awareness of what was happening to me when I was growing up. Yeah, I had some anger but more than anything I could not get over how someone could be so disconnected from what was happening in their own house right under their very nose.

            Lessons learned:
            1) There is always another layer of complexity. If you think you have an idea that will solve your riddle, get ready to find an even larger riddle.

            2) You can spend your time waiting for justice from people who wronged you OR you can spend your time building a life you actually want. Sometimes our hunger for justice is driven in part by the current lack of anything going on right now in our lives. Or maybe we need to bump up our current thing because we privately know we can do better. Build the life you want and if you happen to have time for them AND actually feel like visiting then do so. If not, then so be it.

            3) It’s super important to build up our own sense of autonomy. We need to know that we are no longer powerless. Find activities that make you feel like you have grown beyond the miserable circumstances you grew up in. Unfairly, this is a self-paced activity, you answer only to you. If you need to write down a plan to commit to it then do that. And tell yourself that you are no longer that powerless little kid, that has changed.

            4) Parents can fail us in ways that forever change our lives. This makes a bunch of gaps in our learning experiences because we never learned the normal stuff. Fill in your gaps as you notice and correctly identify them. Be a good parent to you. One cool thing that I have enjoyed is befriending older people. Since I am not their kid there is very little judgey stuff going on. And these people offer great advice and can be very skilled at commiserating in a knowing manner. In some ways these older friends work out better than parents.

            5) Trite but true. Never underestimate the power of helping someone else with their problem in order to empower yourself to handle what you have going on.

    5. Jessi*

      check out captain awkward’s blog for setting boundary’s and support for scripts to help you cope :)

    6. Yuki*

      My husband and I are in a somewhat similar situation – his childhood was abusive, physically and emotionally (his parents only stopped hitting him when he became big enough to hit back, and the phrase “we give up on you” was a regular thing in his life as young as kindergarten/first grade). He has a sister who was never abused or mistreated, and she adores his parents and they’ve never been abel to have a single discussion about how awful Husband’s childhood actually was because she just… doesn’t remember anything Husband went through and only remembers his own rose-colored experience.

      We live in the same city as them, which isn’t a huge deal historically, but we’ve had a child and he sometimes has a really hard time watching their (perfectly sweet and loving) interactions with our child when he has clear memories of being beaten for doing the exact same things they’re cooing over our child for.

      It’s… really weird, and unsettling, and he’s having a hard time. So I just wanted to give you our sympathy because it’s a strange situation we are also trying to navigate.

      1. Regular poster anon for this one*

        Oh wow. That sounds so so so so hard. I feel for you and your husband. Thank you for sharing this, it helps to know that I’m not the only one struggling with strange family situations. I often wished that it was more black and white so that others would understand.

        My situation is quite strange, even the counselor I’m seeing says so. While I didn’t experience any physical or emotional abuse, the over controlling religious aspects of my childhood felt like a prison. (I suppose it was a kind of emotional abuse, but not in the traditional sense because it was sugar coated in so much love- love of parents, love of god).

        I can also really relate to how different family members interpret the past. That can be very challenging. My sibling is still caught up in the dysfunctional patterns, having lived at home for most of their adult life.

        I wish there was some kind of crazy family support group- maybe all of us on this thread should start one :)

    7. Mando Diao*

      You need to think long and hard about whether you want your family to be in your life. In my experience, there’s no middle ground here; almost anything you do will be of some benefit to them and no benefit to you. You also don’t need to bend to their whims and needs. Your family wants you to come over and they won’t budge on that. You should invite your mom and sister out to dinner and stick with that. If they won’t meet you at a restaurant, fine. It’s no different than what they’re presenting to you.

    8. Artemesia*

      Build a very busy life and a strong circle of friends and consciously make a lot of plans. It is easier to resist ‘come sit around with us and be miserable all day Saturday’ when you are going fossil hunting, or on a meetup neighborhood walk, or have a potluck planned with friends etc. You don’t have to tell family what you are doing just that you are busy. And being busy makes it easier for you to wrestle with your own feelings of somehow being obligated.

      And figure out how much you have to give here and take the initiative on that. Maybe you can handle one afternoon and dinner a month on a weekend (what with your busy job responsibilities and all those other commitments you have.) Maybe volunteer to cook it which then has you busy doing something and not sitting around being judged and criticized. e.g. can the disabled parent sit and chat in the kitchen while you and a sibling chop, and stew and assemble and whatever a great Italian meal or a BBQ or whatever. Are there local activities like museums, parks, outdoor summer music performances etc that you might suggest — where there could be a picnic or everyone has lunch at the museum cafe and then visits the new Caravaggio exhibit or whatever. Comb the local cultural outlets for ideas for activities that move the focus from reflecting on family to anything else.

      good luck — you should be proud of yourself for having built the life you have.

    9. TootsNYC*

      I would vote for picking some frequency–once every 6 weeks, or once a month–and make a standing date somewhere other than their home or yours. And just sort of blithely ignore pressure to get together more often. “Sorry, Mom, my life is pretty busy–but I’ll see you on the third Saturday, like always!”

      And this?

      Parent2 has a chronic illness that prevents any physical activity, which means a lot of sitting around and talking/reflecting.

      Board games! Also, time limits

      I’ll also say this: I adore my parents. They’re great; my favorite people! If I lived in the same town as them, I wouldn’t go over probably more than once a month. Now that they’re older, I might go over more often, or simply stop by and then leave, just to check in. And I love them!

      It’s OK to have a superficial relationship; of course, you don’t want to say that, but just be busy and vague.

      1. Regular poster anon for this one*

        Ah! Thank you for this. It’s super helpful to hear that even people who adore their families wouldn’t spend tons of time with them :)

        I mentioned above that we do a fairly regular board game night that does work pretty well. Any recommendations for good games? We’ve worked through a lot of the ones we have and could use a few more.

    10. Ms. Didymus*

      While my family situation is not like yours, it is also difficult.

      My family issues stem from a long history of mental health issues and drug use/addiction. In fact, I am the only person in my generation and the generation before mine that has neither of those issues (how I got so lucky? No Idea!)

      It is difficult. My family loves me and I love them. They want to see me (especially my grandparents) and I want to see them. But I live in a different state and no matter how much I want to be closer, I just cannot. I cannot move back home because I cannot fix their problems and it would break my heart to watch them fall apart without being able to distance myself. I also cannot fund their addictions/poor decisions and history has shown that when I am right there, they will wear me down until I give them my last dollars.

      My only advise is to set clear boundaries. Do what works for you, not for them. Take care of yourself first. Sometimes it will feel like you are being cruel. You aren’t. Never sacrifice your own well being for someone else. You know the saying, put your own oxygen mask on first before trying to help someone else.

      1. Regular poster anon for this one*

        Oh, I’m sorry to hear that you are in a similarly difficult situation. Also, thank goodness you dodged the genetic bullet (I think I did too, although time will tell…). I can actually relate to what you described with my sibling. It’s painful to watch sibling’s mental/physical health deteriorate and how parents enable this. I have purposefully kept more distance from sibling because it is torture to watch.

        Thank you for writing here and your advice. I think it needs to be my new mantra. Counselor is helping me come to terms with this too – I’m not responsible for my family. I literally have a panic writing that out or saying it though. I think it comes from the super religious upbringing where it’s ingrained in you that being selfless is the utmost, and that means to literally put yourself last. (I realize not all religion espouses this, ours did). I have such a weight of responsibility to them still that I’m trying to shake off.

    11. themmases*

      Your family sounds a lot like my partner’s. Although not as conservative as yours, my partner’s father emotionally abused him for religious reasons or at least religious excuses. His sibling also lives at home and has multiple medical issues (which we don’t think are being handled appropriately). I believe that is a big reason we’ve maintained the level of contact that we have.

      Boundaries are a big part of being able to get anything at all out of this type of relationship. Our boundaries are firm for that visit but flexible over time; if a visit still makes us feel bad, we try to figure out what we will change to try to prevent that. Don’t get sucked into feeling like you can’t change the arrangement, even for big things like holidays and birthdays; you can. I personally wouldn’t set formal expectations about seeing them once a month or always coming for certain holidays; it just tempts an uncomfortable conversation if you later find you can’t or don’t want to do that.

      Think about what you don’t want to talk about or what worries you about a visit before making it… It makes it a lot easier to avoid getting pulled into conversations that are too personal. We also don’t visit for no reason, ever, even though they are just a couple of hours away; it is always for a birthday, sibling’s play, etc. We spend much of the time that we are there cooking, eating, and playing board games. These are great for making it seem like quality time was spent, without having to get too personal. There are lots of great board games out now so you don’t have to just play Monopoly. If we are there all day, we go out for at least one walk and vent or just enjoy talking unguardedly.

      Only initiate the contact you actually want. If you think about it, it’s not nice to agree to things you don’t want to do and end up resenting the other person– it’s far kinder to just do the things that help you have a good relationship even if it’s less than they might want. Honestly, the process of visit, evaluate, adjust boundaries has led to us seeing them less often and for shorter visits over the years. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by their behavior before but never enough to take a certain boundary down after all. My partner still feels anxious and sad before visiting them and has a lot that he needs to process when the visit is over. It’s my hope that we will eventually see them quite rarely even though they live just a couple of hours away, because seeing them hurts my partner.

      I hope this helps! I know it is so hard. I have found a lot of people very unsupportive and insensitive that we would still have contact with them at all. The decision to keep your own family in your life, and on what terms, is personal. Seek out people in your life who will support you in finding what you want and protecting yourself.

      1. Regular poster anon for this one*

        Wow. This really does sound like my family. Thank you for sharing. It’s unusual for me to meet/hear from someone who has the complicated religious family component, as I live in a very liberal city now.

        Your partner sounds so much like me. I have the same anxious/sad feelings before visits, and then often need to process afterwards. My partner listens and is so supportive too, it’s great to have someone on my side. Luckily my partners family is also complicated (but in a completely different way), so we are able to support each other and kinda understand. We often joke that it would be worse if one of us had an amazing family, because then the difficult one would seem so much worse!

        I’m really trying to come to terms with the fact that it’s okay for me to initiate limited contact. Parent2 often looks so longingly at me, I know it’s hard for them to know that I’m not interested/too busy to spend more time with them. There’s a lot of unspoken guilt/expectations.

        I can also commiserate that other people are very unsupportive and insensitive. They either think we look “normal” and don’t understand how it could be that bad (my family presents as quite normal, loving, friendly and nice – it’s the undercurrents that others don’t see). I’ve often had friends say “I wish I had your family” (which is literally the WORST, DON’T ever say that to someone who you know has a difficult family, even if you don’t see it. You have no idea what happens when you aren’t there, or what happened during childhood). Or, they say I should just cut ties, which isn’t feasible at the moment, nor is it what I want.

        Ugh, giant comment… to summarize, I want to say thank-you for this, it’s helpful to hear how others are coping in a similar situation.

    12. Temperance*

      I can relate. I was raised evangelical, and am now an atheist. I never lived the life my family wanted me to live. My mother desperately wanted my sister and me to be sweet, quiet, religious homemakers. I haven’t been complacent as a person … ever, and I’ve always felt that she was disappointed in me that I wasn’t easygoing or what she thinks a woman should be. In turn, I’ve always been disappointed that my own mother thinks that men are superior to women.

      My parents were extremely strict with us, although thankfully I’m about 5 years too old to have been pushed into courtship. Shudder. They raised us with authoritarian parenting, and were honestly shocked when we decided as adults that it didn’t work for us to be obedient to our parents. They thought that they were apparently setting up our lives for us, and we did not agree. (We were to marry Christian men and live on the same street as our parents. Nope. My husband is an ex-Catholic and we live a few hours away, in a nice, quiet suburb of a major city. My BIL is marginally Catholic and they live 15 minutes from my parents.)

      I didn’t have that love feeling from my family, nor do I have much of a relationship with them now. My family does absolutely think that family comes first, so time with just my husband or friends is not as important/not to be respected. I deal with this with my in-laws, too, FWIW.

      We just don’t see them much and don’t tend to engage. I think in your case, a standing family night is probably fine, especially if you can keep it superficial like you have been. I relate to your family not really knowing you and not wanting them to do so. My family has their own idea of who I am, and it’s not true, but meh.

  19. totally anon for this*

    Any advice for getting yourself through a really difficult time? I’ve been job searching for 7 months and had 4 interviews. I’m getting really discouraged because I’m at a serious breaking point with my current workplace for multiple reasons and honestly I’m sorry to say that I have no respect for the owner anymore. He’s made so many poor decisions, he underpays me by a lot, he never says a good word to anyone, he basically ignores his employees & most people there feel undervalued and unappreciated. I want out, badly. He’s honestly one of the worst people I have ever worked for and is beyond unapproachable. I’ve also been exposed to some really dysfunctional stuff there and there were many points where others would have been well within their wits to walk out. Many before me have done this, and not on good terms. Problem is I don’t really enjoy what I’m doing anyway and trying to break into another part of the field but without experience I’m going nowhere. In fact, I’m not even getting anywhere applying to similar jobs to the one I have now. It’s very discouraging.
    On top of that, my narcissistic elderly grandmother is driving me crazy. She is old, which I understand, but she is demanding, impatient, lays guilt trips on you when she doesn’t get her way, and has no respect for me or my time. She’d love for me to move in and be her slave. We have never gotten along. My father has told me it’s my job to care for her because he’s not interested and has had enough of her crap for one lifetime, plus he is not in best health himself. In fact, his mother who is her 90’s, is probably healthier than him. Recently she feigned an illness to get a trip to the ER (nothing wrong and miraculously felt fine on the way home later) because I wasn’t giving her enough attention, so I had to leave work to be there. She has interfered with my life so much and I just want to walk away, but I can’t. I’m an only child and my father is too so there is no one else. My grandfather died many years ago.
    On top of this, my husband has kicked up his smoking, drinking & overeating to a point where I barely recognize him anymore. On top of the money wasted, I’m so tired of fighting over it with him. I want him to be healthy but he seems hellbent on living this way. I’m at my wit’s end with that too, and sad, because his lifestyle is so unhealthy and I worry about him. Since I met him, he has gained 70 pounds. Admittedly he was underweight back then but he’s really unhealthy and on blood pressure pills now.
    On top of that too, my house is in dire need of major structural repairs and I’m going to have to take out a second mortgage to pay for it. My father has a LOT of money but so far hasn’t agreed to loan me any when I asked, which shouldn’t be surprising but it still hurts. I’d help my kid in a heartbeat for something like this. Not so with my parents. Did I mention my mother is mentally ill and never steps in to back me up on anything, even when he used to verbally abuse me? So yeah, there’s that.
    I need a vacation. Badly. I feel like I’m getting it from all directions. Meditation would help so I should get into that again. When it rains it pours and I’m waiting for the sun to shine.

    1. fposte*

      Wow, that is a huge pile, and I can understand why you’re tired.

      Going back to meditation sounds good; developing good practices around sleep, food, and regular exercise would probably also help. I’d also suggest exploring therapy to help with the family and marital stuff in more depth. In the short term, though, your father can consider whatever he wants to be your job, but that doesn’t confer any obligation on you, and it sounds like talking to him and your grandmother less would give you more air right now.

      I hope you start seeing some sunshine soon.

      1. Op*

        I’m going to start meditation and exercising more, and my food habits are absolutely awful ( I complain about my husband eating garbage but when stressed I do it too), so I know that needs to change too. Thank you for those reminders!

    2. The Little Prince(ess)*

      I can’t help but think that you need to completely disengage from your parents and grandmother and focus on you and your marriage.

      You can only cope with so much, and right now (or forever?) it needs to be yourself, and your husband.

      I’m sorry for your troubles.

      1. The Little Prince(ess)*

        “She has interfered with my life so much and I just want to walk away, but I can’t. I’m an only child and my father is too”

        Your grandmother is not your responsibility. If she hasn’t loved and nurtured you, she doesn’t deserve your care.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          This is something I have had to come to terms with because my grandmother is a racist, sexist, classist, non-Catholic-hating narcissistic asshole who never tried to develop any kind of relationship with me that extended past occasionally using me as a prop to make her look good to her friends. Sometimes I feel a little guilty because it is sad that she’s in her mid-90s and has dementia and no one can stand to be in a room with her including me and her own children. But then I remind myself that the reason that happened is SHE SPENT THE LAST 70+ YEARS BEING AWFUL TO EVERYONE and now she’s reaping the consequences of that.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This. This. This. If we think of life as a series of learning experiences, it is not a huge leap in logic to realize that we cannot interfere with other people’s learning experiences.

            We will have our own full set of learning experiences and probably no one will lose their life protecting us from ourselves.

            1. Op*

              What’s sad is she is in her mid 90’s and still doesn’t understand, or can’t accept, why people avoid her. She honestly doesn’t. One day she said something about having treated people poorly in her life and I thought she had figured it out, but the thought fizzled out as quickly as it arrived. She really thinks she’s a sweet, kind, undemanding person who deserves special treatment. And she thinks people are here to serve her. She even got upset with her friend who died because her friend would have driven her to the wake but she couldn’t obviously because it was her own wake! It’s unreal and very very sad actually.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                It sounds like there is some serious physical issues going on inside her brain. It’s almost impossible to reason with this type of thinking she is using.

              2. Wendy Darling*

                I think we may have the same granny.

                If it helps any you officially have my permission to avoid the crap out of her.

          2. Op*

            Yes, I do understand this, 100%. Many people avoid my grandmother and it’s all because of her behavior. People like this do not understand & would not accept that they are painful to be around. In contrast, I have an elderly friend who I absolutely adore, and 3 hours spent with her feels like 30 minutes. 30 minutes with my grandmother feels like 3 hours. It’s amazing how some people can be such joy in our lives and others…..Sorry you had to deal with that in your family. Good for you for staying away.

        2. Op*

          Well, that’s the thing. She actually has helped me in life because my parents sucked. She was the one who helped me get my first car, she helped me when my son was born because my mother wouldn’t, she babysat my son when he was little and was actually good with him. The babysitting gave her something to do and it made her feel important too (narcissists love to be seen as needed and important). I avoided her like the plague growing up (because of all the guilt trips and nastiness she put on me even then) but when the chips were down she was the one who stepped in. So all this makes it even more difficult to walk away from her. Plus everyone in town knows it’s my job, and they feel compassion for me but secretly they are glad it’s not THEIR job. (Except for her enabling neighbor who is an absolute angel but makes excuses for her bad behavior constantly to me.)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This is a typical pattern though. They do enough to rope you in, to make you feel like you are obligated to help them.

            When I got my first car, I had an aunt tell me she would loan me money for tires. Her interest rates were steep: Be at her house every Saturday morning at 7 am and scrub it from ceiling to floor. You should have seen her jaw drop when I said no thanks on the tires. I never told her but so many nights I almost went off the road until I could afford tires. It was better than being an indentured servant.

            If you feel you owe her something then give her what you feel is fair. But do not allow her to drain you of all the energy you have. Going forward, since you know she wants you to hand her the universe on a silver platter, be careful of whatever you accept from her. She’s got steep price tags.

            1. Op*

              Wow, that is true. It’s actually classic manipulation. She does rope me in, and occasionally says thank you, when she sees that I’m getting upset with her. Just enough to keep me within reach. And the guilt trips too. Always the guilt trips.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      All of these people seem to demand a lot from you, without really contributing anything to your life. DNA similarities or legal entanglements (marriage) do not give them a right to run your life. For those who are important to you, you may want to take their opinions or desires into consideration, but even that doesn’t mean they automatically overrule yours.

      Basically, you need to determine if it’s worth having any of these people in your life, including your husband. If he were a heroin addict you wouldn’t stay with him and let him steal from you (I hope) until he got help for his addiction, but his current habits sound like they might be as disruptive towards your life as a drug habit, both now and much more so in the future.

      1. bluesboy*

        Isn’t this a little harsh on her husband? He smokes, drinks and over eats. That’s it. She hasn’t said that he’s mean, or abusive, or nasty. They fight, but they fight over his smoking, drinking and overeating. Comparing him to a heroin addict, isn’t that a little extreme?

        Agree 100% on everything else you said.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Yes, but especially considering the pattern she’s shown us with the rest of her family, it sounded like she might have found something similar with her husband. I was hoping to get her to consider whether maybe she’s enabling one more codependent person who has no concern for her life or well-being or happiness.

          1. Op*

            Well, I do totally understand where you’re coming from on that. It would seem like I would choose someone similar considering my dysfunctional family of origin. However, he actually is a good guy. He works hard & long hours, he cooks dinner for us all the time, he’s compassionate, he’s kind. I mean, he’s no angel (neither am I), but I love him. We have had our ups and downs and hit a very rough patch about 15 years ago but he’s a good husband for the most part and I just want to see him healthy. He’s adopted so we have no family history on him. BTW – He’s even helped out when he can with my grandmother (she seems to like him better than me because he’s A MAN. One Saturday she was complaining about how she has no one. I said “I’m standing right in front of you.” She said “Well, you’re a woman.” Unreal. )

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              Good, I’m glad to hear that he is a partner, and that you understood that my concern was repeating the same pattern you have with some of your biological family. That’s incredibly common, even when we think we know better. When I get frustrated or tired, I can hear a lot of my dad in things I say or find myself wanting to say, even though he was occasionally a verbally abusive jerk to my mom and me when I was growing up. And even though I have fought like hell all my life to take after him only in the things I admire or like about him.

    4. Mando Diao*

      You sound really alone in all of this. Do you have any friends you can reconnect with just so you can get out and take a break.

      It’s slimy, but next time your grandmother starts with you, tell her to call your dad and have him to use his money to pay for a visiting nurse. See what happens when you present a different solution. Of course, you might be secretly waiting for when you inherit that money, so I wouldn’t blame you for not giving other people ideas for how to spend it.

      As far as your job goes, see if you can find a weekend internship. It’s a great way to bulk up your resume and to get a good reference. Plus you’ll be too busy to visit your grandma.

      1. Op*

        I’d try that but she knows he won’t part with his money. He hoards it and cries poverty. Plus she and him rarely speak anymore. I’m not expecting to inherit any of his money because I fully expect him to be in a nursing home at one point (he was very close to being admitted a couple of years ago). There is no chance I could or would provide care for him and I told that to the nursing home staff at the group meeting (which didn’t go over well. In many cases when dealing with social workers, etc..regarding him or my grandmother, I look like the bad guy. They have no understanding or compassion for me because their job is to look out for them.)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Gee. And from what I am reading it’s common knowledge to human service people that usually the most abusive environment is the home environment. Because drained family members do not always behave well. Take the patient out of the home environment and that can change the game for some patients. They become agreeable and cooperative and do not treat staff the way they treated family.

          1. Op*

            Very true. Often my father and grandmother are agreeable when they first go in, however, when enough time has passed, they do become verbally abusive to the staff. My father had been talked to several times in rehab about his inappropriate behavior (with women I think) and warned. My grandmother had to have an alarm placed on her when she was in rehab years ago (from disobeying orders and walking around, probably trying to escape!) and I witnessed her verbally abusing a staff member. In fact, I believe she was yelling at the ER staff from what I heard Friday. The staff may know it’s worse at home but they aren’t too interested in my side of the story generally from what I’ve experienced, especially if they don’t see this side of them at all. Then I look like a liar.

        2. E*

          You might try Agency on Aging or Meals on Wheels or other local groups in your area who will stop by your grandmother’s home during the week. She’ll get a visit and chance to talk with someone regularly, and you’ll get a break.

    5. TootsNYC*

      You might seek out a counselor who has some experience with family issues, and ask specifically for coaching and strategizing on how to disconnect from Grandma. (Like, next time she goes to the ER, don’t leave work to go there. She’s not going to die–medical professionals are there, and you are in the way. Even if it’s serious–you are in the way. When she’s ready to be released, someone can figure out how to get her home. Like, your dad who has money can call a taxi to pick her up, or something.

      Anyway, maybe that’s a little harsh, but some of these family issues are stressing you, and having someone on your side, with experience in helping people set emotional & logical boundaries around family issues might be really powerful.

      Good luck!

      1. Op*

        I need to find one of those counselors, especially one who is familiar with dysfunctional families and narcissism. And yes, I agree about the hospital. I am in the way. They know what they are doing. She wants everyone there for attention in cases like this and the more I think about it the sicker I become.

    6. AnAppleADay*

      From this moment forward, make YOU your priority. Find a good therapist who will support you as you start to establish boundaries with all of your family members.

      Do the hard work, make yourself your priority and become healthier. My Therapist told me that as you get healthier you attract to you healthier people and healthier job prospects. She was right. My workplace where I’ve been for the past 18 months is the healthiest place I’ve ever worked. It’s such a relief to be working with adults and not middle schoolers in adults clothing!

      Can you take a vacation by yourself and give yourself a break from everyone and everything? You know the flight attendant speech where you are to put your oxygen mask on first? Time to do that with the rest of your life. There is only one you and it’s not at all selfish to take care of yourself – first.

      1. Op*

        I’m glad you found a good job. It makes me happy to hear of others who have escaped dysfunctional workplaces! I would like a vacation actually, alone, somewhere. I dream of the airport and just getting on a plane. I wouldn’t be lonely. I’d find things to do, but more importantly I need to clear my head. I’m thinking about it. The problem now is I have limited vacation time and money of course is an issue. If I won the lottery tomorrow I’d leave town for a month and I would give 1 day notice at my job and 0 days notice to nana.

    7. Op*

      I just want to thank you all for your input. I have a lot to think about. I will look into a therapist again (I went to one many years ago when I was in college because I needed someone to tell me that these people weren’t normal. I needed validation.) The thing is, with my degree in psych., I know what I need to do. Boundaries. I set them and she pushes. This week I set them with her and refused to go down to her house over every little request. I needed a break. Then she pulls the stunt with the ER and ends up getting my attention anyway (has to get her narcissistic supply), and I have her neighbor calling me to tell me she’s in the ambulance. Ends up the neighbor went to visit her anyway at the hospital so yeah, maybe I should have just stayed at work. Thing is, with her age, you don’t know, is this the day? Is this the end? Could she die this time and I’m not there? The funny thing is her neighbor is a kindhearted person who could never understand why I wouldn’t want to go over there. I’ve tried to explain but I get nowhere with her. What she doesn’t see is that she is used by my grandmother too, and my grandmother complains to me when this neighbor isn’t giving he enough attention! So I have to defend this woman to my grandmother and explain that she has her own life. The neighbor is a slave to her as well, however, a willing slave. Ugh. Such a mess. I appreciate everyone’s comments. I think spending 8 hours at a job I hate is making all of this worse for me because I have no escape. And it’s true that as you are happy, you attract happy circumstances to yourself, which is maybe why I haven’t found anything yet in that regard.

      1. Artemesia*

        You aren’t going to change her so change you. Figure out how to protect your own time and head. Come to terms with the fact that people who cry wolf sometimes get humbled by that when they need real help. Get that narrative going ‘I feel bad that she died before I got there; after so many false alarms and crying wolf I never knew when it was important and that is sad for her.’

        So often people feel they ‘have to do’ this or that. You probably do have to do somethings but you get to decide how that goes; you don’t need to let them consume and destroy your life.

        1. Op*

          So so true. All of it. I need to practice that narrative and more importantly, get it in my head to where it’s second nature.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        The rule of thumb is that doctors should not treat themselves they are too subjective. Likewise with you, just because you are a psych major does not make you disconnect from you family and suddenly become purely objective about matters.
        We always need inputs of others. This is a valuable life tool, that we just keep reusing and reusing.

        Have you ever asked yourself what would happen if she died and you were not there? I was not there when my father died and he died anyway. I WAS there when my husband passed and he died anyway. (They could not resuscitate him.) It did not matter if I was there or not– at least to the people who died. It really only mattered to me.

        Honestly, when the time comes I think you will know. There will be more going on in terms of health issues, things will seem to be at their worst ever. Keep things within reason. You may have to say that you cannot leave work every time she goes to the hospital. Say it upfront. I have had to say no a couple times to a parent who was being rushed to the hospital. It’s not easy, but there are times when it is necessary.

        ” And it’s true that as you are happy, you attract happy circumstances to yourself, which is maybe why I haven’t found anything yet in that regard.”

        You can break this cycle by looking for people who are happy people. And you can also help the cycle to break by deliberately looking for something pleasant each day. Maybe the best you can find is the nice stranger who holds the door for you as you go into a store. Hey, that counts, you found something nice. Keep looking for more the next day.
        I would amend that saying to “People who are looking for happy things, draw happy things to themselves because they are deliberately seeking it.”

        1. Op*

          You’ve given me a lot to think about. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t go every time, just like it’s not the end of the world if I don’t reply to every one of her unending list of demands. I can do 5 things for her but if I don’t do the 6th on the list, I may as well have done nothing in her eyes. Years ago I’d rush to do the 6th. Today I say sorry, no. I’m going to work on finding nice things every day too. I need that.

    8. Sibley*

      Ok. First, hugs!

      Second – work stuff – take a look at Ask A Manager’s blog, see if your resume/cover letter need improvement. She’s got good advice.

      Third – boundaries with your family. Read Captain Awkward’s blog.

      Fourth – the house. any chance you could sell it as is and just move somewhere else? Or is it actually worth the money to fix it?

      1. Op*

        You are so kind. I’ve been working on my resume and cover letter. I finally have the cover letter honed down to where I think it should be, depending on the position, as opposed to generic stuff.
        I will be reading that blog shortly!
        I love the house. I have enough equity in it that’s it worth fixing I believe. I just don’t have the energy right now to get a second opinion and start the process, although he said I should well before winter because it wouldn’t be able to handle another winter like last year (we had 3 feet of heavy snow on the roof and heavy icicles 5 feet long. There were many roof collapses in my area of the country & I think a lot of the damage I’m seeing is from that).

  20. Kay*

    I commented some months ago about how my maid of honor (best friend) refused to attend my wedding reception unless we seated her two kids (aged 4.5 and 2) at the table with her. We’d hired babysitters for the 20+ other kids at the wedding, made many other activities at the wedding kid-welcoming, but asked that kids go with the babysitters in an adjacent room to the (outdoor) reception for the 3 hours of the reception. The way it all went down was frankly awful (since it was her + the best man, husband’s brother, and his family got involved in not-good ways) and we ended up caving and allowing the kids at the table; they did not stay at the table, wandered the reception, maid of honor did literally nothing all day but gave a short toast, left soon after the reception having never said goodbye, etc.

    Since the wedding (in September) I’ve been working hard on accepting her view on our friendship (basically nil) and trying to come to terms with ways in which 98% of the wedding day (and the whole weekend) was really wonderful and perfect. I think about the MOH sometimes with a great deal of pain and grief but I’ve mostly moved on. It helps that we are in different states and always had the “don’t talk for a few weeks but fall right back into best friendship” relationship before the wedding. We have really not talked at all except for one very brief email exchange of a few sentences each in January. A lot of the original comments when I told this story were really helpful in affirming that the best way forward for me was to grieve the friendship and move on, accepting what she told me by her actions.

    Memorial Day weekend we’ll be going to an annual family + friends event at which MOH and her husband (also a college friend of mine) and family will be. There will be 20+ people so it will not be difficult to avoid her, but it will be super-obvious and awkward. Part of me does want to catch up with her. I still love her kids, I just hate the way she used them as leverage/pawns/whatever the right term is. But part of me wants to keep avoiding because it is still, surprisingly, a very raw wound.

    I don’t know if I have a good question here. Maybe just some strategies for coping? Anyone in similar situations? If it helps, I am fairly deeply introverted and while I do great in social situations that are very superficial (I rock at networking) I am really bad at precisely this kind of social situation: where there’s been something deeply hurtful done, and it was previously a close relationship that has now foundered. (It doesn’t help that I’m sure she saw ME as the unreasonable one.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Do you have any sense of what happened on her end? Is your gut telling you anything about how she probably sees this and why? It’s a crappy situation regardless, but knowing that might be helpful in figuring out how to position it in your mind.

      1. Kay*

        My gut tells me she’s the kind of mother who saw me as an obstacle to something her kids needed and therefore it was easy for her. She told me once that literally every interaction in her life is now shaped by how people treat her kids. I adore her kids. I was a great extra aunt for years, did absolutely everything I possibly could to show how much I love them. I asked for one accommodation, once, for three hours, on my wedding day, and whoosh, that was it. I was snipped right out. So I am probably now firmly in the category of “people who were horrible to her kids and now are lower than dirt,” though I went to great pains throughout to tell her that we were trying to help and the problem hinged on having 20+ kids, not her kids, and we did not feel right making exceptions because then we were treating the other parents poorly. I suspect she also gained validation from the fact that the best man, my husband’s brother, made the same demand about his three toddlers, and we had to cave for him as well. She is very close friends with the best man and his wife and has been growing closer in part due to the kids thing. (Added soap opera wrinkle! Best man’s wife, my new sister in law, loathes me for literally no reason, is a terrible human being, and has behaved about as horribly as you could possibly imagine toward me for 15+ years now. So I can imagine she is validating MOH’s position with glee.)

        Sorry for the novel – it’s still obviously a painful and baffling situation for me. :(

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ugh, the irony of “I want only the best treatment for my kids” combined with “and I will do them the disservice of teaching them that anyone who doesn’t think the world revolves around them should be cut out of our lives.”

          It’s almost like the biological imperative to protect her kids has gone terribly awry in her, like a bad genetic mutation.

          1. catsAreCool*

            Yeah, this kind of treatment is terrible for kids. Kids need to know that they can’t have everything in life that they want, otherwise adulthood will be a very painful shock to them.

          2. Kay*

            Pretty much. Her kids have still never spent a single day in daycare, never had a babysitter who wasn’t family, etc. Husband’s brother and his wife are the same way about their kids. (The sentence “how dare you tell me to leave my children with a stranger,” I quote, was among the arguments they used.) There is literally not a single second at any family gathering that does not revolve around them. Honestly I was never sure about kids for myself but the way many of my peers are parenting – people I would have sworn previously were rational, loving, good friends – has basically turned me off completely.

    2. Come On Eileen*

      Ugh, I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’ve had similar friendships, not completely identical to your story, but where I had a few moments in time that made me realize “oh, this isn’t going to be a forever friendship. Lame.”

      What I do when I know I”m going to see them in a casual bigger group setting is practice a few friendly but vague greetings in my head, plus plan an escape after those greetings. Like “hi there! Good to see you. You’re looking well. Oh look, they put the potato salad out, I’m going to go grab a plate before it’s all gone…” Then I pat myself on the back for being mature in a hard situation.

      1. Kay*

        I like the part about giving myself permission to feel good about behaving with maturity after a difficult situation. I tend to double down on self-criticism and think I should have done better. Thank you.

    3. Mando Diao*

      People sometimes use weddings/marriage/having kids as a smokescreen for ending friendships that they had been planning on ending for a long time. You already went above and beyond by providing childcare, and no reasonable adult wants children around at a boozy dinner party anyway. She deliberately sparked this fight. Looking beyond the wedding, is there any other issue you can suss out?

        1. Kay*

          She (and the best man, who also insisted on the same accommodation) were the recipient of many horrified looks and of cold shoulders from many many other guests. Most of the kids at the wedding were from my side of the family, and my mother got the exquisitely awkward job of explaining that we still really hoped they would take advantage of the babysitting but that we’d had to make an exception. I know that to a (wo)man they were all excited for a few hours of free babysitting.

      1. Kay*

        Maybe? I don’t know. In any friendship there are lots of little things about someone else that make you roll your eyes. I honestly can’t think of anything major. We had been close friends for 15 years. My only guess is that she has been getting closer and closer to the wife of a mutual friend, now my brother in law, who loathes me and has gone out of her way on literally dozens of occasions to be vile to me. So perhaps that bonding had already half-convinced her that she wanted to find a way to cut me out of her life.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If she did see you as the unreasonable one, then that puts you on equal footing with each other. You both believe the other one was unreasonable. (FWIW, she was actually unreasonable. You were fine.) So the next thing is, does she miss the friendship enough to try to fix it even though she sincerely believes you were wrong?

      I see one of three things happening here:
      She follows you around endlessly begging to fix the friendship. (Unlikely scenario.)
      She exchanges a few empty pleasantries and not much else. (Likely scenario.)
      She ignores you the entire time. (Likely scenario.)

      Maybe you could just copy whatever she does. She ignores, you ignore. She starts a superficial conversation, you respond with superficial answers.

      I consider myself more introverted than extroverted. I have noticed that I need to plan my responses to unique situations. A good quick way to work this through is figure out what is the hardest scenario you can think of? Probably like something where she starts yelling at you, right? So develop a plan. I would say to her, “Not here and not now. If you want to talk then we can talk later. But we can’t ruin the nice day everyone else is having today.” In other words, I would squelch any bad behavior by pointing out that we are impacting the enjoyment that others are experiencing.

      Kids. Be kind and be you when you interact with the kids. Your friend may never, ever tell you. But in her heart she will remember that you were always kind to her kids. Yes, that counts.

      1. Kay*

        Actually the worst is that I get a 100% cold shoulder, because that would really indicate it’s totally done. Yelling I could do! Yelling I can stare at in amazed bafflement and then laugh and walk away, plus it clearly outs her to the others there. But it’s helpful to play out that scenario in my head. I don’t think I have the emotional guts to try and reach out to her if I’m stonewalled. Probably I would find other things to do. (Like walk my dog. Her kids are hysterically terrified of my dog – who is great with kids, it’s not her, she just spent a weekend with my 1yo nephew and he adores her – and usually I hand the dog to my husband when I want to play with them. Hm, that might be a good strategy.)

        I adore her kids, have known them since they were days old, have been a surrogate aunt for years, brought them small gifts and then played with them for hours whenever I went out of my way to visit, sent them fun postcards while traveling, you name it. I would love to spend time with them again. I don’t think I’ll be allowed. I think she has now categorized me as a monster who hates her kids because I asked for one accommodation once.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is a woman who values her kids above all else. Unfortunately, this means you, too.
          I think that it is important here for you to think about what you want from the situation. If she came running up to you and apologized all over the place, would you actually want this person as a friend now that you can see how she behaves? Would you be able to trust her to be on good behavior from here out?

          What I am picking up on is her “power” to decide the friendship is over. What about YOUR power to decide the friendship is over? Or going the opposite way, what about your power to say, “I wish you the best in life, no matter what it is you wish on me.” You do not lose these powers unless you chose to lose them. For worst case scenario you can decide either that it’s over or that you will take the higher road. You are not without power here.

    5. Susiecq*

      My similar story was I had a best friend and we just sort of… fell out very quietly before my wedding. The dynamic was she always came to me to help solve her problems in life and relationships which I was happy to do because I cared for her. Im the type that kind of internalizes my problems and work them out on my own so I didnt really ever go to her for advice but we had a lot of fun together and balanaced each other well. Then, situations arose in my life where I had to make life alterating decisions and I was honestly stuck. I went to her and all she said, literally, was “well, I hope you make the right decision.” No talking through anything, no sympathy, no shoulder to cry on like I was for her for years. There was no blow up, no actual confrontation, but we just kind of quietly didnt talk to each anymore on both sides. I didnt invite her to my wedding and we havent talked in 6+ years.

      Honestly, the only advice I have is just the cliche but it’s so true – give it time. If youre not feeling the relationship anymore but dont have the heart to do anything like confrontations or ‘breaking up’ then just give it time. It will either heal wounds and you’ll reconnect naturally or itll fade as you’ll realize that other aspecs of the friendship were not right, and at that point you’ll have moved on, like me. Sometimes I do still think about her but I’ve since realized she was actually a toxic person (cheated on every boyfriend she ever had, manipulative, her catch phrase was ‘its not faiiiirrr’ etc )

      1. TootsNYC*

        so right, the “give it time” idea.

        Mrs. Cosmopolite has a wise saying: “It won’t get better if you pick at it.”

        Don’t try to decide what this friendship is, or what will happen. And don’t assume that whatever happens at the reunion is truly meaningful. Just wait. Let things happen. Think of it like floating at the beach–let the ocean waves come and go, and don’t attach meaning to it until you see stronger patterns, and until you have a chance to think about how you feel about whatever happens.

        Good luck!

      2. Cath in Canada*

        I also fell out with a good friend right before my wedding! She got married a few months before I did, and I was one of the MCs and sort of second-in-command MOH (the real one was coming from out of town, so I organized all the local events in the run-up to the wedding). I ran errands with her, went to I think three or four different pre-parties / rehearsals, cooked all day for the stagette (and was then ignored by almost all of her other friends because I didn’t want to talk about mountain biking all night), and barely got to eat at the wedding itself because of my MC duties. Which, is just what friends do! It was fun!

        For my wedding, I didn’t want a shower, but I did want a weekend away camping a few weeks before the wedding (enough time for the bug bites to die down), then a dinner & dancing night the week before the wedding, once my Mum, sister, and cousins had arrived in town. I stressed early and often that people shouldn’t feel at all obliged to come to either event, and definitely not to both. I asked this friend (who’s really outdoorsy) if she’d be happy to help organize the camping weekend stagette, and she… kinda flipped out and said I was asking too much of people’s time, and how dare I take her away from her new husband for three whole weekends? Which, WTF, because obviously he was invited to the wedding, the second stagette was a single evening only, and her husband was invited to the stag. It was bizarre, but it was also really just an escalation of a pre-existing pattern. I’d already given her several more “last” chances than some of our mutual friends had before giving up on her. I honestly think she might be somewhere on the narcissism spectrum.

        She ended up coming on the camping trip, which was really fun, and to the wedding, but I’ve barely seen her since. Weird. She was really, really fun most of the time, but ultimately just not worth the drama.

  21. AnAppleADay*

    Those two sisters look like that got caught in the act ! What shenanigans are they plotting?

  22. Eva*

    I recently broke up with my partner of 10 years. Our two cats, whom we got as kittens 4 years ago, are currently still living with me. However, we have agreed that the cats can live with him as soon as he finds a place of his own, which is expected to be by the 30th of June.

    Does anyone have any advice on saying goodbye to my cats? The break up was very messy and it’s unlikely I will see them again in real life or in photos, on social media, etc.

    I am scared of being completely on my own once they are gone and, although the drive me nuts sometimes and I feel they will get better care from him (I am too busy), I am still terribly sad at the thought of losing them.

    Has anyone been in this situation before? I have no idea how to mentally prepare myself for this loss of my fur babies and my companions.

    1. Come On Eileen*

      I don’t have any wonderful words of advice, but you have my sympathy. My fiancee and I were together for 10 years and we split last year, and I’ve been so grateful to have my two cats to keep me company and take my attention away from the sadness and grief. I don’t know what I would do without them. Do you have a local animal shelter that would let you drop in or volunteer a few hours a week to spend time with kitties?

    2. Lady Kelvin*

      Since you say you are too busy to keep your cats, I’d like to suggest a different kind of pet. I have a pet rat (she’s my second actually) and she is just the sweetest thing in the world. Rats get really bad rats because wild rats carry disease/are scary/etc but domesticated rats are really great pets for busy people or people with young kinds who want a pet but can’t take care of a cat or dog on their own. They are fairly low cost, Skippio’s setup cost around $50 to start, and I spend about $30 a month on food and bedding. Her cage needs cleaned out about once a week, but she can go up to 2 weeks without anyone checking on her as long as I make sure to give her enough food and fill her water bottle. Female rats tend to be smaller than male rats, but male rats generally have a much better personality and are better for young kids. I used to travel all the time (2-3 times a month) and she was great because I don’t have to find someone to watch her while I am gone, but I still have all the pleasures of having a furry pet. She loves to snuggle and play with me because I took the time to handle her all the time when I first got her. Rats are very social people, so I make sure to interact with Skippio every day when I am home, but I would say if you don’t think you will be able to spend a lot of time with your rat, to get two. They will keep each other company and you don’t have to feel bad about not playing with her every day. Plus, rats are not a long term commitment, they only live for about 2 years.

      1. 3D Queen*

        So curious about this! I can’t have one because all my cats have a VERY strong prey drive, but what is it generally like? I’ve been told it is just as emotionally rewarding as dogs/cats but less time (as you suggest). How do you stimulate them emotionally (is there a version of cat toys for rats?).

        As for Eva, I’m so, so sorry! Something similar happened to me way back, and honestly it helped to immerse myself in activities that took me away from the house as often as possible (being home was the worst because that’s when I most clearly felt the loss). Take plenty of time to take care of yourself, lean on your friends for taking up time, enjoy the pizza and ice cream, and wait for time to do its thing.

      2. Nicole*

        I don’t intend to hijack this thread but I just had to share how excited I was to see your pet recommendation because I have pet rats and absolutely love them. It seems like many people view them as hamsters with ugly tails but a) they are way more affectionate and fun to interact with because they enjoy human interaction whereas hamsters would rather be left alone and b) you get used to the tail very quickly. Even my friends who reacted poorly when they found out I have pet rats have come around and now like the photos I post of them online. Each rat has a unique personality and are very smart. They’re not only great for people who are short on time (especially if you have more than one since they are social creatures) but also for those who may have allergies/asthma and can’t be around cats (like my husband) or would rather have a pet who can’t mess up their house (like me). They’re actually great pets for children too; they are less likely to be bitten by a rat than a hamster, in fact. If you couldn’t tell, I’m a big fan. :)

        1. Lady Kelvin*

          I have loved having rats! To keep them stimulated I buy themchews and similar things for them to hide/play with and I actually let mine run around the apartment… Supervised of course. Neither of my rats have been big chewers so I only lost a couple of cords, but they love to play and climb and I’ll hide treats for them to find. We recently got a dog and she is also a hunter and would love nothing more than to eat Skippio, but Kelvin has gotten bit a few times when she stuck her tongue and nose too close to the cage so she is slightly more cautious now.

    3. LCL*

      Are they chipped? If not, get them chipped, and make sure to keep your information up to date. Does he even really want the cats, or is he just trying to stick it to you?
      I would tell him he’s not getting them unless he agrees to send pictures once a year, and that he must give you first choice if he can’t keep them.

    4. Perse's Mom*

      I second LCL’s comment – do try to get some kind of agreement that if anything happens and your ex can’t keep the cats, they go back to you. If they’re microchipped, see if you can be set as the secondary contact in the event one of them gets lost.

      I suppose it sounds ridiculous, but consider it from the angle of kids in a divorce. No matter how messy the divorce is, you should both want the best for the kids, right? And that (generally) includes contact with both parents. I have no idea *how* messy things are, or if there’s any hope for you and the ex to remain cordial, but is it possible to work out something akin to visitation? If he wants to go away for a long weekend or a vacation or whatever, can they stay with you like a kitty hotel? If one of them needs medical care (either routine or serious), will he be willing to keep you in the loop? Periodic video calls so you can see them and they can hear your voice?

      1. Eva*

        Thanks for all the comments. I go think you’re right – no matter how messy, there’s no reason not to be able to see photos or even have occasional visits, or have them stay with me if he goes on holiday. I can also be their secondary contact. I think that all sounds reasonable and doable

      2. Lindsay J*

        Honestly, I don’t think this is the best way at all.

        Animals are not children, and no matter how much the animals love both of their owners, they will get along fine with just one.

        And making this arrangement means she needs to stay in touch with an ex with whom she had a messy breakup and would likely be better off going no contact with for her own mental health. And it gives him a pawn to be able to manipulate her with.

        Plus she won’t be able to grieve the loss of the cats if she is holding onto the hope that she is going to see them again, when there’s no guarantee her ex will keep his word.

        I’ve seen people attept to split custody with pets, and I’ve never seen it end well.

        Honestly, I would rip the bandaid off, say goodbye to them, grieve them, and go no-contact.

        Also, legally pets are viewed as property and nothing more. So if he does not want to allow her to see them or hold up his half of any deal they make she likely has no legal recourse. If he can show she agreed to let him have possession or he can prove that he was the one to adopt them or pay for and provide the majority of the care then he can legally do whatever he wants with them regardless of how fair or unfair it seems. This is a case where registering their microchips in her name would help out – that is something that could be used to show she is the primary care provider for them. But it doesn’t seem like she is fighting him for possession of the cats so that is kind of moot here.

        Eva, I’m sorry you’re going through this. It’s really tough. The worst thing about breaking up with my ex was leaving behind my two dogs and two cats with him. I still miss them and sometimes tear up when Facebook shows me a memory with them etc.

        It was really hard for me, especially at first, to imagine them looking for me when I didn’t come home.

        I was moving out of an abusive situation, so I didn’t have too long to grieve them before I had to move out. But what I did do was buy a treat for each one of them, and sit down and pet them and and tell them that I loved them and that I missed them and that it wasn’t their fault that I was going away and basically love on them as much as I could. The talking was mostly for me, because I know they can’t really understand me, but it made me feel better to explain to them that I loved them and that I would miss them and that I was going to be a lot happier where I was moving and that I wanted them to be happy too. And I figure they appreciated the treats and the cuddles.

        Then, after I moved out and got myself established a little bit I went out and adopted my own dog. And it wasn’t the same as getting my old dogs back. And she wasn’t a replacement. But she wasn’t my ex and my dog, she was just mine. And I didn’t have to think about him every time I looked at her. And I got the opportunity to rescue a dog that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to otherwise, and I got to give a dog a home that wouldn’t have one if it weren’t for me. And having her around really did help me a lot because I wasn’t going home to an empty house in the evening, I was coming home to my dog. And she made me get out of bed to feed her and take her out, etc, even on the days when I really didn’t want to. And I didn’t really have any friends in the area or anything like that so she was my companion during that time. We took walks through town together, watched netflix together, ate dinner on the floor of my apartment together since I couldn’t afford furniture, etc.

        Since you said you would be too busy for cats, I would recommend finding a pet that you could have with your schedule. Rats, like mentioned above are cool – I’ve always wanted one and my friend had some that were really neat. Or maybe some types of birds (not parrots, which need a ton of attention and stimulation – I’m thinking of maybe finches or a canary or something that doesn’t necessarily want to be held or bothered by humans). I have a soft spot for reptiles, and once you get them set up snakes are like the ultimate low maintance pet but I know they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Bearded dragons have great personalities, too.

        Or, if you can’t fit that into your life at the moment (not sure what your living situation is like, etc) maybe a standing committment to volunteer at an animal shelter or a standing playdate with a friend’s pet would help fill the gap.

        1. Eva*

          Wow it is great to hear your point of view Lindsay J from someone who has been through it.

          There is a lot to consider and I think you hit the nail on the head that imagining I can get photos or visits with the cats will only allow me to hold on to something I no longer have and make me have to contact ex, which I don’t want to do. I have thousands of photos I can look at any time and maybe I’ll try take a video on my phone so I can remember them. I guess the only option might end up being to rip the bandaid off and go through the grieving process. At least I know they’ll be on good care.

          As for another pet, I think I’ll wait until I’ve grieved and then see how I feel

    5. Temperance*

      I have a pair of ferrets, and I highly, highly recommend them as good pets for very busy people. My little guys sleep most of the day and wake up and party when they feel like it. They are social animals, so having a buddy is great for them.

  23. HardwoodFloors*

    Anybody have a good idea how to get a good, cheap round-trip airfare from Boston to Phoenix? I can make reservation 2 or 3 months in advance and can travel any day but would rather pay low $300-ish instead of mid $450-ish. I usually end up on Southwest Airlines and that’s fine. But I can’t think of any other way to go: bus and train would take three days and cost similar anyway. Guess there is no such thing as ‘standby’ anymore – it’s just what you use when you get stuck at an airport and pay normal price plus a little more and can’t standby (like in the old days) to get a cheap fare.

    1. Gene*

      I use the Hopper app to keep an eye on what fares are doing. One note, Southwest isn’t on it, so you need to watch that one on your own. You could also work with a travel agent.

      Dad worked for Western and Delta airlines, and while could fly non-rev if I wanted to, I haven’t even tried in about a decade. There just aren’t enough open seats to make it worthwhile.

    2. Dan*

      You will get the best fares less than 60 days in advance of travel. Beyond that, the airlines haven’t loaded their cheapest fares yet.

      You may find some steals inside 21 days, you may not. It used to be that you had to book 21 days out for the cheapest fares, but things aren’t as clear cut anymore.

      Check frontier airlines or spirit airlines if they serve your route.

      Beyond that, there really aren’t any secrets for traveling on the major airlines. If delta wants $450, there is really no secret sauce to pay them $300.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Alliegient too. And JetBlue sometimes has really good fares. (Just spitballing carriers off the top of my head here, not sure who serves those routes off the top of my head.)

    3. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Are you in a hurry and are you generally responsible with money and credit cards? My stand-by for cheap airfare when I know my travel dates months in advance, and I don’t already have miles or points ready to convert, is to check the airline’s credit card to see if they give a sign up bonus and voila! After the minimum spend requirement is met (and I always use it on regular expenses, I do NOT go out of my way to spend to meet the minimum), the bonus should usually be enough for a standard round trip fare. It’s popularly called travel hacking. I do it regularly to pay for trips where airfare will go over $400. If you have a friend that does this, you can get them to send you a referral so that you both get miles / points!

    4. Lindsay J*

      I like looking at Google flights to try and drill down on the day – they list prices and routes for some of the major carriers and give you an overview of the prices for several days at once. Then I check the websites of the ones that Google flights doesn’t list.

      I’m a big fan of Priceline’s name your own price for hotels. I’ve used it for airfare before but I’m not really sure how much of a deal it got me compared to regular price. And sometimes it gives you tickets on two different airlines, which means that if your plane is delayed and you miss your connection you don’t have much recourse. And if anything does go wrong, airlines (and hotels) etc, can’t really deal with you directly if you book through Priceline, Travelocity, etc. If you need to change your ticket or anything goes wrong you would have to call Priceline (or whoever) and see what they can do with you and they would have to work with the airline to make it happen.

      Take into account how much luggage, etc, you’re bringing with you while you’re traveling. If you’re only bringing a small carry on, then Spirit or one of the other ULCC’s may be your best bet, but if you have a bigger carry on or a checked bag you’ll be paying additional fees. If you’re bringing a lot of luggage Southwest allows you (I believe) a carry on and two checked bags included in the price.

      If you fly United, the United Mileage Plus Explorer credit card gives you a free checked bag for you and a companion, they usually give you a decent number of miles upon sign up, and gives you priority boarding (if you care about that kind of thing) and I think possibly upgrades to Economy+ seating as well? The Citi AAdvantage gives you similar perks for flying on American.

      The Spirit credit card gives you 15,000 miles after your first purchase (while some of the others don’t give you the miles until you hit a certain amount of spend like $1000 or so) which they say is enough for 3 round trip tickets.

      1. Lindsay J*

        The days, really, are going to be your biggest way to save money though. Looking in August just because it’s 3 months out, I’ve got $303 round trip on AA departing August 14th and returning the 18th. While the 4th to the 6th the lowest price is $360. (This is off of Google Flights).

        PHX is a hub city for AA, so they will most likely have the most arrivals and departures from there and so might be a little cheaper.

        Spirit doesn’t really seem to be an option unless you want to spend 13 hours traveling; all of their PHX to BOS flights have long layovers and/or multiple stops.

        JetBlue doesn’t serve PHX. Allegiant doesn’t serve BOS (and flies out of Mesa instead of PHX). Frontier doesn’t serve BOS. Virgin America doesn’t serve PHX.

        So it looks like your choices are really the big 3 (United, American, Delta) and Southwest.

    5. Engineer Girl*

      I sign up for alerts from Air Fare Watchdog. Put in your starting airport and ending airport and email and they’ll send you an alert when prices look good.

    6. Engineer Girl*

      I sign up for alerts from Air Fare Watchdog. Create an account with your email. Then put in your starting airport and destination. They will email you every time they see a deal. You can create multiple alerts.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      BEST: Our friends moved house today, so we took their dog for the day. It was so fun! He and our buddy ran around and played, then my boyfriend played lots of fetch (our dog does not do such things). We took them to brunch. We snuggled. My dog is now exhausted.

      WORST: My car got backed into last night right after my boyfriend parked it. This came after I just got the windshield replaced (pebble on the highway turned into a huge crack), and this is the THIRD TIME my car has been hit in a little over two weeks. What is wrong with people??? The last two times there was no damage, now I have to deal with a dented front bumper and the kid who hit the car has no license. At least he has insurance. Sigh.

      1. ginger ale for all*

        How does someone get insurance without a license? And sympathies on your string of events.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Best: My birthday is on Monday, and my husband got me a Kobo! I also got a great deal on some new clothes.

      Worst: On my birthday I have to drive three hours to the airport, then take two planes and arrive at 11:30 at night, have meetings all day Tuesday, then do everything in reverse Wednesday. I’m very unenthused about this since I spent the past two days at a hellish conference. But I’m excited to try out my new ereader and see if it makes the time go by faster!

      Also worst: House hasn’t sold yet and we’ve dropped the price a little. A few more showings and no bites yet.

    3. Anonymous For This Post*

      Best: The busy time at my workplace is almost over!

      Worst: My beloved dog has cancer that might be malignant.

    4. LizB*

      Best: My best friend is coming to visit me for the first time in two years (she just finished a term of service in the Peace Corps). I AM SO EXCITED AND CANNOT WAIT TO SEE HER TOMORROW AAAAH. I might actually cry, which would be embarrassing, but oh well.

      Worst: I have so much cleaning to do before said best friend gets here, and I am so tired. :( I had to stand without moving around much for 5 hours earlier today for a choir thing, and now I contemplate getting up to finish folding laundry and picking up the living room and my feet just go “noooooo.”

    5. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: Last Sunday, a friend came for brunch and I got to dig out my very beautiful tea set dishes and use them (they’re violet-patterned, shell-shaped, with little delicate cups). We had strawberries and eggs and bangers and Welsh cakes and I showed her how to do the Tim-Tam Slam (lol) and we had a very nice time. :)

      And I got my roots done this week and am now even more blonde. I am loving it. Also, writer Chuck Wendig liked one of my tweets–yay! \0/

      WORST: Just busy at work–so tired it’s very difficult to do anything when I get home. But getting caught up.

    6. Overeducated*

      Best: I accepted a job! The non-work-related significance is that I just have a big weight of anxiety off my shoulders, and I theoretically get to use my very limited free time to, say, read novels and cooking blogs instead of trawling job listing and writing cover letters. (Though I do need to spend time trying to figure out where to find an apartment and day care where we’ll be moving!)

      Worst: hmm, my worst was at work, so second worst was probably just the kid waking up super early from his nap the other day after I’d stayed up too late. We spent 4 hours outside trying to tire him out, but it only worked on me, so for the last hour before spouse got home I was almost crying because I hadn’t had a break all day. He somehow stayed awake until 9 and I fell asleep right after myself.

    7. GreenTeaPot*

      Best: the end is in sight for home renovation project.

      Worst: engaged hospice services for my mother.

    8. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Getting some things done that need to be done.

      WORST: My BFF is being treated like shit by her mother and it just makes me want to kill her mom. For real, it’s abusive. UGH.

    9. SaraV*

      I was pretty much unplugged from being online last weekend, so missed it then.

      BEST: Went “home” for my sister’s bridal shower. Saw several ladies I considered my second/third?/fourth? moms. ;) Added bonus! We had an impromptu run-in with my best childhood friend from 3yo – 12yo at a Subway. The last time I saw her was, I believe, when she told me she was pregnant. Now, here was that “baby”, 13 years old, being shuttled to a dance recital. So, not a long time to talk. :( Also a slight surprise to see my best friend from junior high/high school at the shower. I’m now “Aunt Sara” to her daughter already.

      WORST: Because both of my aunt’s in-laws were fairly ill, she felt the need to stay home to support my uncle. (They both have long-term illnesses, it’s just that they both took a bad turn) She’s my only aunt, and I haven’t seen her for at LEAST four years. Bleh.
      Plus, a bit of financial stress that I just can’t seem to get away from. Always lurking.

    10. Christopher Tracy*

      Best: I got a surprise bonus at work Friday and my little brother finally graduated from college! (I thought that kid was going to be in school forever.)

      Worst: One of my nasty coworkers came to work sick last week, and now half our floor is ill. I got a nasty upper respiratory infection and almost broke some ribs the other day from prolonged and violent coughing. I was supposed to be doing a spa day on the 10th to celebrate my birthday; instead, I spent my time off in bed drinking Theraflu with a burning throat trying not to die. Oh, and my mom just dropped a bomb on me while I was getting my hair done yesterday afternoon – she’s going in for radiation treatment on Monday. WTF?! Why in the world wouldn’t she say something?!

      1. Artemesia*

        We have had a string of scares recently mostly false alarms but so far over 30 K of medical tests (so time for a single payer health care system); insurance will cover most of it but we will still be out thousands. At any rate, we didn’t share any of this with our kids; we don’t want to cry wolf and we don’t want to worry them until there is something to be worried about. Your parent probably wants to not worry you until something is for sure.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          That makes sense, but I’m still annoyed. This is the same woman who waited until she lost an alarming amount of weight and almost ended up in the hospital before telling us she had diabetes – she’d been diagnosed months before. I have a feeling if she does get diagnosed with something else life threatening, she wouldn’t say a word – she’d just drop dead and leave my brother and me wondering what the hell happened.

    11. eemmzz*

      Best: a bit work related but I updated my CV as I haven’t in ages and I was quite pleased with the final result. It was a bit of a morale boost

      Worst: one of my pet degus died after 7 and a half years yesterday. I spent a lot of time crying last night. Degus don’t do well alone but no idea how to rehome a 7 year old degu when they typically live to 8. Feel very conflicted :(

    12. Mander*

      Best: one of my favorite colleagues asked another of my favorite colleagues out yesterday. There’s a bunch of other drama and back story for person B, but I’ve been getting the feeling that person A liked them a bit more than as friends. Person A is a great person, and I think they’d be a great couple. I’m vicariously excited. (Side note: in this field it’s very common to have couples who met on the job and work together sometimes, plus almost all our jobs are short term contracts and we move around to different companies all the time, so dating a colleague isn’t nearly as weird as it is in a typical office setting.)

      Second best: I won an auction for a 70s portable style sewing machine (Frister Rossman Cub 3), for £35 including shipping. I don’t have it yet but it’s widely regarded as an indestructible machine so I’m happy about it. I have another old tank that’s in great working order but it’s bolted to a sewing table and 300 miles away, and I have some jeans that need hemming stat.

      Third best: we went to Ikea yesterday and my other half did not have a meltdown! He did get a bit crabby with some of the staff who were trying to prevent him taking a shortcut to the bathroom, but this time he did not demand to see the manager or abandon all our purchases and storm out in a huff. Win.

      Worst: I’ve had a lot of bad luck with service people of various kinds just not showing up when they are supposed to. We’ve just moved into a new flat and we’ve had problems with getting the old one professionally cleaned, having the gas service people text me at work to say they are on their way (uh, thanks for telling me you planned to come today! And thanks nice boss for letting me rush home to meet them!), and the plumber who finally appeared on Thursday at 7:30pm after saying he’d come by on Monday at 5:30pm. And to top it off whatever is causing the horrible smell in our flat has not been resolved by the work he did. Argh.

    13. Nye*

      Best: Had my first job interview for a tenure-track research job, at an incredible institution, and I think it went pretty well. I really liked the department, the institution as a whole is amazing, and I think my research would fit in nicely there. Crossing my fingers and hoping they feel the same about me!

      Worst: Nothing terrible, just the accumulated life neglect that was the inevitable by-product of spending the last couple weeks myopically focused on interview prep. So, time to mow the lawn, catch up on finances, tidy up my trashed closet, try to get a decent night’s sleep, etc.

    14. Lindsay J*

      BEST: Our plans for a trip to Toronto for our unoffical anniversary went belly up, so instead I went to a vintage video game store in town and bought a video game system called a RETRON 2, which plays NES and SNES games, so boyfriend and I have been reliving our childhoods playing Mario Kart and Zelda etc. He also went home and found his old Gameboy, too. Bonus is that the people that work at the store are really cool people who know a lot about video games in general and are really nice about it vs being snobby about it. Also they helped us jump the car when our battery died while we are there.

      BEST 2: We came in 2nd at pub trivia and got a $25 gift certificate for the bar it’s held at, so that will pay for our drinks for next week. Also the bar seems really cool; it’s a local place, the bar tender made a point to remember our names the second week we came in, the same people show up to trivia every week it seems like and seem like they’re actually open to talking and making friends. We had been going to trivia at a different bar and it was overpriced and stuck up and the difference is night and day.

      BEST 3: I found out about an app called Bumble, which is originally a dating app very similar to Tinder, except women have to message first. However, it also has a “BFF Mode” where your profile is hidden from people who want to date and only shown to people looking to make platonic friends. I just downloaded it to try out today but I’m hoping maybe I’ll meet some people from it.

      BEST 4: Boyfriend has a job interview at one of his dream companies. It’s for the same (relatively specialized) job he does now, but would pay more, get him out of a work environment he doesn’t like, and enable us to move to Chicago. Also, his office would be in the Sears/Willis/whatever you want to call it, so that would be pretty cool.

      WORST: I went to the dentist after not going for 5+ years (I really don’t know the last time I went but I know I haven’t gone since before 2011). I need a root canal and 3 cavities filled. I also needed a planing and root scraping and gum irrigation done. And to use a special toothbrush from now on. The original price they quoted was $4500. My dental insurance took it down to $1500, but it’s still way more than I want to spend. And my gums are still sore from Thursday. And I am really not looking forward to having the root canal and cavities done next Friday. :(

      1. KittyT*

        Sorry to hear about your Worst — I’ve known others who’ve gotten similar reports after a long time between dental visits. My thoughts — can you talk to the dentist/dental office about prioritizing what needs to be done? Surely it’s not all urgent / emergency work, and you can spread out the ‘projects’?
        Also, ask about payment plans – some (not all) dental offices will set you up so you can pay off your bill so much per month. If not, I would recommend (from personal experience), the CareCredit credit card, which allows you to charge for medical/dental/vet bills and then pay off within a certain number of months without being charged interest.
        Good luck to you!
        Oh — re: sore gums, try rinsing your mouth with warm salt water, it has helped me in the past.

    15. Elkay*

      Best: Fresh air and controlled fires.
      Worst: Spending the afternoon with a high achiever. Everything I said was met with a response that made me feel about an inch high.

    16. Kate R. Pillar*

      BEST: For the first time today, people I had not yet told noticed I was pregnant and congratulated me! (I feel bad writing this as I actually think it’s bad form to assume pregnancy in someone else, and was the “victim” of “Are you…” questions back when I was not, but wanted to be…) But today, it really felt nice.
      WORST: No worst, really. Life is pretty great at the moment.

    17. KittyT*

      BEST: plans to go out to lunch with my dearest best friend.

      WORST: finding out this morning that another dear friend passed away suddenly.
      Cancelled lunch plans with dearest friend (with her blessings and kind sympathy) to just sit and wonder why good people die too young.

    18. Mimmy*

      Best: Just got back from Philadelphia where we spent part of the weekend. My husband’s nephew graduated from Wharton (part of U-Penn) today, so we spent the weekend celebrating. My husband has such a lovely family.

      Honorable mention:

      One of my classmates stepped up and wrote a very firm post on the Discussion Board about how disorganized the semester has been, particularly in the last few weeks. Thanks to her advocacy, he extended the deadlines for our last two papers and eliminated the final week’s discussion board.


      A friend is in hospital yet again, this time for diverticulitis. This woman just hasn’t been able to catch a break since her knee replacement in early April :(

      1. Mimmy*

        Forgot to add a Worst: I feel somewhat bad about how rough we were on our professor because the reason he has been so disorganized is due to dealing with several family situations, including one close family member who just started hospice care this weekend. I wish I could post my own thread on this, but that’s technically related to school – I just feel rotten because he’s been through an emotional time pretty much this entire semester and here we are beating him up over due dates and work load :(

    19. ginger ale for all*

      Best – I had a one on one with my boss this week and I think it went okay. The one on ones scare me. She is a nice person and a good boss but I had a bad boss years ago and there are scars.

      Worst – my ex has a new girlfriend. My head is happy for him but my heart says where is my new guy? I haven’t started looking so the thought is ridiculous but still. Plus I keep occasionally thinking maybe we should try again if we get counseling. I just have to keep reminding myself that each new day is going to be as happy as I can make it.

  24. Dan*

    Wow, big pile.

    Fwiw, you *can* walk away from grandma, even if that leaves her with nothing. I’m not very supportive of the idea that you can treat people like shit and then decide you’re “owed” something “because that’s what families do.”

    Husband is a little different, but I’ll acknowledge the difficulty of standing by and watching someone all but kill them self. It drags you down too, and well, that’s not right, no matter what guilt trips people lay on you.

      1. Op*

        Thank you Dan! I knew it was for me. Nana has been entitled her entire life, and lays guilt trips on everyone, even people not related to her, so it’s not just a family thing. Those non family people who have been helping are willing participants though and there are only 2 of them actually (one is moving far away soon. I’m thrilled for her.)

  25. breadrolls*

    Does anybody have advice about pursuing friendships when you’re not in a good place emotionally? I don’t mean the struggle of searching out and meeting new people (which is rough, but I know plenty of strategies for managing), but of being confident enough to actually pursue a friendship if you find someone you click with. I have a lot of embarrassment and shame both around what I’m doing with my life and how I am with people, which I know is actually largely irrational (and I hope to work through this in therapy), but it makes me feel like I don’t have anything to offer in a new friendship. I ramble and make a lot of unfunny references, and I’m not always good at reading what level of openness the person I’m talking to is up for, so I worry about oversharing and making them uncofortabe or undersharing and stunting the conversation by being closed off.

    I’ve lived in my new city for nearly two years and have yet to make an actual friend. I love my long-distance friends deeply, but it’s hard to not have anyone to spend in-person time with. I love my me-time and have no problem doing movies/restaurants/etc. solo, but I’d like the option for us-time, you know?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Pursuing friendships is HARD. Not quite as hard as meeting people, in my experience, but yeah, I hear you. My one suggestion is to find something to do with someone else that doesn’t involve too much initial talking– like a movie or a concert. That way you have something specific to talk about, which can help a lot with conversation, and you don’t have to talk about yourselves all the time. Around here, there are several outdoor movies, and it’s a great way to get together, bring a few snacks, drink a glass of wine and just chill with other people. Something like that might help you take a step with someone you like.

    2. Mando Diao*

      You just have to constantly remind yourself to keep things light at first. When I meet someone new who seems like a potential friend, I’ll wait until the weekend and text, “Anything fun happening today or tomorrow?” If they answer, we make plans. If not, I might try again next weekend but I don’t dwell.

      Side note: I find that people who struggle with friendship are often not fully aware of how much work it takes to maintain a friendship. If you’re the kind of person who’s introverted and who goes through phases of wanting to stay in and spend time alone, friendship will be harder for you. Just something I thought I’d mention in case it applies.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. I have found taking the initiative works. For example we met some folks at a party a couple of weeks ago and so I just emailed and told her we’d like to get to know them better how about meeting for dinner on XY or Z dates. That left them with the option of ‘being busy’ but we are on for next Friday.

        If that goes well we will then loop them in when we organize a theater event, or I will see if she wants to do a lunch just the two of us. We are in a new town and have made two very close couples friends (we will be renting a cottage in a European village with one of them this summer) and many other couples friends we do things with from time to time. With the women I am closer to, we try to get together for a museum, or lunch, or whatever ever week or two at least.

        I think the trick is ‘light touch’ i.e. early on I think I was too pushy and destroyed a couple of potential relationships. But it is also taking initiative on things that are low effort but give you a chance to talk. I live in a great museum town so meeting to see an exhibit and then having lunch to chat works great.

        It just takes lots of initiative and then cultivation but it can be done. Any chance of finding a book club or other club of people your age who enjoy similar things as a way to get things rolling with socializing without making big commitments to individuals?

      2. QualityControlFreak*

        Your second paragraph is so true. I’m a pretty strong introvert and I’m busy, so my free time is limited. Making friends with me in the first place is not easy. Maintaining friendships is hard. I’m blessed to have friends I text with as a way of keeping in touch, and that works well for us. I genuinely enjoy the times we get together in person, but dealing with people – even people I really like and want to spend time with – can be very draining for me. I need my alone time to recharge.

    3. Trixie*

      I like group activities and classes as an opportunity to both enjoy new/favorite activities and meeting potential friends. Already brought together by some type of common interest and a little less pressure within in a group versus one on one interactions.

    4. Lindsay J*

      I feel ya. I moved to Texas in 2012 and don’t really have any female friends here. There is one girl who moved from my town in NJ along with her boyfriend like I did that desperately wants to be friends with me I think, but we just never clicked 100% and she’s prone to making passive aggressive comments on Facebook etc and I’ve just seen this ugly side of her that makes me wary of pursuing friendship. And otherwise, I go to meetups and stuff and meet people, but never pursue anything beyond that because I always assume that if they don’t initiate things that they’re not interested in being friends, which intellectually I know is wrong but I can’t really shake that feeling.

  26. Cruciatus*

    A potentially helpful hint if you’re using Zillow and hate the new 2-column property window on the right side of the screen (blocks too much of the map for my tastes!)–just find and delete the Zillow cookie called “Abtest” from your browser. Finally got mine back to a 1 column format.

    Between this and previously.tv updating recently, I feel like my favorite sites are trying to make their sites worse. I know people don’t like change, but especially in the case of previously.tv, they took away good parts and added really useless parts (at least for how I use the site). I don’t think it’s just the change of things talking.

    1. enough*

      Yes. More and more it seems that change is for change’s sake. Invariably the change removes the parts I find most helpful.

  27. The Burning Boob*

    I’ve been having weird pain in one boob off and one for a few months now. When it first started it was really painful, like a burning right under the skin and even showering hurt. Then it got much less severe but it lasted a couple of weeks. Then it went away and started back up 4 weeks exactly from the last time so it might be cycle related.

    I’ve seen my doctor and she did a full exam and she doesn’t think it’s anything to worry about, says it could be hormones. (I’m in 41 so it could be changes related to that.) Right now it’s so mild that it’s almost unnoticeable but it’s still there. Has anyone else ever had anything like this and if so did it just go away on its own?

    1. LCL*

      You’ve had a mammogram, right? If not, do it. I’ve had benign cysts that do this, I had to have the last one cut out. And, no, menopause doesn’t stop them either.

    2. Mando Diao*

      Do you ever lie in bed with your tablet or laptop leaning on your chest? I was getting weird pains and marks in that area until I realized that it was just from reading stuff on my kindle in bed.

    3. Nicole*

      I did have something similar and had both a mammogram and ultrasound which revealed nothing. The doctor who read the scans explained sometimes it could be caused by something like too much caffeine or chocolate consumption. The pain went away shortly after even though it had been there for several months leading up to me having it checked out. Wouldn’t hurt to have it checked out, however, since those screenings are typically covered 100% by insurance anyway. Good luck!

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      This would be an unusual presentation, but if your doctor doesn’t find anything, ask her to consider shingles or refer you to a neurologist. Shingles is basically an irritation/infection of nerves, and can lead to burning pain (neuralgia) with no apparent cause. It can become chronic in one particular area or areas, where you can have flare-ups and remissions. I’m no expert, but from the little I know it’s something you should rule out.

    5. Schnapps*

      Ugh, I’ve had similar issues. I went to my doctor, the one I saw wanted me to wait out my cycle (but asked if I was ok with that), next cycle, I had the same issues. Doctor sent me in for ultrasound and mammogram (goddamn did that hurt), and there was nothing.

      Then I switched my deoderant from the clinical strength back to regular and in about a week the pain went away (the aluminum in it, maybe?)

  28. Ella*

    I just finished reading a graphic novel called Strong Female Protagonist, and the main character is a college student named Alison Green. She is also Mega Girl and battles evil. It’s really good (and I was amused that she shares AAM’s name).

    1. Blue Anne*

      Yes! I read all of that last week and meant to come ask Alison if she’s read it, because of the name thing.

      It’s SO GOOD.

    2. Jessica (tc)*

      I love this comic (it’s online), and I always think of Alison when people are talking to Mega Girl. In the back of my mind, this is Alison’s backstory before becoming the amazing career advice columnist she currently is.

  29. Anonsie*

    Hiya folks, I have an investment question for you. I’m looking to open a Roth IRA. I’ve always heard you should do a Roth when you’re younger so that you can remove contributed funds if you need to a any point without losing part to taxes.

    What I’m worried about is how easy it might be to pull money out. I want to be able to get some of that money back out pretty quickly and easily if there were an emergency, and I can’t find any real information on *how* you can actually do that, so I don’t know how careful I should be about how much I put in vs how much to keep on hand. Any experiences?

    Also, any recommendations about where to open one? My other retirement stuff is through Fidelity but I don’t know/can’t tell what the pros and cons are to any one place, or if there are any at all. The thing I keep wondering is if different companies make it more or less difficult to take it back out, re: my first question.

    1. fposte*

      How you do it depends entirely on your IRA–what’s in it and where. If it’s in mutual funds at Fidelity, you can make a request online and you’ll probably have the cash in your bank account in two days. If it’s in a CD at your local bank, you’ll have to do paperwork to break the CD and talk to actual people, and I suspect that will take considerably longer. If it’s a savings account at your local bank, you can probably draw via the ATM immediately but you’ll get virtually no growth so it’s a waste of Roth space.

      If you like Fidelity, that’s a fine place to open your Roth; my stuff is mostly at Vanguard and I confess Fidelity has a slightly better reputation for customer service. I would just call them and ask how long the transfer would take. In general, companies holding your Roth don’t care about checking the validity of the withdrawal–tax penalties are your problem, not theirs. They might require a percentage of your withdrawal to be withheld for taxes, so if that matters to you check on that too.

    2. Jen*

      Well, you can only contribute $5000/year (pre or post tax, depending if it’s Roth or not Roth). You should only put money away that is not part of your emergency fund. If you take it out, you have to pay all the taxes plus a 10% penalty.

      I’d start small. Put $25/month in the IRA (Roth if you think your income will grow over time). Continue saving for your emergency fund. Then kick up to $30 or $40/month. Don’t think of the IRA as an emergency account. It’s not for touching. But start small and work up to it and you’ll never notice.

      1. fposte*

        The traditional IRA enacts a penalty on early withdrawal, but you don’t have to pay a 10% penalty on withdrawals of your original contributions from the Roth–that’s why Anonsie is interested in it. (And the limit is $5500, for you under-50 types. $6500 for the rest of us.)

        1. Anonsie*

          Yep. And, at least as this has always been pitched to me, the point of getting a Roth when you’re young is so you can pack in some mid-term non-retirement funds (like for a down payment on a house) to invest for a period and then take out when you actually do need it.

          And “emergency fund” is a pretty loose idea. There’s a pretty big scale of possible emergencies. I have an emergency fund that could cover most things but, as a real past example, when my car got totaled and I got injured and insurance was dragging their feet on paying out I suddenly needed a hell of a lot more cash on hand than I want to keep wasting time in a savings account.

            1. Dan*

              Well, one reason is that you will have to deal with the tax paperwork every year. Another is that you might want those funds in retirement if you don’t spend them sooner.

              But if you *know* you’ll need in the funds in less than five years? Don’t use the Roth, you can’t get the money out.

              1. Joe*

                I would suggest contacting Fidelity and have them walk you through the benefits and see if it’s right for you. There’s quite a bit to take in.

                You can remove any of your contributions into a Roth, at any time without penalty, period. We’re talking contributions, not earnings. If you are less than aged 59 1/2, you can only remove contributions made to the Roth and you can do so at any time. If you’re 59 1/2 or older, you can remove any amount, including gains, as long as the account has been opened for 5 years. If you happen to contribute $5,500 today, and in a year you need $2,000 you can sell off that much from your Roth. If your selling stocks, you’re going to wait the three day settlement period, your money will then be in your cash account with Fidelity and can be transferred to a bank. As I mentioned before, you do need to know their fee schedule. You’ll be charged for any sales. Also, the intent of the account is for retirement, I would suggest to do what you can to leave the money alone. You’ll be amazed how quickly regular contributions and gains can add up. : )

                Again, this is specific for a Roth. A traditional IRA has different rules, including penalties for early withdrawal. Don’t be confused, just read up more or contact Fidelity. There’s conflicting information going on in this thread, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Please don’t be, a Roth is one of the best retirement moves you can make. And please don’t let any confusion sway you from opening a Roth.


              2. Artemesia*

                Speaking as someone happily retired with enough money, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a sequestered retirement account that you never dip into for emergencies or anything else. Build an emergency fund so you don’t need to draw down your Roth or IRA. Old comes earlier than you think, says this very old person who was young just such a short time ago. I never made tons but I resolutely stuck at least 10% of my income into my 403b continuously over the years and now I have a big hunk of money. If my husband had done the same we would be rich, but at least with mine, we have enough. Don’t let retirement savings slide, make it money off the top you never see and never use. The day will come when you are glad you did.

            2. Anonsie*

              I guess because I have no idea what that means or how to do it, or how to find out how to do it.

              Every time I’ve tried to do some research to figure it out, everything starts with an assumed level of knowledge that I don’t already have and I don’t understand it. Then there’s a lot of “do what makes sense for you” advice which isn’t helpful because I don’t know how to assess that.

              1. fposte*

                I think Alison has a point, though. Is this your way of creating your emergency fund when you have no other savings, and are you pretty sure you’ll use it in the next few years? Or are you just somebody with a general fear of money commitment, and while you don’t think it’s likely you’ll need to take the money out you like the idea that you could if you needed to?

                Here’s how I’d look at it. A Roth is a retirement account, not a savings account. It’s wasted space if you take the money out again–you’ve just turned it into a savings account retroactively, and depending on what you put the money into it may even have be worth less than what you put in at the moment you take it out. It therefore doesn’t make sense to use a Roth (or any tax-advantaged space) if you take the money out in a couple of years; it’s just that Roth doesn’t smack you with an extra charge for doing so.

                But it won’t hurt you, at least not directly (there may be psychology about your other savings plans because of it, I suppose); it may also help you indirectly (you may find yourself reluctant to take the money out once it’s in). And since you don’t get tax-advantaged space back if you pass it up, I’d lean toward using the Roth space and just trying to forget about the money in it.

                1. Anonsie*

                  General fear of money commitment. I don’t plan to go into there again but I don’t like the possibility of not being able to. I don’t have a ton of money in the first place and I’m the only child to two aging people who don’t have any other family and didn’t have a retirement plan of their own, so I can think of a million reasons why I might suddenly unexpectedly need much more money than makes sense to sit in a savings account for years and years. I would RATHER not take anything back out, but I don’t like the idea of closing the possibility off.

      2. Viktoria*

        Yes, fposte hit on one of the crucial differences of the Roth IRA. Contributions (not gains) can be withdrawn at any time, for any reason, without tax penalty.

    3. Joe*

      Hi Anonsie-
      My two cents, for what it’s worth. : )

      A Roth IRA is a great investment at just about any age, but especially if you’re younger. You can pull the money out quite easy, just takes a few days. I’ll explain more, but first lets back up a bit. A Roth is a good investment, *after* you’ve contributed to a 401k if your company offers a company match. Why? You can’t beat free money. If you have access to a a 401k and your company matches a percentage of your contribution, contribute that matching percentage first. If they match 3%, contribute there before a Roth.

      Opening an Roth is a breeze. You mentioned you have Fidelity for your other retirement account(s). Just to make it easier to view all your accounts, if it were me I would just open a Roth with Fidelity. All the Roth is, is a type of account. You can invest in any available funds within the account and take advantage of the tax benefits once your older and ready for retirement.

      The cool thing about a Roth is you can take out any of the original investment amount you contribute at any time. What you can’t do is take out any of the gains (profits) you realize from those investments. Of course, if you take any original investment out, it can’t grow. But it’s nice to know you can if you need to. If you need to take any original investment out, you just sell any of the funds you invested in up to the dollar amount you’d like to remove. Keep in mind fees! Once sold, the money will be put into a cash reserve account and from there you can transfer it to a bank account. From the time the trade (sale) is executed, it takes three days time, this is called settlement days and is standard before its put into the cash reserve account.

      The 2016 Roth contribution limit is $5,500. Look at it this way, any amount you contribute is a step closer to a financially secure retirement. With most brokerage firms you can open the Roth with as little as $250. You can contribute all at once, or set up monthly deposits straight from your checking/savings account.

      Good luck!

      1. fposte*

        My stock sales have always taken the full three days, but my withdrawals from my IRA have been quicker and don’t need to go into a cash reserve account–Vanguard will just transfer the withdrawal straight to an external bank. I would imagine Fidelity would permit the same.

    4. BRR*

      I have my Roth at vanguard and am happy with it. Fees are low in my opinion. To get money to you just say what you want and it will transfer to the bank account you tell it to. I would do a Roth after maxing your company match if it’s available.

    5. Viktoria*

      I really like my Roth IRA. I love knowing That I can withdraw my contributions if needed with no penalty. It’s a great back-up emergency fund.

      I have mine at Schwab, and I have a checking account with them too. It’s linked, so contributions to my Roth are made instantly online. I have not had to withdraw, so I’m not positive about the timeline- I would have to sell shares of funds/stocks, so those sales might take 1 business day to execute, but I don’t think it’s longer than that. Once it’s sold the transfer back to checking would be instant again.

      Quick plug for the Schwab checking account too- no atm fees, anywhere in the world- AND they reimburse any fees charged by the machine itself. So I use any atm, anywhere, and then get a few dollars deposited into my account. Pretty sweet deal.

    6. Dan*

      Anonsie, be aware that you cannot get your funds out unless the account has been open for at least 5 years.

      Also know that if you pull funds out, you need to do some extra paperwork on your 1040. You’ll get a 1099 from the withdrawal, and you have to tell the irs that it was a Roth contribution, not a traditional account.

        1. fposte*

          Basically, the IRS is a lot less interventionist on money they’ve already gotten their share of :-).

    7. literateliz*

      I had the same thought as you when I opened my Roth IRA a few years ago, but recently I came across this article:


      Basically, according to this, it’s not true that you can withdraw from “contributed funds” only. The IRS determines what portion of your withdrawal comes from contributions and what portion comes from earnings, and it sounds like they may do it proportionally – so if 80 percent of the value of your account comes from contributions, and 20 percent comes from earnings, you may have to pay penalties on 20 percent of any withdrawal, no matter the amount. (The blog post says it’s more complicated than that, but not as simple as “withdraw any amount less than what you’ve contributed penalty-free.”)

      I don’t have any personal experience with this (as luckily I haven’t had to take any funds out!), and it’s strange that no other source I’ve found on Roth IRAs seems to mention this (apparently even Suze Orman has recommended using it as an emergency fund), so I don’t know how seriously to take it, although I’ve generally found Get Rich Slowly to be accurate. Still, since I read it I’ve stopped thinking about the Roth as a possible source of funds for e.g. a down payment.

      1. Viktoria*

        If you scroll down to the comments, you’ll see lots of people claiming this is incorrect. Also, reading the IRS document he links to in the article makes it seem like it is incorrect. I can’t say with 100% confidence that I’m interpreting the IRS document correctly, so I would want to confirm with an expert before taking a withdrawal, but it seems to confirm what I have always thought, which is that distributions are ordered so that your contributions are withdrawn first (and not taxed).

  30. Elizabeth West*

    Anyone besides me watch Eurovision today? I watched online for the second time while picking it apart in chat with a friend in UK. So fun! I think this needs to be an annual event for me. And I’ve added actually being at the final someday to my bucket list (not gonna happen but I can dream, LOL).

    1. BRR*

      I watch every year (although haven’t watched this year yet). I call it a holiday in my house. Graham nortons commentary is my favorite for the show.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        We don’t get Graham in the US–it was only available through something called LogoTV, and the commentators were just dreadful. Not even close to being as funny and sass as Graham. But I enjoyed the grand final anyway.

        1. BRR*

          I mean I have watched it online and refresh his or bbcs Twitter (can’t remember whicb one) as he live tweets it

    2. Tanaya*

      Never miss it! I loved Ukraine. Well-deserved. I’ve also been a fan of the Australian girl for a while, but it’s probably better she didn’t get the win. I don’t know what the hell they would have done for a host country next year if she had.

      1. Helen*

        Apparently if Australia won it the event will be “co-hosted” with a European city. May have been a good chance for the UK to host (assuming they’d want it) given the Union Jack connection and all.

        Although how Australia came to be part of Eurovision is kind of …baffling.

        1. fposte*

          I think it’s hilarious, but then I generally think Eurovision is hilarious. When I studied in the UK, a girl taunted me by saying, “If America’s so great, how come it’s never won Eurovision?” Which I also thought was hilarious, given that most Americans had never even heard of Eurovision.

    3. Jen RO*

      I didn’t know you could watch it online! It wasn’t on TV in Romania because we owed too much money to Eurovision and couldn’t pay, so they kicked us out :P

      1. Elizabeth West*

        www dot eurovision dot tv

        Has feeds–that’s where I found the LogoTV US feed. I think they have it in archive so you can watch it after the fact.

  31. Trill*

    What size is your lawn and what type of lawnmower do you have?

    I used to have a fairly big lawn, 0.38 acres, and had a self propelled gas mower. About half my neighbours with similar sized lawns had riding mowers.

    Now I’ve moved and have a tiny tiny yard. Not sure of the acreage, but I think there’s less grass than square footage of one floor of the house, front and back yards combined. I kept my same lawn mower. Its 6 years old and in good condition and I like it. And I’m only renting at the moment and could buy something with a bigger yard in a year or two so it doesn’t make sense to trade it in yet. But I feel so silly cutting such a tiny lawn with a gas mower. It seems like most people in my neighbourhood have little reel mowers, and here I am with a big loud gas one.
    But on the other had I will admit its nice that it takes less than 10 mins to both cut the lawn and do the edging and at my old place it took over an hour.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have an Ingersol tractor. It’s got a 48 inch deck which is a little big for my postage stamp lot. (Less than 1/4 acre.) But it’s just right for plowing in the winter and that is what we got it for to handle the big snow falls and the piles of snow from the road plows. I don’t think the machine excels at anything, but it seems to do an okay job with everything. I use it to rake up my leaves also. It was old when we got it about 15 years ago. But you don’t need a computer to diagnose what is wrong with it and you can still get parts.

      But yeah, I am routinely told the machine is too big for my lot. I will keep it until it totally wears out.

    2. enough*

      Have 0.46 acres and use self propelled. Riding mowers really aren’t meant for heavily landscaped lawns or ones with slopes. Lived in a house as a kid with a very small yard and used the reel mower the owner had left behind. Did enjoy that. There’s no really good reason to get anything new. But you might get a Little more exercise with the reel .

    3. SAHM*

      I have 1300 sq ft of lawn (when I ordered it I realized it’s the same sq footage of old house and giggled to myself) and I use a self-propelled lawn mower. It’s electric not gas though, which makes it a pain trying not to run over the cord. I wouldn’t bother getting anything new when you’re renting and planning on buying in a few years.

    4. Gene*

      I have a quarter acre lot with about 6000 square feet of lawn. I’m using the Troy-bilt self propelled push mower I bought new when I bought the house in 1990. I think this will be its last season, compression and power are down and when it needs a new engine, it’s not worth it.

      I’ll probably replace it with a Honda, my neighbor is really happy with hers. Also self-propelled push.

      You’re renting and will likely move to a place with a bigger yard, I see no reason to change.

    5. Sibley*

      You’ve got a functional lawnmower. Unless you can replace it for free, just stick with it and don’t worry about anyone else.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t have one anymore, unless you count my reel mower. I bought it in case my old power mower broke. It does a fairly good job on the back yard, though not in front because of the stupid gumballs (no grass catcher, so the clippings do pile up). The power mower did break and I truly hate mowing, so now I have someone come and do it every other week. They trim also and they can get it done in twenty minutes, whereas it takes me an hour without trimming. They do other things too as needed.

    7. Mirilla*

      I have .20 acre and use a self propelled gas mower, although it’s old so it doesn’t self propel so well anymore. It takes me about 30-40 minutes and I get quite a workout when I do the lawn.

  32. Chaordic One*

    This isn’t something that I’m into, but there’s a guy in the Philippines named Joseph Vitug who is a big fan of various talent competitions including Eurovision. He’s sort of a cultural critic who evaluates the contestants and provides background information that you don’t usually find other places. He has a blog at the following link that you might be interested in where he talks about the competition:


  33. TootsNYC*

    Vacationing in Germany (centered around Frankfurt–or Karlsruhe and Heidelberg)

    Any suggestions of what to see or do?

    also, my 18yo son is balking at going, because he doesn’t know what he’d do there. Other vacations in the States have included stuff like soaring (gliders), paintball, go-karts, etc.; a vacation in Croatia had a hike up a mountain that he liked. He’s OK w/ a little bit of history and sightseeing, but he’s also a 18yo h.s. graduate.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Or maybe we’ll be staying in Stuttgart; I’m not sure (my brother’s in the Army over there, and I can’t remember where he’s stationed; my German “brother” lives in Karlsruhe, so I know that’s a for-sure place we’ll be for a few days anyway).

    2. Cruciatus*

      There is anything he could want to do in Germany! He could even have a pint with his ‘rents… I can’t imagine balking on a trip to a foreign country! I actually don’t know the specific area you mentioned (I spent time in Leipzig and Munich) but Germans love the outdoors. Swimming, surfing, hiking, boating. If there’s something you know he likes, just look for it and I’ll bet you’ll find it in the areas you’ll be.

    3. Dan*

      Drink legally, imho it’s a big deal to be somewhere where you can do something legally that you can’t do in the states. Don’t keep that from him if he’s interested. (You technically can’t stop him anyway.)

      Also, it’s a good lesson in teaching him hat other places have different rules and they manage just fine; the US way isn’t the only way.

      Take the ICE train if it’s a reasonable option, particularly in he’s never ridden Amtrak.

    4. KR*

      Give him a chance to go exploring on his own! He’s old enough to drink so drop him off near some clubs and let him be an adult for a little while.

    5. Artemesia*

      I’d leave him home rather than spend all your energy figuring out how to entertain him. Give him a guidebook and point him at the internet and tell him to figure out what he would like to do. It is absurd to have to beg a grown young man to come on a fancy European vacation and twist into a pretzel to ‘please him.’ Challenge him to plan some activities he will enjoy that will please you.

    6. Lindsay J*

      I went during the winter and really enjoyed going to the Christmas Markets. There’s a nice mix of nice handmade items, and food, and kind of junky things. And food and glauwine. Wouldn’t really be an 18 year old boy’s cup of tea, though.

      If you enjoy art the Staedael Museum is highly recommended. Otherwise I mostly just enjoyed walking around, shopping, taking pictures of the architecture, etc.

      For your son: There is a flight simulator open to the public. It’s a little over $100 for an hour of “flight” time I think. Could be cool.

    7. Chaordic One*

      If he is into cars, you are fairly close to the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche museums. He should be able to get there by train fairly easily and quickly.

      1. ClairefromLondon*

        There’s a lot to do around the Frankfurt area and the Karlsruhe and Stuttgart area. You’ll find a lot of opportunities to go outside to swim in lakes (either natural or man-made), hiking, para-gliding, geo-caching etc. For Museums, what about Sinsheim (old cars and planes), Frankfurt has medieval stuff, as well as excellent museums in almost all areas, you can also go to the Grube Messel (fossils), Glauberg (celtic city), Saalburg (reconstructed Roman Fort), as well as the more usual early medieval churches, castles and monasteries. Smaller towns are going to be better for this stuff than the cities, so you’ll be better off with a car. There are also a lot of spas (Wiesbaden, Bad Homburg) with nineteenth century architecture.
        Otherwise, try to get to one of the Frankfurt Applewine Stuben (there are a lot of the them), Spätzle in Stuttgart and I’m not sure what the Karlsruhe local specialty is. The cakes are amazing and you can find good ones in ordinary bakeries.

  34. CatLady2*

    Am I allows to post a link to a personal blog here? If not, please remove!

    I recently started a blog about mental health, with the aim of reducing the stigma. It is pretty heavily focused on eating disorders and depression/suicide because those have been my personal experiences. I finally feel like I’m in a good enough place where I can write about these things without being a major hypocrite, and that’s a great feeling. Anyway, here is the blog:

    You can also follow it on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shatteringstigma/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel


  35. Nina*

    I know it’s a bad idea to get into politics on a public forum, but I’m honestly at a loss at how insane and almost bizzarre the US presidential race has been progressing.

    Have people become /so/ disillusioned with the way things are that it’s come to this? For so long it was treated like an elaborate joke and many people still consider it a joke, but no one seriously predicted it would get this far and look where things are. It’s honestly frightening.

    1. Mando Diao*

      People with moderate, reasonable views don’t tend to wave their flags on the internet. I wouldn’t assume that what you see on the internet is represented in reality in the same “proportions” of people in any given camp. There’s a reason why Hillary is pulling good numbers and why the internet is surprised: Hillary is resonating with people who don’t turn every thought into a facebook update.

      1. Ms. Didymus*

        It is funny you say that, because the people I know who are Clinton supporters are definitely the people who turn every thought into a Facebook update. No so much for the people I know who are Sanders supporters.

        I’ll state simply that I do not know any Trump supporters and that is something I take great personal pride in – I’ve always had good judge of character.

        1. Mander*

          Ha, and almost everyone I know who is a Sanders supporter turns every thought into a political one!

          I’m very bad at posting political crap on Facebook, but then again I know my friends are of a like mind for the most part. Trump legitimately terrifies me but the people I know who support him are very old friends (and they are on my restricted list so they don’t see my wacky liberal posts) or else my cousin’s husband, and we get along well enough that I can tell him that I think he’s crazy and it’s not a big deal.

          1. Artemesia*

            My husband supports Bernie and I Hillary — and every Bernie supporter I know turns every thought into politics and trashes the motives of everyone voting for Hillary. It is a fun season.

            We are leaving the country for 10 weeks in late summer and early fall, returning just before the election. I think we are likely to elect a fascist government this fall; this has always been the American curse. ‘It Can’t Happen Here’ was written by Sinclair Lewis in 1935. Well here we are. I could vote happily for either Bernie or Hillary but my sense is that it is going to be Trump because — racism.

            1. Ms. Didymus*

              I actually don’t think Trump will win. Unless Hillary really screws this up, this election is hers. The left will be scared into voting and the moderate right will either stay home or vote for Hillary. The electoral college maps show quite an uphill battle for Trump and…well…he isn’t making it any easier on himself.

              Frankly, considering his past associations with the Clintons, I still refuse to rule out a large scale conspiracy to ensure a Clinton win.

                1. Ms. Didymus*

                  Hey! I’m glad to see I’m not alone :)

                  I chalk it up to two things: 1. I refuse to believe that someone could be that terrible on so many levels all at once and 2. sometimes conspiracy theories are real.

              1. Liz in a Library*

                Are you my dad? Haha! He’s totally convinced Hillary is paying Trump to run for president, or something like it.

            2. Liz in a Library*

              My least favorite thing about the Democratic race this time around has been how incredibly rude Hillary and Bernie supporters are to one another, and I’ve seen it about equally from both sides. Not just disagreement, but this awful smug personal bashing that just seems really unnecessary.

            3. Mazzy*

              It is sad, isn’t it? Many Bernie supporters (or the most vocal ones) remind me of Occupy Wall Street protesters, and I didn’t hear any specific or coherent arguments from them (I don’t want to start a thread on that, I’ve listened to and read enough of those events and came to the conclusion that most just don’t know enough about what fuels the world to be able to critique those running it). I’m not thrilled with the Business Bad! vibe of his followers. Yes, some people earn “too much,” but that isn’t the issue. I think outsourcing has been the biggest issue. And not to sound like an old person, but you can’t find anything not made in China anymore. Can’t believe I just said that! Jokes aside, there have been times when I was looking for electronics or whatever and really wanted to find an American version, and couldn’t. I would love some American-made cookware, for example (what are those chemicals I smelt when the film on my last pan from China melted off?).

              As much as I’d like to support Hillary, I can’t. I hear a dirty-politics story on her a few times per week. Trump, they’re recycling the same stories at this point, but Hillary has so much going on, and Bernie scares me because he’s old and still isn’t afraid of the word Socialism. Hello! Wasn’t that like the theme of half a century? I just saw last week that Hillary donated $2M to her friend’s business and ensured that $800K in federal grant $ were steered her way. Come on Hillary. This, while living in a town where the average home price is $1.2M, avg. family income of $180K, and the town is 94% white and 5% Asian. We all want to live in nice towns, but she is haven’t her cake and eating it too. You just simply can’t live in such a closed, affluent, white place and then preach on diversity and inclusion and how you’re a champion for the middle class. She has zero credibility to do so.

              1. Mando Diao*

                It’s worrisome that Bernie’s campaign is resonating with so many people that I don’t think are very reasonable or educated about the issues.

                It’s going to be hilarious on election day when they find out the hard way that they might not be registered to the correct party to vote for Bernie, or that write-ins aren’t allowed in their states.

                1. Rebel Yellow*

                  That happens to people of all affiliations and intentions. And it’s far from hilarious. It’s a failure of democracy which hurts everyone.

                2. Ms. Didymus*

                  Why do you think it is hilarious that people who, while you may disagree with them, are passionate about the process are going to be failed by that process?

              2. Ms. Didymus*

                While I’m not a Bernie supporter, I’m always amused by people that that freak out over the idea of socialism. Medicare? Socialism. Social Security? Socialism. Public hospitals? Socialism. Public education? Socialism. Food banks? Socialism. Public roads? Socialism. Firefighters? Socialism.

                I suppose you’ll be giving all of those things up, too?

      2. Nina*

        That’s what I used to think – that it’s a vocal minority making all the headlines and creating the fuss, and that that’ll fade out as time goes on. That’s why it freaks me out that this is /actually happening/.

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      As a Republican, and I could argue especially so, it’s terrifying. I’m young and thought of myself as anti-establishment until this year . . . I had all my hopes pinned on a contested convention. Basically I have to distance myself from the headlines because I start to get a sick feeling in my gut.

      My dad (early 60s) has been a Republican all his life. He’s kind of a political junkie (I got it from him) and I worry he’ll have a heart attack or something before the election is over. He’s just so angry and dissapointed by the choices his party has made.

      I never thought I’d see Clinton as the best case scenario, but here we are.

      1. Artemesia*

        I was a Republican precinct chair in 1968 (Rockefeller, before Attica) and I think we were further left than the Democrats are today. There is no left — there is center and reactionary right.

        1. Blue Anne*

          It seems like politics everywhere are getting very conservative right now, and it’s disturbing.

          When I moved to the UK from the USA in 2007, I was a fairly moderate Democrat, and that made me basically a Nazi in comparison to most UK political parties at the time. Now I’m a member of the Scottish Greens. The super left wing, just barely taken seriously, fringe. My views haven’t changed much; the political landscape has swung wildly to the right. The UK has UKIP and other European countries have equivalents, and they’re all gaining.

          I just moved back to the USA and I just can’t believe Trump. It’s insane. It’s ridiculous. It’s like putting up Nigel Farage for Prime Minister, except with less political experience.

      2. Observer*

        You are not alone. And, whatever you want to say about her, Hillary Clinton is a smart cookie. She’s smart enough to reach out to all of the people who might just vote for her with a gas mask on.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I think Hillary Clinton is smart enough to be a competent president. She was a more-than-competent senator for us here in NYState.

          But I don’t think she’ll be allowed to do anything; the people who are against Hillary are apparently against her just because. It’ll be the same sort of opposition that Obama got–where the visceral “he’s horrible and evil!” bullshit completely overwhelmed any rational discussion about the true merits of anything he did.

          And I’m sure I’m not the only person who ends up with a knee-jerk reaction in the opposite direction, when normally I might be more nuanced. I end up rejecting their entire argument–which is not good either

          1. Observer*

            I was talking about her getting elected. But, she’s also a better negotiator and more pragmatic than Obama, and she’s also more willing to use her authority in areas where Obama wasn’t I think.

            I saw the interview with Jon Stewart that someone mentioned elsewhere in the thread, and he made an excellent point about Obama not using his authority on several issues. It’s true. He could have, but didn’t care to.

    3. Absentor*

      Jon Stewart did an interview with David Axelrod this week that really helped me see the election in wider terms… how what we are seeing in people is a manifestation of stresses and changes in recent decades. It also had some funny bits, which helped.

      1. An Observer's View*

        As a Canadian, American political rhetoric always seems over the top and a bit scary. I commented on this to an older gentleman on an Alaska state ferry trip many years ago (maybe during the Bush/Dukakis campaign?) and he said, “Well, that’s the American way. We argue hard and then we figure out how to get along.” I found that comforting and over the years since, mainly true. :)
        The obsession with “making America great again” is also weird. The US is pretty great! Sure it could improve (and my ideas for improvement wouldn’t match the Donald’s) but what country couldn’t?
        So like the rest of the world, I’m trying to keep my anxieties about this election cycle down and am trusting in the innate good sense of most Americans. Don’t let us down! :)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think there is a huge sense of backsliding in this country for many reasons. But I do remember something a teacher said. “Healthy countries criticize themselves. In unhealthy countries, no one says anything negative.”

          1. Ms. Didymus*

            Here’s the thing though: he and his supporters can criticize America but if a liberal does it they are a traitor and should just move already.

            Double standards.

        2. Ms. Didymus*

          Yea the “Make America Great Again” kind of ticks me off.

          Uh, Mr. Patriot, what’s with calling your country crap?

          The Alaskan was right, though. Most elections we argue vehemently because we care – a lot. I truly believe the citizens (if not the politicians) on both sides just want what is best for this country.

        3. Student*

          That specific slogan is a classic “dog whistle” to his particular followers. It is meant to imply he wants to go back to the way things were when women and minorities had less rights, without saying that directly. It allows him to both dodge the implications of racism and sexism when it suits him while still winking at those of his followers who are racist and sexist. It’s classic political Southern Strategy.

    4. Mazzy*

      I think things are coming to a head because the economy has been so stagnate for so many years that there is an entire generation now of people who don’t really remember prosperous times. I think people altered their life paths based on the depressed economy, but don’t always realize it is because of the economy, and thus feel aimless themselves, and I think that is what is causing so much of the lashing outs on the intranets. It also doesn’t help that the unemployment rate is so inaccurate (and I just learned its based on a SURVEY of only sixty thousand households? Who is going to admit how bad their situation is to a stranger?). When you see that the unemployment rate if 5%, you’re going to think the problem is either you or some form of oppression. If the unemployment rate was more realistic (I would say closer 15%) and the under-employment was also a published stat (because that is probably 25%), the public would have a better view of what the real issue is in our country. i also think that studying the intersectionality of issues doesn’t always help. In my town, there is always talk about the demographics of who is on welfare, which leads to arguments, racist comments, and then the conversation never continues, so we never really get to the part of the conversation where we simply discuss why welfare rolls are increasing if the economy is “recovering?”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        And they changed how they calculate the unemployment rate also. It’s like no one believes them anymore.

      2. Artemesia*

        The rules with the help of a compliant congress (including Democrats here) and a scandalously political Supreme Court have been changed to tip everything to Corporate wealth and funnel all the gains of productivity to the top 1%. Things that were illegal and immoral 20 years ago are now just immoral — they have mostly been legalized and protections for the little guy have been slashed e.g. note the fact that courts are no longer open to citizens for most bad things that happen to them because arbitration laws (which favor those who hire the arbitrators) mean they can’t even sue if damaged. The rules have always been rigged but it is 10 times worse than it was even a few decades ago. From Reagan on any protections for the average worker or citizen have been slashed.

        While the anger is justified, the right wing has managed as it has since the end of the Civil War to aim it at the least fortunate rather than those who have been taking the jobs, cutting the pay, undercutting the safety net. i.e. It is that black guy with his free TV and free Obama phone who is the problem or that Mexican ‘illegal’ who has taken your job — not the fact that your company offshored your job years ago. Thus we have the spectre of that yob who went into a Tennessee church a few years ago and shot up a children’s Christmas pageant because ‘obama’ took his job and the ‘liberal church’ was responsible.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I keep hoping and praying that something will allow me to leave. I mean, I’ve wanted to anyway for a while now–mostly for personal reasons, but now? Yiiiiiiipes. If this is the direction our country is going in, I’d probably be happy not to come back.