weekend free-for-all – May 21-22, 2016

EveInBedThis 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: The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood. I actually don’t know if I’m recommending this exactly, because I loved the first half but then felt like it spun out of control in the second half — but it did keep me completely engrossed the entire time and made me stay up way too late several nights in a row, and really, that’s what I want from a book. Has anyone else read this? I want to discuss it.

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

{ 974 comments… read them below }

      1. JaneB*

        My kitty does a similar thing, but she always lies upside down onder the covers so just her tail is on the pillow…

        Eve is SO CUTE though :-)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      She loves being under sheets or blankets. She’s really into cuddling, but only if she’s under the covers with me. She will not do it in the open!

      1. Formica Dinette*

        I didn’t think this could be any cuter, but stealth cuddling makes it EVEn more charming

        Alison, I adore all kitties, but I am extra smitten with yours. It makes me so happy to see how much you cherish them.

  1. Stella*

    It’s seems to be motivational week or something because everyone I know online, from real life friends to the celebrities I follow, is posting about giving everything to your passion, following your dream and not letting fear hold you back, all that good stuff. It’s really inspirational and was a definite pick me up that I needed.

    What’s your drive in life? Do you dedicate everything to your family and friends? Do you have the best job in the world that makes you leap out of bed every morning? Do you have a hobby that gets you through your day job to work on it every evening and weekend? What’s your driving passion and how did you find it?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve lost mine from time to time–and I’m in a writing slump right now–but I’m trying to get it back by stimulating other creative parts of my brain.

      For example, a few weeks ago in open thread, I asked for tutorial recommendations about learning to draw and someone recommended a good book, Betty Edwards’s Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. I got the book, and today I went to get a few supplies. The art store dude said that was a really good book. I can’t wait to get started. The idea of drawing my characters and actually being able to do it properly is making me all excited. I hope it will spill over into a desire to actually sit down and give them something to do. :P :)

      I’m also hoping to motivate myself enough this weekend to FINALLY get some serious progress made on, maybe even finish, Secret Book. I have six days off in a row next week and nothing to do/nowhere to go, not even on my birthday next Saturday, so why not spend it writing? And skating–we finished the rough pattern today for my Buckbeak’s Flight program. :)

      Now I have to finish, since I told you I would, LOL.

      1. Eve*

        Have you read any of Jennier Crusie’s blog posts on collaging and story? I found them really inspiring and her conversation about how being a former art teacher/academic impact her writing process

    2. Caledonia*

      I am drive-less currently.

      I can’t do anything because I’m broke. If I wasn’t broke, I’d like to travel or settle for a job that challenges me, as well as the mundane sorts of things you do in jobs.

      1. Pixie*

        Is there anything local to you that you can do that’s free? I’ve been through this, and you’d be surprised what’s available– try your local library, even! Mine has a program called MuseumPass– yours might, too, and that’ll get you into museums for free or at a hugely reduced rate.

    3. GOG11*

      I’m pretty sure it’s my ADHD. Due to my focus issues, with most things, I’m either totally in or I’m totally out, so if I’m focused enough to do it, I’m really focused and giving it my all. I’m not so great at anything between those two extremes but, luckily, I have far more instances of being really well-focused than not being able to focus at all these days.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Since it is the weekend open thread- It is hard for me to stay off work because I am lucky enough that my work IS my avocation, I am on the what may be the last chapter of a an academic book and completing it is important for my tenure dossier.

        so what drives me?
        Fear/stress- if I don’t publish, I won’t get tenure and I will lose my job, I need to complete the manuscript by the end of next week.(the academic year)
        Joy- when I am writing about what I am passionate about, the time flies and I amaze myself.
        Competency- sounds odd but… when I complete even the smallest task competently,(returning a phone call, having a difficult conversation, cooking dinner, paying the bills) this becomes building blocks for my self esteem. I can say I get deep personal satisfaction when I complete a task. (having been raised by wolves, this was a long time in the making)
        Friends- when I am swamped, overwhelmed, on the edge of a cliff, I make a phone call, or two or three until I get someone to talk me down.

        Mentoring and teaching- seeing the next generation succeed, do well, get jobs, learn and grow.

        Knowing that down time is important too- Recharging by reading Facebook, AAM, and the New York Times. Went to an art show today, played with the dog, spent the evening on my back porch reading.

        Reminding myself that everything gets done.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      My art is definitely my evening/weekend passion (link in my username for the curious). Two years ago I never would have guessed that one day I’d be dreaming about solo exhibits instead of C-suites.

    5. eemusings*

      I honestly do love my work, but it doesn’t make me leap out of bed (never has). I recently achieved a long running goal – buying a house and getting a dog – and these two things are my top priorities. Nesting and quality time with her!

    6. First Initial dot Last Name*

      I’m rudderless in an ocean of worry.

      I left the job that made me leap out of bed in the morning to attend grad school. I have graduated and would now love to go back, but the team dynamic has changed so much that it’s kind of festered into a hostile gross group of people. It kills me that a project I’ve dedicated much of my life to (12 years) is souring on the vine because of the people presently on the team. Some of the people we served have reached out to me telling me they miss me and wish I were still a part of it and it’s breaking my heart. The work is a very specific skill set with very specific goals, I’m struggling to find ways to redirect my passion in other work. I feel like I need a professional coach or something to help me figure it out.

      BUT since this is the weekend free for all and we’re not talking about work or school, I will put in that the things that get me out of bed and fuel my drive to keep going is the work it takes to foster and channel my creativity into some form of production. I love sewing, I love painting, I love photography, (I’m an animator/filmmaker) I love being so buried in creative work that days pass without notice. I’ve been working on a zine which as been a lot of fun. When I started it for a class I expected that two people would read it but I’ve gotten so many requests for copies that I’ve done multiple runs of the first issue, and plan to print twice as many for future issues, which I have at least three more already roughed out. I’m going to be volunteering at a Girls Rock camp, in the zine workshop this summer and I’m totally stoked about it.

    7. Overeducated*

      I don’t have a single passion! I strive to have a calm and loving family life, a job that has me learning and collaborating but doesn’t take over my existence, and a little reflective down time to read, cook, and run. Just finding that balance has been a real effort in the last year, and as I’ve worked and job searched, where I have chosen to put my energy has shown me that a “passion” career might not be right for me anymore.

    8. Raia*

      Between the scheduling surprises of my new job, I haven’t invested time in music which is my passion. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I read your post and thought about how often I’m thinking about music at work. So, I’m off to practice later today, and tomorrow I may drop in for a community ensemble rehearsal! I wish I could practice in the evenings, but I live with my parents and for some reason their baseless “Sounds great” after my practice sessions really ticks me off. Therefore, I don’t practice so that I don’t get ticked off and then they wonder why they let me stay with them.

    9. De Minimis*

      I’d say books and reading, good food, beer, spending time at home, looking up weird bands/shows online….

      Plan on using this year’s NaNoWriMo to get started writing again…

    10. And Peggy!*

      My drive for the past year and a half or so was how badly I wanted to leave the place I was living and move to the city. So I’m super excited about having achieved that, but I’m also kind of having a “what now?” moment. There’s almost too many options now (not that I’m complaining) but I’m trying to figure out what I want to put my out-of-work time into. Old hobbies I want to pick back up. New hobbies I want to try (aerial dance is what’s currently caught my eye). Meet-up groups I want to join. Volunteer opportunities that all seem really interesting. And as someone more introverted, it’s a little overwhelming. Especially since it’s going to take work to build relationships and find my place and my people, and I know not everything that I try will necessarily work out, but I’m determined to make it work.

  2. Sandy*

    I have two flights tomorrow (5 hours and then 2 hours) WITHOUT a baby, and I have exhausted my backlog of iTunes TV series thanks to some recent sleepless nights.

    Any recommendations?

    [if it helps, I’ve enjoyed Outlander, Downton Abbey, Home Fires, Madam Secretary, Call the Midwife, etc. recently; former favourites include Corner Gas and Big Bang Theory]

    1. Caledonia*

      I’m currently watching Mozart in the Jungle, eccentric orchestra conductor played by Gael García Bernal, which is rather good.

      Home Fires was great, am not happy it was cancelled on a cliffhanger!

        1. Caledonia*

          @ aurora yes, there’s a series 2, which ends on a cliffhanger. there’s a petition and everything on change(dot)org. You can use the search box to look for the petition.

          1. Aurora Leigh*

            :( I’m in the US, so it hasn’t aired here yet. I hope we at least get season 2 on PBS.

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      I recently watched Bomb Girls and Land Girls in Netflix. Bomb Girls follows several women working at a munitions plant in Canada during WW2. Land Girls is set in Britain during WW2 and is about the Women’s Land Army. Really interesting with a similar vibe to Call the Midwife!

      1. LizB*

        Whoa, there’s another show like Bomb Girls? *runs off to add to her Netflix list* I love Bomb Girls and Call the Midwife, I’m always looking for more shows with that vibe.

    3. Elkay*

      The Bletchley Circle is good, it’s about four female Bletchley Park code breakers who meet up after the war and solve crimes.

    4. MsChanandlerBong*

      I absolutely love 30 Rock and the United States of Tara. I’ve watched USoT all the way through about four times, and it never gets old.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        oooh! It’s been a few years, but I will totally second United States of Tara. I also really love Once Upon a Time! :-)

    5. Dan*

      I have my flights on Tuesday. It’ll take three flights to get where I’m going — 2.5 hours, 6 hours, and another 1.5 hours. The 6 hour flight leaves at 2am. Joy.

      1. Ms. Didymus*

        Because there is nothing anyone wants more at 2am than to be dealing with taking off on a plane. Happy days.

    6. Emmy*

      Lark Rise to Candleford. (for the Downton Abbey era but in the country)
      Some excellent miniseries: (all BBC) Bleak House; North and South (by Gaskell, not the American Civil war one; English industrial); Cranford and Return to Cranford; Our Mutual Friend

      1. Jane Eyre*

        Just finished binge watching Bleak House. Forgot how good it was! North and South is excellent, too. I always tear up during the final scene– never fails. Richard Armitage is amazing in that.

    7. GOG11*

      I’ve really enjoyed a lot of the Netflix originals so far. Favorites are Cuckoo (esp. the first season), Derek, Master of None, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Special Correspondents (this one’s a movie).

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Seconding Grantchester. I mean the writing is great and everything, but I’d watch it just for James Norton :)

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Night Manager was fab for the lush surroundings, although some definite plot holes. I enjoyed it – a good six hours well spent! :)

    8. INTP*

      If you have Amazon Prime, there’s a sitcom on there called Accidentally On Purpose that is not going to win any awards for innovative writing or anything but is very cute and feel-good. I’ve been watching it as my before-bed show. It’s also available for download on Amazon devices.

    9. SophieChotek*

      Bletchley Circle (on Netflix) 2 seasons (BBC)

      The Imitation Game

      Sherlock (BBC with Benedict Cumberbatch)

      The Pallisers (BBC, 1974) – 3 Seasons

      Marple (with Gwendolin McEwan)

      Barchester Chronicles (BBC with the late Alan Rickman)

      Warehouse 13

      Crimson Field (BBC/Austrlian, WWI)

      Doctor Blake (Australian, post WW2 mystery series)

      Generation War (German WW1 Series)

      The Labyrinth of Lies (German Post ww2)

    10. Manderley*

      Death Comes to Pemberly – so good! It takes place after Pride and Prejudice and it well done, unlike many of the books I’ve read that continue the story. Also, seconding Once Upon a Time – silly good fun.

    11. Ms. Didymus*

      I don’t know if it is on anywhere but when I was in the UK last year I randomly came across this show called The Nightmare Neighbour Nextdoor. It was amazing. I wish it aired in the US.

    12. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      If you are anywhere near related, or interested in, the whole software development and VC circus, then Silicon Valley is a must watch. From the same guy who did Office Space.

      It is HBO though, not sure if that is on iTunes?

  3. CoffeeLover*

    So I’m planning to move from Canada to Sweden to be with my SO (as I’ve mentioned a few times here). I’ve always wanted to do some kind of development volunteering abroad (think helping people start businesses vs. Aid work), and I think this might be my chance! Leave Canada, go do something useful with myself, then move to Sweden. Honestly though, I don’t even know where to start. There’s agencies out there that can organize the whole thing for you, but Id like to avoid those. My biggest concerns are a) I want to volunteer for an organization that’s truelly making a positive difference in local lives (I’ve heard horror stories of organizations that do more harm than good); b) I don’t want to pay a crazy amount of overhead fees (ie those agencies that plan everything for you charge you thousands on top of your travel costs); and c) while I’m open to the idea of volunteering my time, since I’d like to go for longer (ie 3months), I’d love to find a short-term work placement or grant, but I’m not sure thats realistic. Has anyone ever done something like this? I would love to here your thoughts on this!

    1. GOG11*

      AmeriCorps has capacity building positions (mine was getting a program developed, up and running for someone else to take over) with nonprofits all over the US, though most or all are 1-year contracts. They do have shorter-term projects, as well, though those are usually direct service (summer meal programs for children dealing with food insecurity and back country outdoor work are two I know of). Maybe they have other projects that would fit with what you’d like to do. Not sure if America counts as abroad, but it is meaningful work and they pay you a volunteer stipend.

    2. misspiggy*

      Reputable agencies don’t charge you. But the big volunteering agencies mostly focus on one or two year placements. VSO Canada would be worth talking to. Many short term placements don’t deliver much benefit to poor communities, unless you’re a humanitarian specialist or you’re doing something like food distribution for refugees. The relationships you need to build to do genuine skills sharing (with people in developing countries who will then train others) will take at least six months, usually a lot more. Humanitarian work for refugees in Greece might be an option, if can find a well-regarded organisation and raise some money to go towards the things you’d be distributing.

      It might help to map out what you want to get out of a volunteer placement. Is travel and meeting new people the most important thing? It might be best to just do that, maybe with some English teaching along the way. Making connections and sharing friendship with people in different places is a valuable thing in its own right.

      Do you have some specialised skills you’d like to share? Researching where those skills are most in demand is the key. As mentioned this usually takes a long time, because a good placement would have you training someone in English, who will then go on to train others using local language and norms.

      Do you want to offer some direct help for people in dire straits? Humanitarian grunt work is good for that, but tough to get into in a way that doesn’t do more harm than good. You could try RedR for short term specialised humanitarian assignments (engineers, logisticians etc.), but usually there’s quite a long lead time to do required training. Or you could explore the Greece option.

      Re business development, a short term placement isn’t that likely to be all that helpful unless you can provide long term follow-up mentoring support. What people often need is startup money, training in skills which are in demand in the local economy, and education for literacy and numeracy. The latter part could be relevant, but unless you speak local languages you’d be better passing on skills to English native speakers – which takes us back to the time issue.

      I’m really sorry to have written so many of negative things! Maybe, if your skills are in business development, you could provide some specific short term training to a nonprofit organisation which does that type of work in a developing country. Data analysis is in huge demand, for example. It’s a matter of finding the right organisation. VSO does do business skills sharing, but I think the minimum posting is six months. If you have industry networks, they might be best to put you in touch with organisations in developing countries.

      1. Alanna*

        Seconding misspiggy, the trick is going to be finding something both useful and short-term. And definitely don’t pay to volunteer. If you’re genuinely useful, then your skills are your contribution. Making you pay is a sign you’re not needed.

    3. Stevenz*

      Do you want to do volunteer work in Sweden, or anyplace? If in Sweden, just wait until you get there to see the range of options. If you want to work somewhere other than Sweden, they may have an overseas aid office with opportunities in many places. If you ant to stay in the country I would bet there are opportunities to volunteer with refugee or immigrant resettlement/assimilation. Of course, Sweden is a social democracy which means they have very strong government programs tha take good care of people so that may mean a much smaller volunteer industry, but I don’t know. I haven’t been there for a while.

      In a place like Sweden you’re also less likely to run into fraudsters – part of their philosophy of government that protects people with strong regulation and enforcement regimes that make it hard for illegitimate businesses to get a foothold. There also may be ESOL teaching opportunities since everybody wants to learn English. I’d be interested to hear what you come up with. Keep us posted, and enjoy Sweden. It’s a wonderful country.

      1. Amy UK*

        ESOL is unlikely to be an option in Sweden unfortunately. The level of English in Sweden is high enough that they have little need for native speakers. When such a high proportion of the native population speak English fluently, you don’t need to bring outsiders in to teach it. Some people might be willing to pay for tuition with a native speaker, of course, but there’s not the same demand for ESOL teachers as there is in Asia, Latin America etc.

        And considering that they are an EU country, any native speakers they do seek are likely to be UK based due to visa issues.

        1. stevenz*

          Generally, you’re right. But the Scandinavian countries do get some influx of immigrants who may want to learn English as well as Swedish. But there probably isn’t a big demand, as you say.

  4. And Peggy!*

    Thank you to everyone who answered my questions about apartment hunting in Boston a few weekends ago! I found a place this week and I’m super excited about moving! If anyone has any recommendations for reliable, inexpensive moving companies in the area I’d love to have them, Google hasn’t been the biggest help so far.

    1. And Peggy!*

      (I realize that it’s possibly too much to ask for a moving company to be reliable and inexpensive, but I don’t have a ton of furniture and most of the places I’ve found have high minimum rates)

      1. Jane S*

        Gentle Giant is good. Avoid Man with a Van (Somerville based business). I’d just suck it up and pay the minimum if you can afford it; you can get screwed over pretty easily by unscrupulous movers- I had that happen last year when I tried to save money.

        1. And Peggy!*

          Yeah, I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that I’ll probably just have to suck it up and pay, but I figured I’d crowdsource it just in case there’s a unicorn of a moving company hiding out there!

            1. And Peggy!*

              Thank you! And they’re one of the ones that I was looping into the high minimum rate group.

      2. Alston*

        I can help! X Movers! They have a yelp you can look up, but at home I have their email and I can get that for you later. They are awesome, very reliable and waaay cheap. Two movers for 3 hours for like $200. You do have to rent your own uhaul but they will totally park it for you if need help with that. I have used them twice and cannot recommend them enough.

        Congrats on the place, what area of town did you end up in–if you don’t mind saying?

        1. And Peggy!*

          Thank you, I’ll definitely check them out! And I don’t want to get too specific, but I ended up finding something in a nice Cambridge-adjacent area.

    2. YWD*

      I used Gentle Giant and they were great. All my stuff made it safely. The crew lead did a good job keeping the team moving. Welcome to the area!

    3. Laura (Needs a New Name)*

      Gentle Giant! Great experience with them and very reasonable price.

    4. Mayflower*

      Precision Moving in Somerville. Have used them twice. Not cheap, but very good!

    5. Jen*

      Not sure where you are moving from, but if it’s within MA or close we used Raimond’s movers. They do a lot of business in the city but we moved ‘burb to ‘burb and they did a great job moving our (really, really heavy) stuff quickly and safely. They were a lot less than Gentle Giant and I believe do smaller jobs as well (we were not a small job).

    6. anon, sometimes*

      I missed the original thread so I’m not sure where you’re moving from, but I’ve used Stairhoppers 4 times and they’re very reliable, they charge $115/hr (that includes 3 guys). I’ve done several 1br to 1br apartment moves around the boston area for $500 or less, and my last one was a 3br 3rd floor apt to a large single family home i bought 30 miles away, and that one still came in just under 1k including travel time. they’ve never damaged or lost anything and they are very hard workers. my last move was a little slower & more expensive than the first 3, but it was a horrible freezing rainy day with terrible traffic, plus i’d always previously moved as a single person and this time it was a family move so the cost was completely justified! :)


    7. anon, sometimes*

      sorry if this ends up appearing twice, it doesn’t seem to have posted the first time.

      i missed the original thread so i’m not sure where you’re moving from, but i’ve used stairhoppers for 4 moves in the boston area; they’ve been amazing. my first 3 moves were single-person moves (studio to 1 br, 1br to 1br, then 1br to 3br to move in with my now-wife) and they all were under $500 total.

      my last move was around 1k but it was moving 2 of us from a 3br, 3rd floor apt to a large house we bought about an hour away, so the increased cost was definitely justified for our situation.

      they’re fast, reliable, affordable ($115/hour which includes 3 guys, they do charge the hourly rate for driving so factor that in if you’re moving from outside the area!). they work really hard and have never broken or lost anything of mine.

      i wonder if maybe my comment didn’t post before because i linked to their yelp. i won’t link this time, but you can easily find them on there – 344 reviews, 5 star average. :) good luck!

  5. Aurion*

    Vague rant:

    You just can’t pick your family members, huh? Especially self-centred, immature ones who should have long since grown out of that behaviour. Who gets defensive over every little thing even if someone states an observable fact. Who’s always scrambling around deadlines, always late for everything, can’t plan for shit, and flies by the seat of their pants. Who gets subsidized living by parents but don’t even treat them particularly well.

    I really just want to shake them by the shoulders and yell “Grow up.” (Ironic, since they’re older than me.)

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Exactly. You don’t even have to tolerate your Family of Origin, although it doesn’t sound like it’s bad enough that you’re ready to cut them off, Aurion. But you can have a Family of Choice. Mine includes some of my closest friends since high school, who are like family to us. I actually like them better than a lot of my family.

        1. Aurion*

          I am not as affected by this particular person (my sibling) because…well, because I’m kind of a hardass. I’m probably too much of a hardass sometimes since I have to remind myself to be compassionate and sympathetic, so I’m definitely not perfect. I’m imperfect in a very, very different way though. But frustration at said sibling is what causes me to mutter “well, nothing teaches like necessity” probably too often.

          I feel bad for my parents. I can more easily say “sink or swim” because I am 1) less emotive than my parents in general and 2) sibling relationships are different from parent-child. Ironically I probably have an easier (if distant) relationship with Sibling than my parents do, but that’s because I don’t actively try to make their life easier (or more difficult) and we are equals, so on the occasions I do help Sibling does generally appreciate it. Whereas my parents try to help frequently and I feel like Sibling…takes it for granted? Sometimes my parents overstep and make things worse. Sometimes they do help Sibling out successfully but don’t get acknowledgement or thanks. Sometimes they help and Sibling does say thanks, though I personally feel like the second instance occur far more than the others.

          To be completely honest, I would 100% believe it if my sibling were to get diagnosed with ADHD or something of that stripe. But I don’t know where legit mental illness begins and plain immaturity ends; I am not in any way qualified to make that call. And even if there were mental illnesses involved, I feel like we can offer support, but the person afflicted with the mental illness is still ultimately responsible for the management.

          Some part of me wants to judge less (see above re: having to remind myself to be compassionate) because I know Sibling’s life circumstances are difficult (grad school and other things). I’ve been through depression myself so I’m not entirely foreign to mental issues; my own life hasn’t really steadied until the last year or so, and I know the experience of one person doesn’t always map to another. But kindness, politeness, and general decency should not be optional when people are helping you.

          It’d probably be easier if we didn’t live together.

          1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

            *shiver* Much of what you’ve written has been my life experience with my Trainwreck Sibling. And after 15+ years of nonsense, he showed signs of mental illness. I’ve been mad at him this entire time, and even madder now because it feels like I’m supposed to give him a pass for all the damage he’s done up through til the mental illness began manifesting because MI. And it’s incredibly frustrating.

            I did used to live with them all because I supported them all but for my own mental health I had to leave and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

            As you say, though, it’s actually better NOT to keep helping, there comes a point when it’s enabling and disabling. If yours is anything like mine, the parental help is regarded with resentment at best and doesn’t help. They do have to find their own way before it’s too late. In our case, I told my parents ten years before he had any MI symptoms that he HAD to learn to make it on his own without them or else he’d never learn the skills necessary. Guess who’s going to be saddled with him when my dad passes because they *never* listened and he *never* learned any life management skills?

            1. Aurion*

              Well, I can’t blame my parents for wanting to help because they’re the parents, and often Sibling puts things off until the absolute last second and it’s always a mad scramble. They credit their last second success as Not A Big Deal and proof that they Have It Under Control, but it’s always because someone (me, parents, someone else) pitches in at the last second so they could scrape it past the finish line. So Sibling is very defensive to the slightest bit of criticism because I Had It Under Control See?! and parents are like You Barely Got It Done, And You Only Managed Because We Pitched In…and both are true. And ironically I have an easier relationship because I can let go and they can’t…but as parents, it’s hard for them to let go when it seems like Sibling can’t manage it on their own. Believe me, I tell them to let it go–both in the “your relationship will probably improve” and “they have to learn to manage themselves” ways–so often I might as well be a broken record. Doesn’t help much.

              It’s an incredibly stupid, vicious cycle. I mean it can be a lot worse; Sibling could be unappreciative/inconsiderate and other things. I think it’s just those situations where grown adults just should not live together. (Furthering the irony, Sibling is slightly more receptive to my chewing them out, probably because I don’t make a habit of it and prefer to let them sink or swim, but I am not making a habit out of parenting my sibling.)

              I rarely get mad at my Sibling because I just keep my life largely separate and don’t expect much (the circumstances that will lend me to get angry on my own behalf are usually pretty catastrophic and thankfully rather rare), but I get irate at their attitude toward other people quite often.

              1. Christopher Tracy*

                This sounds so much like me, my mom, and younger brother. He’s been coddled his whole life because he was the baby and has ADHD, and I swear, when my mom is gone, his ass is gonna be up shit creek because he has very little life skills thanks to endless bailouts from my mother.

              2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

                Oh I’m familiar with the cycle. It used to work, until it didn’t, because after a while, it’s clear that TW Sibling didn’t actually have it together and Parents were just shoring him up long enough. As a parent, I understand desperately wanting your kid to have it together and wanting to help them keep it together. But having watched it, I know that approach simply doesn’t work most of the time.

                Anyway, our circumstances may have been more dire in that none of them were able to support themselves after a certain point and I had to support them to keep us all from losing the house and all, and that put a very stressful light on things.

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      My husband and I are really struggling with this right now. Frankly, his Uncle and his older sister has exhausted all the good will of our local relatives who have made a flat “don’t lend money to family or let family stay with us” rule.

      It’s really, really, really frustrating! Because we literally moved across the country, exhausting all of our savings to be closer to them and they promised to help us in any way they can before we moved. We arrived and basically the entire family was like – we don’t do that anymore. I can’t let people live with me anymore. Etc.

      I get not letting the freeloaders drag you down anymore, but he is the responsible one who has never asked for anything and after we exhaust our finances to move here you are like – “Sorry. No??” And then you have the audacity to bother us every couple of months with “When are you going to have kids?” “There’s a cute house (that you can’t afford) right next door to me!”

      I finally had enough and shut this down one night at dinner. They started up the kids and house in the good neighborhood crap again and I smiled wide and said – “That would be great! Does anyone have a couple of thousand to lend us as a down payment?” (As an aside, they literally blew $5K last year bailing out the physically abusive a**hole my husband’s sister is married to. This man literally broke our oldest nieces arm who belonds to another man because he was mad that she hurt his kid playing).

      Ugh! These people ruin it for the people who need help and have worked hard!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Actually, it’s the people with no judgment or ability to set boundaries who ruined it for you. You know, the ones who can’t bring themselves to say no to someone who abuses their good will, so they make up a “rule” that they will never do anything like that again for anyone.

        I had a family member who overstayed the time they said they’d stay with us. By days, not hours. So we told them no for years…about 20 years, actually, but they wanted to stay over one night while traveling, so we said OK. And the night before they arrived, they mentioned that they’re bringing their dog. To our three-cat household. So we said they’d have to leave it in the room the whole time, and we asked that they carry it in and out. (It’s a tiny dog, and they were mostly just arriving here around dinner time and leaving the first thing the next morning.)

        You can guess how that went.

        So the next time they asked, we said sorry, that just doesn’t work for us. There is no good time. We’d love to see you when you come through, but we’re just not up for houseguests. Nopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenope.

        That finally worked. :)

        1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

          Very good point on an individual basis, but I was thinking more of a systemic level. These relatives are the same who abuse the welfare system and make it harder for those who really need help to get it.

      2. Lindsay J*

        Ugh, I’m sorry this happened to you.

        It sounds remarkably similar to what happened to one of my friends and his partner. His partner’s sister wanted them to move closer to them so he could be around his mother who had a terminal illness. They didn’t have the funds to move, get an apartment, etc, and so kept on saying “no, no, no.”

        Sister said, “Oh, it’s no problem. My husband can get you a job at the call center where he works, it will be better on your back than standing up being a waiter all night, and you’ll have benefits. We’ll lend you the money to move. And you can stay with us for a couple months while you save money and get back on your feet.”

        And literally none of those things happened. They got someone to take over their lease at their apartment, got all ready to move, and the money the sister agreed to send all of a sudden couldn’t be sent because of vague issues. (This is where my concern started kicking in, and if I were them I wouldn’t have gone.”

        Got there, no job, couldn’t stay with the family.

        They stuck it out and wound up in crazy amounts of debt until the mother passed away. Then they moved across the country and in with my friend’s mother and are still trying to recover financially.

        I’ve never understood how someone could hang family out to dry like that. If you’re getting someone to uproot their life based on promises you’re making them, you really need to follow through. Or make it clear that you can’t before it’s too late.

  6. Stephanie*

    Tips for apartment hunting from across the country? As I mentioned, I’m moving from Phoenix to Pittsburgh later this summer for school. I’m headed to Pittsburgh next weekend to search, but due to my work schedule and the logistics of flying cross-country, I don’t think I’ll be able to go back again before I’d need to move for good. Also trying to coordinate this with a roommate (who has similar constraints). Any suggestions?

    1. DEJ*

      I’ve rented several apartments sight unseen over the years after similar situations. It is a little nerve racking, I won’t lie. You’re more likely to know what you’re going to end up getting with an apartment complex vs. searching for something on Craigslist. Use Google. Check out reviews. If you are able to get there to search and your roommate can’t (and vise versa) you’re going to have to trust each other.

      Good luck!

      1. Stevenz*

        Be very careful with craigslist. I wouldn’t rent anything from a distance through them. There is just too much opportunity for fraud. Maybe most of the listings are ok but it would sure help if you could have someone local check out properties for you. Note that Pittsburgh isn’t a “hot” real estate market so don’t worry about things not being available for long.

    2. Jean*

      Does your new school offer any information for students? If they don’t have an Office of Grad Student Resettlement (or whatever…I just made up that department name) ask the administrative assistants in your department/program.
      More random ideas, with the caveat that I know almost nothing about Pittsburgh:
      look online for sites that review Pittsburgh apartments
      look online for tenant rights’ organizations (may be a branch of city government, or may be a private organization)
      network with alums from your undergrad school, third-person connections with anyone you know (friend’s brother’s ex-roommate, dentist’s niece’s pastor, local branch of whatever political party / RPG group / etc. you favor)
      (also network with Society of Women Engineers and any other groups you might join that might have a Pittsburgh presence)
      call up a food co-op close to campus and ask for help

      If these are too nutty, I hope I’ve given you a laugh. And belated congratulations for your new adventure!

      1. Stephanie*

        Haha, that name sounds a little Orwellian. :)

        Yeah, the school’s resources for off-campus housing have been pretty good–I have a good idea of which neighborhoods and average rents.

        Thanks for the other suggestions, though! I hadn’t thought of those.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If you can, focus on complexes or buildings where the apartments are very similar. That way, it won’t feel so “sight unseen.” We took two trips before we moved, one to scout neighborhoods and one to find a place. I insisted on looking at some buildings in case we didn’t get the house we wanted (we did– saw it on Saturday, learned we got it on Monday, signed the lease on Tuesday).

      Make some appointments this week and look at some places, get a feel for how things look in the neighborhoods you like. If you find something next weekend, so much the better! Though clear it with your roommate first. :) If your roommate isn’t physically there and you really like what you see, take a ton of pictures, or even FaceTime while you’re touring. Good luck!

    4. Riki*

      Line up a few places to view before you leave for your visit. I am guessing that you’d like to live as close to campus as possible. Google the neighborhoods that surround the school. Some will probably suit you more than others (e.g. that cute block might actually be in the middle of frat row, if you’re not into seeing/hearing loads of undergrads partying like crazy, it’ll suck to live there).

      Make sure you and your roommate 100% agree on things like budget and location. That way, if you find a great place during your visit, you can get the lease process started right away, rather than waiting for feedback. Goodl luck!

    5. Dan in Pittsburgh*

      Don’t live in Midland.
      Don’t live in Aliquippa.
      Don’t live in Braddock.
      Don’t live in Duquesne.

      Everywhere else is OK, really.

      1. Stevenz*

        Well, my list would be a bit longer…. Which school are you going to? If you’re working with their off campus housing service then you will have a good idea of the neighborhoods. So if you’re going to Pitt or CMU, Oakland is closest. Of course, Oakland is full of crappy houses that rent for a lot of money because there are about 30,000 students looking for a place to live. Pittsburgh has a pretty good bus system so don’t rule out neighborhoods that are a bit farther away like Friendship, Lawrenceville, or my former home, Highland Park.

    6. First Initial dot Last Name*

      Your graduate school will probably have information on renting around the school, and probably offers grad student housing, (unless you have animals), at the market rate for the area. You will be able to find places for less than that though. Your school may have a secure listserv of some kind for housing postings, I’ve noticed my school’s board had a lot of very short term rental options available for incoming students, I suspect they function as a landing pad which you bounce out of pretty quickly. You could try looking into doing a sublet or some other temporary housing situation just to get into the area and have a little flexibility to search for your longer term residence.

      Your cohort are in exactly the same boat as you are, so there’s that. Depending on your department size an assistant may be able to help you communicate your needs to other incoming students. My dept is pretty small, the assistant director has forwarded mail from incoming students looking for places to the department so people could team up to share. That’s worked for quite a few people.

      Personally, I made my move across the country in a RV and lived in it near school until I found a place I liked, I have cats and an aversion to uncertainty, so that worked especially well for me.

    7. August*

      I live in Pittsburgh! I’m not sure which district you’re moving to, but if it’s somewhere near Pittsburgh’s many college campuses, there are ALWAYS tons of open apartments/townhouses. All of the undergrad/graduate students who live nearby go through apartments pretty quickly (end the lease while they study abroad, got a new job, etc.), so there’s always available housing. I know of at least five different facebook groups that center around apartment hunting in those areas. Good luck!

  7. March*

    I’m just back from my trip! Three weeks in Europe flew by quite fast. The unfortunate bedbug bites i could have done without, but I’m getting all my stuff handled straightaway so it won’t get into the house.

    Even more exciting, I’ve got a backlog of AAM posts to read!

    1. Dan*

      Where did you go? I’m heading over in the fall. Belgium, Berlin, Lisbon, and San Sebastian.

      1. March*

        I did a bus tour for people ages 18-35! We visited France, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, and the Netherlands. Superb trip.

        I didn’t see any of the places you visit (besides one service stop in Belgium), but I’ve heard Berlin is beautiful!

        1. Dan*

          Sounds like fun. I pack in a lot of things like that when I travel, too. How was the bus ride?

          1. March*

            It was good! The bus was really nice and comfortable, so on days when we had to spend all day driving there was a lot of napping.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Cool! I’m trying to begin plans for a European trip next spring, if I can swing it. I want to visit friends in Poland, Czech Republic, Belgium if I have time, Germany, Netherlands, and back out through the UK. Switzerland would be nice too.

    3. Cristina in England*

      When you say “handled” what do you mean? Did you have to send it somewhere? I hope you had a nice time. What did you particularly enjoy about your trip?

      1. March*

        I put all of my clothes into plastic bags before I went inside the house, and dumped all of it into the washer with hot water to kill any bugs. Stuff that couldn’t go in the washer I put in ziploc baggies and those are going into the freezer for a week or so. It’s a nuisance, but it keeps the house free from any pests!

        Oh goodness, everything was amazing. I think what I enjoyed most was getting to know other people on the tour – I wouldn’t have thought that three weeks would be enough to form deep, personal friendships, but I suppose when you spend all day and night with those people, it’s easy to become close. Everything we saw was incredible, but having such good friends to see it with made it even more amazing.

        1. bearing*

          I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you, but for future reference and for anyone else who may go through this and remember it: The hot cycle on a washing machine is not generally deadly enough to bedbugs to destroy them safely, though it will reduce their numbers and if you are lucky it will be enough. It’s gotta be: (1) straight into the DRYER on the hot cycle for at least 15 minutes — that’s the kill step — followed by washer and then dryer.

          Also, I was told 2 weeks in the freezer, not just 1.

          Source: I had to de-bedbug my grandma’s house from an extremely bad infestation. We were successful and I did not spread it to my car or to the house I was sleeping in at night during that week.

  8. LizB*

    I’m Jewish (Reform) and my boyfriend was raised Presbyterian, but is now an atheist. We’ve been having conversations for a while now about how we’d each like to raise any hypothetical future kids, and obviously there’s been a lot of discussion about religion in that. Current consensus is that we’d like to find a way to blend our religious/cultural practices, but don’t want to get into hashing out the details right now.

    I teach Hebrew and Religious School at my synagogue, and since registration just opened for next year’s classes, I’ve been talking about the registration process and tuition with some of my families. I mentioned this to my boyfriend, and he was very weirded out at the idea of having to pay tuition for religious education. Apparently his Sunday school (which he hated and avoided as much as possible) was entirely free. He doesn’t know if the teachers were paid or volunteer. I said that the cost had probably been included in his parents’ membership dues, and he said nope, there were no dues, the church was entirely funded through unstructured donations. His parents paid for Vacation Bible School, but not for weekly Sunday school.

    Is this a common thing with Christian churches? Every synagogue I’ve ever been involved with has had dues or annual contributions for membership, and/or tuition for Hebrew/Religious school (usually with reduced prices for members). And tuition usually hasn’t been cheap, either. Now I’m worried that even if we can hash out our ideological differences, he’ll object to paying for Hebrew/Religious school because his church didn’t charge, so why should my synagogue? I’m tempted to think that he just wasn’t aware of whatever his parents were paying because he wanted nothing to do with the whole thing, but maybe his experience is normal and mine is weird. Thoughts, anyone?

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      Yes, it’s common for church membership to be unrelated to dues or tithing. Sunday schools are funded as part of the operations budgets in the churches I’ve attended; no one has needed to pay individual tuition. However, the dunning for contributions never seems to end! I would love to be able to tick a box somewhere by paying a set amount and then not be solicited for donations (tithes, offering plate, special fundraisers, love offerings, etc.) all the time — but I’m not sure there’s a way to be welcoming to those at all income levels while reducing the constant asks.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Er, that last bit sounds off. To clarify: I think that if the constant asks were reduced, people at lower income levels or in tough financial circumstances would probably feel more welcome! I think it’s against some foundational tenets of many faiths to exclude worshippers if they don’t donate to the church, and I would not support excluding them. However, the church needs money to operate, so if the constant solicitation is to be reduced, the money needs to come from some other source. Lacking that source, I’m not sure there’s a solution that accomplishes both goals of keeping the church doors open and keeping them open to everyone (without being hounded for money).

        1. TootsNYC*

          the point of a tithe is that people at lower income levels give a lot less money, objectively.

          In my Lutheran denomination, there aren’t a lot of appeals, certainly not with a lot of pressure.

          1. Ms. Didymus*

            While that is true, it still isn’t exactly equal. If you make $20,000 paying 10% is going to hurt a lot more than if you make $80,000 and you pay 10%.

      2. LizB*

        That makes sense. We get asked for donations usually twice a year at most — at the most important holiday for the year when the biggest possible crowd will be at services, and on my city’s big “donate to nonprofits” day when lots of matching funds are available. As for welcoming all income levels, it’s really easy to get a scholarship for Hebrew school or rates for membership that are based on your income, plus payment plans, mid-year adjustments if something happens, etc. And you don’t have to be a dues-paying member to participate in synagogue life; I’m not, and I teach at the school, attend services and events regularly, and sing in the choir. I think I’m not allowed to vote in board elections, but that’s about it.

      3. Kyrielle*

        In our church, there are occasional asks but mostly they ask that we structure our giving – a lot of us donate electronically on a regular schedule. Sunday school is free, as is child care during service.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          I just realized that my objection is because the broad-spectrum solicitation is like addressing a whole department/company about a policy or rule violation when only a couple people are offending. I did donate a regular monthly amount through the subscription model at my previous church, and attended almost every week (I was in the choir), plus volunteered time and effort. I occasionally made cash donations for special occasions. But I was subject to ALL of the emails, ALL of the offering calls, ALL of the reminders — which added up to whining at and guilting attendees, imo — just as if I had a million dollars and wasn’t sharing any of it. PLUS, I got special treatment like an invitation to Pillars of the Church dinners, which were ostensibly to thank and celebrate donors, but had a per-plate entrance fee and OF COURSE subjected attendees to an additional offering request (I chose not to go). So I’m obviously still bitter! :D

          1. Kyrielle*

            That would tick me off royally. Probably enough to leave that particular church and cancel our giving, actually. :P

    2. Jane S*

      Catholic Sunday School is not free. I think it was a few hundred dollars a year when I was a kid, but my parish had a sliding scale.

      1. LizB*

        That sounds about comparable to my synagogue — it’s a few hundred a year for Religious school, plus another few hundred for Hebrew school (which is a totally separate session and requires more curriculum/textbooks/etc.). It’s easy to get a scholarship or payment plan, too.

      2. CAA*

        Hmm. I just asked my Mom and she confirmed that our CCD (Catholic religious education) classes were just “pay for the book”. The teachers were volunteers who were also the parent of a kid in the class. Our classes were not on Sundays though. They were either after school when we were young or in the early evenings as we hit middle and high school age, and they were held in the teaching family’s home.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          Yup, this must be parish-dependent, because CCD only cost for the books at my church growing up. I taught it for a couple of years (young kids), and ours was held on Thursdays after school or Saturday mornings.

        2. Florida*

          I went to CCD and my parents paid for it. I don’t know for sure, but I imagine they had a sliding scale, or need-based scholarships. We met at the church in some classrooms. The teachers were volunteers from the church.

          No one ever knew what CCD stood for, so we kids decided it stood for Catholic Church Detention.

            1. Rubyrose*

              You are correct about the actual name. We called it something more inflammatory – Cra**y Catholic Dictation.
              I was stuck in it for six years. It was taught by volunteers, but a couple of years I had people who were teachers in their day jobs. I got out of it two years early. After the yearly sermon where the priest guilt tripped people into enrolling their children (and paying the fee), my father gave me the money and told me to enroll myself. I told him if he really wanted me there he could enroll me himself. The topic never came up again.
              Even today I can’t believe how bold I was in saying that.

            2. Vancouver Reader*

              Oh my gosh, I thought I was the only one who had to go through that many years of hell. I didn’t go to a Catholic high school, so that was my punishment.

      3. Ms. Didymus*

        I attended Catholic Sunday School as a young kid (before we left The Church) and my mother taught it – it was free. We didn’t even charge for the book. I think it varies by parish.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Is this a common thing with Christian churches?

      Yes. There aren’t usually membership fees or dues—just tithes, which are voluntary (but in theory are suppose to be 10% of your income).

      1. Dan*

        That’s been my experience as a kid, all of the churches I went to had voluntary tithing.

        When I think about it now, 10% of my income is a LOT of money.

      2. LizB*

        That makes sense. 10% of your income is actually way more than membership dues + tuition would be at my synagogue, so I guess a church would easily be able to fund Sunday school tuition-free if most of their congregants were giving at or near that level.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Well, the thing is—at least the churches I’ve gone to—teaching Sunday School was a volunteer position, so the tithes and offering didn’t cover that. The income was used to pay the pastor(s), pay building costs, etc.

          1. nonegiven*

            Some churches can’t afford a full time preacher, so he holds a full time job doing something else and gets a rent free house for being preacher

      3. Kyrielle*

        In theory, tithing is at 10%; in practice, most churches accept whatever you can give and don’t formalize it (and ours formally says it doesn’t need to be 10%, it should be an amount you can comfortably give and the choice of amount is between you and God).

      4. Emmy*

        Really though, I think the numbers are that only 20% of the congregation really supports the monetary part of the church. Having worked with some church money, most people are not tithing or donating regularly and this was a large church. There is no charge for Sunday School for any age, none for childcare during church, none for the sermon where they collect the offering. No one knows who gives what except the book-keeper who has to keep track for taxes. People give in many ways, some give in time, some money, some goods. Sunday School workers are all volunteers.

        I was surprised to read that Catholics charge above. My now-Protestant-but-used-to-be Catholic-husband doesn’t remember a fee, but he was young.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          In my church it was pointed out that widows contribute most of the physical (non-financial) support. I can see where 20% carry the church financially, that makes sense.

    4. Myrin*

      I’m German and Catholic and we (as well as Protestants) have to pay a so-called “church tax” every month which is a certain percentage of your salary (which is a huge reason for people dropping out of church, btw). I’m not sure if that is exactly what you’re asking though since you seem to be speaking more small-scale? There’s nothing you need to pay to your local church and we don’t generally have stuff like “Sunday school” (religious education is just part of normal school curriculum) but yeah, the tax thing exists country-wide.

      1. Dan*

        We cross posted a bit, but I was just observing above about how 10% is a LOT of money. To my parents’ dismay, I haven’t gone to church since I was a kid. I was going to joke that I can’t afford the 10% tithe/tax, but apparently I’m not the only one, and it’s not a joke either.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, it’s 8% where I am but while it’s not the world it’s still a considerable amount. I haven’t gone to church for many years and am not really practicing but I’m weirdly sentimental about my religious affiliation at the same time and know that I couldn’t quite bring myself to drop out of church even though that means I’ll be annoyed with that tax for the rest of my life (or the next years, at least – who knows what the future will bring?).

          1. Ms. Didymus*

            Ok I just read up on this church tax and all I can say is whoooooa. I mean WOW. This might be my American sentiment coming out but no way, no how, not ever am I registering my religious affiliation with my government. And never nope nada are they collecting taxes on behalf of the churches. Holy heck, I did not know this was a thing in Germany.

            1. Myrin*

              Yeah, that might just be a cultural difference in perception. I have to list my religious affiliation in every employment contract and it’s just normal to me and not some huge invasion of privacy or something. (As a side note, I feel the same way whenever age comes up on this site – all Americans are alwas like “No way am I gonna have anyone know how old I am!” and I’m just sitting here thinking that it’s already completely normal and expected to list your date of birth on your CV.)

              The tax is a huge pain and I’d really rather not pay it (and Christine below is right, of course, it’s 8% percent of your income tax, not of your whole income) but, well, short of leaving the church, I can’t do anything about it. There are many church leaders and/or politicians who want to abolish it all the time and so many people are dropping out of church in protest but it doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon regardless.

              1. Alice H.*

                When I move back to Germany, I’m not looking forward to putting that on every form. I’m Atheist (raised Catholic), and I don’t want to have to talk about it to the government. I read an anecdote of someone accompanying a friend to the Ausländeramt, where the official wanted the one filling out the forms to fill the religion part in, and the friend tried to tell him what that would mean. The official told him to butt out. (understandable because its not his business, but he was there to help with translations, understanding, etc).
                My German is good enough, I’ll be fine at the Ausländeramt, but sheesh.
                Though, I just turned a leaf with accepting GEZ, so maybe it’s just a matter if time before I won’t bat an eye.

                1. Owl*

                  You have to tell the government what religion you practice in GERMANY?? You’d think that of all places, they would not be in your business about that. Holy cow.

                2. Alice H.*

                  Owl, from what I understand (and what Myrin says above), it seems to be mostly taxing/tithing purposes… but still..

              2. Ms. Didymus*

                Oh wow. It is in your employment contract? Is there not a concern about discrimination regarding your faith?

                I think this is so strongly ingrained in our American culture because of our history stemming from religious persecution. So even though it isn’t likely here now (well, for Christians at least…) we are all raised to be weary.

              3. Ms. Didymus*

                Also, the age thing is weird. I don’t get why people are so sensitive about that here. Age discrimination is real but it is not as pervasive as some may have folks believe.

      2. Ms. Didymus*

        Wait wait wait. Are you saying your paycheck is actually taxed monthly? Like…the government collects taxes for the church?

        I have so many questions. How do they know where to direct your funds? What if you aren’t religious? What if you don’t want to contribute financially?

        1. Christine*

          Yes the government colllectsen fo the church. But it is 8 of 9 per Cent of the income tax not income. And there for government know wehre you blog to. And if you wann to learn Churchill you have to go to your City Administration not your Church

          1. Ms. Didymus*

            That is just so, so different from my ‘normal’ that I cannot wrap my mind around it.

    5. Mando Diao*

      With Hebrew school, you’re often teaching a whole new language on top of the religious/cultural stuff. Of course there’s a fee.

      But if I may, I think this is jumping the gun a bit. Your boyfriend is an atheist who may not want his future children to receive any kind of religious education, free or not. It depends on the kids too. For what it’s worth, I cut Hebrew school all the time. I never did the work. It’s not regular school with real consequences. I wasn’t the only kids hiding in the bathroom every week, and I was a good student in normal school.

      Tl;dr – there’s no need to make a decision now about kids who aren’t born yet, and about a religious education when you haven’t decided if your kids will be raised Jewish or if they’ll be amenable to religious education.

      1. LizB*

        In previous discussions we’ve talked about religious education vs. not, and he’s on board with the idea/supportive of my wanting to raise my children to understand their culture and heritage — I just didn’t want to make my comment super long by rehashing exactly what we’ve discussed in the past. And yeah, I know it’s really early to be talking about this, but my biggest fear is getting married to someone and having kids and THEN finding out we’re not on the same page about religion. My mom’s best friend’s husband waited until their daughter was 12 to object to her having a Bat Mitzvah, and that was a nightmare for everyone involved. I’d rather talk about things way early than wait until it’s too late.

        1. BRR*

          Coincidentally before I got married an article popped up on things to discuss before you get married. I searched for articles that were similar and it was one of the best things to happen. Not that it revealed anything huge but it helped to make sure we were on the same page.

          1. Owl*

            I bought a book called “10 Conversations to Have Before You Get Married” but with all the other wedding shizz going on, I never got a chance to read it. Uh oh! Six years in though, and so far so good . . .

        2. Mando Diao*

          You’re right to be thinking about religion’s place in a long-term relationship. I just can’t help but flash back to my own experiences …my brothers would run away from the car so they wouldn’t have to go, I would go but cut class…utterly pointless when our particular school focused on teaching a language that wasn’t spoken at home. Plus I didn’t have a bat mitzvah, and around age 10 or 11, classes became prep for that. Why would I learn those prayers and songs, you know? Sports and dance classes get in the way too. So yeah, talk about overall faith, but wait and see what kinda kids you end up with before planning on sticking them in classes you haven’t chosen yet. My local reform Hebrew school was clearly not great, and yours might not be either, wherever you end up living.

          1. LizB*

            Yeah, teaching Hebrew school I see a whole range of interest and commitment from families and kids, from the kids who ask a billion questions because they find it all fascinating to the kids who absolutely despise being there and put all their energy into making everyone else as miserable as they are. I’ll definitely have to adapt my goals based on how my future kids actually turn out. My ultimate goal would be to find a synagogue where the classes are engaging and relevant for a wide variety of learners, and the teachers work hard to give kids a positive connection to their heritage rather than insisting they memorize 2748728 prayers they don’t care about Just Because. My current synagogue is pretty good on that front, and I’ve seen very different kinds of kids all find different things to connect to. Hopefully we can either stay in the area or find somewhere equally good elsewhere.

            1. Mando Diao*

              I’d suggest that if you’re going to send your kids to Hebrew school, you need to be prepared to have them Bar/Bat Mitzvah’d. Not even as a matter of course but like…you need to accept that you’ll be paying for the party. I didn’t have one, and it made me miserable to sit in a room full of kids who were having parties I didn’t get to have, and who didn’t invite me to any because I didn’t have a party to invite them to. And then to be “studying” for this life event that I wasn’t even having? Terrible. My parents didn’t know beforehand that the classes would be so focused on that. It bled into my resentment of normal school at the time too, since most of those kids also went to my public school.

              These aren’t feelings about myself or my place in my friend group that have extended into my adult life, but it’s a particular social dynamic that I wouldn’t want to thrust my future kids into. Are you prepared to throw down thousands of dollars for a fancy tween party as the “gradutation” from Hebrew school, or would you rather stick it in a college fund?

              1. LizB*

                Oh, Bar/Bat Mitzvah is definitely in the plan! I wouldn’t send my kids to Hebrew school if that wasn’t the end result I was hoping for. My current community doesn’t do the ridiculous over-the-top parties that are normal in many synagogues (including the one I grew up in), though. Parties here tend to be much more low-key — no ice sculptures of the kid, no magicians or caricature artists or balloon animal guys or hired dancers, nothing like that. They can still be pricy if you get a nice caterer or a DJ, but there isn’t the keeping-up-with-the-Goldsteins thing that I’ve seen happen elsewhere with everyone trying to one-up each other.

                That’s terrible that nobody invited you to any of their parties! Sounds like a pretty clique-y and weird community, honestly. I invited plenty of friends to my party who weren’t having their Bar/t Mitzvah, because they were my friends and I wanted them there — I didn’t expect them to throw a huge party for me to attend in return! I’m sorry you had to go through that. It sounds like a really difficult thing to deal with, especially as a teenager.

              2. MayravB*

                Woah, I’m sorry that you felt excluded. It sounds like the people you were with were really unkind. I certainly don’t think that you can generalize that broadly, though! The two options aren’t “pay thousands for a giant party” or “kid excluded from everything and feels bad.” It really depends on the neighbourhood. Neither my brother nor I had that kind of party, and neither did everyone we knew. We did a ceremony, a kiddush, and dessert at our house.

        3. dawbs*

          It’s definitely something to discuss beforehand, but do keep in mind that discussion now doesn’t tell you where people will be in 10 years.
          It tells you where they think they’ll be, but, if I had known the ways parenting philosophies and religious views that my husband I had would change, we would have had drastically different discussions 10 years ago.

          I’d say that finding someone who respects beliefs and is willing to find common ground is key–because all the rest of that stuff can change pretty dramatically.

    6. Beezus*

      Membership dues aren’t typical, in my experience. Christian churches that I’ve been familiar with have been funded by free-will donations and by tithes (periodic, usually weekly, donations from members, often a percentage of their income, 10% is a commonly touted figure.)

      Sunday school has been free at any church I’ve ever heard of. It’s free in the way that attending a service would be free. VBS is a little different – it’s hours-long, it’s during the week, there’s often food served, it is often attended by children whose parents are not church members, and alternative summer activity options cost money; all those things are reasons for churches to charge for VBS. (Not all of them do, though; the church down the street from me has big signs up every year advertising their free program.)

      Maybe just have a conversation with him about it? This is one of the ways your religion differs from his; there’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but he’s probably less likely to balk at it if it isn’t a surprise.

      1. LizB*

        I know “just have a conversation” is always the best option, I just wanted to see if I could get some input from people who know more about Christianity than I do before I did. :) And this comment is very informative, so thank you! I’ve never been clear on exactly what VBS is, although I’d had the idea that it’s kind of structured like day camp. Sounds like I was pretty much right, and obviously that would require tuition.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Our church funds vacation bible school by doing a special collection on the Christmas Eve candle light service. This goes well because the church is packed. And many people donate materials for the week, too.

        2. Beezus*

          I totally understand! I like to think through important conversations before I have them, too. :)

    7. Andrea*

      He sounds like a bit of a tool, honestly.

      He wouldn’t go through with what you may agree to because there is money involved? Would he say no to a kid playing soccer if there were a $50 fee that his parents never paid?

      And you would accept this in a potential mate? Seems like a crazy thing to get caught up on. People who use odd things like this to avoid something or engaging the real issue always strike me as noodgy and immature. Neither qualities are good in a spouse.

      BTW–there is huge variation in how Rel Ed is funded in Christian denominations.

      1. Kyrielle*

        I think that may be a bit unfair to him. Original statement: “I mentioned this to my boyfriend, and he was very weirded out at the idea of having to pay tuition for religious education.”

        In other words, he’d never encountered the concept before, and the first time he heard it, he was surprised, taken aback, confused, because it wasn’t anything he’d heard of before.

        Now she’s worried he _might_ not be willing to pay or it might cause issues, and also trying to confirm that Christian churches really don’t (always, at least) charge for this stuff.

        That doesn’t make him a tool. It makes him ignorant, and it makes her ignorant of how he was raised, and it sounds like she’s trying to identify the nature of the gap so she’ll know what discussion (if any) is appropriate to sort it out.

        1. Andrea*

          “Now I’m worried that even if we can hash out our ideological differences, he’ll object to paying for Hebrew/Religious school because his church didn’t charge, so why should my synagogue?”

          This is the key phrase that represents tool-ness. You agree on something and then he throws up stupid roadblocks. It’s like saying, we agree on getting a dog, but then you don’t want to pay for vet visits because none of your family dogs ever went to the vet. Any adult knows that their experience as a child does not represent how the world works 1000%. If this is TRULY a concern for her, then that’s a flag that she’s marrying a tool. He’ll come up with something to get what he wants, regardless of what is decided on.

          1. Marcela*

            She is worried he would do X. She doesn’t know for sure, so there is no reason yet for you to judge him so harshly.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Agreed. It’s one thing to conclude someone’s significant other is a tool after significant evidence, but not in a case like this. Let’s not do that here.

          2. Temperance*

            Okay, I feel like you’re calling him a tool because he’s an atheist who might not want to spend money on religious education. That’s not fair to him.

            1. Mando Diao*

              I agree 100%. To be honest, in my imaginary future marriage, I’d balk at sending my kids to religion classes, let alone paying for it. But the whole point is that I’d never get to that juncture – I wouldn’t have married a religious man in the first place. Which is why LizB is being smart and thinking about these things now before getting married.

              1. Temperance*

                My last relationship pre-marriage ended because of religious differences. My ex is Catholic, I’m an atheist. It was hard at the time, but I wasn’t comfortable with raising a child in religion, especially one I have so many personal objections to.

        2. Christopher Tracy*

          Exactly. I probably would have had the same initial reaction he did not having known anyone who’d ever gone to Hebrew school and remembering the brief period of time when I went to Sunday School for free at a Baptist church as a kid. They’re open to talking about these things, and that’s a good thing.

      2. LizB*

        I should clarify that the objecting-to-paying thing is entirely my anxiety talking, not any opinion he has expressed at all! In fact, this originally came up because I found out one of my students’ dads (who isn’t Jewish) openly calls Hebrew/Sunday school “Silly School” and grumbles about paying the tuition to the point that his wife has taken on some extra freelance work to offset the cost and calm him down. Boyfriend’s reaction to this anecdote was “Wow, that guy is shitty,” so I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t do that! But now that I know it’s possible, of course I have to worry about it. He’s really been very open and willing to consider things, I shouldn’t be as nervous about it as I am, but I get all worked up about hypotheticals (and then express myself poorly on the internet!).

        1. Andrea*

          Why are you worrying about his future reaction like he alone drives the decision? You won’t ever agree 100% on how every penny is spent in a marriage. You should be on board with how your kids are raised and the values you share as a family. If you’re in a tizzy now about fees, think hard about whether he is exhibiting the level of support you need for something that is this important to you. It’s not like he likes another baseball team. It’s like he may hate baseball and hate Saturday mornings dedicated to baseball. Do you really want someone to be grudging about transmitting your core values? Or not supportive? Or not joyful about this? As a religious person, I couldn’t marry someone who didn’t share a sense of faith. I didn’t need to marry a good Catholic (although I did), but I needed a partner who had a faith life and was serious about it. You have to draw your own line.

          1. LizB*

            I’m worried about his future reaction because I already know what my personal preferences are, but don’t know some of his because we haven’t talked about it much yet. Believe me, I’m considering all the things you’re suggesting, and I have no doubt that he shares my core values – it’s really just the practical details that were different for us growing up. I’m not rushing to get married ASAP, so I’m comfortable continuing to have little discussions here and there. I just got worried about this particular thing (because I have anxiety, and I worry about many things for no better reason than my brain decides it’d be fun to worry about them) and asked for some perspective here.

            You’re right that everyone has to draw their own line, but I’m getting the sense that you think my line should be similar to yours, i.e. no atheists. That’s not the right line for me, and having occasional questions about how to navigate interfaith relationships doesn’t mean I need to reconsider that.

            1. Andrea*

              Don’t care where your line is or that you would choose differently than I have.

              You just seem to either 1) not know your own line (being freaked out about a discussion about a fee) or 2) aren’t that willing to take common sense actions to “solving” this theoretical/future drama (engaging the discussion with the person in question and not a random handful of internet strangers).

              1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                Are you serious? You’re objecting to someone having a concern and wanting to air it out in a forum where she thinks she might get some useful responses? Sometimes people like to parse things out apart from their spouses or boyfriends or friends or parents or what have you. LizB also strikes me as someone who would be pretty receptive to advice to relax and not let it worry her too much, or to practical advice on how to approach this subject with her bf. I’m honestly floored that someone would essentially lambast someone for doing something that most of us do– worry about the future.

                Liz, for what it’s worth, I completely get where you’re coming from and why you’re asking your question. Relationships are tough to navigate, interfaith or no. I also have complete confidence you’ll come to a resolution that works for you, even if that means just waiting it out and seeing what happens.

                1. LizB*

                  Thank you, AvonLady! I know I’ll figure it out in the end. I just get caught up in the details sometimes.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Hey, I think that’s really unwarranted (and what is this blog, if not a place to seek advice from internet strangers?). I’m going to ask you to bow out of this one. Thank you.

                1. LizB*

                  Thank you, Alison, and thank you for running one of my favorite places to seek advice from internet strangers! :)

              3. LizB*

                1) I know what my absolute dealbreakers are, but there are many areas where I’m willing to compromise. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to take a little time to figure things out, especially since I’m still in my early 20s and this is my first relationship where things have gotten serious enough to start talking about this.

                2) I do plan on talking to the person in question. But, like Kyrielle said above, I have a gap in my knowledge here, and wanted to try and get some input so I didn’t dive in to this conversation totally uninformed. I know this site attracts a diverse group of commenters who are willing to share their experience and knowledge, and (as I expected) I’ve gotten some really interesting and informative responses. Maybe next time I should just post my factual question instead of the context surrounding it, but I don’t think asking the AAM community for advice when I don’t know something shows a lack of common sense.

              4. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

                Come on!

                I am married and have what I consider to be a fantastic rock-solid relationship built on the bedrock of open and honest communication.

                But sometimes I want to think for myself, form an opinion and try to understand a few angles before I talk to my spouse about it. I might even tell a friend first to get some insight. That’s 100% completely OK!

              5. Kms1025*

                Wow…I’m sorry about what I perceive is bitterness on your part Andrea…I promise I am not meaning to name-call, but you sound really extremely upset.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Whoa. That guy IS really shitty. What a thing to say, and what a way to treat something your kid does.

          1. LizB*

            I was seriously shocked. His daughter is one of my most dedicated and enthusiastic students, so I would never have expected that from one of her parents. Our synagogue is full of interfaith couples, and all the non-Jewish parents I’ve met have been lovely. I guess there’s always one, though.

        3. Cristina in England*

          “But now that I know it’s possible, of course I have to worry about it.”

          No you don’t. That way leads to madness. Worry about what is likely, up until you make a plan to deal with the problem. Then you use thought stopping techniques to redirect your worry into something more productive and useful to you.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          I am wondering if the real problem is worrying about hypotheticals.

          Just because someone else’s SO said that does not mean your SO will say that. I think you realize this on a logical level. It is simply not true that you “have to” worry about it. Somewhere out there, somebody’s SO robbed a bank. You don’t have to worry about your SO robbing a bank there is no connection here, either.

          It seems like he is saying he will think about it. That is a good thing, this is what you want. The irony here is that when that kid does materialize and it is time to go to religious training YOU might change your mind by then. Because life is odd this way. What we think is important gets trumped by something even more immediate/important.

          To be honest, constant worry will suffocate a relationship quicker than almost anything else. Trust him to mean what he says.

          1. LizB*

            Worrying about hypotheticals is definitely a big problem for me, in this area and in general. My therapist is helping me work on it, but of course it’s slow going. But I completely take your point about worrying suffocating a relationship. I’m pretty good about bringing things up when I really need to, or journaling them out/bringing them up in therapy if it’s not the right time for that conversation. I’ll work on just trusting that things will work out and going with the flow. :)

            1. Kms1025*

              My daughter does this (worries about hypotheticals) she calls it catasrophyzing. It’s a burden when your logical brain goes into hyper-drive and over analyze everything. Just know when to tell yourself “enough already”.

              1. Lindsay J*

                I use the same term! Not sure where I picked it up from.

                It’s one of the things I have to be aware of and stop myself from doing because otherwise it literally makes me crazy.

    8. Sandy*

      Having experience with both churches and synagogues, there’a a whole lot of history that goes into some of these structures.

      Dues paying is such an ingrained concept in the Jewish community, in part, because Jewish organizations (shuls, schools, old age homes, etc.) couldn’t count on financial support from the state (any state).

      Christian congregations, Catholic or Protestant, didn’t necessarily have that same problem. They could count on the state for a certain amount of their livelihood for a long time, supplemented by fees for indulgences (the latter being a Catholic thing).

      Tithing in evangelical Protestant churches keeps things afloat now, but ask the accountants at most churches of other Christian denominations, and they’ll tell you that it’s very hard to keep doors open and services running without compulsory dues and dwindling membership.

    9. Violet_04*

      My church has a separate program for children that runs at the same time as the main church service/sermon. I can’t remember the exact name, but it’s not referred to as Sunday School. Vacation Bible School during the summer is an extra fee as are some other activities, which help to cover the cost of equipment, food, etc.

      Tithes are optional. You can choose to become a member of the church, but I don’t think there are any fees associated with that. My husband are not members, so I don’t know what’s involved with membership.

    10. Rocket Scientist*

      I was raised RCC and all donations were voluntary. (There was a lot of pressure/guilt wrapped into that but it was technically voluntary.)

      Sunday school was also free and staffed by volunteers.

      It sounds like that isn’t as common now, given the previous responses, but that could have very likely been the case when your boyfriend was a kid.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Most of the religious training in our church (Protestant) is free. My neighbor’s church (different denomination) works the same way. If something comes up that does cost money such as a church camp, there are usually scholarships available for people who cannot pay. The scholarships are funded through collections and anonymous donors. (Adults can even get scholarships for retreats, etc.)

      They are able to work this way because they have a ton of people who work for free and who donate food and materials for free.

      I grew up in the Catholic church and that was different. As best I can recall, you paid for any extra activity you wanted to participate in. I think it really think that choosing to charge for education is based in part on the revenues/resources that are available.

    12. Temperance*

      Actually, he’s correct. I’m an ex-evangelical, and you don’t have to pay to belong. Teachers for Sunday School and VBS are all volunteer. You’re encouraged to give 10% to the church, but it’s absolutely not required.

      My in-laws are Catholic and they have to pay dues, which I find outrageous, FWIW. (I hit the roof when I found out that my MIL was paying dues on behalf of Booth, so he and I could get married in her church.) I’m shocked that it’s more common than I thought.

      Also, my advice: sort out the religious stuff now. It seems like it’s very important to you to raise your kids Jewish, which is fine, and your boyfriend might not know what that means.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Not that you said this, but note that raising your kids Jewish doesn’t necessarily mean being a due-paying member of a synagogue. :) Just throwing that out there. I didn’t belong to one until I moved out of NYC. Heck, I barely went to one when I lived in NYC. Now I pay dues at the area Conservative synagogue (which, thank goodness, I love), and I finally feel like a grown-up.

        1. Temperance*

          Thanks for the clarification! I’m not religious so I sternly objected to the idea of dues paying, but I saw the cultural context for Jewish folks supporting their local synagogue upthread, and it somewhat changed my opinion on the subject.

    13. Jen Erik*

      We have a ‘hilarious’ joke every year at the Sunday School teachers’ meeting where we’re told we’re getting our annual 100% pay rise. So, no, not paid.

      In our presbyterian church (PCI) you don’t need to pay to attend church or Sunday School or any of the organisations, but when you become a member of the church you accept the responsibility to donate to the running of the church. Broadly speaking you need to have donated something during the year to be eligible to vote – when electing new elders, etc. (You also need to be a communicant member to vote, so if you donate, but aren’t a communicant member (didn’t attend communion), another communicant member of your family can in certain circumstances vote on the strength of that donation. Also you can’t be nominated as an elder if you’re not on the voting list.)

      There is a collection taken at Sunday School (small change, and probably most of the children don’t donate) but that money is given to outside charities.

      But you can attend anything without paying, and I don’t think there’s a minimum contribution to be listed as a voter.

      My husband is the atheist in our family, and it mattered to me that the children were brought up with a faith, so we went with mine. I’m possibly not objective here, but I think it’d be a confusing thing for children to attend a church that the parent who came from that tradition explicitly rejected.
      And I don’t think the payment should come into it. Any faith is going to have requirements that people not used to it will find bewildering or onerous – my husband finds pews uncomfortable, the way presbyterians behave as if church overrides normal parking regulations infuriating and the continual treating the Bible as relevant to our lives nothing short of insanity. But he copes, because it was important to me that we did that.
      (We raised one atheist, one church worker, and one mostly atheist-but-kindhearted-so-calls-herself-agnostic.)

      1. LizB*

        I’m glad you hear you and your husband have a successful interfaith relationship! Your husband sounds a lot like my dad, who isn’t Jewish or particularly interested in religion, but has always been 100% supportive of raising his kids Jewish and has done everything he can to help my mom out with that. My boyfriend has no desire to raise kids Presbyterian or have them attend church, but his family has non-religious traditions for Christmas and Easter that are very important to him, so we’ve discussed a bit about how to incorporate those (and will undoubtedly discuss it more). Luckily my synagogue is extremely welcoming to interfaith families, and it’s very common for kids to have only one Jewish parent or observe some elements from other religions.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Am chuckling. This may or may not fit OP’s setting but our pews are painful, too. In older churches the seat is narrower. This puts pressure points on the back of the legs and butt that you don’t usually have with a wider seat.
          They put cushions on the seats, which helps with the coldness of the wood. (Churches with low temps tend to have cold seats on top of the pressure points.) This doesn’t sound too bad, except if you have pain the coldness seems to make it feel worse.
          Then add the time factor. I grew up in a church with a 45 minute service. Now the service is an hour and 20 minutes.
          It’s no one factor, it’s several factors colliding together.

          1. Ms. Didymus*

            Right! I’m asking because if I ever find my way back to a church I might just consider that faith because I HATED pews. Those things are like torture devices.

            And we got no cushions. And low temperatures.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Newer buildings are designed for people of this era, we are taller, longer-legged and so on. (Look at the beds of long ago, they were much shorter.) If you have choices (I don’t, rural area) if you decide to look around you might start with the newer buildings.

      2. Temperance*

        My .02: I’m glad it worked out for your family, and it sounds like you found a workable solution. I always hated church (ex-evangelical), and it always wound me up that my dad wasn’t going to church, but I was forced to. It’s funny to me now that he is so angry that I identify as an atheist … well probably because I pointed out that he didn’t go to church.

    14. AliceBD*

      I’m Episcopalian (Protestant Christian denomination) and have always been, so my answers are from that perspective.

      Sunday School is staffed by volunteer teachers; depending on the size of the church, the coordinator for Sunday School might also be a volunteer (the small church I grew up in) or a paid staff member (the much, much larger church I attend now; this staff member is in charge of all of the children and youth programming). Ditto youth group (group for middle and high schoolers that generally involve some combination of social/religious/volunteer activities and meet at a time other than Sunday morning). Childcare on Sundays is free, and may be volunteers or paid babysitters. Childcare may be offered during other events, and may be free or a small fee. Church trips do cost money, although at least for the youth trips there is a strong focus on fundraising to bring that cost down. At my particular church we feed the teenagers during youth group, so we ask for $5 per week they attend to go towards the food. Not every youth group involves dinner. If a family can’t afford to pay for a youth trip or the food, they can just discreetly talk to the staff member in charge and it will be fine.

      During our annual stewardship campaigns, there is a focus on giving “time, talent, and treasure”. Time and talent often go together. For example, helping clean up the church on an annual work day, volunteering with Sunday school, or with the choir, or helping with another church program, or in the parish leadership; there are generally a lot of ways to volunteer. And treasure is monetary donations. They ask for 10%, but if you do less that is always OK. I don’t make tons of money so 10% is a lot more of my money to me than someone who makes much more. Instead, I teach Sunday school for our middle and high school class and help out with youth group a couple of times a month, which is giving time and talent. And then I give $45 per month, plus some extra for specific campaigns a few times a year.

      The big thing that they really insist on is pledging, which is making a commitment to give $x over the course of the year. Pledging allows for the church to set a budget. I think most people pledge to give $x monthly, but some other frequency is usually fine. You can always give in the offering plate on Sundays (cash for anyone, and checks or cash in labeled envelopes so your donations go towards your pledge), but I have it set up as a bill so my bank automatically sends the church a check each month and I don’t have to find my checkbook because I never use checks otherwise. We recently set up online giving too, which I think is mostly used by larger churches at this month.

      There can definitely be a disproportionate amount of money given by a few individuals. Someone in this thread mentioned widows being a large source of support, and at least with the example of my grandmothers that makes a lot of sense. I know my parish had a reduced budget and had to work to make up the shortfall because some very generous elderly givers died last year; my grandmother recently passed away so I’m expecting that to make an impact on the parish I grew up in as well.

      As a side note, Vacation Bible School is usually run like a half-day or full-day day camp in the summer, usually for a week. Often they provide lunch. It is usually themed, and is geared towards elementary school students although it may include preschool students as well. Often middle and high schoolers will help out; if high schools require a certain number of community involvement hours for graduation, VBS may count. It is run by volunteers but the cost is for using the church building (pay for AC and lights etc.), food, and art supplies (I remember LOTS of art projects during VBS). It is usually open to members of the community as well as members of the church. I remember as a young child going to VBS at our church, and then sometimes a different week I would go to VBS with my best friend at her church.

      1. LizB*

        Thank you for this very comprehensive comment! The pledging system makes a lot of sense, since it would be impossible to budget or plan ahead if you had no idea what your members were planning to donate during the year. It actually sounds a lot like the way my synagogues does dues (there’s a suggested amount based on what the synagogue needs to operate, but you can choose your own contribution without having to prove anything about your finances, and nobody is denied membership on financial grounds). I’m learning so much today — this is why I love the AAM commenting community. :)

    15. Stevenz*

      Is paying the real issue, or is the idea of his child going to religious studies at all the real issue? And what alternatives has he,presented? The obvious choices given each of your Faiths is either Jewish or none of the above. It really doesn’t matter what Christian (or Moslem or buddhist or Hindu) do because those aren’t options, right?

      I think if you take the Hebrew school route, he has to accept that it will cost, but you get what you pay for.

    16. Rubyrose*

      Hey LizB – I need some education, but I can imagine that as you are having discussions with your boyfriend he may also have the same questions. Good for you for covering this topic early with him.

      I was raised Catholic but converted to Judaism about 12 years ago. I have no children so I am pretty ignorant about what a family with children does with those children during Shabbat services.

      As a Catholic child, I was in the adult services every.single.week. So I was naturally exposed to the prayers and order of service. If I had been challenged to learn about those in order to lead a service, it would not have been that hard.

      But Jews don’t bring their children to regular services, at least from what I’ve seen. There may be special services every few months where, say, the third graders are there. But there are no babysitters around and religious education classes are not being held at that time.

      So – parents with school age children – seems like they just don’t come to Shabbat services, unless they can afford a babysitter every week. So the kids really do need several years of concentrated schooling to get ready for a bar/t mitzvah, since they are not really exposed to the service over the course of years like Christians are.

      Do I have this right? What am I missing here? And if I’m right – and this one is a side note to the topic – why are Jews so surprised when children come of age and don’t naturally start attending services? I mean, they have not been raised to do that so why would they start when they turn 18?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I’m not LizB, but I’ll chime in– this varies HUGELY by congregation. I’m really surprised you don’t see kids in services! My synagogue often has kids in the main sanctuary, but there are also babysitting services in the building, which is where the toddlers tend to go because no one can expect them to sit still for 3 hours. We also have a program where middle-schoolers attend their own service in a classroom, which is separate and apart from Hebrew school (which happens on Sundays and/or other days of the week– when I was a kid, I went three days/week). Also, there are a lot of people who simply don’t go to Shabbat services or don’t go every week, kids or no. I have no kids, and I go about once a month. Remember that services are looooong– my church-going friends are always really surprised that I will spend 3 hours of my Saturday at shul. Now that I think about it, I probably avoided services as a kid because I was already spending 9 hours/week in Hebrew school and it was enough for me.

        The concentrated schooling is more about learning the Torah service and going in depth. People don’t come to the bimah (aka the front, where the Torah is read and the ark is opened and all that good stuff) until they are a bar/bat mitzvah. It’s a tough thing to get your head around if you’ve never done it, and even today, I have to be walked through some parts of it. And you never really get deep into the liturgy during services, like, why do we do this, what does this mean, etc. Hebrew school provides more education about what we’re doing and why. It didn’t matter that I’d been exposed to all of these rituals on a very regular basis when I was a child– I had a lot to learn. Also remember that a bar/bat mitzvah requires a kid to learn a lot of stuff that they wouldn’t ordinarily do in a Shabbat service (reading the Torah or the Haftarah, for example), so you gotta study that s*** so you don’t stumble too much in front of your entire 8th-grade class when the day comes.

        As far as the surprise as to why people don’t want to attend when they hit adulthood… I don’t think a lot of people are all that surprised. There’s a lot of outreach to young people, to make synagogue life part of their routines. But again, these days, regular attendance just isn’t done as much.

        1. Bibliovore*

          LizB, Aside from the future husband concerns this has been a fascinating discussion. I was completely ignorant of Christian practice.
          Rubyrose, what AvonLady Barksdale says, it depends.
          When I lived in NYC, I was not a member of a congregation but every once in while would go to Friday night services- welcoming the Sabbath was one of my favorite services, it made sense to me and brought peace.

          Now that I am in the Midwest, the synagogue that I have friends as members and an affinity for has Torah study every Saturday at 9:00 am and I occasionally attend that. The Saturday morning services are full with kids (seems like a lot of 7th graders coming up for Bar/Bat Mitzvah) and regular attendees. There is a “tot shabbot” in another space for families with young children.

      2. LizB*

        Like other commenters have said, this 100% depends on the congregation. Most of my experience is with two synagogues: the one I attend now, which is Reform and known for being the local hippie/liberal/social justice-y synagogue, and the one I grew up in, which was so liberal/egalitarian/outside-the-box that we weren’t even affiliated with a denomination. I have no idea what Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, or even more traditional Reform congregations are likely to do. That said, here’s my experience:

        Kids are welcome at services, from babies on up! I’m really surprised that families with school-aged kids don’t attend services at your shul, because I’ve never been to a service without some kids. My current rabbi is very clear that babies and children make noise and parents should not be afraid to bring their children just because they can’t be silent for a few hours*. Sometimes there are activities available in the back of the sanctuary like books, quiet toys, or coloring pages. Other times kids sit with their families and participate to their level of comfort or do quiet activities in their seats. There is often childcare available, too, for kids who really don’t want to be in there. There are Tot Shabbat services on Sundays for families with very small children, and children’s programs/activities during the High Holy Day services. When I was growing up, our Sunday religious school started with a brief service every week; at my current synagogue, our Wednesday Hebrew school has a brief service between the two class sessions. So, in both places, kids are getting some exposure to the order of the service and the prayers in context as part of their religious education.

        Once you get into 5th or 6th grade, you’re starting to ramp up for your Bar/t Mitzvah, so attending services becomes much more of a thing — you’ve probably learned most of the prayers, so parents expect their kids to participate and follow along much more. When I was preparing for my Bat Mitzvah, I had to attend a certain number of services (over the course of a year or so) and write little reflections about them. I ended up being fully equipped to lead either a Friday or Saturday service (my synagogue was big on lay-led services), and did so with my family several times in high school.

        *I will say that not every synagogue is very good about this — I’ve visited some where parents with babbling babies or chatty toddlers got death glares from the older members of the congregation. I think it’s really important for services to be family friendly, because like you said, if we don’t bring our kids to services, they’re going to miss out on a lot of knowledge and exposure to important rituals, and they’re not going to just spontaneously pick up the habit of regular attendance when they turn 18. Now, is it possible parents are just exhausted on a Friday night/Saturday morning and can’t face wrestling kids into nice clothes and schlepping them to shul? Yes. My family made it to services maybe once a month when we were all little, because wrangling four children is just a hassle no matter how family-friendly the synagogue is when you get there. Also, in my experience younger kids are more likely to go to Friday night services (shorter, more singing) than Saturday morning (longer, Torah readings/drashes may not interest them), so if you’re always in shul on Saturdays, that may explain it. But you should still be seeing some 6th-7th graders on Saturdays, because they’re in full preparation mode to become Bar/t Mitzvah at that point.

    17. bearing*

      This is going to vary really widely, except that I will be very surprised to hear of any Christian church having “dues” in the sense that you can’t be a member without paying them. (If there’s a parish school, I expect tuition fees to be enrolled as a student, but that’s not quite the same)

      My Catholic parish, there’s a fee for Wednesday night religious ed (K-6) for materials — art supplies and a textbook and workbook. It’s maybe $75? But it is waived for financial need. The teachers are 100% volunteers.

      We don’t have “Sunday school” per se, which I think of as a separate children’s activity that goes on during the main worship service.

    18. Lindsay J*

      I was raised Catholic and the way his church functioned was the way mine did.

      Membership and attendance were basically entirely independent. If you were a member, you were a member for life unless you transferred your membership to another parish for whatever reason. You could be a member and never attend services. You could attend mass every week and not be a member; I always felt like our church was fairly anonymous – we never really recognized anyone else who went, and they didn’t really recognize us (unless you were friends from outside of church). Forming friendships at church wasn’t really something that happened. We also didn’t have a youth group (that I know of. We may have and I just failed to notice because I was entirely disinterested in the idea) or small group or anything like that. Membership didn’t have any cost associated with it – it basically just meant that you were officially counted as someone who belonged to the church (and I think you had to be a member if you wanted to get married there).

      There were no dues or anything like that. An offering basket was passed during services, but donating was completely optional and most people who did donate just put in a couple dollars.

      If you wanted to, the church would give you envelopes you could use to send in a monthly contribution, but my parents never did.

      CCD was entirely free. The teachers were volunteers.

      I always thought the stereotype of churches being money-grubbing was odd when I was younger, because my experience was so different from that.

      1. Laura*

        Catholic here too! My childhood parish was like yours as well. Most people in the congregation were pretty well-off, but some were desperately poor. You’d never know the difference because Sunday School was free. Obviously VBS and youth group cost money, but the organizers were always very open about scholarships being available– all you had to do was ask.

    19. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’m Protestant Christian, and I’ve never attended a church where people were obligated to pay. Each week there was an opportunity to give, but no obligation. Sunday School teachers are all volunteer, the nursery is free, the Vacation Bible School is free (including the food).

      At my current church, only one person knows how much people give. There’s a common perception that people are supposed to give about 10% of their income, but generally only a handful in a church does, so it’s quite common for 20% (or less) of the people to provide 80% of the income. We have two paid pastors, a part-time office worker, and paid janitors. We recently added a paid nursery person. Probably 80% of the offerings go to paying those, and most of the rest on paying heating bills and such. All of the other work around the church is either volunteer or kids who are paid by individuals. (My spouse has been paying teens to mow the lawn for several years, which gives them some work experience without hurting our sparse church budget.)

      If there is a youth event, they do fund-raising, and some people give extra. Kids who can’t afford the event always come anyway — there’s always a way to cover them. Volunteers bring food. Some fund-raising events do charge, such as when the teens put on a dinner, but it’s a fund-raiser: that’s the point. The kids summer camp for a week probably charges, but if a kid wants to go and can’t afford it, someone will pay for them to go. The summer camp workers are volunteer.

      We have a part of our offering that goes to support missionaries, and once a year they have a pledge drive. They want to know how much you’re willing to give, and use the results of that to plan the budget. But no-one checks to see if you gave what you pledged, or if you pledged at all. It’s very low pressure for a pledge drive for that matter: an insert in the weekly bulletin you can fill out and drop in the offering.

  9. Sparkly Librarian*

    I got an email confirming my order, then a projected delivery date (Friday). Looked forward to it all week. On Friday morning I got an email confirming that the package had shipped, and a projected delivery date of… Friday? Clicked on Track Your Package and saw that the shipping carrier thinks it should be here on Tuesday. Why is it so hard for the company to update their projection based on when they ship? Ugh. #firstworldproblems #mememegeneration #instantgratification

    1. Stephanie*

      Ha, I work for one of these companies in operations. So a few things that could have happened:
      -Weather delays
      -Train left late (we put cross-country shipments on a train versus the interstate).
      -The loader scanned it into the wrong destination (doesn’t happen often…but it happens) and the extra time is due to rerouting to get it to the correct destination
      -The customer (i.e., Target, Amazon, whoever) delivered it late to the shipping company
      -Package got damaged in transit and had to be retaped (or just replaced by the customer)
      -Unexpected heavy volume at a facility

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        All understandable delays (and thank you for stretching my imagination with a variety of possibilities). Just… if the company’s sending a separate email on Friday saying “We shipped this today,” shouldn’t that email also say “We expect it to arrive on [day X days from now]” or at least “in about X days”? Mine said “We shipped it today” but also “We expect it to arrive [the same day, which is the original estimated arrival day],” which clearly wasn’t going to happen since it’s coming across the country.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          It seems really obvious, but the software (at all points along the chain) may not support this capability and/or your parcel shipped in a class that didn’t come with that level of information.

          Stephanie is right – the amount of handover points in a logistics chain makes keeping the end customer informed difficult. Frustrating if you are the customer? Absolutely, but its not one smooth info pipe. Maybe in a few years, but not now.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Grrr, I hate that. >:(

      Amazon usually surprises me with an earlier-than-expected delivery. I love getting packages–I’m expecting an evolution-themed shirt from ViralStyle and I just ordered tights from my favorite skating supply site, which is sadly closing forever. :(

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        I confess that after I finally succumbed to Amazon Prime, I order way more often than I used to. There is currently a package sitting on my porch (not the one I was waiting on, but I think I know what it is) but I haven’t gone out to get it yet because that would require putting on pants.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          Oh hey! It was that swimsuit from Amazon that I wasn’t expecting until Monday! :)

    3. Mando Diao*

      Companies take on more responsibility for the sake of customer service, but I always have to remind myself that Sephora and ASOS don’t control the mail.

    4. Kyrielle*

      Heh, I’m pretty irritated actually – Wednesday night I ordered something with 2-day delivery. Okay, it probably won’t ship until Thursday morning – but with the usual service I should get it Saturday. If not, then Monday; fine, whatever.

      It shipped _Friday_ to arrive _Sunday_ and I find this more vexing than if it were going to arrive Monday. Because clearly they will _pay for weekend delivery_ and if they’d shipped it Thursday I’d already have it. :P

      1. June*

        If it’s coming priority usps they didn’t pay extra for Sunday delivery, it’s one price no matter what

  10. Anon-today*

    When you’re going to an unfamiliar area in a city (specifically a USA city), how do you find out how safe that area is?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Look up the police blotter for that area and see what kinds of crimes are committed there and how often.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Plus—crowd-source. What city is it? AaM readers seem to be from all over. We can probably help you know more about a city.

    3. And Peggy!*

      I usually google the area + crime stats, which can give a general overview of anything majorly bad that’s happened nearby. A lot of cities also have reddit pages where people ask those types of questions and get mostly useful answers. And if you’re already in the city and just visiting another section you could ask the people you’ve met so far who’ve lived there longer.

      1. Ultraviolet*

        I think it can help to also look up the crime stats (or reddit) for an area you are familiar with for comparison.

        1. And Peggy!*

          Yes! Because if you have no bar to compare to it might look like a ton of crime, when it’s actually comparable to somewhere you already thought of as “safe” I know I was surprised by some of the stats for places I’ve lived before when I was comparing areas of Boston.

    4. Stephanie*

      Look at Wikitravel. The entry for that city will give a decent idea of which parts of cities are safe vs unsafe.

      That being said, if you’re sticking to primarily tourist spots, you’re probably fine (aside from petty crimes like pick pocketing). I’m guessing you’re foreign? Gun violence is a problem in the US, but the likelihood of getting shot by a random stranger is slim.

      1. Ellie H.*

        Oops, previous comments with this suggestion hadn’t loaded for me for some reason!

    5. themmases*

      I usually don’t… I live in a city now and I just find that the crime stats rarely match what I experience.

      What I do before going to a new area is look up the satellite view on Google maps. Do I see streetlights and plenty of buildings that look like they are actually in use? IMO what you really need to care about is that the area is well lit, reasonably cared for, and there will be plenty of people around. I’m basically asking myself, would I be comfortable standing around and waiting for the bus here?

      Other than that, even in “dangerous” areas you can keep safe by just watching yourself (and I used to have a job going to some fairly notorious Chicago neighborhoods and asking questions about people’s tobacco licenses, so I really stand behind this advice). Don’t dress flashy or revealing. Consider not carrying a purse… if you are walking around all day it’s a pain anyway, and I like knowing that if I were robbed I have a different credit card at home still. If you do carry one, I recommend one you can carry right under your arm and maybe zip shut. Be friendly without giving a lot of information about yourself– keep it light. And for God’s sake do not act like a tourist. Ask people who are working in the area for help whenever possible– this is the typical behavior of residents. Walk with confidence and if you need to stop and check where you’re going or look at something, pull over to read your phone the same way you would if you got a text… Don’t look or act lost. This last one is also just polite to your fellow sidewalk users. :)

    6. Jackie*

      In the past, I called the police station in the district to ask about how many calls they got in the area in the last year and what types of crime go on.

    7. Lindsay J*

      I… never really check?

      I didn’t know that this was a thing people do.

      If I am going to be staying at a hotel or something I read the reviews of the hotel; usually people will mention if the area seems unsafe. Even those I take with a grain of salt, though, because I find people tend to be over-reactive.

      Otherwise, I just kind of go and do my thing and trust my judgement when I get there.

      The only time this has steered me wrong is when I brought a Groupon for salon services. I drove there, saw the building, drove on by, and went home and went online to request a refund.

      And if I’m attending some type of event, I generally trust that the people organizing it wouldn’t have put the event where they did if it would be unsafe for attendees. Your customers getting shanked is generally not good publicity or business.

      Really, most violent crimes aren’t committed against random people by random people. And following basic common sense (not leaving valuables in sight in your car, not flashing lots of money or expensive electronics) will help prevent most crimes of opportunity.

      1. Laura*

        100% agree with this. It’s not healthy to approach a new experience with fear. I like checking Yelp for reviews of restaurants, parks, venues, etc. Those usually mention any safety issues while also helping me determine if I want to go to those places or not.

        1. Anon-Today*

          The place we went to that has made us be a little more cautious did not have any red flags in Facebook or Yelp reviews. We don’t want to live in fear forever, but there’s nothing wrong with getting better at doing research beforehand. And yes, in this day and age, something can happen anywhere, even in places with five star reviews, but still, if we had had a head’s up, we could have avoided the bad experience that had us learning the hard way.

      2. Anon-Today*

        I ask because the last time my friends and I went to a place that we didn’t know (specifically, it was Anacostia in Washington DC), we ended up somewhere we really didn’t want to be, somewhere we felt unsafe. When we polled people we knew afterwards, only two had heard of Anacostia and knew to avoid it; everyone else would never have known to skip it.

        And we were heading there for an event. When we told the organizers afterwards that we were hassled on the street all the way to the venue, they only shrugged and said we should have driven, not taken the bus (of course, I would not have wanted to leave my car unattended in such an area; even the Uber driver who came to get us didn’t seem particularly happy to be there).

        We certainly don’t plan to second guess every outing and live in constant fear of going somewhere new but I’d like to be armed with a little more research for the future.

        1. NewBooks*

          In DC, you kinda just have to know the city or know someone who is a native. As a DC native, I wouldn’t necessarily send someone to Anacostia to wander around, but if you’re going somewhere specific and you know how to get there and are city-wise, it’s not as big of a deal (within reason).

          I used to work and volunteer over there, so I’m pretty familiar with the area and it doesn’t faze me (plus I grew up south of the river). But I know most people who are transplants or unfamiliar with the area will avoid Anacostia (and the greater SE area), because it has a bad reputation.

  11. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    My sister is moving in with my husband and I next weekend, so this weekend is full of cleaning out the room she’ll be living in and trying to get the house in order before she brings all her stuff… I was thinking about doing some sort of “welcome basket” or something because she’s not especially excited about moving in with me, but it’s cheaper than getting her own apartment and will give her a chance to rebuild her savings before leaping out on her own. If you were a mid-20’s single woman with a dog, what would you want in a welcome basket?

    1. Cloud*

      My own set of towels and washcloths. Noise cancelling headphones. A “Do Not Disturb” sign. Favorite chocolate. New toothbrush. House slippers. Appropriate dog toy.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        I like the idea of a sign or signal to be left alone. I’ll definitely get something for her dog. If she doesn’t have her own towels/washcloths, that is an awesome idea. I’ll have to check. Thanks :-)

      2. Rahera*

        This sounds ideal, especially the do not disturb sign so she is reassured that she will get some alone time.

        I would also suggest a coffee mug of her own. It’s nice to have a new one anyway, but I do the dance of the coffee mugs every year when I go to stay with my parents and it can be awkward if everyone’s being polite. I don’t know why, but there always seems to be one mug that makes good tea and one that makes good coffee and the rest are also-rans. :D Having one of her own would reassure her she wasn’t using The Wrong Mug if you lot are anything like us, and she wouldn’t be using your favourite mug for coffee every morning or whatever. :D

      3. themmases*

        These are all really good. I would also consider some toiletries if you know what she would like… They can be hard to find when you are tired from moving and just want a shower at the end of the day. You could do trial size ones just to make sure she doesn’t have you ask to borrow anything, or a fancier set just took help her relax in her new space.

    2. Cristina in England*

      Maybe a gift certificate to some local restaurants/gyms/hobby places? Seconding chocolate.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        She has a favorite mexican restaurant right by my house, maybe that would be good… :-)

    3. Lily Evans*

      This isn’t really something you can put in a basket, but maybe a guaranteed amount of time each week she can expect to have the apartment to herself? I went from living alone to living with family again and I think the only thing that’s kept me sane is having different off-days than everyone else.

      And, of course, see if she can find something that gets her out of the apartment to give you and your husband some time. The hardest roommate to live with, IME, is one who never leaves the house.

      Maybe this actually could translate to a calendar in the basket outlining your typical schedule so that she knows when to expect you guys to be around.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        I’ve definitely discussed some of that with her already. Luckily, my husband and I both have side jobs, so there will definitely be nights where we aren’t home until later. I hope I can get her involved in some things. She’s pretty shy, so hopefully we can find something that won’t be overwhelming to her.

    4. ginger ale for all*

      Perhaps the basket could be her own laundry basket so she won’t have to worry about anyone else’s laundry but her own if she wishes to?

      But other than that, perhaps a list of when the garbage truck comes by, what your routine is, what chores are shared versus ones that are done by one person, maybe give her one night to cook, etc. Kind of just a road map of what will happen.

      1. Rahera*

        Really nice idea.

        Another suggestion. If she likes crafts, maybe a small kit such as a cross stitch bookmark or something with wool. I find that when I’m in a new place or feeling a bit unsettled, sitting and doing something with my hands helps to take my mind off the strangeness.

    5. Betty (the other Betty)*

      Not a welcome basket but…if there is space, give her a shelf in the kitchen pantry or cabinet where she can keep her own food (that no one else will touch without permission). Same for a drawer or some other space in the bathroom.

    6. VivaL*

      Food=comfort for me so….
      I know Im late to reply, but what about a decent stockpile of her favorite food (s)/snack(s)? Being somewhere ‘not your own’ can cause lots of outsider feelings – no matter how welcome she is there. Having something that’s just for her/just hers/that recognizes her separate identity as a person in the household (and not just ‘little sister moving in to big sister’s house’) can be a really nice welcome gesture and offer her some comfort at a time there’s lots of change for her, perhaps?

      You’re really sweet to be putting this together for her. :-)

  12. Jack the treacle eater*

    Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of Ernest Shackleton, Tom Crean and Henry Worsley arriving at the Stromness whaling station, having sailed across the southern ocean in small lifeboat and walked across the frozen and unmapped mountains of South Georgia to get help for the rest of the crew of his ship, the Endurance, marooned on Elephant Island in the Antarctic peninsula after their ship, the Endurance, was crushed by ice. Shackleton returned to rescue his crew without losing a single man.

    The last great feat of the heroic age of polar exploration, and an extraordinary story – my partner was in tears after seeing the photographic exhibition about it a few years ago.

    1. fposte*

      It’s an amazing feat. The expedition did lose three men on the depot-laying end, though, Mackintosh, Hayward, and Spencer-Smith; I know people don’t always count them, but they were on his expedition.

      I think Scott’s Northern Party could get more attention, too.

      1. LibbyG*

        Shackleton’s autobiography is an amazing read, and so is Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s memoir about being on Scott’s expedition, with the unsubtle title The Worst Journey in the World.

      2. Jack the treacle eater*

        I don’t think the deaths – in the Ross Sea party, out of contact on the other side of the continent and effectively a completely separate expedition – take away from Shackleton’s (and, of course, the men’s own) incredible achievement in saving the men of the Endurance.

        I must say also, while he had his flaws and this is not a work related discussion, many modern bosses could take notice of Shackleton’s leadership and particularly the ideas of mutual loyalty and duty to his men.

        1. fposte*

          I agree that the Endurance expedition is one of the great marvels of the twentieth century, and that he was an amazing leader. (I don’t think the deaths take away from him, but I think they do count as being under his overall command–it wasn’t a separate expedition, just a separate effort under his overall attempt.)

    2. hermit crab*

      Shameless plug! My husband briefly covered that on his blog yesterday, http://today-in-wwi.tumblr.com (where he’s been doing daily what-happened-100-years-ago posts since summer 2014).

      Apparently the Shackelton group was quite surprised to find out that the war hadn’t ended yet.

    3. AliceBD*

      PBS had a fascinating real-life documentary thing from a few years ago where 3 guys were recreating this trip, trying to use the gear of the day. They had cameras along, and of course you know that they’ll be rescued if necessary (which is super soothing for me). I just looked it up and it’s called Chasing Shackleton.

      1. Jack the treacle eater*

        There’s also a good dramatisation with Kenneth Branagh which is available on DVD, as well as books written by Shackleton and Worsley, among others – though the books are maybe a bit less accessible as they tend to play down the difficulties (stiff upper lip and all that) and the language is a bit more impenetrable than modern English.

    4. Owl*

      When I worked at NatGeo, my coworker found an ad? Ticket? Flier? for Shackleton’s 1903 (I think) program at the NG headquarters. I got to hold it. It was so cool!

      1. Jack the treacle eater*

        Wow. Things like that are just incredible – that connection with the past. I’d love to visit the Ross Sea huts from Shackelton’s and Scott’s polar expeditions. You can view them on Google Earth.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Was that the exhibit at the Queens Gallery near B. Palace? I saw that one and it was amazing to think of the photographic plates surviving all they went through, and especially as they were so heavy!

      For a while the Maritime Museum in Greenwich had some artifacts from one of the Shackleton expeditions and i practically started crying it was so moving to see how primitive the equipment was. They even had a replica of the James Caird on display – it was tiny! One of my life’s dreams is to see Scott’s Hut and to go see South Georgia where Shackleton is buried. A buddy at work had been to South Georgia a couple of times with the Navy but never actually saw the grave or anything!

      1. Jack the treacle eater*

        It could well be the same exhibition, but we saw it – with the James Caird replica – at the Maritime Museum in Liverpool.

        There’s an exhibition currently touring with a lot more of Hurley’s photos; they’ve just done a new set of high quality digital scans from the original plates. I saw it in February at the Royal Geographical Society, but I think it’s at the Scott Polar Research Institute at the moment and going elsewhere during the year.

        You probably know this, but originally when the Endurance was abandoned they left the plates as well; then they decided to rescue them, and Hurley dived in the freezing waters in the ship’s hull to rescue them – and then had to go through them all on the ice to decide which ones to keep! I think he was allowed to bring the best 150 of them.

  13. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I want to thank everyone who gave me running advice last week! I started jogging verrrrry slowly, and it helped immensely. Not winded until at least a minute in. I’ve been able to do about 5 minutes total every day I’ve run this week– I also took the advice to take days off– and I feel much better about how things are going. The dog is a lot happier too, since he doesn’t mind trotting next to me. I’m currently dealing with some foot issues, but I iced it this morning and felt much better. Onward!

    1. Trixie*

      I think you’ve inspired my to try some running this summer. Weather is comfortable/cool which is perfect. I’ve always liked the idea of alternating running/walking, slowly increasing the running segments. Looking at shoes this weekend, and maybe a new playlist.

      1. K.*

        I said this in AvonLadyBarksdale’s thread last week, but I definitely recommend going to a running store for shoes. I went to one specifically because the shoes I was running in were really hurting my feet and we got very specific about how much I run, how much I plan to run, other exercise I do (it informs your stance and gait), and once we narrowed it down to two pairs, I got on the treadmill in each pair to test them out (just for, literally, a minute). The sales guy was really nice. It was a process, but worth it.

    2. Today's anon*

      Yay! so glad! I actually used that advice myself yesterday – I was undertrained for my half marathon race I had signed up for (got sick in the middle of training) so I knew I was not going to beat my time but I was pretty confident I could finish it. I just settled in an easier pace and got it done! I had a great time and feel mostly good today.

  14. Myrin*

    Three days ago, I bashed my head on – of all things! – one of our kitchen cabinets. The whole thing was a great testament to my incredibly bad short-time memory because I opened the cupboard, thought to myself “Better be mindful of that pointy edge!”, then a noodle fell to the floor and I picked it up and BAM my head mit the pointy edge when I came back up. I was dizzy and felt like my head was wrapped in cotton and there was actually a medium-sized fissure in my skull which was even bleeding! All from ramming my head into kitchen furniture! Apart from a dull ache in the area around the wound, I was completely fine the next day but man, what an utterly typical thing to happen to me!

    1. Aella*

      I feel ya. I once concussed myself with a weight I was keeping on top of the wardrobe. It was possibly my most embarrassing accident ever.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I once got a concussion because I tripped while taking off my pants and hit my head on my bed frame. Also an embarrassing accident!

      2. Lindsay J*

        I once cut my lip with a clothing steamer. I wasn’t even using the steamer at the time. It just happened to be occupying space in the same room as me, then I tripped and my lip tried to occupy the same space as the steamer.

    2. Mimmy*


      I’m like that – making a mental note to be careful not to hit something only to hit that something just moments later. Same with forgetting stuff. My husband razzes on me for that sometimes.

    3. Rahera*

      Gah!!! I wish ?I had a descriptive linguist handy to provide an IPA version of the sound I made as I read that, somewhere between a muffled curse, a hiss, and a gyoieoieing. Ouch, glad you’re ok. I have a lethal cupboard corner just at temple height and so far I’ve had narrow squeaks but no actual gouging, touch wood.

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I have broken two toes in my life. One was from–I swear this is true–walking into a screen door. The other was from walking into a coffee table. They were exceedingly painful for such small, inconsequential injuries!

      1. newreader*

        I’ve also had two broken toes. One was from walking into a chair leg. The other was from walking behind my dog and having his back leg slip and hit my toe. I agree they are painful injuries and they can take months to fully heal.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I broke one walking into a rocking chair runner. I knew it was broken because 1) this injury hurt so much it drove me to the floor upon occurrence (no mere stub), and 2) it hurt for four months afterward. Nothing I could do but tape it to the next toe. I could walk and skate, so I just carried on.

    5. Pennalynn Lott*

      My next-door neighbor’s Vent-A-Hood has an Unfortunate Corner that has nearly concussed family members and guests alike. That is, until my neighbor bought a large-ish doggy tennis ball (bigger than the thing humans whack around on the courts), sliced a T-cut into it and stuck it on the Unfortunate Corner. **ta-da!** No more head injuries. :-)

  15. Chocolate Teapot*

    I was booking a flight for my summer holidays today and for some odd reason it was cheaper to fly business class than economy. More baggage and I get to use the business lounge, which is exciting. I wonder how to tread the fine line between looking as if I belong in the business lounge, and troughing the complementary buffet.

    1. Dan*

      Are you in Europe or Asia? (Your terminology isn’t consistent with how US airlines and travelers describe such things domestically…)

      Business travel in Europe especially can decrease significantly over the summer, whereas tourist travel is strong. That’s why you’ll see such weak fares. The downside is that European business class is nothing more than the middle seat blocked. (I’m not joking.) However, you do get lounge access, and European lounges generally put US lounges to shame.

      Just enjoy yourself in the lounge, nobody is going to care that much about what you do. If you’re worried about troughing anything, the booze is free ;)

      1. Elkay*

        Which airline are you referring to? BA business class are definitely much bigger seats than economy.

        1. Dan*

          Air France, Lufthansa, and even BA. Keep in mind that I’m referring specifically to their “within Europe” product, which is different than longhaul trans-oceanic travel. BA has what they call “Club Europe” for travel within Europe, which they advertise as having 30″ pitch. That’s not much bigger than economy.

      2. Lindsay J*

        Just don’t ingest so much booze in the lounge that the very polite BA lounge attendant has to very politely cut you off. Apparently it is awkward for everyone involved.

        And I did kind of care when I was in the Centurion lounge in DFW and two people came in very drunk, brought in fried chicken, got fried chicken skin all over the floor, and got champagne to go along with their fried chicken. But I was mostly impressed with their ability to be “classier” than I am, and their ability to not give a fuck about what anyone else in the room though. And they did seem to be having a good time.

        1. Laura*

          I love fried chicken, and I love champagne… but I don’t think they would go well together.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Dress slightly smarter than you would if you were just troughing (LOL I love that). A nice blouse/shirt, neat trousers or skirt and tights, comfy but good shoes. Last time I flew in premium economy, I wore a sweater dress and leggings (so I could sleep warmly–it was long haul), boots, and a scarf.

  16. Overeducated*

    DC area commenters! I got the impression from a thread in the last week that there are a bunch of you. I am moving there in a couple of months, and I’m kind of terrified about finding an apartment a) in my price range b) with under an hour bike/metro commute to work (which is 1.5 miles from the nearest station, so there’s a 30 minute walk already if I take metro) c) while searching long distance.

    I have some advice on what neighborhoods to target, but any advice on landing a place from long distance? I’ll be there for a few days in late June, looking for a place in August or Sept 1.c xssssssssssssssssssss

    1. hermit crab*

      What’s your price range, roughly? If you’re comfortable posting that, it’ll help us give advice!

      1. Stephanie*

        Also, where’s your job? If it’s 1.5 mi from a Metro station, there’s probably a bus route you could take in addition to (or in lieu of ) the Metro. Thirty-minute walk is fine in good weather, but you probably wouldn’t want to do that when it’s hot, cold, or raining heavily.

        1. Overeducated*

          Would rather not get that specific, but I am also looking into bus routes and bike commuting because of that. To live on a bus line my geographic radius would be much more limited to certain areas.

          1. hermit crab*

            I actually highly recommend living on a bus line that goes to your job. That will give you the double bonus of optimizing your commute plus getting you a more affordable apartment, because (at least in my experience) rent drops way, way down once you’re not in the immediate vicinity of a metro station.

            We’re also heading into a year plus of massive rebuilding for the metro system, with station/line closures, single tracking, the whole nine yards. It’s going to be a mess! You’ll be ahead of the game if you aren’t relying on the trains to begin with.

            1. Stephanie*

              Seconding this. My friend lives in Glover Park and says it probably stays (relatively) affordable for NW DC because it’s not directly on a Metro.

              1. hermit crab*

                Generally yes, as long as you work fairly standard hours. Frequency of service can decrease a lot during non-rush-hour times (but then again, it’s the same with the trains).

          2. Stephanie*

            If your employer’s large enough, you might have a shuttle from a station. My friend worked at a USDA facility that was a couple of miles from a Metro and the USDA had a shuttle.

        1. hermit crab*

          If you are looking for a 1BR, that’s totally reasonable. In my neighborhood, there are places for about $1500 with a 5-minute walk to a metro station. I stand by what I said about the buses, though. If I were in your situation (considering your job’s distance from a metro stop and the upcoming rail maintenance), I would probably prioritize finding a place with an easy bus commute, vs. metro access.

          1. Overeducated*

            Unfortunately I am looking for a 2 bed. Moving with spouse and kid, and spouse will be working from home for a year. We have that budget because our second income is not predictable after that year.

        2. Realistic*

          Depends on what part of the DC-area you’ll be in. I live in the Maryland ‘burbs off the northern part of the Beltway, and 2K would get you a rental house, a townhouse, or an apartment here… pretty comfortably. I can pretty easily get to the end of the Green, Red or Orange line depending on which one is working that day. ;-)

    2. Overeducated*

      (To clarify, I’m looking for a rental apartment, not to buy! My most recent apartment hunt in another big city spanned every weekend for a month, was very competitive, and I wasn’t able to resolve it more than 3 weeks before needing to move, but I live many hours away from DC so I can’t just make weekly trips down. Hoping it will not be so bad.)

    3. LawCat*

      For me, walking the neighborhoods and calling ones with signs was the most effective method in finding a place. I ended up crashing on an air mattress at a friend’s place for about 3 weeks though when I moved to the city. Not sure if that’s an option for you (if not, maybe crash in an Extended Stay America or something like that?) There are agents that will help you find a place, but those places tend to have higher rents so I ended up not going that route when I was looking. Be careful of Craigslist as there are a lot of scams.

    4. Dan*

      My place let me “RSVP” online when I moved here. Cost me a $200 deposit. I showed up, liked it, signed the lease. Been here for like 9 years.

      I live in the VA suburbs and my rent is lower than your price range. But if you want something within a few minutes walk from the metro closer to the city, you’ll need a roommate. It would help a bit if you told us what the nearest metro station to your job is. Where I live is fine if you weren’t commuting further into the city than Foggy Bottom/Farragut West/Metro Center-ish, but if you had to go up the red line from there? Then you’re adding on to the commute.

      Also, don’t underestimate the importance of this: Metro is undergoing a massive reconstruction effort in the next couple of weeks, and that’s going to have significant impacts on Metro operations. They’re shutting down stations and single tracking in some areas all day long for a few weeks. That project is supposed to take 9 mos-1 year. Metro does a shitty job of scheduling/communication during single tracking, so your 20 minute commute on the rail can easily double.

      1. Overeducated*

        I am moving with my spouse and child so roommate is probably not a possibility. (Spouse has one more year on a contract, so we are trying to find a place we could pay for if we only had one income for a while, or the second income shrank and got eaten up by daycare, just in case.)

        Definitely open to VA suburbs. Closest metro stations are Smithsonian and L’Enfant.

        How does this RSVP online thing work? Never heard of it.

        1. Christy*

          So, I work across from the lenfant metro, and I live in Rock Creek Forest up in MD. My 1000-sqft two bedroom apartment is under $1800, the neighborhood is AMAZING, and there’s tons of families, and it’s really diverse, and my commute is under an hour door to door. I do bus to metro and then walk from metro center because it’s a close walk and that way I don’t have to transfer lines. There’s two major complexes on the bus lines by me–Round Hill and Rollingwood. They’re both near great parks too, including Rock Creek Trail and Georgetown Branch Trail.

          1. overeducated*

            Sounds awesome, I will look those up! I really would love to be near a good park.

        2. DCR*

          Now I’m really curious where this office is, because I can’t think of a single way that you could go 1.5 miles from those stations and not pass another metro station.

          1. Stephanie*

            I could imagine parts of SE or SW DC. If you’re not right off the green line, Metro rail isn’t the best.

    5. Phlox*

      As others have mentioned, massive metro repair this year. If you have a chance, rent something that would make sense for a bike commute. It will save you a lot of hassle.

    6. NewBooks*

      I’m not sure where your workplace is, but I’ll put in a plug for my old neighborhood: Brightwood/Takoma. There are lots of families, it’s pretty diverse, and nice parks, libraries, and close enough to Metro/major bus lines to make an easy commute. It’s also really close to Rock Creek Park, if outdoors are your thing. It’s a lot less expensive than some other parts of DC and has the convenience of being in the city, while having a neighborhood/suburban feel.

  17. Aella*

    I have just made two recipes, paneer and potato curry and chicken chili, (links to follow) which hit the sweet spot of being 90% stuff we already have. What are your recent recipe discoveries?

        1. Ultraviolet*

          Floury potatoes are the kind that are usually used for baking or mashing. I think labeling potatoes this way is a British/Commonwealth thing. I guess russet potatoes would be an example of floury potatoes? My Indian friends always cook with Yukon gold though, for whatever that’s worth.

        2. NDR*

          It means a starchier potato- like an Idaho or russet, as opposed to a new potato or Yukon Gold, which are often called “waxy.”

    1. Lizabeth*

      I love Smitten Kitchen! They’re one of my top 5 food blogs to read/cook from.
      My challenge this month is to replicate a chocolate s’more cookie I’ve had at Gregory’s Coffee around the corner from work (pricey as Starbucks but they do a better job of roasting the coffee beans so it’s become my reward for getting through the week) Have asked for the recipe which they don’t have handy but got a look at the ingredient list Found a s’more cookie recipe on the Sweet Paul website to start from. Ordered marshmallow bits from nuts.com (and sprinkles, they are cheap!) and it arrives next week so will give the recipe a try with a substitute of cocoa powder for some of the flour. Can’t wait to see how they turn out because it’s a possibility for Dad’s “cookie of the month” selection.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I make a ton of stuff off Smitten Kitchen (her recent Everyday Meatballs are excellent, and they’re tomorrow’s dinner), Budget Bytes (particularly the tortilla soup and cornbread), and Skinnytaste (pumpkin baked pasta, garlic shrimp with coconut). I also found a fantastic chocolate-peanut-butter-banana bread from Liv For Cake that I’ve already made about a half a dozen times. The weather is getting so warm and pleasant that it’s getting into grilling-and-salad season, so Monday’s holiday meal is going to be homemade burgers and macaroni salad and grilled asparagus, though.

    3. INTP*

      I made the 10 spice veggie soup from the Oh She Glows book (probably on the website/app too) – it was delicious! And it makes a large quantity, so I have plenty of leftovers. I added red lentils as the “optional” legume and beet greens as the green since I had a bunch.

      I also made her detox soup from the book – it’s not as delicious (it’s not supposed to be), but it’s still very tasty for what is essentially a serving of barely-caloric vegetables. I used beet greens instead of the kale and cauliflower instead of the broccoli because that’s what I had around, and I definitely recommend using the optional nori sheets.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Oh She Glows was a recent find for me too and she has some great recipes.

        Check out Cookie and Kate for more veg based recipes that are a bit more realistic – she has some AMAZING salads on there!

    4. Lindsay J*

      Really simple brownie recipe. They’re really good, too!

      1/2 cup vegetable oil
      1 cup sugar
      1 teaspoon vanilla
      2 large eggs
      1/4 teaspoon baking powder
      1/3 cup cocoa powder
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      1/2 cup flour

      1. Preheat oven to 350*.
      2. Mix oil and sugar until well blended.
      3 Add eggs & vanilla; stir until just blended.
      4. Mix together all dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
      5. Stir dry ingredients into the oil/sugar mixture.
      6. Pour into greased 9×9 square pan.
      7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until sides just start to pull away from pan.

      *recipe is not mine. I stole it from some recipe website or blog somewhere and don’t remember which one.

      Also, Aldi has a recipe website and everything I have made from it is pretty good. Steak chimmichuri was amazing, as was lobster mac & cheese.

      Also, not a recipe discovery, but a kitchen tool. My food processor is amazing and I am in love with it. I’ve never had one before and I have been getting so much use from it since unboxing it. It can dice up a whole onion in like 10 seconds.

  18. After surgery*

    A while ago, I was one of several folks asking about gallbladder surgery- surgery details and a job-searching ones. Thanks again for that! I ended up needing several other things done at once- all abdominally. I am now about halfway through a 12 week basic recovery plan. I can walk around ok, but the incision still opens when I bend & stuff. I’m also starting to get antsy, but can’t drive. I figured I’d resume my job search soon, but any advice as far as the life stuff goes? How do you keep from going stir-crazy when you’re somewhat better, but not completely ready to resume life yet?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I would probably be doing books of crossword puzzles, binge-watching Netflix, and doing my rehab exercises/walking as much as I could without making it worse.

      If you’re going stir crazy, is there anyone who can drive you anywhere? Even to a local park or shopping mall, to sit and read (or do crosswords) in a different environment?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Do something to tire yourself out a bit, but go easy and watch for fatigue.

      If your resume needs beefing up you could do that.
      If you are like me, you could work on writing a budget or reducing costs or something practical like that for your finances.

      My husband and I fell off a motorcycle at 60 mph. We were both pretty banged up. At first sitting in a chair was exhausting. As the healing started to take hold we found ourselves bored. Fortunately we had each other to talk to but this was at least a two month period. We called long distance relatives and chatted with them, something we did not do when we were working. Of course, we read and watched tv. We gave ourselves little challenges each day, such as “let’s see if I can get this particular shirt on this banged up body today”. I liked that because it felt like progress, even though it was only small steps. We had friends over, that was nice, they could lift heavy things for us.

      Last, boredom is a symptom of healing. When a person first gets sick or injured they are never bored. They want to sleep, be left alone, etc. So the more restless/bored you get then the better you are doing.

    3. Colette*

      Can you go outside when the weather is nice? Also, are you able to socialize (either in person, over the phone, or online)?

      Those are the two things I find I miss. Otherwise every day is the same.

    4. After surgery*

      Thanks so much for all of your great ideas! I think sometimes it helps to have someone outside of the situation take a look. I really appreciate the encouragement :-)

  19. Amber Rose*

    It’s been kinda interesting in a morbid way to watch my body fall apart as a result of being too sick to eat for just over a week. It’s also interesting that it’s so hard to start eating again even though I’m very hungry all the time. I think I actually cried on day 8 when I was able to eat only a small cup of soup. I was still hungry after but physically could not eat more, I felt like I’d had a three course meal.

    I have never been this sick for this long in my life. Is it seriously normal to get a stomach virus and be told to just not eat until it’s over? Its been 9 days! I’m still not even better, I just don’t need narcotics anymore.

    Also should I go around apologizing to everyone? I was working and teaching at my club for most of the week still (not contagious), and while I wasn’t bitchy or anything, I wasn’t able to not look like the walking dead and was slightly stoned. Cookies?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I had an intestinal virus years ago and I was told not to eat. They would not let me have more than 3 ounces of water every couple of hours. I thought my thirst was going to kill me. The worst part of it probably lasted 8-10 days and I lost seven pounds. Even though that does not sound like a lot it was really noticeable; my clothes hung off me. Even once the worst was over it still took a while to “be me” again.

      Will they let you drink some electrolytes?

      1. Amber Rose*

        Oh I’m allowed to eat or drink. I just can’t. I’ve been living on Powerade.

    2. Nina*

      I had a viral infection last year that left me feeling like a zombie. I actually thought it was mono. My head hurt so badly I couldn’t even brush my hair. No stomach ailment, but I had no appetite, and I think the most I ate over those two weeks was a bowl of soup. That was all. I lost 12 lbs of water weight. Everyone was freaking out because I wasn’t eating.

      When you say you’re not better, do you mean there’s been no improvement at all since you initially got sick? It sounds like there is a bit, if you’re eating something and keeping it down, even in small amounts. That could be the start of eating a bit more every day.

      There are liquid meal supplements you can try to increase your caloric intake. Ensure is one, although it can be constipating.

      Hope you feel better!

      1. Amber Rose*

        Nah, I just mean it’s not over. Initially I was hospitalized for the pain and given narcotics to take home. Now I’m mostly pain and drug free except eating and bathroom stuff still hurt.

        Nothing is more constipating than pain drugs. -_-

    3. misspiggy*

      Boo, poor you. Stomach bugs are common for me, and I’ve never been told not to eat. The advice I’ve had is to drink plenty of oral rehydration salts (not fun, but vital), and sip water frequently. I’ve always been told to eat what I can, as long as it’s non-spicy, non-greasy, and will, ahem, help form a stool. So broth, plain rice and hard boiled eggs, with salty crackers as a treat.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I wasn’t told not to eat. I physically could not. Even broth left me crying in agony. I was worried about not eating but the doctor shrugged and said to just not bother.

    4. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry. The last time I had that virus for 3 weeks I lost 15 lbs and it was terrible, but I don’t think anyone told me not to eat, I simply couldn’t. Of course this week I had it for all of 2.5 days and just wanted the end to come quick.

      Have you not improved at all since it started?

      1. Amber Rose*

        That’s it, I just couldn’t. And the doctor said not to try if it hurt.

        I’m off pain medication and eating small amounts now so it is better. But I just can’t eat very much and it still hurts a bit when I do.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          *hug* It sounds like you’re slowly improving. Take it easy and listen to your body. If a cracker hurts and soup doesn’t, have the soup. I hope you feel better soon.

        2. Nina*

          IA w/ Elizabeth, it sounds like you’re slowly but surely improving, but I know it’s still a drag for your body to feel how it should. Hang in there.

  20. Pinkdolphins*

    Does anyone have any stories or advice about renting on an irregular salary? I love my job – & it actually has fabulous benefits even though the regular pay is so low (free gym, 401k match, nutrition counseling, volunteer time off, PTO & sick day time) but I want to live on my own without anybody else.

    My job has the regular pay $10.30 for 6 months of the year (December-June) but then when our busy season hits we have mandatory overtime shifts of 6-10 hours per week. Overtime is time and a half, so last year before my cost of living raise it was $15; now it’ll be $15.45.
    Last year I made several thousand dollars from OT alone with no bonuses. I used that $ to pay off medical debt & credit card debt I got into when struggling with medical debt. This year I have no debt except for car debt & student loan debt, both manageable.

    I’m currently crunching numbers to figure out what I might make this summer (not my strong suit on a sleepy Saturday afternoon) but I am trying to decide whether it would be better financially to wait until I have a higher base salary before I get my own place, or if I should live with family a few more years & buy a house instead. Most of my coworkers either live with family, tons of roommates, or they are major savers during the heavy season & that’s how they get by the rest of the year. An average 1 bedroom in a safe neighborhood in the city where I work can cost anything between $625 (if you get lucky) and $1,200 (super luxury apartments, way out of budget!!)

    Has anybody had this experience? Did you get your own place on irregular income & regret it on your slow seasons, or did it work out well for you? Also, how do landlords perceive irregular income?

    I’ll appreciate any advice or stories you can give me

    1. Anonymice*

      I rented my own place when I was in college. I worked part-time during school with hours varying every semester and full-time during the summer and winter breaks. I only made $11/hr, no overtime and no benefits (incorrectly labeled an independent contactor, so had to pay my own taxes too). I just made sure to work X amount of hours and budgeted for that. I didn’t live in anything fancy though, just a studio apartment in an okay-ish neighborhood (still ran me $450, but included gas/electric/water/trash).

      1. Pinkdolphins*

        This is good to know! Did you find it easy to locate a place that was all inclusive? Most of the places I’m seeing like that are student oriented, but I bet there are others that maybe just aren’t as advertised?

        And ugh, so sorry about the incorrect labeling. Having to do the extra cleanup on taxes is such a botheration!

    2. Christopher Tracy*

      I worked at a law firm for nearly three years a few years back making $15 something an hour – no bonuses, no raises, but we did get time and a half OT. We were on mandatory OT pretty much from the time I started up until I left (I think I only ever had five non-consecutive months where I didn’t work OT), and I was able to save enough to move out of my mom’s house after seven months at the firm (I’d been living back at home for almost two years).

      My rent was around the low end of where you quoted, and I was able to live pretty decently with the OT money. But when OT was suspended, I’d panic because my regular salary wasn’t enough to sustain me for long periods of time and make sure I was able to pay all of my bills and rent on time. Luckily, I’d saved enough from my previous job and during the OT stints that I was okay during those off months where OT pay wasn’t coming in (and I made a little over $10k in OT pay one year, so that shows how much that money was needed).

      My building manager knew where I worked and how much I made, and she was fine with it because I paid my rent on time every month. Plus, she had no clue what my student loan bills looked like, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have gotten the apartment (wouldn’t have been able to afford it on my regular salary). I needed to live where I do, though, because I don’t drive or have a car, public transportation is unreliable where I live, and the firm was right down the street from my apartment building. Being able to walk to work saved me a ton of money, as did living in a building that billed me directly for my electric use and only charged for what I used (the electric portion of my rent bill averages around $10/month).

      My advice would be to wait and get your own place until your base salary comes up. Save yourself the anxiety of worrying about how you’re going to swing financial matters during off seasons (that stressed me out to the point where I got physically ill). If you can live with friends or family for a few more years and sock away any extra cash you get into savings, all the better. I didn’t have a huge amount of savings when I moved out on my own, and I think I would have been less stressed, and could have worked less OT hours (I’d do voluntary OT on top of the mandatory hours because I needed the cash for rent), thus improving my quality of life.

    3. Sunflower*

      For landlords, at least near me, most will only ask to see your past 2 paychecks. So I’d suggest moving when you’re making overtime if you are worried about not hitting the min rent requirement.

      I think you will need to be saving a lot during your busy time. You’ll need to weigh what is most important to you- I am back living with my parents temporarily and it’s driving me insane. I don’t mind living with roommates as long as they are the right ones. Also- do you want to buy a house or do you just feel like it’s something you should do? Home ownership is not always in your best financial interest. Also how long do you think it will be until you obtain a job with higher base salary? That is a big factor as well.

      1. Pinkdolphins*

        Thank you, this is really helpful!

        About the house – I currently live out in the country with my family & commute to a nearby city to work (most people in my town who don’t farm also do this, so it isn’t really a big deal.) I’m torn between settling down here where housing market is plentiful but there are no apartments versus the city where there are plenty of apartments but housing is very pricey.

        If I decide I want to settle in the country I will definitely buy a house because there aren’t really any rentals here. I still want to try living in the city though to see if I like it better. The city is more fun-I would definitely have a more fun social life !- but I also enjoy the peace & quiet & being near all my family.

        My heart & brain are split in two!

    4. designbot*

      I’m in the process of becoming a landlord (own a duplex but needed some fixing, hopefully ready to rent by july 1!), and have rented a ton of places myself. I think a big apartment complex would want you to get a co-signer, but a smaller mom and pop sort of operation might be more understanding. If you were applying to rent my back unit I would want to know how long you’d been at that job and see documentation that the irregularity was a regular thing, if that makes sense. Basically I’d want to know that you had a track record showing you could handle your finances despite this irregularity—if you’d been at that job a few years and you had a good credit score, and the average monthly income (taking into account base pay plus OT, averaged out over 12 months) met the threshold, I would likely rent to you. Of course this also depends on other applicants though, because just like finding a job the landlord needs to not have better options on the table. Or needs to be the type that does first-come, first-serve. Since that is to your advantage, I would try to really jump on listings as soon as they’re up if you’re interested.

    5. ginger ale for all*

      If it is iffy, stay where you are at and build an emergency fund while paying down your student loan and car note. I think once you have an emergency fund built of enough money to supplement the slow months and still have money left over for other emergencies, then you can consider getting a place of your own.

      I think it would be crushing to have to move back in with your folks after having tasted living alone for a while.

      You may also want to consider building up a small fund for the towels, mops, food staples, vacuum cleaners, cleaning supplies, etc. Someone was on the week end free for all recently and commented that the little stuff like that added up to more than they thought it would.

      1. Pinkdolphins*

        That is a really good idea! You are right-I was doing math earlier on incremental expenses & those do add up over time. It might be a good idea to even have a separate savings account just for that.

    6. newreader*

      My husband works OT fairly regularly throughout the year. But when we budget for living expenses, we only include the base wages he brings home. Knowing that overtime isn’t as predictable, we want to be sure we budget based on the (relatively) more stable amount. Then we can use the OT to fund an emergency fund or for extras. I haven’t done the math, but could you find a place to live that is based on your $10-ish base wage? Then the overtime can be used for savings for all of those unexpected things that come along in life.

      1. Pinkdolphins*

        That’s probably the best idea! Based on what other people are saying, it sounds like finances in the off season are stressful. I’d rather live modestly all year round and be relaxed than be anxious half the year!

    7. VivaL*

      I know Im late to responding, but is it possible to save up some money and pay rent in advance (or borrow from family with a slow payback schedule)? And then while you’re not technically paying rent, you save that same amount of money every month. And you use that to pay rent during the lower-wage months. So you’re technically always paid in advance, and still always paying rent and then you dont have to worry about it as much? Obv, you’d have to commit to not utilizing that $$ for anything else/even if you had a setback of some sort.

      It’s a tougher start-up, but I think a landlord might also be more willing to rent to an irregular earner if you paid some amount upfront and showed a plan for always having rent paid (vs. struggling/spending less in other areas in lower-earning months – one financial setback could put that plan in jeopardy from a LL’s perspective).

  21. LawCat*

    I’ve been having a hard time getting things done for the past few weeks (distracted by work stuff, unfortunately!) I’ve let chores slide and have been eating out more rather than meal planning. Going to tackle the front room and the Mail Pile today though. *And* get in my fitbit steps. Wish me luck!

    1. Trixie*

      Me too. I’m housesitting for a bit and since I haven’t stocked up, I’m eating out way too much. I started weekend with smoothie which helped. I’m making a list of what will be fun to make while I’m here with a fabulous kitchen. Should be a good time for weekly food prep tomorrow while tackling laundry/light cleaning.

  22. Kay*

    Any horse people among AAM commenters?

    I have a little BLM mustang that I started myself; he’s 21 now, and after eventing for a few years, we now do some lower level dressage to keep us both in shape and occupied. My non-work life has revolved around one barn or another for most of my life. I’m really lucky right now that his boarding barn is 8 minutes from home and terrific.

    We’re aiming for a schooling show on June 5, just a couple of Training tests, but somehow his brain has absolutely leaked out his ears this spring. You’d think he would be done with hijinks at 21 but noooooope! So “staying in the ring” will be our top goal. Representing the semi-retired event horse contingent, I guess?

    So, anyone else ride, or own horses? What do you do? Any goals?

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      No horses, but I have a little donkey! She is a goat guardian. I couldn’t take her with me, so she still lives with my parents. She is so sweet! The goats love her and she thinks they’re her babies. But she’s more like a BIG dog than a horse I think.

    2. Lizabeth*

      I can related to the hijinks from a “old enough to know better” horse :) My old ride Zeby was a prefect gentleman in the ring on a snaffle. However, take him out on the trails I swear he reverted to a 3 year old! Had to ride him in a much more severe bit to keep him under control (think gag bit – he’d run though anything else) even after doing a workout in the ring first. I miss him…
      My goal is to move back to an area that’s easier and not as expensive to do horses. The greater NYC area isn’t as easy as MD to do it. I do miss riding.

    3. Florida*

      I don’t have a horse, I just wanted to chime in to say that if I ever got a horse, I would name it Radish. That way, I could say, “This is my horse Radish.”

    4. GOG11*

      I had horses growing up, and my parents still have a couple, though they’re more like oversized pet dogs – they were rescues and they kind of just plod around the pasture and eat food and get terrorized by my parents’ pygmy goat (that little thing’s so ornery). The one horse is very ornery and a similar age to yours, so I can relate to dealing with horse hijinks lol

    5. Persephone Mulberry*

      I totally feel ya. I am horseless at the moment (and for the foreseeable future) but I have had many “please let us just stay in the ring” tests. Fingers crossed the spring fidgets work themselves out in the next couple weeks! Let us know how it goes!

    6. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      I’m dreaming about being well enough to go back, once upon a time I rode hunter-jumpers. I wasn’t bad, and it was so much fun.

      We learned on old bombproof barn horses who were STILL full of hijinks well into their 20s, good training ;)

    7. Stevenz*

      I got into riding late(er) in life when I took up polo in my late 50s. Now, a few years later I’m working on dressage and jumping. (I did dressage previously but a loooong time ago.). My goal is to be able to say I ride at an intermediate level. Real expert is not in the cards, and the more advanced one gets the greater the risk and at my age, well, one doesn’t bounce when one impacts the ground. One generally hears snap, crackle and pop. Mainly it’s an awful lot of fun and is really good for my head and heart. I recommend being around animals for stress relief or any other emotional ills.

      I don’t have a horse of my own but I leased when I was playing polo. I would consider having one if I was going to ride a lot and could afford it, though it’s not a goal as long as I can find good mounts at local riding clubs.

      Also, being male, I find that riding is a good way to meet girls since everyone else there is female. Problem is, they’re girls! Where are their mothers?!

    8. Linda*

      I wish I could be riding again. *sigh* I’ve moved to a higher COL area and can’t really afford to lease a horse anymore. Maybe in the next year or two I can work something out. Enjoy your training and competition!

    9. Agile Phalanges*

      I’m late to this party, so I hope you’re still reading, but I’ve got a big BLM mustang. (She’s part draft, from a herd who apparently had some shires turned out with the more typically-built mustangs back in the day.) I didn’t adopt her myself, she came to me greenbroke from the person who did adopt her. I got her when she was 4 1/2, and she’s six-ish now (born in 2010, but of course don’t know exactly when). We mainly trail ride, and are hoping to enter our first limited distance endurance ride (25 miles in six hours or less) in a couple weeks. Wish us luck!

    1. ladyb*

      Oh Gene
      You and yours are having a rough time lately.
      Sending you good thoughts. Don’t forget to look after yourself.

    2. Nina*

      Sending well wishes to your friend. Sounds like you’re a good friend, to boot.

    3. Clever Name*

      Indeed. Fuck it to hell. My best friend has ovarian cancer and I just found out a high school classmate has a rare form of leukemia.

  23. Trixie*

    Trying some new beverages this weekend as alternatives to so much tea. I really like Fizz, Bai, and am still trying the higher pH waters like Aquahydrate and essentia. I’m not a fan of all the packaging but do not see myself investing in a Sodastream.

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      It’s a bit on the pricey side but I started drinking Kombucha a while back. It’s fermented tea, a bit sour, with flavouring like ginger or mint. You can’t drink a lot of it because it’s got probiotics in it that are supposed to be good for your stomach/gut and too much is kind of not recommended. The brand I’ve been getting recently is called Rise, it’s in the refrigerator section of the organic foods store I go to (not whole foods) and it’s $9 for a litre. I get 3 servings out of that, so it’s about the same price as a bottle of wine. Anyway, aside from the stuff my gut needs, I like it because it’s not carbonated or alcoholic and it’s just different than pop.

      1. V Dubs*

        I’ve just started drinking kombucha too, as a way to kick my returning diet coke habit. It’s nice and fizzy, and if you want you can make it yourself!

        1. Trixie*

          This was next on the list to sample. I don’t know that I’m ambitious enough to make myself but the variety is nice for something other than pop or flat water.

    2. Gene*

      Sodastream will have a lower pH. Inject CO2 into water and you make carbonic acid. It will likely have a pH between 3 and 5. So if you are going for alkaline waters, you definitely don’t want one.

    3. Vancouver Reader*

      I found a recipe on Pinterest for ginger beer. It didn’t ferment for me like alcohol, but it did have some carbonation and bite of ginger, so I really like it as a refreshing sort of drink. It’s just ginger juice, yeast, sugar and water.

  24. Colette*

    Foot update.

    I went back to work two weeks ago. I got a ride with a neighbour the first week, but even with that, I don’t think I would have made it without the knee scooter. Week 2 I started taking the bus, although I did get a ride home on Tuesday when I was very sore.

    (I wanted to take the bus, the neighbour would have happily continued giving me rides.)

    I also bought an iwalk 2.0 off od kijiji – it’s basically a peg leg. I don’t use it for work, but it’s nice for at home. It took a couple of days to get past the stage of walking like Bambi on ice, though.

    I’m sick of not being able to do anything, and I wish I weren’t so sore. (My niece: “I know, you don’t even know how to walk down the stairs.” Thanks, kid.)

    1. Mimmy*

      I looked up the iWalk – it looks super awkward, but I’m glad it’s useful for around the house. I hope your foot is healing well.

      1. Colette*

        It’s a little awkward, but I get sore from the knee scooter by the end of the day, and it lets me move more naturally (I.e. I don’t need to do a three-point turn to get something from behind me.)

  25. Sunflower*

    I have never been to Europe before (I’m in the US Northeast) and I’m thinking about going in a few months on a solo trip. Am I crazy?

    I’ve traveled alone for work all over the US- usually for 3 days at a time. It’s always been in large, downtown busy cities but I’ve never had any issues as I’m pretty independent and don’t mind doing things alone like eating or hanging out in a bar/restaurant. I’d be trying to do it on the relatively cheap meaning hostels or Airbnb’s. I’m definitely nervous about being in an unfamiliar place as someone with zero sense of direction.

    Ideally I’d want to do Greece and maybe one other place. I was thinking a 10 day trip but am nervous I will get lonely for that many days by myself. I’ve also heard there are websites where you can coordinator and meet up with other travelers that I would be really into. Some of my friends are thinking of doing Europe around that same time but want to go other places than me. What do you guys think?

    1. Dan*

      Think about what, specifically?

      I’ve been to 26 countries (hitting 27 on Tuesday for a long Memorial Day weekend), and most of them I’ve been to on my own… and I travel for up to a month at a time. No, you’re not crazy for thinking about a solo trip. It’s easy to tap into the social scene abroad if that’s what you want.

      The nice thing about traveling on your own is that you can do what *you* want, when *you* want. It’s kinda refreshing.

    2. Cristina in England*

      Europe is really accessible, and you can see so many places because of the rail network and the relatively short distances, compared to the US. Get a PacSafe bag, use big city street smarts, and go for it!

    3. 30ish*

      Not crazy at all. If you stay at hostels you will definitely meet other travelers. I doubt you’d be feeling lonely. Plus 10 days is really not that long. I wouldn’t add a second country, there’s so much to see in Greece you’d likely feel rushed!

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      Hell to the no you are not crazy. If you’re at all concerned, start off in England because it is different than other countries and they speak English — heavily accented English but English nevertheless. I’ve stayed at hostels I booked through hostelworld dot com and so long as it’s got a rating of 80% or higher, you should be fine. Pack your own towel, shower shoes, a combination or keyed lock, learn how to carry a backpack and just go. You can’t do things like that when you’re married/have kids/aging parents/pets/mortgages etc. OK, sometimes you can but it can be harder.

      Someone I know has done couch surfing in Europe and met some really cool people but I think with couch surfing you have to also be a host, you can’t just be a guest (I’m not 100% sure on that).

      One thing that I’ve found useful is to do a course/workshop/something. It gives me a “reason” to go, and then I can see the sites later. So, for example, if you’ve ever wanted to learn Tuscan cooking, there is probably some place in Italy you can go for that. If you happen to stay a few days in Florence later to tour the museums, then that’s an added bonus.

      1. IT Squirrel*

        *cough* I think you’ll find we speak with English accents ;)
        But yes, some of the regional accents are very thick and difficult to understand even for those of us who live here!

        If you have 10 days you could easily fill that just staying in Greece, I spend two weeks there every year picking a different area each time. Many places will put up signs in both Greek and English characters (but not translated) so don’t worry too much about learning the Greek characters, just get a good dictionary/translation app and a few useful phrases into your head.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Yeah, that’s what I was getting at, the heavily accented ones. ;) The standard British BBC style that people sort of expect to hear from English people are, IMO, easy to understand. But also, the dialect words and slang are a thing until themselves. But then again, you can get that in the Deep South.

          I only mentioned it because my grandfather spoke English with a heavy accent as it was not his first language. One day, a friend of mine who was like seventh generation Canadian was over at the same time he was, it was the only time they ever met. We were having a conversation and she would look at me, then at him, then back at me as we spoke but she didn’t say anything. After he went off to do whatever he was going to do, she leaned over to me and said “what was he saying?” I was surprised because I had thought she was following along but then she said that she hadn’t understood a single word. That was the first time I had ever really thought about the fact that to other people he might be unintelligible, that there were people out there in the world who had never had to parse that kind of thing, that everyone around them sounded pretty much the same so they never had to learn that as a skill. I mean, I had grown up with it and so it was just “normal”, kind of like learning another version of English.

    5. Colette*

      Greece is beautiful, but the signs are in Greek, which I found disorienting. I didn’t realize how much I depend on being able to generally read a few words here and there until everything looked like math. Not saying not to go to Greece, but be prepared for the language issue.

    6. Red*

      Three years ago I did six weeks in Europe, staying in HI hostels, solo over some 9 countries. It was fantastic.

    7. VGN*

      Rick Steves’ website has advice on solo travel. His website also has a large forum section – I’m sure there’s a thread specifically about solo travel in Greece. Have a great trip!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh God yes, his website helped me so much with things like cashpoints (ATMs), etc. And I should have listened to his packing tips, LOL.

        If you’re traveling by train, go to The Man in Seat 61’s website–this guy is awesome. I was able to plan my train trip on the Caledonian Express to Scotland perfectly by following his instructions. Went off without a hitch. :) It’s one of the best travel websites I’ve ever found.


    8. overeducated*

      Not crazy at all! Europe is pretty navigable for solo trips, and I found it easy to meet people to socialize with in Greek hostels (in my experience, Australians are everywhere and very friendly, Germans are also everywhere but more reserved, for instance). Greece is also amazing and there will be plenty to keep you busy for 10 days.

    9. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      I think it sounds fantastic! You might see if your trip can coincide for a day or two with your friends traveling at the same time. I’ve only done New York for an extended time solo but we did the on-the-go coordination with other friends who were traveling Asia solo and came together as a big group for a bit on an agreed location. It was fun!

      Speaking to Colette’s point about signs in Greek, that might be an issue unless you know the language. I was disoriented in Thailand because I rely on being able to figure my way around the language a tiny bit so I had to memorize characters as names for navigation purposes. My scrawling squiggles were pretty useless but if I were smart I’d just have taken photos of street signs and landmarks for reference for later.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Someone at work mentioned there are apps where if you point it at a sign it will translate – he used it in China for instance. Maybe see if there is something for Greece?

        1. Lindsay J*

          Google translate does this! Not sure if it can handle Greek but I’ve used it for a handful of other languages. It’s really cool.

      2. Sheep*

        Greece is such a tourist destination that in most cases signs will be in both Greek and English. Most people will speak some form of English too, so it shouldn’t be a problem!

    10. Lindsay J*

      I don’t think you’re crazy at all.

      I did a few days solo in Germany last December. It was fun! I have zero sense of direction as well, and I was fine. You can download offline maps onto your phone, and, if you have certain cell phone providers you might not even need the offline part.

      I didn’t do hostels. I feel like I’m a little old for that scene, and I really value my sleep. But I did an Air BnB in Frankfurt. And the hotel I stayed in in Cologne was like a step up from a hostel – all private rooms with private bathrooms, but the bed was twin bed size, the room was tiny, etc. The only problem I had was locating the Air BnB initally, but as soon as I found it it was great. And the hotel had terrible ratings online, but it was clean, safe, and had free breakfast, and I really wonder what people’s expectations were – from the reviews it looked like they were expecting the Hilton experience at 1/4 the price.

      The only time I felt unsafe was when I decided I was going to hang out in the Cologne train station until 2AM the last night I was there. Don’t do that.

      I was a little nervous when my train to AMS randomly kicked us off at a random spot because it was broken (didn’t seem broken to me, I wonder if the issue was with the tracks ahead or something). But it was pretty easy to locate the right train to my destination and get on it and that only set me back like maybe 15-20 minutes.

  26. Cruciatus*

    My routine oil change and getting brake pads replaced has turned into $500 in repairs (words like calipers and rotors were used). And I can afford it–but it’s this kind of thing that gets me nervous about living on my own. I’m 35 (tomorrow!) and still living with my parents. I still don’t make a lot of money but in August I was able to get a 33% increase switching to the job I’m at now, but I still only get about $1680 in take-home pay a month (after insurance, and 403B and a few other things are paid). In my area that’s enough to live on, eat on, go out once in a while on, but I worry about needing to dip into my savings for things like this and not living off of the paycheck I’m earning (let alone not saving much at all). Of course I’ve been pricing things so I have a realistic expectation for what things cost (food, electricity, utilities, etc.) but how can I know if I’d be dipping into my savings too much (I have way more than 8 months’ worth–maybe many years’ worth). Or, if I have the savings I have the savings? I realize things come up–medical expenses, car expenses, life expenses. I think I’ve been saving for so long that I no longer know what healthy spending is, if that makes sense. I hope it does. My goal is to try and live on what I make, even save what I can until I (hopefully soon) manage to earn a higher salary. And I can’t live here forever (and I really don’t want to). Really not where I thought I’d be financially if you’d asked me 15 years ago!

    1. Mando Diao*

      I’m in a similar situation – moved back home to pay off school and build up savings. I have a loose deadline though: when Gramps’ time comes, my mom plans to move back to her home state and live in the house she will inherit; even after all these years, she never cottoned to life in nj. I refuse to move to Ohio so I am getting my money ish in order now.

      Do you have any similar event looming? And why is $1600 a month not enough? School loans?

      1. Cruciatus*

        Well, I think that amount would be fine most of the time. I’m concerned about how often the other times might be. How do I know if I’m saving enough? How do I know if I’m taking too much from my savings account? I’m actually looking into buying a house as the mortgage is cheaper (besides any house repairs that might occur). So, once you factor in all expected monthly expenses (food, mortgage, insurance, gas, utilities, etc.) I’m looking at only a few hundred to be saved a month. So, if another $500 is needed (like today) I’d be in the red from just my take home pay alone, though I would have the ability to dip into my savings. I just worry about needing to do that too often. But what is too often? And I guess that is the point of having the savings in the first place. Hopefully most of the time you don’t need it but it’s there if you do. I think this last part is what I’m working on. Is it OK to actually touch the savings? But I’ve been saving it for so long!!!

        1. SAHM*

          In some cases you budget for these items. Below its mentioned they budget 1,000$ /year on car maintenance. So you want to keep X amount in savings for a rainy day (I believe people say 3 months of bills worth), + 1,000 / year for car expenses, + 200/month for housing expenses (if you’re looking to buy it’s good to have savings specifically for “the toilet/dishwasher/fridge is broken” etc) + any other big ticket item you own that might need servicing + savings for vacation (bc even 50$/month toward a vacation fund means you have 600$ dedicated for a vacation in a year). It can help to have multiple savings accounts as you go on so not everything is coming out if the same pot, it helps me budget. We put X into the general savings, Y into household expenses savings and Z into a vacation budget. That way when we’ve hit a certain comfort level with X we can allocate more into Y or Z. Or cut back Y or Z because we’re being hit with medical bills or etc.
          if you are thinking of buying you would have X (3 months of pay) + 1k / yr for car + Y amount you’re planning on putting down on the house.

          Good luck!

          1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

            I second budgeting for stuff… I started using YouNeedABudget this January and love how it helps me keep on track. I make sure to put money aside every month for things like car insurance, when before I would know it was coming and just pay it when it comes… sometimes pulling out of savings, sometimes able to cover it from savings. You can set up categories and personalize it to your own needs.

    2. Lizabeth*

      Car repairs are really, really hard to budget for since things wear out at different times. It also depends on the age of the car and the mileage. Usually I would try to up the car repair amount budgeted each year that I kept the car. That said car repairs were the only thing I wouldn’t have the $ to pay off the credit card and would carryover for as long it would take to reasonably chip away at the total. Two things you definitely need to have: a AAA plus membership (longer towing distance) and find a mechanic that you absolutely trust to keep the car in good repair, not the yahoo at the corner station that goes Cha-Ching every time you pull in. My maximum amount for car repairs a year is $2,000. With my old car, an 89 Cavalier that lasted until 2010, averaged $2,000 every other year the last ten years, so it was worth it to me to keep it going until it needed too much work. Also keeping a log on what was done when and how much will help you get an idea from year to year.
      Rotors do wear out (I replaced those roughly every other brake job) calipers less so. Hope this helps…

      1. regina phalange*

        I am going to be 35 on Thursday! I am having panic attacks. But, I just leased a car, traded in a lease for a lease. The one time my car had an issue, it was under warranty and the dealership’s problem. The guy at the dealership today told me he only leases. I know buying a car means eventually you won’t have a payment, but I’ll take the payment if it means any major repairs are not my financial responsibility!!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, that is what I am seeing here too. I am average $1,000 per year for car repair.

        I echo the recommendation of building an on-going business relationship with a car place. My place sells, rents and repairs cars. I have no clue what I will do if they go out of business. My point is, if you bring it to the same place each time, they become familiar with your car. They have a record of what repairs have been done. These two things are very helpful in keeping costs down. And they can advise you on when to come back next time. For example, my place tells me, “Give X three months and then come in to have it repaired.” It’s kind of like having a primary care physician for your car.

        1. Lizabeth*

          This x10000! The mechanic we have now does this with both cars. And I bought my replacement car for the Cavalier from him.

    3. SAHM*

      It’s funny because hubby and I have been talking finances a lot more lately. Cutting back on spending, not eating out, etc. The reason is he’s had heart surgery recently(Feb) and another one scheduled for June AND I’m due with our third in July as well. We have great insurance and we’ve always been savers (I shop at the discount stores versus Safeway or Trader Joes, the dollar store has the same stuff as Target generally, I’m not big on clothes so a few items last me years, our family is big on hand me downs + my sisters have excellent taste, all add up), so we could definitely pay everything off with our savings-but I’m not keen on seeing our savings account drop that low. Even with hubby in a stable job, and knowing that we could pull out our stock or the CD’s early or something. It makes me nervous, plus if we can make it work on a lower monthly budget then that’s more money we could sock away for kids college fund or maybe a trip, I’ve never been to Hawaii and I’d love to go someday. So …. When is savings used and when is savings spent? Still a question that I don’t really have an answer for.

    4. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      I’m a nervous saver (my normal mode is to save EVERY PENNY) and have had to learn to find a healthy balance.

      I approach it from two different angles.

      For saving, I have a minimum total: only to be used if we lose our jobs and it has to be at least 1 year (preferably a few years) of full income replacement at regular spending levels. I also have a minimum savings rate below which we do NOT drop unless we lose jobs or when I was on maternity leave.

      For spending, I write an annual budget where I list every regular and irregular expense and budget an approximate amount for it. So yes, medical, car, life expenses won’t be totally predictable but they are predictable in the sense that they happen whether or not you’re looking. Say I plan for $3000 in car repairs per year, $1500 in medical, and say, $1000 for life. My breakdown is different but just to mirror your examples. Everything I might spend on includes travel, gifts, electricity, pet food, vet care, and so on.
      Then I compare that annual total against my expected savings rate (minimum 25% but goal is 40%) and if I cut into that minimum savings, then something has to go from the spending plan. If not, great. I auto-deposit our savings as soon as our checks come in and all our spending money budgeted for the year sits in our checking account and is spent regularly. If auto is high this year, but medical is low, that’s fine, as long as my annual spending doesn’t exceed the allotted total. Whenever that cash cushion is extra plump, I skim off the top and dump it into savings.

      Finally, the more multiples of the minimum total I have banked or invested, the less I worry about the occasional dip into the fund but I track those dips. Last year we had to dip in to pay for our estate planning and my life insurance policy, and some other big life things. I added them up and they came in just below the amount of my “overage” skims, meaning we didn’t touch the dedicated savings. Over four years, my estimate of our spending was right, it just came at different times and amounts than I had predicted.

      To address your question about what’s too much, it’s going to be a matter of your comfort level but if it helps to set the ironclad savings account and then have a “soft” savings account that can be used for bigger unexpected things you can’t cash flow, that worked for me for a few years, before I implemented the system above. The best savers will occasionally not be able to cash flow everything. The trick is learning to manage the less predictable things by setting some kind of reasonable parameters on them so you’re prepared for most scenarios and then you can dip into savings for the most unexpected ones.

    5. stevenz*

      This may be way too late, but… Have you had the repairs made? What raises an alarm for me is that you asked for an oil change and they checked your brakes, which isn’t in itself a bad thing. But the response – pads and rotors – is just a bit too predictable. What kind of place did you go to? Some places that do oil changes don’t make money on them. They make their money on other repairs they convince people to do. You may very well need brakes (front wheels, or all wheels?). Brakes are a common target of slightly unscrupulous places. No one wants bad brakes, and they don’t want to delay.

      First, if you really need brakes, can the rotors be recut or do they have to be replaced and why? Have them show you the pads. They go by thickness of the remaining pad to determine if it’s time for new ones. And check the internet for what is the recommended amount of pad left for replacing them for your car. (You can check the pads yourself. Jack up the car and take off the wheel and look.)

      If you haven’t already had the work done, go somewhere else – a dealer or a mechanic you trust – and get a second opinion. It can save you a lot of money. I’m guessing you’re a woman and therefore a target of shady car businesses.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I actually do trust where I go. My car was sounding awful–worse than I imagine just low brake pads sound–and something (the brake? the rotor?) was grinding metal on metal and they had to pry something to get the brakes fixed in the first place. I’m always wary of being conned but he answered all the questions I had before he went and did it, even explaining it again to me when I was there and threw in the discounts where he could. I’ve gone there for years and they’ve never tried to add on to my services before so I do believe I needed done what I needed done. There’s always a chance but at this point it’s already over–but thank you for your thoughts! If something pricy happens again I will definitely get a second opinion.

      2. Lindsay J*

        I made a scene and walked out of a place recently (an NTB, though I’ve had wonderful experiences at other locations in the chain) because I could hear the manager pushing the worker to tell me that I needed work done that I didn’t need, and to try and sell me 4 tires when I only needed one. Worker told him he wasn’t going to do that and if he wanted the sale to happen to do it himself.

        I let him spiel to me just because I wanted to see what he said (and I have kind of a fascination with watching good sales people work because I’m just so bad at it) and one of the other workers was like smirking at me the whole time. Then I asked a bunch of questions about whether I really needed the tire repaired and told them I only wanted to replace the tire if that was the only way I could roll out of their parking lot at that moment. They then told me an entirely different story than they did at first as to why I needed it done.

        I was going to be content to just walk away and not come back, but then when I went back to the waiting room for a moment I heard the manager yell at the guy who stood up to him to begin with and threaten to send him home and to write him up for insubordination if he ever spoke to him like that again. So when the manager came back out I let him know in no uncertain terms why he would not be getting my business, and I made sure everyone else in the waiting room knew too.

  27. anonymous for this*

    My sister, who is in her mid-thirties, was diagnosed with colon cancer several months ago. She had no risk factors, and she’s expected to beat this thing handily. She’s had the initial chemo and radiation, and she’ll have surgery in about a month, followed by more chemo.

    Due to the location of the tumor, she will likely have to have a permanent ostomy bag after her surgery.

    She is, understandably, not excited by this development, but she’s committed to remaining active and not letting the device impede her lifestyle any more than necessary–she hopes to keep cycling, keep going to the gym, keep dating, etc. She is undecided about how open she will be about the fact that she has this.

    Do any of you have experience with these, or are you close to someone who has? What can the rest of us do to support her? I’d love any advice or input from someone who has been there or been close to someone who’s been there.

    1. Elkay*

      I’m sorry your family’s going through this. I think I went to school with a girl who had an ostomy bag but I could be mis-remembering. Based on that I’d say that your sister has a pretty good chance of living her general life without needing to share that she has one. I suspect it’s a case of cross that bridge when you come to it/each interaction is different.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      There are support groups, I just quickly googled and found several. I think picking one would be more your personal choice.
      My uncle had to use a colonoscopy bag. He had his own sink in the bathroom for tending to the bag. My aunt said changing the bag was something one person could handle on their own, once they knew what to do.

      The only time I ever noticed any discomfort on my uncle’s part was when my dog tried to jump on him and the paws went toward my uncle’s midsection. We both went after the dog at the same time, end of problem.

      I know there is a national group with local chapters. A local representative of the group came to the house and picked up the left over supplies after my uncle passed. (His passing was not related to any colon problems.) The supplies were given to someone with a financial need for assistance with supplies.

    3. Searching*

      I understand that must be a shock. My dad has had an ostomy bag for about 9 years now. He lives in Europe and I live in the US and my only sibling yet on another continent far away. One of his greatest fears was not being able to travel (he has other health problems in addition to the colon cancer/ostomy bag situation), but luckily he is still able to come visit both of us. He still rides his bicycle – did a bicycle vacation in Europe with us about 5 years ago!

      Of course my dad is quite a bit older than your sister, and his lifestyle won’t be the same as your sister’s. I have a colleague closer to my age who also has an ostomy bag and we talk about it on occasion. She had to travel to an event where socializing by the pool was expected and shared with us that she was thrilled to find a place that sold swimsuits that were suitable for people with ostomies (not for swimming but for hanging out by the pool). If your sister is interested in that resource, let me know and I’ll try to find out for her.

      The biggest adjustment was finding out which foods did & didn’t bother them. Life can be miserable when foods give them gas and/or the “runs”. As far as random items go: my dad is paranoid about leaks so we have extra leak proof protection under his sheets in the guest room (just for his piece of mind). We also bought a Diaper Genie for him to dispose his bags in so he doesn’t have to run them outside to the garbage (he refuses to throw them in the regular bathroom trash can).

      As Elkay wrote, how things will go will be very different for each person. I’m sure she’ll figure things out as they occur. My dad is not one to join support groups or even internet forums, but I’m sure those resources are available as well. Good luck to your sister as she adapts to this new challenge.

    4. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I HIGHLY recommend your sister check out “Bag Lady Mama” on Facebook. She is an incredible married mom of a couple kids who posts all about life with an Ileostomy. Warning, this is NSF(many)W(places), as she often posts semi-nude photos to share how the bag works, tips/tricks, and just general life stuff.

    5. Kerry ( like the county in Ireland)*

      As a medical librarian, I’ll say this–the wound and ostomy nursing literature is the most positive, “you can do it, everything will be okay” lit there is. It’s like a big secret club.

    6. RKB*

      Not sure if you’re still checking these — I had an ileostomy bag for a year. What I wished for the most was for people to look me in the eye and agree that my situation sucked. When your bag bursts at 2 AM, when you can’t get it to stick, when you balloon under all your clothes and have to give up on anything remotely form fitting, hearing platitudes from those not suffering was beyond irritating.

      My ileostomy saved my life and honestly, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Many ostomates live normal, wonderful lives. I got mine reversed but I almost miss it sometimes. I have Crohn’s and having an ostomy bag sure as hell beats some of the pain and misery I went through. Your sister will probably feel the same way.

      It’s not an easy journey, and it’s not even fun. Some days it’s not even worth it. I lost my small intestine in the entire process and I miss veggies and popcorn and mangoes. But if I could do it again, I would.

      Also, seeing your intestine is way cool.

    7. Laura*

      A close family friend of mine had colon and rectal cancer. She’s managed to be very active and she still works (as a flight attendant!). I’m not sure exactly what she does to manage the ostomy bag, but I know she’s reached out to support groups and networks– those have helped her a lot.

      Sending you and your sister positive thoughts!

    8. petpet*

      I have a facebook friend who got an ostomy bag last summer. We’re not close but she posts frequently about it and what her life is like now. Before her surgery, she was a marathon runner and while she had to take some time off running to recover, she’s been back at it and I believe she’s completed at least one half-marathon with the bag, if not a full marathon. I know that she runs near-daily just as she did before she had the ostomy bag, and she’s getting married in July :)

      Best wishes to your sister!

  28. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Eve’s claws. She will not let me cut them, and I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried having someone else hold her while I do it, holding her by the scruff of her neck, sneaking in to get just one claw while she’s asleep — nothing works. She immediately squirms out of my grasp or snatches her paw away, and when she’s restrained she makes a terrible howling noise and I give in. (I actually haven’t tried wrapping her in a towel, which I know is a popular method, but I think it’ll be the same because of her fear of being restrained.) I’ve even thought about having a mobile groomer come and do it, but most of them don’t do cats. Does someone have some secret method that I haven’t thought of?

    I’m leaning toward just resigning myself to her claws only being cut once a year when she’s at the vet’s, but that seems less than ideal (and kind of unfair to Olive, who’s always in wrestling matches with her … although Olive is nearly always the instigator of those so apparently doesn’t care too much).

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’ve trimmed some of our cats’ claws, but some I didn’t. The vet did it during checkups, but in between we just make sure they have carpet and sisal and natural bark scratching posts, and we put catnip on the posts to encourage them to scratch. (That has worked with about 2/3 of our cats so far; the other 1/3 get REALLY mellow on catnip.)

        1. Perse's Mom*

          I’ve had cats that loooooove the typical dried catnip, and some that will only respond to whole, fresh leaves. My mom’s old cat would roll around in the catnip plant on the edge of the garden.

        2. Jessica (tc)*

          Huh, is it a cream tortie thing? My cream tortie is immune to catnip, too, and she doesn’t even remotely get interested in toys with it.

          She also hates having her nails trimmed. Because I’ve had difficult cats in the past, I just make her into a purrito (cat burrito in a towel) and have my husband hold her while I get one foot out at a time. She moans and yowls like nobody’s business, but she’s just trying to get us to let her go. (My husband thought I was hurting her the first time, but I stay far away from the quick and she did it even after I let go of her foot without even cutting a nail the next time.) She just sounds pitiful and breaks your heart. We always, always give her treats right before when she comes to us (after we whistle for her) and right after we’ve trimmed her claws (which gets her back over to us to shorten the huffiness mode she goes into). After the first few times of this, she seems to recover much sooner and lets us get on with it without struggling (although she still makes that very sad, very plaintive, pitiful cry throughout).

          I’ve tried all of the other recommendations from all over the web and from our vet, but she absolutely hates having her feet touched at all. We got her from a shelter, so I keep wondering what it is about her feet in particular that upsets her. That said, I also haven’t cut her claws in so long, partially because I hate how betrayed she looks after we do it. Poor thing.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Our cats are pretty (read: extremely) docile when it comes to this, but my friends with antsy cats who hate having their nails clipped use a combined method–having another person grasp them tightly in a bear-hug type thing (including, if necessary, holding at the scruff), possibly using a towel or a blanket, so the nail clipper only needs to deal with one paw at a time. Then all you have to do is deal with the horrible moaning and howling, and go at it fast. Follow with treats, pets, whatever is required.

      Honestly, getting past the horrible moaning and yowling is the worst part.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep getting past the noises. They are very skilled at using their voices to intimidate us or make us feel bad.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Ugh, the moaning and howling. I always think I’m hurting her, so it’s good to know this is not abnormal. (I’ve never had another cat make that noise!)

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          We have one cat who just hates everything (being brushed, having her nails clipped, going in the carrier, leaving the house ever, having us hold her tail) and greets all of those things with this awful, guttural yowl that I have never heard a cat make before. It’s horrible to listen to! But she’s perfectly fine, just irritable.

        2. Pennalynn Lott*

          We have a cat, Stella, who sounds like she’s about to disembowel you whenever she doesn’t get her way, in anything. She scares the hell out of the vet and the vet techs, but she has never — not once — in her 7 years on this planet scratched or bit anyone.

          She developed pneumonia and had to be given 1 ml of liquid antibiotics 2x per day for a month. After the first dozen or so dosages, I was like, “Yeah, yeah, noise-maker, whatever; you’re a certified bad ass,” when she started the yeowling, growling and screaming.

    3. FD*

      With my senior kitty, I have had some difficulties because she has arthritis and can’t brush her own rear, or scratch at posts enough to wear her claws down.

      I had taken her to the groomer to a sedate-and-groom, but the last time, she had a really bad reaction to the anesthesia, so I had to figure out a way to do it at home. She was so…intense at first, that I literally had to wear a leather jacket and falconer’s gloves. Which she punched through, with her one remaining tooth.

      I’ve found that the best method is to get when she’s pretty calm and in my lap, and then snag her with a towel. She doesn’t like it, and she yowls bloody murder, but otherwise, her claws have gotten long enough to hurt her paws.

      I personally do two paws at a time.

        1. Elkay*

          We had a cat where the vet had to wear reinforced gauntlets to handle him (this was after he’d ripped the vet’s hands to shreds), I swear he was the soppiest cat when he was at home but the vet made him go feral.

        2. FD*

          Oh, it’s hilarious in retrospect! It was terrifying at the time, though! She’s a small cat and she’d been on the street for a while before she got to the shelter, so she is FIERCE.

          I’m certain our neighbors thought we were setting her on fire, though–the sound of rage and fury she made was unbelievably loud. My dad nicknamed her Taz, for the Bugs Bunny character.

      1. catsAreCool*

        At my vet’s office, they have Kevlar gloves, which they do need sometimes, and they say sometimes cat claws go through the Kevlar!

    4. Elizabeth*

      Have you tried just playing with her paws without clipping them? We started with that, with the restraint even with the crying & howling, followed by treats, before graduating to clipping. We can do a full paw at a time with that method. We have to clip our guy’s claws on a regular basis, even though he’s an only, because he thinks my husband is a very large, hairless cat who can play as rough as he can. Unclipped claws (and worse, unwashed claws) leave some really nasty, dirty slashes on arms & legs that get infected easily.

      If you decide to not clip, make sure the watch Olive closely for sores where Eve’s claw sheaths have become embedded. Our farm cats growing up constantly had issues with infected sores that had to be treated when they would play & wrestle and lose loose claw sheaths into each other. The general treatment is to shave around the sore, open it up to remove the sheath & treat it with antibiotics, none of which are pleasant for the poor cat or the poor human who has to do the treatment.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes to handling paws while playing. This helps the vet a lot, too. And adding , play with the tail too. When they get old, they may have difficulty and if you need to clean them up they will be familiar with you handling their tails.

        I teach my dogs that sometimes it happens, my fingers go in their mouths for absolutely no reason. It makes it easier for the vet to examine their teeth/gums and it makes it easier for me to retrieve my pens.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Oh yes, I definitely try to handle her paws a lot. She’ll let me do it if she’s relaxed, but the second the clipper approaches, it’s game over. I’m a big fan of the “handle them tons when they’re kittens” school of thought — I think the issue here is that she was feral when she came to us and took a long time to be okay with being touched, so we didn’t get it in as early as we otherwise would have.

      1. Not Karen*

        Yes, I trim my cats’ nails while they are sitting in my lap like that. However they are also extremely chill about the whole thing.

      2. Pontoon Pirate*

        We trim the bunnies’ nails like that, sorta. I hold them on their backs against my chest, prop their bottoms on the tops of my thighs, and present one foot at a time to my long-suffering husband.

        Did you know that bunnies can, and do, growl?

    5. GOG11*

      I have been told that some people file their cats nails, but I’ve never tried it on my cats. If the snip of it is what bothers her and makes her snatch her paw away, that might work. If it’s having her paws touched in general, it probably won’t be any better than cutting them (obviously).

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I was just reading about that and was mystified since it seems like it would make the process take longer. Although she does love nail files.

        1. GOG11*

          Mine love them, too. I found one under the stove that they’d been chewing on, the idea of which freaks me out to no end.

    6. Allison Mary*

      I’ve done the same thing that Former Diet Coke Addict has done. Whenever we trim our cats claws, if we have to force it on them, it’s always a two person job.

      I don’t know if you’ve tried this variation on scruffing… but one thing that seems to help is for my partner to actually lift his cat (who’s the squirmier one) in the air by her scruff while I trim her claws. Like, standing up, and having all of her weight suspended only by the scruff of her neck – we don’t support any of her weight with another arm or anything, because that just gives her something to struggle against. This does actually seem to make her go still, though she still cries. I suspect that maybe this gets her to stop squirming because as kittens, they would’ve been carried around by their mothers like this?

      The other thing that we’ve SLOWLY started doing, is creating positive associations with having their paws handled. Like, we don’t cuddle with them at all or give them positive attention at all without touching or handling their paws in some way. It can start with just stroking the tops of the paws, and gradually move towards fiddling with their claws, just with our fingers (no nail clippers). I’ve gotten to the point where, I’ll always wait until we’re cuddling with the cats, and I’ll make sure I already had clippers nearby, and I can do one or two of the sharpest claws at a time just with one of the cats purring on my lap. Usually after one or two, they’ll complain and jump down. But if I keep at it like this, and do this every couple weeks or every week or so, they get more used to it, and I can generally get to all of their front claws within a month or so. This method takes a LOOOOOOOONG time to build up trust (like, at least six months), but if you can invest the time in it, it’s definitely much less traumatic for them.

      The other thing that I think helps… we use regular human toenail clippers to trim the cat’s claws. And we will regularly bring out the human toenail clippers while we’re sitting with the cats, to trim our own nails. I think that this prevents the cats from building up an association that means every time they hear the clinking sound of the nail clippers, torture is forthcoming.

    7. fposte*

      I’m with Elizabeth–sounds like it’s worth trying training. If she’s a petty kitty, start including paws in the petting; add food treats as needed. Get her used to the sound of the clippers while she’s getting petted, without them doing anything to her. Basically, normalize aspects of clipping, rather making it something that has to be a surprise or a tussle.

      1. Headachey*

        Using treats was key to desensitizing my last cat to nail trimming. I started keeping the treats, catnip, special toys, hairball treatment, brush, and clippers all in one drawer. When I started this, she was at the stage Eve is now – could maybe clip one claw, much scratching & yowling.

        First stage: teaching her what treat meant. I’d open the drawer, shake the bag of treats, call “Treat!” loudly, the give her one if she came. Sometimes the treat was her hairball paste, which she also loved. Sometimes she’d get a treat AND a toy. Basically: only good things come from this drawer, and if you come, you will get some.

        Second stage: more of stage one, but slowly adding some brushing, plus a treat, or giving a treat, some lap cuddling, clipping a nail, more treats & cuddles. This stage lasted as long as it took till I could trim one paw at a time. Lots of times she still only got a treat or toy, so she figured the good things happened more often than the grooming things & still showed up reliably.

        Third stage: after all this, I could yell “Treat!” and she’d come, get a treat, and let me lay her on her back in my lap and clip all four claws at once – taking far less time than just one claw in stage one. Plus, now I had a cat who came when called :)

    8. Sparkly Librarian*

      For what it’s worth coming from someone who has only had cats raised from kittenhood to accept claw-trimming (and no secrets there, just lots of handling): don’t give in to the howling. You have to give her pills or bathe her sometimes, right? My cats always howled the most for baths. You feel like a jerk for a little while, but the necessary task gets accomplished. A towel may make it safer for you, but probably not any less uncomfortable for Eve.

      My tactic is to sit with the cat in my lap facing away from me (like a child sitting on my lap, and me looking over her shoulder). With my left hand I encircle her body and grasp her paw, pressing to extend the claws, and with my right I use a plain ol’ toenail clipper to take off the sharp tip. Don’t need to remove a whole lot if you’re concerned about hurting her (but the less you take off, the quicker it will grow back, so the more frequently you’ll need to clip). I turn the clipper 90 degrees to avoid splintering of the remaining claw. Takes 5 minutes on my cats who don’t object, but I hope that a few successful runs will help Eve calm down when the clippers come out. Maybe set out treats for afterward, and she won’t run away and sulk?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s exactly the technique that I use successfully with the other cats (although with a cat nail clipper rather than a human nail clipper). I think Eve’s feral roots (she wouldn’t even let us touch her for the first five weeks, although now she loves it and is very affectionate) are making this tougher (and my inability to handle the howling), but I will keep trying!

        I wonder if the human clipper is actually easier — I may try that.

        1. First Initial dot Last Name*

          In regards to the human nail trimmer: With one of my cats I found that if I cut one of my nails, let her sniff the clippers, then clip one of her claws (sniff), one of mine, one of hers, she was cool with getting her nails done. That coupled with extra paw attention to desensitize ticklish paws eventually I was able to hold up the clippers and ask if she wanted a trim, and I shit you not, she’d come running over for a “pawdicure”.

          The two (very fluffy) cats I have now I inherited when they were five years old, I think their nails were trimmed only by their groomer because they were very averse to letting me do it. Imagine my surprise after having a cat run to my lap for a trim! I’ve been working on extra paw attention with them and they’re now, after five years, letting me trim most of their claws using both human clippers and those little claw scissors. These “new” cats have a lot of toes, not a couple extra per paw, but four extra per paw and some of those extra interstitial claws are apparently really sensitive so it’s kind of a crazy job.

          I fall into the crazy cat lady category, I feel that an effort towards “animal communication” works really well with some practice, with these skills I’m able, I think, to let the cats in on what we’re trying to do and understanding their limits without pissing them off too much. Eventually we get all of their claws cut. Eventually.

      2. Cruciatus*

        I read somewhere that you shouldn’t use human clippers for pets. I think it can cause the nail to split and actually make the job harder. Probably depends on lots of situations, but thought I’d mention that since I actually read about it recently.

      3. Rebecca*

        I do something similar with my cats when I have to trim their claws. I sit on my heels on the floor, with my legs slightly apart, cat goes in between my legs, facing the same direction as me. It looks like I’m sitting on them, but I’m sitting on my heels of course. Both of my inner thighs are touching the cat but not squishing it. The cat’s instinct is to go backwards, but of course they can’t get anywhere if they try that. I get their front paw in my hand by looping my arm in front of them, which prevents them from moving forward. So, my left hand is holding his right paw, with my forearm across his chest/neck.

        And yes, I just get over the howling. If the cat will scratch, wear long sleeves or something that will protect your skin. I have had my cats since they were kittens and for the first several times, this process would take a long time due to scratching and squirming. If they got away, I just gave them a little while to calm down, then tried again. (Pro tip: keep the door to the room closed so they can’t escape far.) But after a while, I think they just figure out that it will be over faster if they’re still. One of them still howls, but stays still until I’m done. I follow up with a treat!

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Sorry, forgot there is another Rebecca who comments here! My name didn’t auto-populate and I should clarify that it is Rebecca in Dallas giving the above advice. :)

        2. KitCroupier*

          I use this method with my cats too! I usually end up kissing the cat between the ears every so often, but I think this is more for my benefit rather than hers.

    9. Cruciatus*

      I have to clip in stages. My one cat (pictured) is a giant ass about it anywhere but her “safe spot” which is my bed. Something about doing it there calms her. She still doesn’t like it, but she lets me get a paw at a time until she’s had enough. If I try to do it anywhere else she has a giant fit and if the neighbors heard her they would think I was murdering her. My cousin though, is a cat whisperer. She sat on the floor with her knees up, with the cat’s back against her knees and just trimmed away and the cat was calm. I tried that and have some scratches that I’m pretty sure are for life. So on my bed in stages it is.

    10. Rin*

      My cats like to be combed/brushed, so I’ll start with that, then grab and hold them in a sitting position, and then clip their nails, with a few combs/brushes in between if they get antsy. Then I’ll finish with more combing.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      My dog is a bouncy, wise guy. So the vet puts lavender oil on his fur before she starts. You don’t need much, a drop? Spread out by rubbing your hands together then rub the fur on the cat.

      My dog eats the lavender oil. The vet says she has never seen an animal do this. I checked with other people who know a lot about using oils and they felt the dog realized he needs the lavender.

    12. nep*

      We have tried trimming our cat’s claws to no avail. I did not pursue it for too long — always concerned that I’d make an error and hurt him. We bring him to the vet to have someone there do it (for a small fee) every two to three months. Worth it.

      1. Harriet*

        I also do this – quick visit to the vet office. This thread is making me consider trying it at home again though, great tips!

    13. Sharon in NZ*

      You have my sympathies. My elderly girl, who died just over two years ago, hated being handled and having her claws trimmed. We initially used to clip her claws standing on our veranda at the front of the house (you can’t see in from the street as we have a large hedge and tall trees out front). The first time we clipped her nails the neighbour stuck his head over the fence to see what all the noise was about. The next time a woman walking past yelled out “whatever it is you’re doing to that cat it doesn’t like it”. I replied that we were just trimming her nails and got a fairly snotty response back. From then on we did her manicure inside and to hell with the bits of claws which pinged all over the house (I kept expecting a visit from the SPCA lol). Furry was tiny – she only weighed a little over 2kgs, but the noises that she could produce were incredible. She used to carry on like we were trying to amputate her leg with a blunt instrument.

      And don’t get me started on grooming her lol. She had really long fur which matted like felt. There was usually bloodshed involved and it was never hers!

    14. Sandy*

      I use the towel method but I one-up it a bit… I stick mine in one leg of my husband’s pyjama bottoms.

      Keeps the cat restrained but not uncomfortably so.

    15. Jen*

      Is there such thing as a cat muzzle? For our dog, we muzzled him and one of us picked him up (dog equivalent to towel method! But he was too big for that) while the other clipped the nails. He snapped and flailed but we got it done safely. He also gets cookie treats for every clip without an (attempted because he’s muzzled) snap, and copious praise.

      We’ve also taken him to a groomer or the vet where they muzzle and restrain (vet does body holding like we do, groomed has a few leash harness things).

      We didn’t get him as a puppy but by golly the next dog we get better be ok with nail trims. It’s one of my least favorite chores and he’s 7!

  29. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Oh, great.

    The cat just threw up.

    On the steps.

    Which are carpeted.

    And, of course, managed to spray it across three steps.

    Still, beats the time the furry idiot scared herself somehow and threw up while running in a circle.

    1. Mimmy*

      Ha! Try having cats who vomits all. over. the. house. Our one cat (who died a few years ago) would vomit in one spot, walk a few feet, vomit again. This would repeat a couple of times. We got a lot of use out of the spot bot, that’s for sure!

      1. Wendy Darling*

        A few weeks ago my dog wasn’t feeling well, so he threw up in his kennel and then broke out and threw up in three other places. I found one of the other places by stepping in it and found the vomit in his kennel when I reached in to get his blanket.

        I basically spent the entire morning cleaning carpet and doing laundry. Bless the spot bot, I dunno what I’d have done without it.

        1. Mimmy*

          Ugggggh I’ve had my share of stepping in vomit (and poo!).

          God I hope no one is eating as they read this thread! :P

    2. Lizabeth*

      I’m not sure which is worse – watching it happen or stepping in a cold mount of it barefoot at 2 am. At least with watching you have a chance to scoop them off the carpet and onto hard flooring.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        I once had a cat throw up on me at 2 AM. I was sound asleep . . . Until warm wet yuck running down my neck.

    3. Rebecca*

      I once left choir music (not my personal copy, a loaned copy) on my cedar chest, and never dreamed one of my cats would throw up on it. One of them did, and to this day, there is a giant stain on the front and there’s a hole in the cover where I tried to clean it a bit too hard. No need to put my name in the upper right corner of that selection. It’s amazing. Cat had the entire house to barf on, yet chose the one thing that both wasn’t mine and was nearly impossible to clean.

    4. the gold digger*

      Laverne has finally stopped vomiting! And her hair is growing back! She no longer has active symetric feline alopecia.

      We have had to change her food three times, but finally, it is working.

      The sound of a cat about to vomit, much like the sound soaking-wet carpet makes when you step on it, is a sound you never want to hear.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        I was woken up early this morning to the sound of my 100-lb dog doing the “wind up”, right before she deposited about 12 oz of bile / stomach juice onto her bed. Which was a great place for it, because I keep it layered with beach towels, so it was super easy to toss the top layer into the wash after letting her outside.

        That “hork-uh, hork-uh ,hork-uh” noise is horrible, regardless of species. :-)

    5. Sharon in NZ*

      I think it’s in the cat handbook that they only ever throw up in the rooms with carpet. I once lived in a place where the only room with carpet was the bedroom. Guess where my cat used to throw up – was it on the lino or wooden floors? That would be a no. Just as well we love them.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Oh! This cat has a very sensitive tummy, but we eliminated her regularly scheduled daily spew by cutting her morning can of food in half and giving the halves about 30-60 minutes apart. For some reason a whole can in the evening has no such effect.

      This time she hurled because she had too many treats (she loves her Party Mix).

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Derp. I wanted to mention the above because sometimes changing eating habits like that can greatly reduce the horkage. I know it’s been a big change for us.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I had to start feeding Psycho Kitty grain-free food, which is of course about forty times more expensive than the regular slop. The strays / outdoor kitties bully her away from it and eat it themselves, and the only way I could stop them from doing it was to start feeding them the slop at the front of the house, while she eats her food in the back (she’s an outdoor cat). Buying two bags of food sucks, but it’s kept them from bothering her. Hers is about $30 a whack; the slop is $12 for a 20-lb bag. You can see my dilemma.

        When she’s no longer with me, they’re on their own!

    7. Lily Evans*

      Mine once got sick on my white shag throw rug and i found it first thing in the morning. It was terrible. I had to pack my breakfast and bring it to work because it took me a good hour before I felt like I could eat afterwards.

  30. Sunflower*

    Does anyone remember a commenter ‘Ali’ who had wanted to go into sports writing for a long time but was thinking of going in a different direction post-college? I haven’t seen her around here lately and remember she had started a blog but I am terrible at searching on this site and couldn’t find a post with her where she linked to it. I know I tend to drop off the site sometimes for periods so I’m not sure if anyone knew why she hasn’t posted lately. Hope she’s doing ok!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I haven’t seen her in a while, either. I could have missed her somehow, though. I hope she is busy with her new stuff!

  31. Rebecca*

    Books!! I would like to say I am thoroughly intrigued by “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold. I’m listening to it on audio. What a different plot line than what I’ve listened to previously. I’ve also discovered Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch series), James Lee Burke (Dave Robicheaux series), and noticed the first 5 books from James Patterson’s The Women’s Murder Club are available for free download from my eBranch2Go library. Sadly, I can’t find “Heaven’s Prisoners” in an unabridged audio format, so I may have to break down and borrow the physical book from the library :)

    I am impatiently waiting for “End of Watch” from Stephen King. I’m very fond of the Bill Hodges character, and worry for his character due to the title of the book.

    Needless to say, along with my Audible membership, I’m rolling in audio books! I picked up a few on eBay, too, and hope to resell them for a few dollars locally.

    BTW – Love the book suggestions on the weekend open thread! Hope this stays as a regular feature.

    1. MsChanandlerBong*

      “The Lovely Bones” is *so* sad. I just caught up on the Women’s Murder Club series (my library has the ebooks, so I got to read them for free), and it’s still pretty good even after 15 books.

      1. AnotherFed*

        If you liked Lovely Bones, try the Dogs of Babel. It’s a totally different situation, but the atmosphere is similar – if you were just waiting for someone to piece together Susie’s murder, you’ll probably be hooked by the wife’s death in Dogs of Babel.

  32. GOG11*

    I have an etiquette/communication dilemma. I am essentially allergic to people (everything from cigarette smoke to laundry detergent to hair spray, etc. can cause serious problems with my asthma) and, up until now, I’ve just tried to avoid people, which is difficult logistically and in terms of how I actually want to live my life.

    Most of my close friends don’t cause any problems for me, but if I go to a party or go for a run with a new group of people, I’m terrified that someone is going to be wearing something that will make me very ill. For example, if I go on a run with someone new and they’re wearing something I’m allergic to, is there a non-rude way to say “sorry, I know we agreed to do this thing, and I know everything was fine and good to go until a moment ago, but never mind have a nice day?”

    In my mind, it seems unreasonable to ask people to refrain from wearing a list of things, but I really don’t want to be locked away in my house all the time since it’s the only place I can control what I’m exposed to. So many resources I’ve found list all the various things I need to avoid (along with figuring things out with my doctor), but I’ve yet to find something that provides a realistic picture of how that plays out in real life and how to navigate those situations.

    Any advice or resources would be welcomed. I’ve been feeling pretty isolated lately and as though I have to choose between having a life and having decent health.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Do your close friends know about your allergies? Perhaps they can vet / warn people at small gatherings you’d be a part of?

      1. GOG11*

        They do, but I didn’t know if it was OK to ask them to do that. The closest experience I’ve had to something like that is asking if a person my friend wanted to invite to a day trip we are going on wears perfume or smokes (they don’t, thank goodness), but even that made me feel weird.

        In my experience, quite a few people either forget, don’t take it seriously, or wear something without realizing it could cause a problem, and I get super anxious about the thought of showing up somewhere and either having to stay and get sick so I don’t leave immediately or being rude by leaving immediately. I haven’t even figured out the rules of normal social interactions, much less how this factors into them.

    2. Temperance*

      I’m asthmatic, too, but not triggered as easily as you are. Cigarette smoke and certain types of perfumes really set off my allergies.

      I’m usually apologetic when I get triggered and couch it in terms of being my problem. “I’m so sorry, but I’m having a reaction to your perfume” or “I’m so sorry, my allergies are pretty bad today, I think I need to pass on the run”. I’ve never had rude reactions to my allergies except from smokers, FWIW, and definitely not all smokers or even most have been sensitive.

      1. GOG11*

        That’s really good language. Do you ever take steps to ensure you have an exit route, too? In the past, I’ve usually car pooled to stuff, but I’ve wondered if it’s best to not do that anymore so I don’t get trapped in a situation where I can’t breathe or make my friends have to leave, too. (Sorry for all the questions – there’s so much logistical stuff I’ve been trying to figure out and none of my close friends have these problems).

        1. Short and Stout*

          If looking after yourself means taking your own car, then I would say go for it and don’t feel guilty.

        2. TL -*

          Oh, take your own car but just say, “Rules of the car are no smelly stuff (smokers, perfumes, ect…)” and let people know beforehand so they can decide.

          Have your friends let people know, too – “I’m riding with GOG11 but they’ve got pretty bad asthma/allergies, so there’s a no-scent rule in the car.”

          And does doing stuff outside help?

          1. GOG11*

            Thanks, Short and Stout and TL.

            I thought doing stuff outside would, but I just recently learned the hard way that it doesn’t if I can’t get away from things quickly…and in large groups of people, it seems inevitable that there are people with stuff on everywhere. The other aspect that makes it harder is that smoking is allowed outside, and smoke can travel, so any benefit from not being in an enclosed or poorly ventilated place can sometimes be lost by allergens traveling.

    3. Mando Diao*

      The good/bad news is that group gatherings get phased out as you get older. I know we like to use the “generic dinner/casual drinks party with friends and second-hand acquaintances” as the litmus test for socializing, but I can’t say that they actually happen all that often. I like to go out and I have a pretty active social life, but 75% of my socializing is going to my friends’ houses to watch whatever show is on that night. How old are you? If you’re only now around 30, you’ll quickly get to a point where your friends have their own reasons for wanting to stay home with friends they already know.

      1. GOG11*

        I’m in my mid-20’s. I’m pretty introverted and I don’t get invited out all that much, but I do like to do things sometimes. I am glad to hear that just hanging out becomes more common as folks get older. That sounds like the ideal way to spend time!

        1. Bibliovore*

          I am pretty direct with people as perfumes, smoke (smokers), deodorant (don’t get me started about teenage boys and AXE) can all send me to the emergency room. At work since I head the department, it is a scent free zone. I am the evil sister-in-law who won’t do holidays with my husbands family at their house. (smokers) I dreaded a car trip with them and realized that I was just going to say I had to go on my own.
          I do get up and move my seat at a meeting if catch a whiff. I left an event early this week as there was too much scent going on. good luck.

          1. GOG11*

            Thank you for sharing this!!! Sometimes I feel like it’s all in my head (because no one can see it outwardly, and when it comes to prevention, not having anything come to pass it the whole point), but this makes me feel like it’s OK to just do what needs to be done rather than subject myself to pain and misery out of a fear of being impolite or socially awkward.

            1. Bibliovore*

              It is really hard to speak up. I had a situation once when all this was new to me- adult onset. My direct supervisor- despite my speaking up just didn’t get that the Right Guard that he was spraying on the outside of his clothing was triggering my asthma. He was behind me at the circa desk and I was preoccupied. Full blown asthma attack uncontrolled by my rescue inhaler. Ended up going home and taking the next two days off.

    4. Lily Evans*

      I have no advice, just empathy because allergies to perfumes and smoke are the worst. My biggest problem is when I’m sitting in bumper to bumper traffic and the person in the car in front of me is smoking and there’s no escaping it. It’s so gross and inconsiderate.

      1. GOG11*

        When someone’s smoking in the car in front of me, I have a button that tells my car to just recycle the air that’s in my car rather than bring in (what should be) fresh air from outside. If you car has a button like that, do you think that might work for you? I live in a more rural area, so there’s never traffic jams or anything, so I’m not sure how long it can last for, but it’s worked for me so far.

        1. Lily Evans*

          Maybe my car does have one, I’ll have to check since I kind of never read the manual aside from when I get warning lights for different reasons. But it’s always a bummer because I love driving with the windows down (and have weird driving anxiety on highway ramps and windows down helps for some reason). And I get stuck in traffic for at least twenty minutes every day, which stinks.

  33. Christopher Tracy*

    I mentioned this here before, but I’ll be going to the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender event in Vegas in less than two weeks, and I just finalized my activity schedule today! I’m so excited for this – I’m a burlesque historian with a pretty popular, but inactive, burlesque site, and this is my first time attending this thing. I’m even thinking of finally updating the site after my return (I’m flying out on a Wednesday and coming back on a Monday) and possibly putting my own act together (I miss performing).

    Anyway, I’ll be going to all four showcases, including the Exotic World competition, three of the afterparties, the Legends Q&A (where we’ll see the performers from the ’30s through ’60s speak), the Legends signing, and a pool party with the performers and other Weekender pass holders. Plus, I bought tickets today for three classes sponsored by BurlyCon and the Burlesque Hall of Fame Finishing School. I’ll be learning how to work a panel skirt in a performance from Dee Milo herself (she was one of the biggest burlesque stars back in the ’50s and at 81, she’s still kicking), and taking two other combo lecture/movement classes from Trina Parks (Thumper from Bond film Diamonds are Forever) and Kim Gaye (she performed with the likes of Etta James and T Bone Walker). I’m also going on the Shimmy Shuttle where they take us to the Burlesque Hall of Fame museum and then shopping at Du Barry’s Fashion, and I’ll be attending current burlesque performer Michelle L’amour’s Naked Girls reading.

    I tried not to pack my schedule too much because if I stay at the afterparties until they end around 4am, I’m going to need time to rest and recouperate, especially since this is supposed to be a vacation. Rest is kind of a requirement of such a thing I would think. But even though I’m super excited to go to this thing, my anxiety is starting to take over.

    I hate flying. Not because I’m afraid, but because it’s such a damn hassle with the security checks and layovers (I’m stopping over in Minneapolis this time both to and from Vegas). I’m flying Delta Comfort this time around (I used my company’s discount) and have no idea what to expect with this. For the price of these round trip tickets, I better be comfortable!

    1. Gene*

      Sounds like a great time, have fun.

      If you are going to be using cabs, send me an email at thenoid105 at Gmail and I’ll give you Twitter contact info for several cabbies who won’t long haul you (a massive scam in Vegas). Also, you won’t have to wait in cab lines – that can be over an hour at the airport. It’s cool to give them a tweet when you land and they pick you up while all the proles wait in line.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Oh, that would be awesome! I may only need a cab to and from the hotel (the Shimmy Shuttle is an actual shuttle that’ll take us to our destinations and then back to the hotel) upon arrival and departure – the entire event takes place at my hotel. Plus, the Strip is pretty walkable if I want to take a break from the burlesque stuff. I was going to call my hotel and ask if they had car service to take guests back and forth to the hotel since those services tend to be flat rates, but if they don’t, I’ll shoot you an email to get the cab recs.

        1. Gene*

          The Strip is an almost 2 mile walk from the Orleans, but I think the hotel has a shuttle that drops at The Linq. That’s a good central place to start. Just remember casino hotels are designed to look smaller than they are, and distances look shorter than they are in that clear desert air.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            I’ll definitely keep that in mind (plus, I have no idea what the weather will be like, so I may not want to walk in the heat anyway).

            Have you or anyone you know stayed at The Orleans recently? I’ve only been to Vegas once for a work conference, and we stayed at Ceasar’s, which I liked a lot. I’m a massive germaphobe, so I hope The Orleans is clean.

    2. Bibliovore*

      Food in the Minneapolis Airport is good. If you have a layover go to Surdyks for a sandwich- fresh and tasty.

  34. Briar*

    I read “The Heart Goes Last” just a few weeks ago! I’m pretty conflicted, too. I actually took a few day break around the middle because I couldn’t decide how much I cared about any of the characters involved. Definitely not my favorite Atwood book, but not my least favorite either.

    1. Felix*

      I read “the heart goes last” about six months ago when it was first released. I loved it until the last couple of chapters…

      Atwood is one of my favourite authors. I most like her dystopian works, and this one felt kinda similar. I’m a sucker for anything dystopian and the drama of everyday life relationships- throw in some freaky sex stuff and you’ve got me hooked (which is not something I would say at work lol) I recommended it to a good friend and she was like, “I was into it until the robots…” Lol

      I want to say more but don’t want to ruin it in case anyone hasn’t finished reading it. Maybe we should do a *spoilers* thread?!

      Alison: what parts/characters spun out for you in the middle?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think once Jocelyn and Stan are living in the same house, with all that ensues from there. At that point, it felt like it almost became a different book. And Jocelyn didn’t feel believable to me at that point either — I felt like motivation for her sexual aggression with him was never fully explained or at least believable. And then it kind of spiraled from there. The Elvis stuff didn’t help.

        That said, it kept me reading.

        1. Felix*

          Yeah the Elvis parts were my least favourite. And I agree Jocelyn was unbelievable. The relationship between Charmaine and the leader of Consilience was so creepy it kept me on the edge of my proverbial seat.

          Even when Atwood is really out there I like how she is able to surprise. I wasn’t able to predict much, if any, of the plot. The prostitute-teddy bear fixation made me sick with relief…

          It’s actually kinda amazing how much she packed into one story.

          If you like dystopian, have you read “Station Eleven?” It’s one of my all time favourites.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, she writes so well that she’s able to keep me in the story even when the plot goes haywire.

            And ha, I think I actually hoped this would be like Station Eleven when I started reading. I loved Station Eleven.

            1. Felix*

              Oh, too funny you’ve already read Station Eleven.

              I met Atwood once, it had always been a dream of mine to hear her do a reading, since she’s a writer I greatly admire. I was so awestruck, I didn’t really have the ability to form a sentence. But, I do have a really awkward photo of me grinning like a cheshire cat, and Atwood ignoring the camera to sign books…. ah memories.

          2. Ashley Dawn*

            I haven’t read this book, but between robots, prostitute teddy bears, and Elvis, I don’t know whether I’m intrigued or scared!

        2. Linda*

          I’m a big Atwood fan, and while this particular book wasn’t one of my favorites I still enjoyed it. Every one of those characters was dishonest in one way or another, but I ended up feeling sorry for Charmaine and Stan. They both learned a lot and their relationship certainly changed in the end, though.

          I actually attended a special Year of the Flood musical and reading event years ago. This was put on in select cities about a year after Year of the Flood was published. Someone had been inspired to put music to the God’s Gardeners hymns in the book, and Margaret Atwood was there to do readings. A very memorable experience.

  35. INTP*

    I had my first doctor’s appointment to check out my scary cognitive symptoms (memory issues, intense brain fog – I’m 29) plus some physical stuff. Feeling a bit lost now.

    I got bloodwork done, and technically everything (except monocytes?) is within the normal range. However, there are a lot of things right at the upper or lower ranges, and when I search, many sources (including mainstream sources, like medical orgs or the governments of other developed countries) say that the ranges are incorrect. I have all the classic symptoms of hypothyroid, but my TSH was a little above 4, which the lab says is within the normal range, yet many sources online say is indicative of hypothyroidism. My B12 is around 500, which is apparently the level at which symptoms of deficiency can start and at which they diagnose deficiency in many countries, but the lab/US minimum range begins at 200. There were also some numbers on my CBC which were at the absolute highest “normal” number, but had they been officially “high”, would have been consistent with B12-deficient anemia. D-25 was 36, which is also just above the minimum normal value (lab says 30-100 is normal) but apparently some people think levels below 50 can cause symptoms.

    At this point I’m not sure if I should push my doctor for testing of different illnesses, push her to consider that maybe I do have deficiencies or hypothyroid, or what. (I haven’t spoken to her yet since they just published the results online.) I already take B12 and D3, but I will look for some more absorbable forms (I take B12 in a pill, not sublingual), because my levels certainly aren’t too high so it can’t hurt. I know it sounds weird to have been hoping for abnormal lab results but I just want to be able to treat what is going on with me so I can get on with my life. I’m at the point where I might have to start reducing my work hours to prioritize self-care, which is a step backwards for my career (my day job is only 32 hours/week but I’ve been doing freelance work which I hope to eventually make full time).

    1. GOG11*

      If you haven’t spoken to your doctor, it’s entirely possible that she will agree that the levels, in conjunction with your symptoms, do indicate that something is going on. I would see what your doctor has to say and go from there, and if she thinks everything is hunky dory, reiterate that you are still struggling. There may be other tests that can be done or other things that can be looked into based on what these results ruled out.

      And it totally makes sense to me what you’re feeling. If you can pinpoint the cause of what’s going on, that means you might be able to address that cause, which would allow you to start managing/fixing whatever is going on. It makes total sense that you want to get to the bottom of things so you can start getting better.

    2. enough*

      Definitely keep at this. Was just talking to a woman where it took a year to get a diagnose of hypothyroid. I suspect that some doctors are too focused on checking all the boxes to remember that we are all individuals and not everything presents like a text book.

    3. PollyQ*

      First, sorry to hear you’re having difficulties — those do indeed sound scary! I would definitely discuss your lab results with your doctor. Hopefully, she’ll be able to advise you on whether low/high but still in range may be an issue for you. The other thing to bear in mind is that the lab test is a snapshot — you may be outside of a range 9 days out of 10, but at the time the test was taken, you were inside.

      As an anecdata, I had my thyroid tested as part of a panel done re: depression, and it was right at the low end of normal. My doctor put me on synthroid, and after we boosted the dose a bit, it definitely helped with the depression (this was on top of anti-depressant meds), so there’s one person’s experience.

      Good luck getting a diagnosis and treatment!

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, it’s pretty low-impact to add a small dose of Synthroid and see if a slightly lower TSH makes you feel better. But symptoms like that can also be related to depression–is that being considered too? And have they tested you on memory/cognitive issues to get a baseline to check against in future?

        1. LibbyG*

          When I was doing infertility treatments my thyroid measure (TH4?) was on the edge of normal and they gave me a small dose of Synthroid too in case it made a difference. Good luck with all this! I hope you get some solutions in place soon!

        2. Observer*

          And, hypothyroid can mimic depression.

          Which doesn’t mean that a depression screening is a bad idea. It DOES mean that in this case, synthroid and supplementation are a good starting point, and should be started regardless of whatever else INTP checks out.

    4. Anon T*

      I practically could have written this.

      I wanted to rule out deficiencies and hypothyroidism before beginning antidepressants and anxiety. Some of my symptoms subsided since starting a job (but are returning now that I’m getting any for a better job that’s full time).

      I did a little CBT, but haven’t tried any meds as I still feel something could be up with my thyroid (mostly based on fertility symptoms, but the dr said not to worry about those, that it was a normal part of getting older…which was tough to swallow at 27)

      Are you thin? I’m pretty thin, although I have significant belly fat and feel lethargic and just…softer than I used to at a similar size. One dr said I was too thin to be hypo thyroid, but I don’t really buy that.

      I was on some vitamin D for a bit but I fell off the wagon; I don’t think I noticed much of a difference with it.

      Im having a terrible brain day. I can’t wait to start work again. This two week break has been horrible. Just a constant dull headache or daze.

      1. Observer*

        “Too thin to be hypothyroid”? That’s one of the most idiotic things I have heard. Please either insist that your doctor follow up, or find a new doctor. This is sheer stupidity.

        What are your fertility symptoms? Most that I can think of are NOT a “normal” part of turning 27.

        1. INTP*

          Yes, that doctor should get some sort of award with the nurse practitioner who told me I was too fat to be tested for celiac (despite a family history of autoimmune disease and the fact that gluten gives me mouth sores, runny poops, and makes my allergies worse).

          1. Observer*

            I forgot that you had mentioned this.

            It’s hard to believe that you don’t have autoimmune issues. So, you want to deal with that. It also means that your thyroid is almost certainly out of kilter, as these things tend to cluster. (Probably because they share related mechanisms.)

    5. nep*

      I’ve also heard that many see a level of 30 for D as low, and minimum should be around 50. How much are you taking daily?

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Yeah, my lab flags anything below 30 as low. Mine was 11 when I got it tested the first time. Now I take 3,000 IU daily.

    6. TootsNYC*

      celiac gives people brain fog.

      I’d suggest pressuring her to do some broad testing for all sorts of thing–to not do this one little thing at a time.

      1. INTP*

        Fun story, I don’t know if I have celiac because my last doctor said I was too fat to be tested. (Well, technically she just said that celiacs can’t absorb their food and scanned me up and down and said “You don’t look you you have trouble absorbing your food” rather than saying “fat” literally…but the implication was clear.) Which I know isn’t true, but insurance won’t pay for tests I order myself.

        At this point I haven’t had gluten in over a year, so I don’t think my current issues are celiac, though there is a strong possibility that I have that too given a family history of autoimmune disease and the fact that I definitely have some sort of immune and digestive reaction to gluten.

        1. TL -*

          Your doctor is an idiot; I’m sorry.

          How gluten-free are you? I don’t mean to be intrusive, but gluten is very, very sneaky and it can be hard to pinpoint if it’s all the way out of your diet.

    7. StillHealing*

      Consider seeing a Naturopathic Doctor. With some of the levels you wrote above would be considered hypothyroidism and possibly adrenal issues. N.D. look at levels a little differently. Years ago, I experienced going to an MD who said “your levels are fine” and going home in tears because I felt like shit. I waited until I had extreme fatigue and saw a ND who treated both my thyroid and adrenals. It helped me feel MUCH better. There was a family history of thyroid issues which I told both doctors. A friend of mine complained of the same symptoms for a very long time and her doctors kept telling her “your levels look fine”. This particular friend lost her mother to thyroid cancer. I suggested again and again that my friend see a ND and finally after a decade, she finally saw one. Her insurance is picky so she wasn’t able to see my ND but was able to see an ND in the same building as my ND. Her ND put her on thyroid medication and she started feeling better right away! She said, “I don’t know why I waited so long! Thank you for convincing me to do it!” There are similar stories on the internet as well as books about the thyroid where people have similar experiences.

      If you don’t want to try seeing an ND then maybe see another MD to get another opinion? You can feel something is not right so don’t give up. Keep searching until you get some answers. I totally hear you when it comes to wanting something to show up in the results so you can get it treated. Oh, also, with the dizziness – did your doctor test for Hashimotos autoimmune antibodies? She might not have because she sees your thyroid levels as “within normal range”. However, it’s possible to have thyroid levels in normal range but still be diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis. With some, the levels can cause Hashimotos Encephalopathy. Both cause a slew of issues including dizziness. (My autoimmune anti bodies are non-existent now so the remedy my ND came up with “cured” me)

      1. Manderley*

        I agree that it’s a good idea to see an ND. “Regular” doctors will generally prescribe Synthroid and for many people (me included), a whole thyroid supplement, like Armour*, is much better. I had half of my thyroid removed in my early twenties because of a cancer scare and take supplements daily. I get the symptoms you describe if I miss doses. There’s a website called Stop the Thyroid Madness that has some good information about thyroid and also about adrenal support. It’s not organized well, but I learned a lot from it.

        *Armour is made from pig or cow thyroid. Just FYI in case you are avoiding those.

      2. Mike C.*

        I’d really be wary of a naturopath (they come in many flavors, several of which aren’t even regulated in the United States). Those folks rely on a great deal of pseudoscientific practices like homeopathy and acupuncture. Getting a second opinion from an actual doctor is much better advice.

      3. INTP*

        The trouble is that naturopathic medicine doesn’t really exist where I live, and the few that do exist, do not accept any insurance. (Even most of the “holistic” MDs don’t take insurance and operate sketchy operations giving weight loss injections and such.) I’d be open to an online ND but I am not sure if they would have the license to prescribe medications, or if my insurance would pay, but I’ll look into that.

        1. Observer*

          Find a decent MD, and work with a naturopath on the nutritional supports you need. Nutrition is generally not covered by insurance anyway, but it’s worth the expense because it can make a HUGE difference.

        2. TL -*

          I would suggest seeing an endocrinologist instead. They’d be better able to advise you if you have a more complicated hypo case.
          And a gastroenterologist, if you can. They’re much more likely to run a blood test for the Celiac’s gene and then advise you on what to do next (gluten challenge/endoscope or nutritionist, for instance.)

    8. Short and Stout*

      My deep commiserations for the brain fog. I had a terrible time last year with dyslexia + what was eventually diagnosed as anaemia. It was absolutely awful not being able to work properly or look after myselfat home, as I’d get home and go straight to bed and sleep through the weekends.

      I still wasn’t feeling great at the start of this year; even though I wasn’t anaemic anymore, my ferritin (a measure of stored iron) hadn’t gone up from the bottom end of normal (22 to 25, normal apparently starts at 18 but goes up to something like 150) … There’s some evidence to suggest that women with ferritin levels below 50 experience fatigue symptoms similar to those of anaemia. I suspect I am one.

      So yeah, I agree with everyone who says keep going with your doctor or get a new one if possible as being at the bottom end of what’s considered normal doesn’t sound normal for you.

      Best of luck.

    9. Saro*

      You should go to an endocrinologist. I had the same issue as you but the GP kept saying my TSH was normal. I can’t remember the number now but it was a 3, I think. When I went to an endocrinologist, he said that it was definitely hypothyroid and if you have symptoms and your number is above 1, you should be treated. I feel much better now!

      1. Observer*

        Just make sure that you see one that does lots of thyroid work. There is a surprising amount of sub-specialization, and it can lead to mis-diagnosis.

    10. Observer*

      Your lab is SERIOUSLY out of date. Even in the past, that level was considered something to watch for, and a problem if there were symptoms. As it happens, the norms generally used today are 2 -2.5, with the MOST conservative being 4. If you are over 4, you need to treat this as a thyroid issue.

      Please DO push your doctor and / or find a new doctor / specialist. Have your doctor check for thyroid antibodies. Also, it may be worth looking at autoimmune issues. Hashimotos Thyroiditis (one of the most common forms of thyroid issues in the US) is an autoimmune disease, and even if you don’t have it, thyroid issues tend to be autoimmune in nature. In addition, B12 deficiency is often not about intake of b12 – and in your case that’s clearly the case, as you are taking a supplement, which should have raised you well above the “floor”.

      1. StillHealing*

        I’m glad you weighed in on the outdated lab levels and her TSH being a little over 4. It alarmed me as well. We try to keep mine below 2.5. I feel best when it’s just under 2, to be honest.

        IMHO, thyroid levels shouldn’t be treated based on a range of what is considered “normal” but on how a person is feeling and presenting symptom-wise. My ND received his degree at Bastyr which is considered the best institution for receiving natural medicine education.

        1. TL -*

          “IMHO, thyroid levels shouldn’t be treated based on a range of what is considered “normal” but on how a person is feeling and presenting symptom-wise.”
          …hyperthyroidism is a much more dangerous condition than hypothyroidism, so there’s a fair amount of risk in treating without consideration to whether or not you’re in the normal ranges. I would not advise that.

    11. MaggiePi*

      I am completely symptomatic if my tsh is much off from 1, higher or lower. My endo says the “normal range” is junk and should be much much smaller, maybe 0.7 to about 2.

      1. MaggiePi*

        And I definitely get brain fog when my levels are wrong. Before I git diagnosed I thought I was getting alzhiemers at 26 because I was forgetting words all the time. It was really frustrating and disconcerting. All better with meds!

    12. Linda*

      I’m so glad others have pointed out that a TSH of 4 is NOT considered normal according to the most recent standards.

      While I wasn’t as young as you, I had these same problems several years ago: low D, low B-12, and a TSH that was all over the map (sometimes too high, other times “normal”). I had brain fog, intense fatigue, and joint pain (especially in my feet; walking was so painful.) You’re on the right path, now you just need to be persistent with your do or find one that is better informed and more likely to work with you. You may also want some labs done to make sure you’re not producing antibodies that would clearly point to autoimmune causes for low B12 and thyroid.

      It ended up that I did not have any autoimmune issues, but it took over a year of regular B12 injections to get my levels back to a stable level, plus being treated for hypothyroid (I take Armour like another commenter; some people need the additional T3 and there are no tests to measure how well your cells are converting/using T4). I think you can follow the hyperlink on my name to my blog to get more info on my experience if that is any help to you. (Just search thyroid.)

      Hang in there and keep being a great advocate for yourself!

  36. Allison Mary*

    Not a question, just venting excitement. :)

    So I’ve been with my current primary partner (we’re non-monogamous/poly) for four years, as of last week. For most of that time, it’s just been the two of us, even though we’ve been poly-in-principle (PIP?) the whole time. This has been for a variety of reasons, mainly me being in school for the last three years. We had some swinger-esque adventures in the first year of our relationship, and my partner has another partner whom he only sees once every 6-8 weeks or so, but mostly it’s just been the two of us. I always said, though, that once I was free from the stress of school, I really wanted to branch out and date a little.

    Well, I managed to stay true to my word! I had an OkCupid first date last Sunday which was by far the most successful OKC date I’ve ever had (usually I wind up face to face with the person who looked great on paper and realize I feel no chemistry with them). It was fan-freaking-tastic – I was totally taken with him, and he seemed to feel the same way. We saw each other again yesterday and had a similarly awesome time – and now my heart rate keeps intermittently spiking whenever I think about him throughout the day.

    The best part of this in my opinion, is having the support of my primary partner, who is just tickled beyond belief that I’ve stumbled onto someone I’m genuinely attracted to and excited about, other than himself (this is only the third time in four years that I’ve felt such attraction for someone other than my primary partner). It’s soooo great to have someone who not only totally understands but is genuinely excited for me. Plus, as an added bonus (and this is one of the biggest reasons I think I will always be non-monogamous in some form), the introduction of someone new into either my life or my partner’s life seems to spike our own chemistry and attraction/energy/appreciation for each other.

  37. Tris Prior*

    It is finally nice out and I’m having a great time working in the garden and getting all the tomatoes and peppers in.

    I wish this could be my life – growing things, canning things, baking things – instead of being a cubicle jockey 40 plus hours per week. I have this fantasy of running off and joining a hippie commune, except that’s not Boyfriend’s jam.

    1. Rebecca*

      Ugh, the sorrows of being a cubicle jockey :( I looked longingly outside yesterday. It was a gorgeous day, but I was stuck inside during most of it. Of course the weekend is cold and rainy, but oh wait, starting on Monday, warm, and sunny, and in the 70’s and 80’s all week! I know I have to make a living, but I hate it when this happens.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My dream is to pickle full-time (and ferment), so I feel you. Silly boyfriend!

    3. Sibley*

      Go take a look at mrmoneymustache.com

      There’s other blogs as well, but I like that one.

  38. Mimmy*

    Alison – I just noticed the page for reporting ad or technical issues…is that new?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! I’m going to ask people to use that to report any ad problems from now on rather than posting about them in the comments; I think it’s a better process and it asks all the questions that I’ll need to troubleshoot. There’s also a form to report typos on that page!

  39. MsChanandlerBong*

    Renting really makes you question why some people do the things they do. I went to open my window last week, only to find that the landlord had painted it shut. We live in a one-story house; if the living room caught fire at night, the bedroom window is the only means of escape. What would possess someone to paint it shut?!

    Anyway, we had the handyman pry it open, so my husband was able to put in the A/C unit we just bought. I tried using the swamp cooler (we just moved to the southwest from the northeast), but it smelled so musty that I had a sinus headache within 20 minutes of turning it on. I’ll never be able to tolerate it all summer. I also ordered some under-bed storage containers, and now I’m going out to look for a wicker basket for our towels and washcloths. When we moved, money was extremely tight, so we’re just now able to purchase a few things for the house. It’s fun!

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Existing. The handyman changed out the pads when he got it ready for summer, so I don’t know what’s up. But I can’t tolerate it. I ran it for a short time and had itchy, watery eyes for two days, not to mention the sinus headache.

    1. Nina*

      I’m guessing he didn’t paint it shut on purpose? Still, what a PITA. Careless stuff like that doesn’t surprise me with landlords.

      Mine installed new windows last year (yay!) but the bedroom windows only open halfway, with the screen exposed. The other half doesn’t open at all, so if I have to escape the building (eg. a fire), I would have to either cut open the screen, or throw something to break the glass on the other half, in order to get out the window. Supposedly these are energy saving windows.

    2. Mander*

      It’s amazing the kinds of things you find when you get a new place.

      When we bought our house we knew there was some kind of structural issue with the back door, but it wasn’t until we got the bricklayer in to repair it that we found out that when the original door was replaced with a door plus a window they didn’t replace the support lintel, so half of the wall above the door was being supported by little bits of plaster board jammed into the crack. No wonder the wall was starting to sag! That was only the worst of several issues with the place that just made me shake my head.

      When we moved into our current place I found that the previous tenant had apparently spilled something in one of the cabinets, but rather than cleaning it up they covered it with sheets of wallpaper turned upside down. It took me several hours to clean that mess up.

    3. Panda Bandit*

      I hope that you never need to use this information, but if there ever is a fire, go ahead and break the window glass. Either the firefighters or the fire itself will end up breaking the glass anyway.

  40. Newish Reader*

    I’ve read The Heart Goes Last! I thought that the premise had a lot of potential. I really enjoyed the beginning, but I was disappointed in the direction the author took later on. I was entertained throughout the book, though.

  41. Amber Rose*

    Silly Cat Story Corner:

    When Neff was a kitten, I’d sit on the couch and he’d walk up my arm and sit on my chest. So I’d watch TV or read with him tucked under my chin. He weighed just under 2 pounds. He’s a big ol’ tom now though. Closer to 13 pounds, he struggles with the idea that he can’t do that anymore. I get the saddest look when I push him off my chest and onto my lap and then gasp for air. Then he goes to his room and sulks.

    So I have to make time to lay down and let him sleep with his head on my chest. It makes him happy and I just can’t help spoiling him.

    1. GOG11*

      My first dog was a rottweiler (I got her when I was a small child, and I was always small for my age) and, despite my mom telling me not to, I let her be a lap puppy…which turned into her being a lap dog. Since then I’ve tried (and thoroughly failed) to be better about not letting kittens or puppies do anything that wouldn’t still be OK when they’re cats or dogs. One of my cats, who I’ve had since he was a kitten, likes to sleep in/on and groom my hair, which was not painful when he was not 12-13 pounds…

    2. AnotherFed*

      I know exactly the look you mean! When we got the last puppy, she was pretty small (~30lbs) and loved snuggles, so I got in the habit of letting her sit next to me and sleep with her head on my arm or lap. Now she’s ~75lbs, and when she puts her head down on your arm, you’re pinned by the weight and the puppy dog stare. Don’t even ask how many emails she’s turned into ‘lkm,lkjklk enter send’ by dropping her head onto a laptop computer – the only thing allowed in laps is apparently her head!

    3. catsAreCool*

      Can you turn on your side so that he’s still cuddled next to you? That doesn’t always work for me though.

  42. Christy*

    A group of friends and I are looking to rent a cabin-type thing for a few days in winterish, in VA/MD/PA. Does anyone have any suggestions? There are either going to be 6 of us or 9 of us, depending on if spouses/significant others are invited. It’s a mixed-sex group: 2 guys and four girls. If there were no significant others, I think we’d share rooms but not beds.

    I’d love any location suggestions!

    1. Lizabeth*

      Wintergreen resort outside of Charlottesville, VA? Love the area, parents retired there.

      1. TR*

        Check out the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. They have cabins all over that area. You need to be a member to rent some of the cabins, but membership is inexpensive. Some cabins are primitive, and others are modern (and lovely). Prices are very good, and many have multiple rooms.

        I have stayed in a couple near Shenandoah National Park, which is great.

    2. Jerry Vandesic*

      James River State Park in VA is great. I’ve stayed several time and it’s very nice. Small cabins will sleep 6, but one bed is a double (could have one sleep on the couch). They do have a couple larger cabins that would certainly handle 9.

  43. StillHealing*

    I’ll be heading out of town for a wedding in a week. I’m managing my PTSD very well and haven’t been triggered in nearly a year – last time was when I saw ex for the last time before he abandoned my son and I and moved back east to live with his affair partner. I’m fairly sure I’m going to be fine and manage anything that comes my way.

    I don’t expect to run into anyone from my FOO whom I’ve been No Contact with for a very long time so I don’t expect anything will trigger my PTSD while I’m back there. Yet, I found out someone from High School who is connected to my abusive family had been invited but then had a family issue come up so won’t be attending. That threw me a bit because it was the first I had heard of and now I’m starting to contemplate inquiring who else has been invited ?

    I still fear those who bullied me in High School or have connections to my abusive family. I don’t know if it’s rational fear or not. I feel a strong need to be “prepared”. Has anyone been in this situation? Have you ever asked, “who else will be there?”

    The venues are far enough away from any of my family and where we all went to high school. Yet some of our mutual friends have befriended people who were bullies to us in high school. One of the reasons I quit Facebook twice and then forever was due to a high school bully stalking me on Facebook. We were in our 40’s at the time and you’d think the bully would have learned to leave me alone but they became obsessed with what I was doing and who I was friending. They inserted themselves into conversations and relationships as if to pick up where the reign of terror left off.

    I will still attend the wedding because I love my friend dearly and though it’s a second wedding, for each, the couple is so completely meant for each other. I want to be there and celebrate this day with them.

    1. Mando Diao*

      Your mileage may vary (I don’t have PTSD), but I’ve found that high school bullying doesn’t automatically kick back in as adults if you won’t let it. They might not like you, but that’s their problem, and lots of people dislike lots of other people so remember that you’ve dealt with it before. Show up and be shimmeringly grown-up and enjoy the food. Leave an hour into the reception if you want to.

      It’s rough. Everyone has these feelings to some degree, so you don’t need to feel like this has anything to do with you being weak or having a particular diagnosis. Tell yourself that this is normal, because it is. You’re not weird.

      1. StillHealing*

        Thank you. That is helpful.

        Anxiety overtook me this afternoon so I sent a text to my bff who will be in attendance. She said other than our close group of friends, only one other classmate from our graduating class will be there. So, I won’t need to stress anymore about running in to someone who might trigger my PTSD. I’ll be as to enjoy the wedding and reception.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It sounds like this will go well for you. My setting is no where near what you have on your plate, but with stuff like this I break it into sections. For example, I decide to go to the wedding and see how that goes. If the wedding goes well THEN I decide to continue on to the reception. Yeah, not exactly Gracious Guest, I know. But sometimes we have to inch our way through things. I will say, that using this inching method I do manage to go through the whole thing. It’s one thing if others EXPECT us to do something, but if we pen ourselves in that can be a whole new level of upset. So I don’t always pen myself into something, rather I just promise myself that I can go one step at a time and consider the next step as it comes up. It is enough relief so I can enjoy the day better.

          1. StillHealing*

            Thank you. I really like your inch plan. That is so true about others expectations. It’s so important to be able to say no, set boundaries, some and go freely.

    2. one day at a time*

      PTSD symptoms come up when least expected. Stressors can pile up. Be there for your friends, be there for yourself.
      First things first- have a meal plan- don’t get to hungry or tired. Take protein snacks- prepared cheese, protein bars, nuts and dried fruit are all good.
      If you have an anti anxiety medication, have it in an accessible container easily findable in your carryon or purse.- I have found just having it around is a comfort.
      Locate a safe place or ally. Big gatherings are emotional and exciting but can trigger.
      I am a “go to the bathroom” “sit in a stairwell” “take a walk and make a phone call” person.

      1. StillHealing*

        I haven’t needed to take any daytime meds for nearly a year and yesterday I was triggered. Completely unexpected. Didn’t even have any medications on me (changed bags and forgot to move my container over) so it was a good wake-up call to remember to have them with me. Thank you for writing those reminders. If I’m overtired, not eating well etc. it can set the stage for being triggered if I get over-stimulated or something unexpected or jarring happens. I need to spend some time preparing myself for sure.

  44. Nina*

    Anyone have experience with birds?

    My mother has started feeding the local robins that fly by our balcony plain Cheerios. I read that they’re ok to give to birds, just not that nutritious. I suspect they’re taking them back to their nests as well. Anyway, she’s just been tossing the cereal outside on the balcony during the day, and a little while later, the robins come swooping down to claim them. At first it was just a few, now there’s nearly a dozen birds that show up throughout the day.

    Unfortunately, they’ve also started leaving their droppings EVERYWHERE on the balcony, particularly the railing. The sun bakes it into the iron, so I had a difficult time cleaning it off. I know my mother likes feeding these birds, but is there a way to discourage them from pooping all over our balcony? It’s not raining much anymore, so it just sits there, and it’s not like I can hose it down, us being on the third floor and all.

    1. Hattie McDoogal*

      My husband likes to feed crows and we’re in the same situation — third floor apartment, bird poop everywhere. I don’t know that there’s a way to discourage pooping (I’m not sure birds can control their bowels in the same way that mammals can), but I will say that for the crows, over time they’ve started pooping on the railing a lot less. Some of them like to sit and chill there, and mostly when they have to relieve themselves they turn and stick their butts out and do it over the edge. For a while my husband would “punish” them for pooping by placing their treats right next to/in the shit but I don’t know that that actually taught the crows anything (and usually just resulted in the treat being left there until a seagull, who was apparently far less squeamish, came by and ate it).

    2. Seuuze*

      Robins typically eat worms and berries, although they obviously adapt to other food besides that like nuts and oats. I looked online and cereal if it is whole grain is okay, but putting out water with it is best because it can turn to a gluey glop without water. Robins don’t really need supplemental food this time of year. And as their brood grows, they need to be showing them how to get worms and berries when there is no easy food around. To reduce the pooping on the balcony, there are some very high quality bird equipment magazines that sell flat feeders that you can probably suspend from the balcony. But then, if the cereal gets wet in some inclement weather, you will have a mess. And you will have to make sure that the feeder won’t get blown down and land on someone’s head or car, or…. Birds like to poop and if you feed them, then you get the poop with that.

    3. I swear this works*

      Due to a pigeon infestation some years ago, I was able to find this product: go to the pet store, and in the bird section you’ll find something called “Poop-Off.” It’s for cleaning cages, but it worked great on my balcony. It’s a little squeeze bottle with a scrub brush on the end, and it was amazing.

    4. Mags*

      Be aware that if your on the third floor, the apartments below you are also receiving the “benefit” of birds having eaten. This is happening at my apartment and it is completely ruining my ability to enjoy my porch since it’s also covered in droppings. Maybe you could encourage her to go to a park and feed birds if she wants to? Otherwise not only will you have a mess, but complaints may be made to your buildings management.

    5. Nina*

      Thanks for the replies, everyone. FWIW, I think my mother is going to taper off of feeding them so much, since she doesn’t want to be bothered with a feeder or putting out water. I still might invest in that “poop off” stuff if the balcony is still a mess.

      And very good point about the neighbors below. I got yelled at once for watering my plants because some water dripped on a tenant’s head who lived on the first floor. The joys of apartment living.

  45. Mallory Janis Ian*

    Final update on my attempt to have our women’s group transgender members included in a women’s festival that the group wanted to attend.

    I went to the festival last weekend and loved it. I had typed up a petition for transgender inclusion, and I took it with me, but I didn’t end up posting it. One of the women who has been going for years and is more a member of the festival’s community than I am ended up not being able to go, so it was just me, my nineteen-year-old daughter, and one other straight woman. As my first time attending the festival and getting to know people, I didn’t feel like a petition was the way to go. So I just went to the festival’s business meeting and spoke up in person instead. They had an opportunity for people to add items to the agenda right there on the spot, so I raised my hand and told about our transgender members who had wanted to attend, and the moderators put me on the agenda. They said that all agenda items would be aired and discussed, but that no decisions would be made on the spot; all decisions would be considered by the festival board over the upcoming year before the next festival.

    My agenda item wasn’t even the most contentious discussion on the floor; it fell somewhere between a discussion of the festival endorsing Black Lives Matter and a discussion of who the hell is in charge of the kitchen (and who can or can’t come traipsing through, driving everyone else crazy) for that honor. Reactions from other attendees ranged from wanting to include trans women immediately to not wanting “any penises within a mile of here”. I got an education about the lesbian separatist women’s views on the matter. It was about 50/50 between those who do and don’t want to allow trans women. I felt like I did what I could, and now the decision is with the women whose festival it really is, I guess. I’ll still go back next year, and I’ll still continue to say that I want them included.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Good for you! Sounds like you took some great steps toward your cause and that is awesome!

    2. Chaordic One*

      I’m glad you did this and I hope you are not too discouraged by how things turned out this time. Your plan to go back next year and lobby again is a good one. Hopefully, you’ll have more support next time. Sometimes things like this take time and you have to be the persistent steady drip, drip, drip that wears down the resistance.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Thanks! I’m not discouraged. I feel pretty good about how I handled it, even though I didn’t get immediate results. I had a lot of women approach me afterward to talk, probably because I worked a shift washing dishes in the kitchen for about two hours during one meal service, so I was there and approachable. Every one, even those who had very different views, spoke eloquently and frankly about their experiences that led them to their views. I appreciated the openness that they shared with me, and I just did a lot of listening and learning.

    1. Gene*

      Best – Made it through my and my wife’s 60th birthdays without too much drama.

      Worst – Friend’s cancer relapse (see above)

    2. Christopher Tracy*

      Best: Finalizing my trip to Vegas for the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekender event.

      Worst: My mom finally went to the doctor about her throat issues (not being able to swallow), and she hasn’t told me or my brother the results of her test, which sends my brain into overdrive imagining every horrible scenario under the sun. I pray that she’s okay, but given our family’s medical history, she may not be. And she probably wouldn’t say anything if she was seriously ill because she’s like that.

    3. Overeducated*

      Best: a perfect Saturday today. Library book sale in the morning, baking, a walk in the woods with the family in the afternoon…and the anticipation of more such days to come, since for the first summer in 3 years I will not be working Saturdays!

      Worst: nothing too bad. Maybe I’ll have a week without a worst. The bittersweet feeling of enjoying a home we will soon leave, I guess.

        1. edj3*

          Ugh. We’ve had that happen twice with one of ours. Do you have a water fountain for your kitty? That helps encourage water drinking. And we add canned pumpkin to the small amount of canned food they get each day–it’s more water plus fiber which helps move things along, and that helps things stay unclogged.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Why does stuff like that always happen on the weekend!? When Psycho Kitty got hurt, it was on Thursday, but of course I couldn’t catch her until Saturday because she kept running off. :P I feel you on the vet bill.

    4. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: Lunch today and a full moon kayak float tonight with a couple of women from my women’s group that I think are really cool. I’ve been wanting to hang out with them outside of organized group events for a while, and I really enjoyed their company. Lunch was just them and me, and then I introduced my husband to them at the full moon float, and everyone seemed to hit it off really well.

      Worst: I can’t think of a worst. It’s been a good week.

    5. ginger ale for all*

      Best – I got the latest Julia Quinn book and there is a new Jane Austen based movie out in the theaters called Love and Friendship.

      Worst – I have a friend who is getting into a ponzi type of business. I told him to investigate further before getting more involved but ultimately, he is an adult and he is in charge of his own choices. I need to step back and stop worrying.

      1. Kerry ( like the county in Ireland)*

        Love & Friendship is awesome. It is a perfect little bonbon movie, and so wickedly funny.

    6. Elkay*

      Best: Car made it through MOT
      Worst: I’m on antibiotics and I’m annoyed they’re not an instant fix
      Second worst: The car will need a fair amount of work over the next year

    7. Rubyrose*

      Best – finding out, via a major data calamity caused by an inexperience coworker, that other people that I respect agree with me that my manager is not doing a good job in guiding and educating the less experienced workers. She likes hiring them, just does not handle them.

      Worst – manual changes of about 250 enrollment, thanks to the inexperienced coworker.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: Had a very fun Cards Against Humanity meetup with my nerd group last night. I got twelve black cards–better than I’ve ever done! I kept drawing very rude white ones for a while, LOL, and I think that helped. That’s my favorite game ever. :)

      Taking six days off upcoming. Not going anywhere, but having six days off will be nice.

      WORST: Not going anywhere and have no plans at all for my birthday next Saturday. I am very very very very tired of spending my birthday (and every goddamn other weekend ever!) alone. But it’s always on or near this holiday weekend, and everyone is always out of town. Making plans to do something does not help because again, always alone. ALL friends have kids and are too busy. Or they live thousands of miles away.

      To top it off, this week I’m missing yet another festival /concert in Europe this week at which all my friends there are attending! >:(

    9. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Best: Next month/travel with the bf.
      Annoying: coworkers who ask me when I’m getting engaged/married. Including a coworker who’s currently engaged.
      Also annoying: a guy at church who does nothing but watch tv/no job/no school, and the moment he gets engaged the church is so proud of him despite the fact he mooches off everyone. And here I am working hard and all I have to show for it are an overprotective mother, some savings, still a couple more years of waiting SIGH. >X(
      And worst: headache and rain everywhere=feeling icky and down…I need a solar lamp :/

    10. Mimmy*

      Best: I am FINALLY seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with his craptastic class of mine – I just started the final research paper. This is a “best” because we get to pick the topics for the final paper, and I know it’ll be a lot more doable than the case brief I’m finishing up this weekend.

      Annoying: Said case brief (analyze three instead of one case) is due tomorrow and our professor has yet to put up the submission link :/ (he’d taken down the old link because he revised the due date but has yet to put up a new one).

      Worst: Thankfully nothing too horrible except that we can’t seem to keep nice weather for more than a day at a time. It’s been either rainy or chilly. Hello, it is almost JUNE for pete’s sake!!!

    11. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Good weekend with my sweet husband.

      WORST: Feeling so wrung out. I seriously just need a good three-day weekend away from everyone and everything.

    12. Lindsay J*

      Best: Boyfriend’s interview in Chicago went well. Now we play the waiting game.

      We won pub trivia and got a $50 gift certificate to the bar, so our next two weeks of food/drinks during trivia are basically free.

      One of the local pawn shops had a really good deal on a convertible laptop tablet (one of the Lenovo Yogas) so I grabbed it. I’ve been wanting a laptop like this for quite awhile but they’ve been too expensive for me to justify.

      Worst: Went to the dentist for my root canal appointment, and they lost the appointment. They were able to reschedule me for later in the day. But they only did the root canal, not the fillings (they said they would likely do them at the same time) and now I don’t know when they are going to do the fillings. Also, they let the bleach pool in my mouth during the procedure and it burnt the crap out of my mouth. The root canal itself didn’t hurt but I’m still feeling the effects of the bleach 3 days later. Have to go back for them to construct the crown on the tooth this Thursday and I’ll get clarity on when they’re going to do the cavities then, but I’m kind of disappointed they weren’t able to knock it out all at once. I would consider switching dentists because of the bleach thing, and because this is the second appointment of mine that they have lost somehow, but they let me do a payment plan for this dental work and they do payment plans for braces as well which is a big plus for me.

  46. Oryx*

    I broke my ankle and have been working from home all week (so grateful to have a job where that’s an option). I decided to use this opportunity to also rewatch LOST from the beginning — I am pretty sure I haven’t seen it since it went off the air and it’s been so fun. Since I’ve already seen it, it makes for good background noise since I don’t have to be super focused on the show but it’s also one of those things where I pick up things in the earlier seasons that come back later that I never noticed before.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I brought up Lost in a conversation a few days ago. It was after the other guy referred to a Motorola RAZR. :-) Sounds like good background noise to me. Good luck with your healing!

      1. Oryx*

        Haha, yes! The RAZR! I remember the first time they showed that clip with Jack and the internet freaked out.

    2. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I binge-watched Lost back when we first got Netflix, just a couple of years ago. There is also something called Chronological Lost, google it and you’ll find a website where you can watch everything that happened in chronological order. Like, beginning when the pregnant woman washes up onshore. It’s really really interesting!

      1. Oryx*

        I was reading something about that! Super fascinating. Sounded like the way to watch Doctor Who where you watch certain episodes to see Eleven and River in chronological order.

  47. Phryne Fisher*

    Any Netflix suggestions? I enjoy watching detective procedurals (not sure if that’s the proper name) and have already completed Sherlock, Law&Order SVU, Miss Fisher, and White Collar.

    1. Oryx*

      Broadchurch! The original version, with David Tennant (it was remade here in the states, I can’t remember if they changed the name or not)

        1. Oryx*

          That’s it, thank you. I tried watching it but it was just TOO close to Broadchurch, I couldn’t get into it.

    2. Mando Diao*

      The Good Wife was a glamorous mess during its last two seasons, but the underlying legal cases were always pretty interesting.

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      I finished Blue Bloods a couple weeks ago. About a family of cops (well one sister is a lawyer). I enjoyed it!

    4. Jillociraptor*

      Bones? It’s not exactly high art, but it is a fun, funny show with some surprisingly haunting villains. You might also like House.

    5. Caledonia*

      Line of Duty*
      Broadchurch* but be warned the 2nd series detoriates into a bit of a mess


      I also watch alot of subtitled drama, The Bridge(Swedish/Danish) – There was a US remake, I’ve forgotten its name, Borgen (Danish political drama), Spiral (French crime drama)

          1. Caledonia*

            Ah, thanks stephanie & enough – I was getting confused with the UK/French version – that one is called The Tunnel (but I’ve not seen it – it’s on my ‘to watch list’)

            Another vote for Elementary. I prefer it over the Cucumberpatch version.

    6. Caledonia*

      Oh, I got some more – all US.

      The Closer (& its ‘thank y’all so much’ catchphrase and its spin off Major Crimes
      Also, Murder in the First (with Taye Diggs and a kick ass female lead). Think they are all from an american cable network, TNT.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Forgot about The Closer until you mentioned it. It was good.

        I enjoyed Without a Trace when it was on; now I might find it dated.

    7. SophieChotek*

      CSI: NY (Netflix)

      Flashpoint (Canadian, Hostage negotiators)

      Criminal Minds (Netflix)

      The Fall (BBC? Gillian Anderson)

      Bletchley Cirlce (2 Seasons, post-WW2 Britain, BBC)

    8. Sunflower*

      I have tried to finish ALIAS at least 4 times in my life and was SO HYPED to find it on Netflix. It’s so amazing.

    9. Cruciatus*

      If you like Sherlock and the other shows you mentioned you may also like Elementary. They are different enough that there is room for them both. I like both takes, though obviously Elementary is more serialized. But hey, more episodes and you don’t have to wait nearly 2 years between seasons! Other suggestions already listed that I also liked are: The Closer/Major Crimes, Broadchurch, and Bletchley Circle (women come together after working as code breakers during the war (and couldn’t tell anyone, even husbands) to solve crimes in their city.) Sad that the latter was cancelled after 2 seasons though.

      And the flip side: people you like smartly conning those that deserve it: Leverage or Hustle (UK show).

    10. NYC Redhead*

      Luther- not sure if it is on Netflix. It’s on PBS here, and maybe BBC America.

    11. Owl*

      a) I’m currently on the 12th Phryne Fisher book (it’s like the 5th I’ve read in a row in the space of three weeks) so I love your username (I also like the tv series)

      b) My fiance just introduced me to Leverage. It’s a lot of fun and quite funny. The whole series is on Netflix. Bones is my favorite TV show (also detective/procedural), and like the Miss Fisher series it definitely follows the same line of a heartfelt procedural that is quirky and cute. I also suggest the Agatha Christie adaptations, which are hit or miss if you’re a fan of the books (usually a miss), but they’re always fun (also the books). But also the Poirots are set about a decade after Miss Fisher, so that’s fun (if you ignore the books).

      c) Not on Netflix: Warehouse 13 (Netflix only has season 3, which is great but the end of the season is a cliffhanger) and Homicide (yes, the 90’s show, because it is amazing to see where all the current tv shows get how they do a character-driven story with a detective/procedural structure from).

      1. Cruciatus*

        Ooh, yes, iZombie is great. Don’t be thrown by the title! It actually is a police procedural but, well, with zombies. The main character is one but hides it from the detective she works with to solve crimes.

    12. Stevenz*

      Wallender, Midsomer Murders, Inspector Lewis if you can find it. It’s my all time favorite series, up there with the Inspector Lynley Mysteries.

    13. Lily Evans*

      If you’re willing to watch something with subtitles that’s kind of on the creepy side, I’ve been really enjoying The Returned (the French version. The English one was pretty good too, but there’s only one season and it got cancelled.)

      The mini-series Top of the Lake is really good too. And I’m not sure if the show In Plain Sight is still on Netflix, but I used to love that one. And if you like White Collar you might also like Burn Notice, which was one of my favorites back when it was airing and I’m pretty sure it’s on Netflix because I rewatched it last year!

      1. Lily Evans*

        Also How to Get Away With Murder! It can definitely be over the top with the plot, but I can’t stop watching it. So if you can just ignore how far-fetched it is, it’s enjoyable. If you want something more in line with reality, you probably won’t like it. I like all of the plot twists even though it sometimes feels like a soap opera, but that’s the same reason my mom didn’t like it.

        Sense8 is another divisive show. Everyone I know who’s watched it either loves it or hated it. There are definitely some procedural elements, but it has a lot going on. I loved it.

        And, this may sound like a weird suggestion, but Jane the Virgin actually has some procedural drama elements. Half the plot is mystery-based. I’ve found it really fun to watch.

        1. Lily Evans*

          Suspension of disbelief. That’s what you need for those three shows. I could not for the life of me think of the phrase as I was typing that response.


    Anyone diagnosed with ADD/ADHD as an adult?

    I recently asked my doctor for an evaluation. It was hard to do because I don’t think anything is “wrong” with me but at the same time, something definitely isn’t right either!!

    I think whatever this is has always been present, even as a child, but as I very bright and did very well on tests in school that I was often just labeled as bored and not challenged enough. I wouldn’t remember to do assignments, or even that I wrote down an assignment to remember for later. I was notorious for never doing homework or studying on the bus on my way to school once someone mentioned we had a test that day (I almost always aced tests though) so I think it went unnoticed.

    As an adult — I can get lost in something that interests me (like, for example, spending hours reading sites like Askamanager.com, lol, when I actually sat down to work on a project) but completely forget about pressing tasks at hand, or flit from project to project, idea to idea. Even when I TELL myself to focus, I still sit down and… don’t focus.

    I am a master procrastinator too. Sometimes I say I like working under pressure and getting it all done down to the wire, but who really likes being that stressed all the time??

    I am a self employed freelancer so this makes this all the more tough on me and easy for me to fall into bad habits. I often forget what I was just doing… putting a pot on the stove to boil and wandering away and doing something else and only being alerted by smoke detectors etc.

    I’ll sit down to work only to decide that cleaning the house or doing laundry or painting the living room or rearranging the furniture in my bedroom is more important. Which I will then start working on, but then decide to do my hair or walk the dog..

    the list is endless. I try different things to get myself in line. Try writing things down… but then I forget that I am trying that method. Tried keeping a paper agenda/planner, again forgetting I was trying this method (this never worked in school either)

    Even when I worked a traditional job these issues plagued me. Often going unnoticed though because I am bright and talented and could cover for myself easily.

    People blame being a creative on this flightiness but I really think something else is at play.

    I can often remember details of conversations after having JUST had them, but then if prompted will recall things. It bothers me, and scares me sometimes.

    If you have or were diagnosed with ADD/ADHD as an adult especially, does any of this sound familiar (I could go on and on but for the sake of brevity, ha, I’ll conclude here) and did medication help?? I’m not too keen on starting meds, but something has to give. I am in my early 30’s and I don’t want to continue on like this. I really think it is impeding my success. I have business plans for a few new ventures that I can’t wrangle because I’m always all over the place and can’t narrow down my focus.

    I’m blessed that I am doing okay with my current line of work, but sometimes I really feel I could be doing SO MUCH BETTER if I could only focus.

    Am I on the right path with asking for an ADD eval in anyones opinion who has experienced it? Any tips?? advice??


    1. ADULT ADD/ADHD??*

      can’t* remember details of a conversation –

      – also I lose things I just had in my hand ALL the time. Forget where I put stuff, or where I have designated stuff to go. I’ll rearrange an entire dresser or closet and then forget the next week that I have started storing my tank tops in this drawer now instead, and then be stressed out that I can’t find any tank tops…

      the examples are endless!!!

      1. MommaCat*

        Well, the way I deal with forgetting where I’ve put my clothes is by almost never rearranging them, lol. Keeping to a basic pattern has helped me immensely; the less I have to think about things like clothes, the more brainpower I have to think about the more pressing things.

        I have to label my tool bins; would labeling help you after you reorganize? Just painter’s tape or sticky notes while you figure out if your new system works.

      2. Lindsay J*

        I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and a lot of these things describe me or are things I do.

    2. BRR*

      I wasn’t diagnosed with add until college. A lot sounds familiar to me although grades started to suffer the older I got. The inability to study really hit me in college. I wish I was diagnosed earlier. Medication has helped. Stimulate meds might have more noticeable effects but there are also nonstimulate meds. I’m on a combination of intuniv and vyvannse and i can now get my work done for easier. Let me know if you have any further questions.

    3. GOG11*

      I was diagnosed as an adult with ADHD, and this sounds very familiar. ADHD and ADD, while many think just mean you can’t focus, are (at least in my experience) about difficulty managing focus, whether that means not being able to focus on something no matter how much you want to or getting hyperfocused on things that interest or stimulate you. I went on meds and it has made a MASSIVE difference. Instead of using stress to drive me to focus and get things done, I get all that freak out/deadline pressure via a pill, which is much easier on me mentally and physically than stressing out all the time. I had sort of a breakdown in college, which led to my diagnosis (along with a handful of other conditions), so I can’t speak to that aspect of getting diagnosed (and definitely don’t recommend that route), but I can say that having a diagnosis, learning to cope with my struggles, and receiving medication has changed my life for the better.

      Happy to answer any questions you may have. Hope this helps.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Instead of using stress to drive me to focus and get things done, I get all that freak out/deadline pressure via a pill, which is much easier on me mentally and physically than stressing out all the time.

        If you’re able to (or feel comfortable doing so) could you explain this in a little bit more detail?

        I didn’t have the most awesome family growing up — many people do not. I have had issues with depression and I’m not sure if that’s situational or inherited/biochemical. I went on Prozac a year ago because I kind of felt like something was coming and I thought that maybe it would help. It did and it didn’t. The burn-out that I had been trying to avoid did finally happen, but the Prozac did not help that. The part that the Prozac did help was that I can’t really cycle down any more the way I used to. There are days when I think to myself “I feel like I need a really good cry” but I just can’t do it. I have to really work myself up in order to get to a point where I can cry by thinking about truly horrible things (such as how I’m going to feel when I have to put one of my pets down, waaaaay in the future and how that’s going to devastate me to be without them) and then it doesn’t last for very long. Which is kind of a good thing, because instead of focusing on feeling bad, I’ve been able to focus more on *why* I feel bad, what is making me feel bad/sad/overwhelmed instead of just getting caught up in it and riding that wave. In a way, it’s kind of like being a buoy out at sea, now I have something that tethers me to the sea bottom instead of being just tossed about by the wind and waves wherever.

        Anyway, because of all of that, I’ve been looking at my career/life in a different way and what I have accomplished and what I haven’t. I’ve been wondering for a few months now if I’ve got some form of ADD because many people’s stories about it, have been kind of a “oh, you mean that’s not normal/the way everyone else does things?” kind of thing for me as I’ve recognised myself in them. I’ve beaten myself up about a lot of stuff over the years and I can now see how it’s become a vicious circle. I haven’t done X, so I feel Y (bad/sad/incapable/immature/whatever), but then I feel tired/overwhelmed/depressed/defeated about X+Y, so I decide to do Z which makes me ignore/feel better/forget temporarily/whatever about X. But then later I see that X is still Not Done, and then… etc. Round and round it goes. Which is why I wonder if my depression is situational and I create it via this not-so-merry-go-round.

        Even in my career, there are things that I know I should do but I just can’t or haven’t. My work is very deadline driven and it has occurred to me that I really need that external deadline holding my feet to the fire. Even then, I often procrastinate until almost the last minute — I always have, even in school. Other people’s deadlines are more important than my own — I give myself far too much slack/permission to goof off. I am getting better in that instead of just going outside to do weeding, I’ll listen to an audiobook at the same time so that my brain is being stimulated/rewarded. Or at least I think that’s how it works because I find I am better at wanting to do tasks like that when I listen to books at the same time and don’t mind the task so much.

        So I’m curious about how these stimulant medications give you that kick in the pants because I feel that that’s what I need and have been unable to do for myself. I have been saying for a few weeks now that I should book an appointment with my doctor to get assessed but I’ve been… wait for it… putting it off. I guess this week I should really make a point of doing it.

        1. GOG11*

          Of course. When I was diagnosed, I was having really bad anxiety problems. Leading up to an assignment in college, I’d try and try to work on it and I just couldn’t. My brain wouldn’t quit flipping channels long enough for me to get any substantive work done. I’d freak out about not being able to get the work done more and more as the deadline drew nearer and, eventually, the adrenaline and whatever other hormones released when I’d freak out acted as a stimulant which finally allowed me to focus and get things done. Rinse and repeat until I was so exhausted, frayed and frazzled I started to have major issues. It just wasn’t sustainable. But I was able to find the right stimulant and dose and now I have very little anxiety about getting things done, and I perform at a high level at work (I’ve gotten highest review rating on all my evaluations). It’s been such a game changer for me.

          Also, in reading your comment, I wonder if some of what you’re doing is a kind of fixation, which is something I’ve been told is a common thing among those with ADHD by a counselor I saw for a bit. It’s one of the most frustrating things about it for me.

          1. Lily Evans*

            Wow, that is exactly how I spent my entire college career. I think I might have to ask my therapist about that. Like, it would be almost physically painful for me to sit and get stuff done if it wasn’t due the next day (or some other really close deadline).

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            Thank you, that was interesting. That whole not being able to physically work on something until the 11th hour… yeah. That. I’ve pulled some all-nighters because I underestimated how long something was going to take and how much time there actually was and just started too late (which is then something else to beat myself up over). I’m trying harder to not do that.

            I don’t really get fixated on things, it’s more that I know my house is a mess, hell I’m looking at it right now. But I just don’t feel like cleaning it (granted, many people are like this). But there isn’t any real urgency to clean it, because company is not coming over (for example). So I don’t bother. I’ll work or derp around on the computer or watch TV or have a nap and then, it’s time to go to bed and I didn’t clean anything. So next morning, I see the mess and… wash, rinse, repeat. I know I feel better when things are tidy and clean but without that pressure of *company!*… meh. I can’t get the energy/focus/goal/determination/whatever to deal with it once and for all, rip off that bandaid. Just thinking about how much there is to do makes me tired. And I’ve heard all that “break it down into small pieces” advice but when I do that, I can’t stop the small pieces, I feel them in connection to each other. Maybe that’s what I have to try, changing the thought from I can’t move that without, this and that has to be done for there to be space for that and just move the box. Only the box. That one box. I dunno. I’ve sometimes wished I had legal speed because if I had all kinds of energy, I would be bursting out of my skin to do something instead of just running it through my brain. :P

            1. GOG11*

              I sort of feel like other people have a fire starter and I don’t. Once the activity is initiated, I can ride the momentum and do high quality work, but certain things are just so hard to get the spark to get the fire started. My fire is normal, or possibly even brighter and bigger than some, but I’ve got no flint or lighter to get going. I just feverishly run about until I blow up and then I’m cooking (hope that makes sense). Once I get going, it’s hard to keep the fire small or put it out so I just go until I burn out. Meds help with this, but I can’t afford as much as I need, so I am not on medication at home as much as I am at work.

              It doesn’t seem like this is the case for you, but I have such a weird relationship with cleaning. If the house is a mess, I can’t just let it go. I think it’s because to my ADHD brain (and I’ve been told this is common) “out of sight is out of mind” and, therefore, if something’s in sight, it’s because I am trying not to forget to deal with it, meaning that things in sight that aren’t the way they should be ARE things to be done. In sight = do the thing. So my house is essentially yelling at me to clean it all the time.

        2. TL -*

          You sound similar (but not identical to) my roommate, who has very classic female-presenting ADD. (Which can be very different from how it presents in males, apparently.) And who was diagnosed as an adult.
          Especially the “I’ve beaten myself up about a lot of stuff over the years and I can now see how it’s become a vicious circle. I haven’t done X, so I feel Y (bad/sad/incapable/immature/whatever), but then I feel tired/overwhelmed/depressed/defeated about X+Y, so I decide to do Z which makes me ignore/feel better/forget temporarily/whatever about X. But then later I see that X is still Not Done, and then… etc. Round and round it goes.”

          Medication/therapy/and her own general awesomeness about problem-solving helped a lot with that (mind you, the general awesomeness came into play after the diagnosis/medication but it was always there, just hard to focus.) The meds also helped a lot with racing thoughts she’s had for a really long time that weren’t pleasant for her.

          As for the meds – sometimes medications are a *good* thing. I totally understand not wanting to take them unnecessarily, but I can’t function nearly as well as I want to without my Synthroid and my roommate feels the same way about her ADD meds – they get her to a level where she can function and work on the things she needs to work on.

      2. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, I almost feel like hyperfocus is the more difficult thing for me to manage than the lack of focus. Time doesn’t seem to actually flow normally when I’m in hyperfocus; I can spend like 8 hours on the internet and it feels like it’s nothing.

        I also fixate on things sometimes, even if they’re inconsequential. Like I will believe I need to find my fitbit before I start cleaning, and just won’t be able to clean until I find it.

    4. Moonpie*

      My husband was diagnosed maybe 5-6 years ago and this sounds so much like what he’s experienced. I’d look at it this way – an evaluation is just that, and then you are free to decide what to do with the information. In my husband’s case, medication is definitely necessary, but it was only this year that he found the right one for him (and the right medical professional). It has vastly improved his focus, like the ability to follow through on “Hey, I should write this stuff down”, and to be honest it’s resolved/explained a lot of communication issues over the years. Best wishes!

    5. Emily*

      I am not a healthcare professional, but the symptoms you describe sound like they could be caused by ADHD. I think that it makes sense for you to get checked out (along with other medical issues that can cause similar symptoms, if you suspect you could be affected by any of those).

      I don’t have any personal stories to share (I’ve been thinking about getting tested for ADHD because of similar symptoms, but haven’t actually done it yet), but you might be able to find stories/tips/advice on the ADHD subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/ADHD/

  49. Ruffingit*


    I’m obsessed with My Favorite Murder, and Sword and Scale. Loving both. How about you?

    1. Caledonia*

      The West Wing Weekly co hosted by Joshua Malina, with occasional guest spots from other Westwingers (Dule Hill was on a few episodes ago)

      The Gilmore Guys (except I’ve not got around to it yet!)

      1. Elkay*

        The Gilmore Guys started out ok but once episodes starting hitting 3 hours I gave up.

    2. Lizabeth*

      Car Talk repodcasts – they slay me
      Wait, wait don’t tell me – snort coffee on a regular basis
      The Splendid Table
      American Test Kitchen
      Death, Sex and Money
      Prairie Home Companion

    3. overeducated*

      Stuff Your Mom Never Told You
      Longest Shortest Time
      The Moth
      Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m digging:
      2 Dope Queens
      Hidden Messages
      Mystery Show

      1. Stephanie*

        I love Two Dope Queens. I told myself I’m not allowed to listen to it at my desk, as I end up laughing out loud too much and looking nuts.

    5. Elkay*

      Adam Buxton – they’re not released regularly but there’s 19 so far, just him talking to people.

    6. Jillociraptor*

      The classics – Radiolab, This American Life, Stuff you Should Know

      Seconding 2 Dope Queens and West Wing Weekly

      Also love My Brother My Brother and Me, and Reply All.

      Hidden Brain feels hit or miss to me but lots of good hits!

    7. Nye*

      99% Invisible
      Pop Culture Happy Hour
      Planet Money
      Snap Judgement
      The Memory Palace
      The Moth
      Reply All
      Surprisingly Awesome
      The Gist
      Futility Closet
      Pop Style Opinion Fest
      No Such Thing As A Fish
      Judge John Hodgeman
      More or Less: Behind the Stats

      Plus a few others I listen to less regularly, or which are newer and I haven’t made up my mind on yet. I have a long commute.

    8. First Initial dot Last Name*

      99% Invisible
      Aural Regions
      Fugitive Waves with The Kitchen Sisters
      KCRW’s UnFictional
      Bad at Sports (art nerd stuff)
      Popaganda (Bitch magazine)
      Scene on Radio
      Strangers (I love this podcast so much)
      Stuff you Missed in History Class
      The Broad Experience
      The Heart (a bit naughty)
      This American Life

    9. V Dubs*

      I just started listening to Local Mouthful and I love it! It’s about food and food prep, mostly home-based and seasonal. I love all the Philly references too!

    10. NDR*

      The Black Tapes
      Missing Maura Murray (I have a love-hate relationship with this – case is interesting; the hosts can be annoying)
      Alice Isn’t Dead (narrated by Jasika Nicole from Fringe)
      The Truth
      Mystery Show
      The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe

    11. Stella*

      You have a ton of recommendations already but I have to throw my hat in the ring:
      The Black Tapes Podcast
      Welcome To Night Vale
      Serial (season one at least; I couldn’t get into season two)
      The Thrilling Adventure Hour
      The Animation Addicts Podcast

      Ones that have been on my radar with lots of praise from my friends, but I haven’t check out myself yet:
      We’re Alive
      The Message
      The Truth

      And here’s another list I found with titles I want to check out: http://welcometonightblogging.tumblr.com/post/139663806216/the-podcast-list

  50. The Other Dawn*

    Calling all gardeners!

    I have to decide whether I want to continue with the garden I have, which was planted by the previous home owner, or dig it all up and start fresh. The reason I’m thinking about starting fresh is because it has so much grass in it and although I can weed and mulch, it just comes back again the next year; it’s quite overwhelming for someone who has never gardened. There are also a bunch of trees sprouting, which are a pain to remove, and a ton of wild garlic, which just won’t go away and it spreads.

    I’m thinking if I dig it up, I can re-do it properly: spread some Preen, lay down a weed blocker, plan it out better, and mulch over it. It should cut down on maintenance in the coming years. I hesitate, though, because I really like the established plants that are there: daffodils, a few tulips, lots of poppies, lemon thyme, phlox, hens and chicks, and some other perennials. I really don’t want to lose them.

    So, my questions are: Can I dig them up and replant? Would that shock them into dying? Should I just suck it up and weed the current each year? Any tips you’d like to share? Opinions?

    This is what it looks like now (last year’s pic but looks the same now): http://itjustdawned.blogspot.com/2015/05/more-mystery-plants.html#.V0D-oJErKUk

    It’s actually more overgrown now and I’m feeling really overwhelmed. Just looking at it makes me want to head for the couch; I don’t have someone helping me like I did last year. My husband could help, but he already does enough yard work.

    This is what it looked like last year after my niece worked her ass off to help me weed and mulch. By the way, thanks for the tips people gave me last year about what kinds of plants I had growing in the garden.

    1. SAHM*

      Wow! That’s a lot of yard. Most bulbs (i.e. The tulips, daffodils, etc) will be fine digging up and replanting elsewhere, you’ll need to look up when the exact time frame to do this would be (probably fall/winter) but people replant bulbs all the time. I’ve heard phlox is pretty hardy as well as poppies, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble replanting them. I don’t recognize hens and chicks but I would bet I’m not in your Zone anyway.
      You have a LOT of space, you could definitely have some fun with it, have you created a Pinterest board for your garden yet?

    2. Clever Name*

      Don’t do weed blocker! It disassociates the soil from getting nutrients from decaying organic matter. It compacts and basically kills the soil. The grass is because you don’t have proper edging. It propagates by runners. Metal edging is pretty easy to install, if a bit time consuming.

      If you just want to make the garden yours and start over, by all means, but I encourage you to skip the weed barrier and use simple mulch on its own. Also, it’s a bitch to add new plants when you’ve installed weed barrier. You have to cut a hole in it, and it discourages plants you plant from spreading on their own.

      1. Clever Name*

        Oh, and my last flower bed was infested with bindweed, and after 3 years of pulling weeds, the seed bank in the soil was pretty much depleted, and my mulched flower bed was pretty much maintenance free. I went from pulling weeds multiple times a week to going a good weeding twice a year.

      2. SAHM*

        Oh that’s good to know! I used weed barrier and laid down tanbark (mulch) recently in my new dog run. I was mostly just trying to avoid weeding in the future, since it’s the dog run, now I know not to use it on the rest of the yard! Thanks!

    3. edj3*

      I am in the same spot–previous owner (and her parents before her) adored gardening and especially loved the look of an English garden, including English ivy. We have a jungle back there and are taking (baby) steps to shift to native plants. I like the look of a well tended yard but there’s no way I can stay on top of this yard–we live in Kansas, not England!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      The weeds are overwhelming for people who garden too!

      Yes, you can dig them up and replant them. Plan on losing a couple plants, if you do not lose any lucky you. It happens to experienced gardeners, as plants pretty much do as they wish.

      If I were going to do it, I would reset the bed in cooler weather, this means spring or fall. A couple of reasons for that, the heat does me in. And the heat does the plants in. If you do the reset in hotter months you will end up married to your garden hose/sprinkler system. Here we can go under conserve water notice during the hot months also- this is a huge consideration. I do resets in cooler weather.

      I am agreeing with the commenter who said not to use weed blocker, for the reasons they gave. What I am seeing here is to go deeper with your mulch. I started using 3 inches of mulch and that just does not cut it. Go at least four inches deep with mulch.

      Money saver: If you can borrow a wood chipper, you can prune trees around your property, chip the branches and use them for mulch. If you are not familiar with wood chippers, they are not hard to learn how to work with. Just feed the branches in slowly at first so you get the idea of how the machine works.

      Watering, of course, is the number one thing when you reset all your plants. The next most important thing, in my opinion, is putting the plant back into place at the SAME level it was at when you dug it up. Things that are planted too deep will not bloom- that is a general rule of thumb. Like everything else, there are exceptions. Aim to plant things at the same depth you took them out of when you started. This means taking enough of the root ball out of the ground so you can see where ground level is. Then when you put it back into the soil, do not mound fresh soil up around the trunk/stems of the plants. I hope this makes sense the way I am describing it.

      I do have a method for resetting beds.
      1) I decide how much I will tackle at once. Sometimes I have a couple of free days and that allows me to do a larger area. Other times I realize that I can only do a section of the bed at a time.

      2) I salvage all the plants that are good. I either put them in buckets of water, which is helpful because I am less apt to lose them in the grass, or if they are large I line them up under a sprinkler/soaker hose while they wait for me. Plants pulled out of their beds do not enjoy roasting in the sunlight. One time I knew it would be a while before I could replant my 100 hostas, so I moved them to a shady area under a tree. This added to the amount of work necessary for the project because my cart only let me held 10-15 plants each trip. The hostas were huge. It was time consuming to move them to shade. But they all made the transfer very well, so it was worth the effort.

      3) So what is left now is just the garbage. You might find a few bulbs or a small plant that you missed. so keeping a bucket handy to throw these things into is a good idea.
      I take all the weeds and unidentified roots to my compost pile.

      4) I like to rake it out and straighten up the empty area. Then I add cow manure, 5-10-5 and some rock dust (greensand). I turn that into the soil, then rake it all out flat.

      5)I bring the plants back and place them where I would like them. This is the design part of the job. It’s the thinking/creative part. It’s also the part where I cannot stop, because the roots are exposed and they have no water. Once the plants are placed, it is just a straight shot at plugging them into the ground. Then I can set the sprinkler on the bed.

      6) I try to get that mulch on there within a few days of doing the reset.

      I have helped friends redo their established beds this way and we got good results. I think that setting the plants in position first allowed us to see how it would look in the end and we could tweak the bed until we really liked the configuration.

      For weed control we talked about letting the plants grow closer together before dividing them. It’s a fine line, because you have to keep them off of each other so air can circulate. But letting the plants get big does help with keeping weeds down.

      We also talked about the fact that beds seem to get tired and periodic resets seem to be necessary to freshen the look of the bed. This led me to thinking about the plants as I started the reset. If you know you do not like a look of a plant or you know that a particular type plant requires a lot of work, you may want to consider getting rid of it rather than putting it back into the fresh bed. You can give these plants away, sell them or compost them. I compost the ones I do not care about. My excessive amount of hostas got given away, I just could not make myself compost them.

      I have gotten so I like simpler bed designs. They are easier to maintain for one thing and if you have a larger lot the simpler displays can be quite stunning from the road. It’s a lot of eye appeal for less work.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Hostas…yes, they can get quite large and heavy! I had some at the old house and I gave three to my sister. She divided them and got triple the amount of plants out of them. I love that they grow so large and they’re pretty much maintenance-free. One question: I just bought two pots of them, which are going in my shady front yard. It appears as though there are 4 to 5 stalks in each pot. Is it safe to divide them before planting? I didn’t want to spend a ton of money, since hostas are quite hardy and can be divided. I’m OK with waiting a few years for them to do their thing.

        Oh, and rosemary and basil: can those go in the garden in full sun? The tag shows full sun, but doesn’t say much else about them. I already have a ton of lemon thyme, so I’m thinking of having a mini herb garden within the main garden.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Dividing hosta, the safe answer when in doubt is “no, wait”. However, you could get it out of the pot and discover a large root ball. It might be okay. I use a root saw most of the time. But hosta are tough to split. If it looks like it will not split evenly or near evenly for you, then no, I’d wait for it to get a bit larger.

          Rosemary and basil do not winter over here, so you might want to listen to people who know your area. I have put them in partially sunny areas and they have been okay for my purposes. I would think they would be okay in full sun, if watered regularly.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks for the tips, everyone!

      If I had to guess, I’d say the garden area is probably 12×12 or 15×15; I haven’t measured yet. It’s divided up by rocks, so the main area is big and the others are small, and it’s kind of random, which I like.

      My house was built in 1735, so I want something that contains flowers that likely would have been around at the time and a garden that doesn’t look overly manicured. I have a ton of shasta daisies and purple cone flowers I started from seeds, and I’m thinking I will put some of them in there towards the back. I may add hostas behind the rock wall, since the garden itself bakes in the sun all day. (I love hostas because it’s the one plant I’ve never been able to kill and it requires no maintenance.) I want some rose bushes, too.

      As for the actual placement of plants, I’m stumped. I’m normally very good at visualizing, but when it comes to putting together colors and design elements, whether it’s in the house or out, I just glaze over.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Design elements. I work on a basic level so this is not a high level explanation.

        I start with color. I limit myself to pinks, blues, purples and whites because if I did not do this every plant I see would come home with me. Don’t let color bog you down too much, they are flowers. It’s not like paint that you have to live with daily forever. I do like the idea of setting limits on color/size because it helps me to keep things under control, not just the budget.

        Height. When you buy something have an idea of where your are going to put it. That ten foot shrub may not be a good idea in front of the picture window. Currently I would like a relatively small flowering tree for my front yard. It took me quite a while to see that a big tree is just not going to work there because of lot drainage and other concerns. Some answers take a while of living on the property to see what makes sense.
        In a flower bed, the first thing I figure out is how many sides will the garden be viewed from? It looks like yours can be viewed from three or all four sides. (I realize it’s more round than square so am just saying “sides” loosely. ) I would put the taller stuff in the center of the bed, and put the smallest stuff as a border. Medium size stuff can go in the in between the large stuff and the border stuff.
        It’s a pretty simple design idea, but it works.
        For along fences or foundations, you can put the taller stuff back against the fence or foundation and put the shorter stuff in front. Simple works and you don’t have to have a thousand different plants all over, I think it’s easier if you don’t. I took my hostas and put some here and some over there and even more in a third place. It’s like a little theme that adds continuity, makes sense visually. It was also cheap-cheap to do.

        Textures, leaf colors. I have gotten more into the texture and leaf colors as I have gone along. This is not an instant thing. The lamb’s ears is a nice color/texture plant to contrast another type of plant. For example if you have a bunch of plants with dark green leaves, the lamb’s ears can look really sharp because it contrasts the dark green leaves and is interesting visually. Variegated hostas are also a good contrast. I have some under my lilac bush and I get compliments on that one.

        Shamelessly steal ideas. As you go about your day, notice the houses you are driving by. See what appeals to you that you could copy. Growing up, an old house in my neighborhood had a long narrow sidewalk to the front door. They planted hostas along the walk. It looked great. So I did that here. Other people copied me! lol.
        If you see a picture you like in a book or magazine, you can bring it to a nursery and they will help you figure out what all those plants are.

  51. LisaLee*

    Anybody have a good mystery or thriller to recommend? I haven’t read mysteries in quite awhile but I’m getting back into them. I’ve found that I’m not particularly a fan of a couple of the big names–Tami Hoag and Laura Lippman in particular I bounced off–but I’ve been getting into the Department Q novels by Jussi Adler-Olsen and I liked The Short Drop by Matthew Fitzsimmons. I definitely tend more towards the high-stakes thriller side of things than the cozies, but I also don’t like a ton of gore.

    1. Graciosa*

      I think our tastes aren’t really well aligned here, but I’ll give it a shot because I can’t bear the thought of someone not having anything to read!

      J.D. Robb’s In Death series – Naked In Death is the first, and probably closer to being a high stakes thriller than some of the later ones, which became slightly more formulaic although this is somewhat offset by the enjoyment of now-familiar characters. These can be a bit steamy (the author also writes romances as Nora Roberts), albeit only briefly.

      Hover by Anne Wilson – A competent mystery thriller in which the protagonist is a female helicopter pilot in the military (written by the same). I had a few issues with some of the protagonist’s behavior, but it was still different and interesting and it has a nice climatic high stakes battle at the end.

      You might also think about going back to the classics – John Le Carre, Tom Clancy, Ian Fleming.

      My personal tastes in mysteries tend toward cozies and humor, so that’s probably the best I can do in anything close to a thriller. I still adore re-reading Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries, or Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series, but I don’t think I could fairly describe them as thrillers.

      I hope you get lots of great recommendations –

    2. ginger ale for all*

      I am a huge fan of Charles Todd and Elizabeth George. They have book series so check out their websites to see which books are first and perhaps you can try a test chapter first to see if you want to invest more time.

      1. UnCertain*

        Ditto for Charles Todd.
        Also Jacqueline Winspear, Rennie Airths (River of Darkness), and Barbara Cleverly (Leticia Talbot mystery) are all about the same era

    3. Caledonia*

      I think the gore is a YMMV thing – I don’t think the books I’m going to recommend are gory but you never know, just because I didn’t notice doesn’t mean that’s the case…

      Kathy Reich’s Tempe Brennan novels
      Peter Swanson’s books (the last one was based on strangers on a train)
      Elizabeth Haynes (she has a series and standalones)
      M.R Hall’s The Coroner series
      Harry Bingham’s Fiona Griffiths’ series
      Belinda Bauer

      More Scandi (based on Department Q – I’ve read those too!):
      Camilla Lackberg
      Mons Kallentoft
      Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
      Mari Jungstedt

      1. Lily Evans*

        Tana French is one of my all time favorites. I’m pretty sure I’ve re-read The Likeness at least once a year since high school, it’s one of those books that just really resonated with me and I swear I notice something new every time I read it.

    4. Mags*

      I recommend Keigo Higashino’s mysteries- the Midsummers equation is third but I think it’s probably my favorite mystery in a few years and the series doesn’t need to be read in order.

    5. Maya Elena*

      If you like high-stakes, then a classic – “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie may be the thing for you. She has quite a few other excellent ones, but they’re more on the “cozy” side.

    6. Not Karen*

      Defending Jacob by William Landay – a legal thriller about a DA whose teenage son is accused of murdering his classmate

    7. Lore*

      Chris Pavone has three books–The Travelers is the most recent; The Expats is also really good, but I didn’t like the middle one as much (The Accident). They’re loosely spy novels but more straight up thriller than global intrigue. Karin Slaughter is getting a little too gory lately but she’s written a lot of books so there may be plenty that suit you. Linwood Barclay also might work–thrillers that arise from domestic situations.

    8. Confused Publisher*

      After months of ignoring them, I found myself gravitating towards JK Rowling’s (writing as Robert Galbraith) mystery series centred on a detective called Cormoran Strike. I’m most of the way through the 2nd book in the series (I think there are 3 so far).
      Also, further up the thread, I found a recommendation for Jacqueline Winspear: I remember recommending detective Maisie Dobbs to Alison during a different book recommendation discussion a few weeks ago as something even non-mystery readers would enjoy.

    9. Vancouver Reader*

      I think it was the gold digger who recommended her friend Jeff Abbott’s books here, and I really enjoy them. Jeffrey Deaver is one of my favourite authors, although reading The Skin Collector right now, and while he doesn’t go into details about the murders, I’m still a little creeped out.

      Harlan Coben has great thrillers, his Myron Bolitar series are fun in that he loves wordplays, and Myron’s best friend is so opposite of good two shoes Myron, their interactions are a great part of his books. Plus he always has wonderful twists at the end of his stories.

      If you don’t mind YA books, the Sammy Keyes series by Wendelin Van Draanen are really well written and definitely no gore.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I love the Sammy Keyes series. I hadn’t thought of them in quite some time.

  52. Sparkles for Dayzzz*

    Hey so I’ve been obsessed with this site for months but haven’t ever posted on an open thread. I’d love some feedback on an issue I’m having if y’all are up for it.

    So the significant other and I met in law school; we’ve been together over 3.5 years now and both graduated about a year ago. We both took and passed the state bar the first time and have been officially licensed attorneys since November. I’ve been working consistently since September – mostly full time work until I was laid off a few months back and have been working several part time jobs for a while now (some legal, some not). Boyfriend is still living in his parents’ basement and has yet to find a job – hasn’t even worked a temp job since December. He doesn’t want to move in with me or get engaged until he finds a job, but he hasn’t tried taking any non-legal positions and hasn’t really been putting the time in that I think he should to network with people and really get his name out there. He’s just been applying online for jobs, but frankly he doesn’t really have the credentials to get responses from that sort of cold application. He’s really shy, so there are real issues here besides laziness, but I’m getting really frustrated and fed up with the whole situation. I find it hard to respect someone who’s not working. I’ve tried to help him in so many ways – I’ve even pointed him to lots of helpful articles on this website – but there’s only so much I can do. If y’all were in my shoes, what would you do at this point? I’d really appreciate some input from anonymous strangers on the Internet.

    1. Clever Name*

      It’s late and I have a headache, so apologies for my bluntness. In your post you say he’s lazy and you don’t respect him. Why are you with him if you feel that way? You don’t have to answer me. Just think about it. Also, the only person whose actions you can control is yourself.

      1. Sparkles for Dayzzz*

        This is a good point! I would probably say the same thing from viewing this situation from the outside. But it’s not just laziness, he has some real issues with shyness, anxiety, and social awkwardness. And I understand that. And I’m a sucker for people I love.

    2. Graciosa (aka an Anonymous Stranger on the Internet)*

      First, stop trying to tell him how to handle his career. It isn’t helping his job search, and it’s damaging your relationship.

      No one wants to feel like an incompetent idiot or a child. Your telling him what he should be doing differently is going to create a weird dynamic in your relationship. He will resent the condescension inherent in the attempt (whether he says it or not) and may start rebelling against he advice he doesn’t feel inclined or equipped to follow. You, on the other hand, will start to resent not only his lack of a job, but also his refusal to do what you think he should to change that.

      You’re switching your relationship from significant others to mother and misbehaving child. Whether your want the relationship to survive or not, you shouldn’t do this.

      Second, you should seriously evaluate whether or not the relationship should survive. If you can’t make the change above, it won’t survive as a healthy relationship although there are certainly dysfunctional ones that go on for years.

      I can’t really tell you whether the relationship is worth it to you or not – you have to make that decision. But it sounds like you’re losing respect for him because of the job situation (or his inability to handle it to your satisfaction) and that’s not a good sign.

      If you want to save it, please focus on what made him special to you in the past. Cherish his good qualities, accept his idiosyncrasies, and stay out of his career issues other than as an occasional cheerleader (which is *not* the same as a coach). You need to be genuine in this or it won’t work, so if you can’t do it, that should factor into your decision about the overall future of the relationship.

      I actually don’t think there’s anything surprising or unacceptable in the length of time it is taking for him to find a job – there are people who have been out of work for years despite existing experience your SO hasn’t even acquired yet. But it’s obviously a sore point for you, and I think staying in the relationship solely because of a shared past would be a mistake – you need to respect him and choose him as your *future* partner to make this successful.

      Good luck to both of you.

      1. Sparkles for Dayzzz*

        I definitely see your point, and if he was just a friend I wouldn’t say anything because of course he’s an adult and it’s ultimately his decision. But as my significant other, my life is intertwined with his and his decisions do affect me; He’s conditioned our relationship’s ability to move forward on his finding a job. I do often feel like I’m acting like his mother and on many occasions have told him that I hate being put in this position. At this point I’ve really backed off the advice and suggestions and really only offer it when he asks.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          But as my significant other, my life is intertwined with his and his decisions do affect me

          They may affect you, but they do not define you or your goals. You’re not legally married, you don’t have any children together — which frankly is a more permanent intertwining bond to another person than a legal thing.

          He’s conditioned our relationship’s ability to move forward on his finding a job.

          But, you have a choice, too. You can choose to wait for him to get his shite together or you can choose to not to. You have just as much say in where this relationship is going as he does, he does not get to be The Final Decider.

          Let me put it this way: both of you have similar challenges with finding a job, starting your lives as adults and depression/anxiety but when the chips are down, you do whatever you