weekend free-for-all – June 4-5, 2016

Lucy and EveThis 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 Epicure’s Lament, by Kate Christensen. A darkly funny tale of a curmudgeon who lives alone in a crumbling mansion cooking himself gourmet meals and waiting for the end, and what happens when various family members arrive unbidden and disrupt his routine.

{ 868 comments… read them below }

  1. Evie*

    I’m going whine a little about wedding activities. I’m in two weddings this summer and exhausted by everything that entails. I don’t like most of the bridesmaids in the first wedding and am the MOH in the second one, but strongly dislike the bride’s mother. They are 5 weeks apart. That is 6 weekends taken up this summer by wedding things that involve people I dislike, small talk and money stress. Hopefully these are the last ones for a while.

    Any funny (or horrific) wedding party stories?

    1. Evie*

      I will say the mother of the bride is on my bad list right now because she hasn’t been nice about the wedding planning. She’s resenting me for my involvement but I just want everything for my friend that she wants and I’m annoyed she’s not getting it.

    2. Kay*

      I was a bridesmaid for a college friend’s wedding, and she gave little gift bags to all the guests with local food. I still lived in the state where we’d gone to college, but she had moved 1,000 miles away. So she shipped all the food to me. It took up 3/4 of my fridge and about a pallet’s worth of space in my (TINY) studio apartment, for weeks. I was cranky but not very capable of expressing my feelings and/or enforcing boundaries at 22. I would handle it better now.

      Bonus story! I was not in the wedding party, but part of the small, close family. I arrived at my uncle’s wedding a few years ago (a second marriage for him, so I was an adult in my mid-twenties at the time) to discover that my cousins (not his kids) and I were expected to serve as waitstaff during the reception. My parents worked alongside the caterer in the kitchen. For four hours I circulated with platters of hors d’oeuvres, refilled drinks, refreshed food stations, tidied up trash, you name it. I didn’t get anything to eat, and I was wearing strappy heels because I learned that we were serving as we left the church. I have never been more exhausted or more miserable at a wedding reception.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Please tell me no one in your family ever spoke to that uncle again. That is the worst wedding story I have heard in recent memory!

        1. Kay*

          Nope, he’s still very much a part of the family. I don’t know if my mother ever said anything to him, but the cousins were all told to not say anything to him. My uncle has always been kind of oblivious to social cues, and what I took from it mostly was a fierce determination to make sure that no one had to do anything (ANYTHING) at my own wedding.

          Bonus to the bonus: my mother’s other sibling, a sister, was in the wedding party and did not lift a finger to help any of us, but got giggly drunk on drinks her own sons were serving her, danced a lot, and still calls it one of the best weddings she’s ever been to.

          I still treasure the moment at the very end of the day when my cousins and I were flopped in a heap on the patio furniture, getting slowly and grimly drunk, when one of the guests came up and said “oh, you’ve been working so hard, you should have some fun!” and we all just gave her a blank stare.

          1. Katie F*

            I can’t believe no one ever said anything to him. That’s ridiculous.

            I would make it a point to bring that up every single time the wedding was mentioned or even thought of forever. “Oh man, (Uncle’s Name), were you guys talking abotu your wedding? I loved the wedding but that reception was just hell for four hours straight.”

          2. Katie F*

            Granted, if I’m totally honest – I wouldn’t have agreed to be waitstaff without advance notice. I’d have sat down at a table, kicked off my heels, and waited for someone to confront me about it. And made sure to sneak drinks to whatever cousins got roped into it constantly. Or at least only serve long enough to make sure each cousin got a meal break.

            1. K.*

              Yeah, I straight up would not have done this, period. If pressed, I’d simply leave. That is nonsense.

              I was part of a wedding that was very nice and they didn’t spend much to put it on, but they basically exploited everyone they knew to do so. The photographer, chef, and DJ were friends of the couple and a photographer, chef, and DJ by trade, and they no longer speak to the couple because of issues with payment, or lack thereof. They woke up guests (there was no wedding party) to do the flower arrangements very early on the morning of the wedding, without asking – just “Wake up, it’s time to do the flowers!” As my friend said when I told her about it, it’s fine to have a DIY wedding, but that means you do it YOURself. Or at least ask people to help you, don’t require it. And say thank you.

      2. Artemesia*

        years ago I arrived from a professional conference to join the family for on of my SIL’s weddings. Everyone lived all over the country (7 siblings) and we were looking forward to a sort of family reunion the night before the wedding with a chance for cousins to get to know one another and siblings to re-connect. I arrived a few hours before the rehearsal dinner to a group of serious pissed off people. While the bride and groom jaunted off to meditate the family was left under the direction of the chef to prepare a very elaborate rehearsal dinner (including shelling rock shrimp and similar labor intensive activities. So instead of relaxing and chatting everyone was pulled into kitchen work. Everyone was furious.

        As the wedding reception itself neared its end the next day, suddenly my MIL whispered — ‘if we don’t leave now, we will all be cleaning the hall and folding tables’ — and so we gathered up everyone and split — just as we heard the distant PA voice ‘Would everyone please give us a hand clearing up the hall.’ Escaped!!

        If the bride had asked everyone, so we were all prepared to be drudges, it would have been different. But tied adults with cranky kids who had traveled halfway across the country were really not happy to be put to work in the kitchen rather than sitting around and chatting.

        1. Cristina in England*

          Was your MIL the mother of the bride in this case? Good for her for the warning! Did anyone ever say anything to the couple?

          1. Artemesia*

            No it was all passive aggression. And yes the MIL was MOB but the couple were adults and her parents hated the groom (well pretty much everyone did, we were the only couple who would even agree to share a cottage with them on a later family reunion). The groom had earlier mooched on several very poor siblings of the bride (school teacher with spouse in school and beginners salary etc) and been rude and entitled about it. (e.g. eating their food, being driven on errands and then refusing to share treats they bought for themselves with their mooched upon hosts ‘those are mine’) My inlaws were well off and stingy mean spirited people so when the groom pretty much demanded money for the wedding things went downhill fast — they got no money but got us all back.

            The bride is now remarried and everyone likes Newguy a lot better.

        2. Temperance*

          That’s so amazingly rude and entitled. Good on your MIL for getting everyone out of there.

    3. DNDL*

      Oh I am so paranoid about this. I’m the bride in an upcoming October wedding. I was adamant that my bridesmaid could wear whatever they wanted in whatever shade blue they wanted, because I wanted them to either spend no money and wear something they already owned, or spend a little money and buy something they’d wear again. Then my mom insisted she wanted them to match–ugh. Ultimately, mom ended up paying for all their dresses. I’m not requiring hair or make up to be professionally done, but we are hiring a professional hair dude to do the hair for the girls that want it. They are buying their own shoes. Originally I had said wear whatever yall want, but then they decided they wanted the shoe color to match, and asked me to pick the color. I picked beige/nude and told them to please buy something they were comfortable in and would wear again since they would be spending their own money on this.

      I’m so paranoid about making this hard on them because of all the horror stories I’ve seen. I’m already asking (not requiring) that they get there in time for the bridal luncheon my fiancé’s aunt is throwing me the morning before the wedding, so that’s one full day of work everyone will have to take off for a Saturday wedding if they choose to attend. Luckily, the location of the wedding is centralized enough that they can all drive, and only a few will need a hotel room. The bachelorette party will be the night before the wedding after the rehearsal dinner, and will involve lazer tag (cheap), and board games at my parent’s house (free). Oh, and some booze (probably provided by my mom, unless someone wants something specific, then it becomes a BYOB situation). They won’t have to pay for dinner that night.

      I’m trying to not make it too rough on them. I hope none of them leave this experience with ill will.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Can I just say that laser tag and board games sounds like the best bachlorette party ever? I’m totally stealing this for my hypothetical future wedding!

        1. DNDL*

          The groom is having a bachelor party the same night with his high school friends. He has been buying boxes of magic cards whenever they go on sale. They’re going to have a magic draft. I’m trying to convince them we need to do a bride vs groom lazer tag match before we each launch into our separate games at our separate venues (parent’s houses). He says I’ll get too competitive. He’s right, of course, but still. I bet my college friends could kick his high school buddies’ collective butts.

        2. Wendy Darling*

          If I get married and have a bachelorette party we are going to an escape room and then eating ice cream.

          I just really want to go to an escape room…

      2. the gold digger*

        You are being very generous and thoughtful! Your friends will remember.

        I was in a wedding after I got out of grad school and just before I was going into the Peace Corps, i.e., I had no money.

        I paid for my flight, but my friend had someone get me from and to the airport. Her parents paid for our bridesmaid dresses and my friend and I picked them out with an eye to their being wearable again. (I never did, but that’s just because I wasn’t going to many nice Christmas parties.)

        I stayed in the hotel room with my friend the night before the wedding and then in that same room alone the night of the wedding. Her parents paid for it.

        I was so, so grateful for their generosity. Your friends will remember and 20 years later, when their elder daughter, whom you have not seen since she is a baby, is raising funds to go on a youth mission trip to Ecuador, you will happily contribute, because now you do have money.

        1. the gold digger*

          PS At the breakfast the day of the wedding, the groom’s parents (his dad threw up in the bathroom sink at their house years later and I was the one who found it) were going on and on about how lucky my friend was to be marrying their son – what a good catch he was.

          Of course he was a good catch, but my friend isn’t just chopped liver.

          After a few minutes of their bragging, I finally said, “B’s friends think that S is getting a pretty good deal, too.”

          Ha. That shut them up.

          1. Artemesia*

            Rule 1 for parents of the bride (or groom) My daughter (son) is so lucky to be marrying your wonderful son( daughter). How hard is this?

            1. BenAdminGeek*

              That was pretty much my brother’s entire wedding toast- “BenAdminGeek is marrying way up, and we’re so happy to have Mrs. BenAdminGeek join the family.” It’s not hard!

        2. Rob Lowe can't read*

          I always enjoy your comments, and I had no idea you were an RPCV! (Namibia, 09-12)

          1. the gold digger*

            Chile ’93-’95, business development! I worked with a group of indigenous women who had a store where they sold the traditional textiles they had made. I tried to make them profitable. Best job I have ever had in terms of challenge and emotional reward. (Although they never did become profitable. :( )

            RPCVs represent!

      3. BRR*

        Ugh my SIL picked out bridesmaids dresses that were unflattering and could never be worn again. I would have been seriously pissed to be a bridesmaid. I like what my best friend did and had the bridesmaids wear gray and groomsmen in gray suits with white shirts and bought them all he same tie.

        1. Meredith*

          I told my bridesmaids to wear whatever black cocktail dress and shoe combo their hearts desire. Groomsmen are wearing black suits. I will get matching corsages and ties to tie the room together.

          As an aside, I wore a really pretty dress from Rent the Runway for my brother’s wedding last October. It’s a slick service, and I recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want to buy an expensive outfit for every special occasion. Loved the dress, but unlikely that I’d wear it again. It was like $40 and plenty of plus size options. You get two sizes in the mail, so chance of one fitting is good.

          1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

            Never used RtR myself, but a girlfriend swears by it for fancy events. She has amazing style, and always looks incredible, and then surprise! She owns none of the clothing from the events haha, and just rents it. So her closet isn’t stuffed with clothes she never wears, and she gets to wear high-end designer clothing for pennies compared to the original price!

            1. Meredith*

              Yeah, my sister (who is 10000x more stylish than I) uses RtR all the time. She just recently left a job at a fancy arts institution that held a lot of fundraising galas that she helped organize and had to attend. She really liked using RtR for those events, because then she could pick up really nice garments at a reasonable price, and never had to wear the same thing twice. You can also rent jewelry and accessories on the site. I really liked my experience with them, the one time I used it.

      4. Dorth Vader*

        We played scrabble and Candy Land for my “bachelorette!!” Didn’t drink, because my new SIL was underage and not into the drinking scene. It was still a super fun night! And I did something similar with the dresses- my maids all have very different body types and I wanted them all to be comfortable and feel beautiful. They matched color and I think they all used shoes they already had. It ended up working out really well!
        Good luck with the rest of your planning!

        1. DNDL*

          Yeah, I got mom to compromise. Each maid is in a different dress they chose in the same color. Except one is wearing a suit with a vest and tie that matches the dresses because he is a man and opted out of dress shopping.

    4. Aurora Leigh*

      I was a bridesmaid for my aunt (third wedding). She had it at a winery, and to avoid being seen by the guests before the ceremony, we had to hike up a hilly gravel path — in our dresses and heels!

      Then some random people crashed the reception, a couple people fell down the stairs, oh and my gma took an extra antidepressant so she wouldn’t cry and went around telling people you could prick her with a pin, she couldn’t feel anything!

    5. LV Ladybug*

      I was a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding (he was in mine). I only knew one of the other girls, all the others were from back east and I felt so uncomfortable. I loved when both sides were able to be together (in the limo, etc.) because I knew all the guys (2 were my cousins). I had such a better time with them. I tried to let the other girls focus more on the bride since they didn’t get to see her every day, but I felt like such an outcast. I was also the only one who was married and had a kid. I hope they had fun, my brother seemed very happy. I just went along for the ride.

      1. DoDah*

        Was once a member of a wedding party where the bridezilla was actually the MOTB. Since she was footing the bill for the wedding (and the enormous ring), things were going to be run her way. It was right after college (90’s) so the $300+ bridesmaid dress + wedding gift was a fortune–plus the shower–she expected contributions for all the events she insisted on having–bachelorette party, some brunch thing–Mom Bridezilla just kept asking for more and more.

        PS the bride filed for divorce three months after the wedding…..

    6. StillHealing*

      I’m still on a *high* from attending a lovely wedding last weekend. It was an absolutely beautiful wedding and the bride and groom meant for each other. Second time around for each and no guest had to do any work! (Which was different than the first wedding for friends of the bride as some were recalling)

      Gift baskets were delivered to our hotel by the bride and groom and that was a lovely added touch.

      Two weddings so close together for you and all the responsibility you have would surely stress anyone out. Can you find someone to run interference with the mother for the one wedding. It sounds like the boy is taking over the wedding and making it hers. I feel sorry for every involved.

      1. StillHealing*

        Sorry, auto corrected the word mom using boy? That was odd. Depends on which device I’m posting from I guess. But anyway, some one needs to pull the mom off course by gushing all over her and making her the center of their undivided attention at the wedding and reception so that the actual day belongs to the bride and groom.

    7. Milton*

      A few years ago my then fiancé was a groomsman for a buddy. The fiancé of another groomsmen told me that at the rehearsal dinner the night before that the bride went level 10 control freak on the groom.

      She refused to let the groom have any alcohol because she was 3 seconds pregnant (maybe 5 weeks at the time). If she couldn’t drink, neither could he. A waitress set a beer down next to the groom that was actually for the guy sitting next to him, but the bride wasn’t having it. She yelled and humiliated him in front of everyone.

      At the wedding, the groom had one table of friends (4 groomsmen and their SOs) and she refused to let him say hi to us. He waited until she went to the bathroom to run over to our table and take a picture.

      She is…intense.

    8. ginger ale for all*

      I was a bridesmaid in a wedding where I had to get colored contact lenses to match the dress. Another wedding that I was in had a bridesmaid dress that cost more than my monthly rent. And for that wedding, I had to go to three bridal parties with three different gifts. I was so upset over having to wear such a heavy expensive dress, I drove to the local Goodwill store and stripped it off in their back parking lot and drove home in my slip, underwear, and hose. It was not the smartest thing I have done because I had to walk like that from parking lot to my apartment.

    9. MsChanandlerBong*

      It’s not really a horror story, but it’s gross, so be warned. My friends threw me a bachelorette evening (dinner at a Greek restaurant and then games at a friend’s house; nothing crazy). My matron of honor, who had just stopped breastfeeding (and therefore had not had any alcohol in like 18 months), decided she was going to live it up. Unfortunately, she did not have the same tolerance as she did before she had kids. While we were playing games, she sat at the table telling me that marriage is a huge mistake and that my husband would turn into a useless pile of bones within 6 months of the wedding. Then she fell over next to the garbage can. I managed to rouse her and told her I’d walk her to the bathroom. On the way, she stopped at the kitchen island and vomited ALL OVER it. I was mortified. I got her to the bathroom, where she proceeded to throw up in the garbage can. I was like “Why didn’t you throw up in the toilet??!!” “I needed somewhere to sit.” Her sister was supposed to pick her up, but she didn’t answer the phone when we called to tell her to come get my friend. I ended up covering the back seat of my car with trash bags so my husband could drive her home.

      I was pretty mad at the time, but now I can look back and laugh (mad because my friends were nice enough to throw me a party and then one of my friends puked everywhere).

    10. Lily Evans*

      The wedding hasn’t happened yet, but I’m going to be a bridesmaid in a wedding this year and the bridal party is like something out of, well, Bridesmaids. The MOH is, to borrow from Captain Awkward, a total Darth Vader friend. Me and another one of the bridesmaids (one of my closest friends) had completely cut her off after college because of her emotional manipulation bullcrap that had been awful during our senior year. So neither of us like her. The fourth bridesmaid was a last minute addition who none of us, even vader-MOH, like. She was another college friend who has a very forceful personality. Everything she does is always right and she just knows everything about everything (I’m sure you all know the type). She’s already pissing MOH off with her “suggestions” about things we should do for the shower and bachelorette party etc. MOH and the bride come from pretty well-off families (esp. MOH, her constant refrain is “money is no issue for me”) while control-freak-bridesmaid and friend-bridesmaid don’t, so it just adds to the conflict when c-f-bridesmaid suggests DIY-ing everything and MOH wants to do an expensive weekend away for the bachelorette party (it’s seriously the plot of Bridesmaids I wish I was joking.)

      I would love to be involved more because the bride is genuinely one of my best friends, but I just can’t deal with those two. There’s only been two events with all of us so far and they’ve not been fun. Friend-bridesmaid and I just spend the whole time giving each other “can you believe them?” looks.

    11. catsAreCool*

      The book “Murder with Peacocks” is about a fictional character who is the maid of honor of 3 weddings while trying to solve a murder. It’s pretty funny. Might be too close to real life right now, or it might be a fun diversion.

    12. Lindsay J*

      One of my friends brought Pedalyte for her bridesmaids so they wouldn’t have to eat or drink anything else the day of. She thought it was a nice gesture. I thought she was crazy for not thinking that people would want the time to eat real food.

      At my cousin’s rehearsal dinner my aunt (the mother of the groom) started a rambling, emotional, kind of drunk speech which mostly wound up being about 9/11? and had to be cut off from the microphone by one of the groomsmen. And his sister wore a piece of paper advocating for the Occupy Wallstreet movement taped to the front of her dress for the entire ceremony and the photos.

      Also the meal was a lobster boil and my mom didn’t tell my aunt my younger brother was allergic to lobster until the day before the wedding. And another set of relatives RSVPed without their kids names, but then showed up with kids, leading to the seating having to be reconfigured at the last minute and extra meals needing to be added.

      At my other cousin’s wedding, my uncle and my grandmother got into a fight over a chair (my grandmother was complaining about the chair being uncomfortable, but wouldn’t switch to a different one) and insulted my cousin in the process. He said something like, “Oh my god, you’re just as stubborn as [cousin],”. And my mom got falling down drunk and had to be carried to the car, and then later claimed her reaction was due to being allergic to alcohol, not drunk.

        1. BenAdminGeek*

          I feel like I would love to peruse a “family wedding” scrapbook done by you for these weddings. These stories are great to read, even though I’m sure it was horrifying to experience.

    13. Phyllis B*

      When my oldest daughter got married, her (now ex) husband (who has diabetes) had a seizure like three hours before the wedding. We had to call 911 to take him to hospital. The wedding was delayed an hour and a half while he was stabilized. We all said later this should have been a sign to cancel the wedding and just have a big party.

      1. Phyllis B*

        Just to clarify: it wasn’t the fact that he was diabetic that made me say that. The reason he had the seizure is because he was out drinking at a bachelor party the night before. I know maybe diabetics can drink a moderate amount if they monitor themselves strictly; he did not do that. They ended up having a lot of issues dealing with this. (Mood swings, physical abuse, ect.) A good part of this was because he doesn’t control his diabetes like he should.

  2. Colette*

    Foot update.

    I saw the surgeon this week. X-rays show the bone is healed. Now I get six weeks of physio to get the muscles, tendons, etc. working properly again. And now, after having been … not happy, but accepting my limitations, I just want to walk.

    (And I am frustrated with the physio place they referred me to. They need the req before they can book the appointment, and they want me to fax it in (as if people still have fax machines) or drop it off during business hours. (“Maybe somewhere near you has a fax machine!” Well, work doesn’t, and I can’t walk so I’m not really inclined to go strolling about, asking businesses if they can send a fax for me.) )

    1. Mimmy*

      Glad you are healed and can start PT! I have a friend who broke her foot on April 1. She didn’t require surgery but I think the healing has been a little slower than she’d like.

        1. MommaCat*

          There’s got to be a service that allows your scan to be sent to a fax machine over the Internet; if nothing else, different office supply stores have fax machines you can use.

    2. Hellanon*

      Scan to pdf and email? That’s what I generally do when people want a fax… also, glad you are back on both feet!

    3. fposte*

      Ha. I just ordered something online whose ordering form had a blank for fax number, and I genuinely typed in “Seriously?”

      I’m glad to hear the bone has healed and that you’re rarin’ to go. (Can your doc’s office fax directly? At least in the U.S., they all have fax machines for pharmacy stuff anyway.)

      1. TheLazyB*

        I’ve just amended one of our firm emails to take off the faxnumber, because there is absolutely zero chance anyone will ever fax us with a query about it. Mainly because we’re sending it by email, who the hell would think oh no, I won’t reply, I’ll fax them instead!!
        If anyone ever does it would go to a general number anyway and it’s highly unlikely we’d ever get it.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I hated the physical therapy place my orthopedist originally referred me to for my broken foot. I found a much better one on Yelp and just transferred the referral there — it was like night and day. The first place was a big room with lots of people doing exercises on their own while physical therapists periodically checked on them. I hated it; it reminded me of gym class, but worse. The second place was small, and assigned me one person who worked intensively with me; she literally never left my side. She also did lots of stuff that didn’t require any exertion from me, like massage and weird but relaxing electrical pulse things while I got to just lie there, which was great. So don’t feel like you have to go to the one they suggested.

      1. Mimmy*

        Alison – The first place they sent you reminds me of the rehabilitation facility where I did an MSW internship 10 years ago. I think both the in- and outpatient rehab rooms were like that. I think the only unit where you got one-on-one attention was the (separate) brain injury unit.

        I’m with you – I’d want the smaller place!

      2. Colette*

        I think the one they’re sending me to is covered under our health system. Otherwise, it’ll cost me. It may be worth it, especially since the one I’ve gone to before has extended hours.

      3. Amadeo*

        When I had sacroiliac joint issues they stuck those electrode things on me. I think they were dex patches that drove the steroid in through my skin. I always thought they were a bit uncomfortable and felt like bees.

        I wasn’t a fan of the deep tissue massage either, with the therapist digging his elbow into an area where the soft tissue was already inflamed. I think I left fingernail marks in the vinyl cover on the cot.

        As far as I was concerned with physical therapy, the walking and moving and exercises were the least painful part and I much preferred the chiropractor when it flamed back up a little while after PT. Although, they still stuck the patch of bees on my skin.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Whenever I have seen notifications for shareholder meetings there is always a section with the contact details and it always includes a fax number, but I have never know anyone to use it!

    5. Temperance*

      Can you just drop it in the mail? That’s so amazingly ridiculous.

      I would recommend finding a different PT. I go 2x or 3x/week now to recover from a hospitalization and get stronger, and I really like mine. There are a bunch of PTs and assistants to work with us, and they have a great office staff. I’ve changed doctors over reception staff that couldn’t do a good job.

  3. KR*

    It’s National Trails Day! Who’s going hiking!? Me and my dog Jerry went hiking today and climbed a small mountain.

    1. LawCat*

      Awesome! I didn’t know it was National Trails Day and can’t get out today, but we’ll be doing some hiking soon :-)

    2. Kay*

      I am at work, but my husband took our dog to the White Mountains for the day and crossed off 17 and 18 from her New England 4,000 Footers list – Pierce & Jackson.

      1. KR*

        I’ve hiked Jackson! It’s so good! I think we are poasibly located near each other.

          1. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

            I live nearish to Pawtuckaway – lovely little hike up to the fire tower.

        1. Kay*

          I’m in Vermont, so it was a bit of a drive for him to get to the Whites. :) Close-ish, though!

        2. TL -*

          Jackson is one of my favorites – I love the rock scramble at the top!

          (I’ve also done Pierce and enjoyed it.)

      2. Dorth Vader*

        Holy cow this just made me miss the White Mountains. My current state’s tallest “mountain” is about 2,300 ft, which is an easy morning walk comparatively!

    3. Headachey*

      Didn’t know that, but did take my old but still spry border collie out for an easy 2 mile ramble on some local trails. Lots of people out today, but it’s gorgeous weather.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      No hiking but my meetup group cleaned our Adopt-a-Street today. That was actually fun. I usually hate doing stuff like that, but it was curiously satisfying to make the side of the road all nice and pretty.

      Some of the things we picked up:
      A 27″ TV (broken)
      A diabetic insulin kit case and two used syringes
      Pieces of wood
      A fishing lure
      One black stocking
      Further down, the other black stocking
      An *ahem* intimate cleansing bottle
      Condom wrappers (somebody had a busy night, obviously)
      Pieces of styrofoam
      A plastic cup
      A bucket
      A shitload of liquor shot bottles

      Thank goodness I had a Gopher grabber with me! Dear My City…you are gross, LOL.

      1. Jean*

        There is a short story, novella, or crime novel waiting to be written about all of these items.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          LOL possibly.
          Our bit of street is down by the lake at the south end of town. It’s a popular party spot among the younger set, apparently. I had quite literally never been there before today and I’ve lived here for fourteen years.

    5. Rebecca in Dallas*

      We have had so much rain in North Texas that all of the trails were a huge muddy mess this weekend, most of them closed to prevent people from tearing them up worse. :(

      But this week is supposed to be rain-free, so hopefully they will all be dried up and ready next weekend!

  4. Sparkly Librarian*

    My wife is gone for a week and a half doing family stuff until I join her for our joint vacation. I realized this is the longest we’ve been apart since we married (although we had a couple years of long distance relationship before that), and I’m not sure I like it. I am a happy introvert most of the time, and am fine being without other people, but she’s not really in the category of “other people”. On my to-do list: tidy up after myself, watch Voyager episodes, try to eat and sleep on a regular schedule.

    1. bluesboy*

      Interesting for me, because one week from now my fiancée is off on holiday without me, so we’ll be apart for the first time in 5 years. I’m planning to catch up with the boys, a few drinks, European Championships, and I’m quite looking forward to turning temporarily into the man-animal I was before I met her (and think I’ll appreciate her more when she gets back).

      I hope you manage to find ways to keep yourself busy and it isn’t too tough on you. Good luck!

    2. PizzaSquared*

      My wife was out of town for about 8 days, ending last Thursday. We’ve been apart longer a few times since we’ve been married, but it’s pretty rare. Most of her trips are more like 3-4 days. 8 days was a little too long for me, and I never like it when she’s gone (she travels for work about once a month), but I try to make the best of it. I’ll eat at restaurants she’s not a fan of, do more “disruptive” house projects (e.g. I took the internet down for a couple of hours to clean up the cabling), watch shows she doesn’t like, and so on. Also, when she’s here, I find that I rarely read much because we’re either talking, out doing something, or watching a TV show or movie. So her trips are a good time to catch up on reading.

    3. DNDL*

      I get that feeling. I tell my fiancé that, “Man, I just need a day away from people to recharge.” He teases me by getting sad and exaggerating a, “Oh, Okay…..” :( Then I’m like “NO! NO! YOU DON’T COUNT AS PEOPLE!!!” And then he mocks horror and lectures me about how he is certainly a person.
      I’m an introvert. I need to be away from people to recharge. But he does not count as people.

      1. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

        Ha, exactly this. Spouse and I are also not fans of people, but also exempt each other from that classification.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I know exactly what you mean. I love my alone time and I’m looking forward to my boyfriend being out of town for a whole week (he leaves tomorrow for a conference), but after a couple of days I do start to miss him. It’s the same deal– he’s not “other people”. On my to-do list: buy a chicken (he’s a vegetarian so I don’t cook meat in the house and our home is technically Kosher, but I sometimes bring in meat and eat with plastic utensils), watch all the stuff he hates, go to bed super early without him making fun of me. :)

      1. the gold digger*

        I love going to bed early! My husband is out of town at the state convention and I am putting dishes away even though they are not perfectly dry and I will go to bed early tonight!

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I totally have A Plan. You see, if I get home from work and take the dog for a very long evening walk, he won’t need his night-time pee and I can get into bed at NINE PM. Maybe even with the pooch. Dream big, y’all.

        2. Lindsay J*

          This is my plan tonight! Come home, take a nice bath, heat up some food, and go to sleep early.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Interesting to find another person in a similar situation! I’m not Jewish, but I keep a kosher home because my husband keeps kosher. In practice we mostly eat vegetarian, but we do have meat dishes/pots/etc. and occasionally eat meat. I too will eat non-kosher food with paper/plastic utensils when my husband is not home. :) Enjoy your chicken!

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          You want to know the ironic part? I’M the Jewish one, and he’s the one who insists on keeping the kitchen Kosher. I didn’t realize how natural it felt to me until one of his friends decided to bring a pork loin to our house and put it on our grill. Weirded me out, but my bf cleaned and sterilized the grill and I’m still friends with that guy.

          1. Blue_eyes*

            Love it. I would love to see the face my husband would make if someone brought a pork loin to our house. The one downside of keeping kosher is that it makes me really nervous about having other people in my kitchen unless a) they keep kosher, b) they are vegetarians, or c) I can supervise them heavily. “Yes, it really does matter which sponge you use. No, I’m not being uptight about it!”

    5. TheLazyB*

      My DS and I will be away from my DH for the best part of a week in august. I’m not looking forward to being away from him :(

    6. StillHealing*

      It does feel weird to be on your own when you’ve been in along term relationship. Even though it’s for a short time it’s weird to suddenly have more time on your hands and not have someone else and their schedule to work with on a daily basis.

      My Ex husband also found it difficult when on rare occasions I’d go off out of town with girlfriends. Even with a son at home to take care of it still stressed him out. It appeared be was afraid I’d never come back for some reason. He’d do things around the house when I was gone and be super nice to me when I returned. He’d tell me how difficult it was to sleep etc. without me there.

      On the other hand, when he’d be out of town with or without our son, I would take the time to cook myself a nice meal that he may not typically like. And, I’d tackle big projects that needed to be done around the house. Its easier to be messy alone and work around your own mess when taking on a big project than when you have other people and their needs to consider. I’d sleep in, or, take naps. I liked the time home alone.

    7. anonykins*

      My husband has been sent ahead to the place we’ll be moving (international move) and I won’t join him for a full month. This is my first time living alone EVER – I’ve always had roommates or him. But this isn’t our first time apart – I spent a summer in another state (including our first anniversary…oops) with only one visit in the middle of 10 weeks. Then when we moved to my current country, I came 6 weeks ahead of time because he needed to wrap some things up. It definitely feels a little weird, especially when I hear his voice after not talking to him for a few days. The weirdest is the first few hours after we reunite. Hugging etc feels strange because no one else has touched me for a month! This time I have cats thought so maybe it will be a little different.

    8. MsChanandlerBong*

      I’m going to visit my family and friends in July, but my husband isn’t coming. I’ll be away from him for 20 days! I’m going to miss him a ton.

    9. Temperance*

      After I was sick in February, being apart from my husband is harder on both of us. I’m much better now, thankfully, but that time was hard.

      When I am alone, I make dinners that he dislikes (or throw extra garlic in everything), and watch a lot of TV in bed.

    10. Menacia*

      This is very timely for me! I told my husband I might be going away for a week for training. He is pretty much dead set against me going…”I won’t be able to sleep, I’ll miss you…!” The last time I went away, he came with me, and even if he could come this time, there would be nothing for him to do. I don’t want to go alone on this training trip and hopefully, if I do go, a coworker will be joining me. The alternative is to do a live virtual training at work, but I think it would be nice to get away, and the training is in Colorado Springs, CO…where I’ve never been and sounds really nice! I guess I’ll just have to see how this pans out…

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I realize that I can be a little cold-hearted, but when my boyfriend objected to me going away on business for a week, I basically told him to suck it up. “What will I do about the dog’s morning walk?” “Uh… You’ll wake up, like I do.” “I’ll miss you!” “Ok.”

        Sometimes spending time apart is necessary. Many times it’s hard. But it is SO unfair for your husband to try to lay that guilt trip. If you so choose, tell him to deal. You have my permission. :-)

  5. Mimmy*

    Hubby’s hand surgery was yesterday and it went very well. He feels fine and hasn’t needed the pain meds at all so far today. He does need a little help with opening jars or anything heavy, but otherwise I am pleasantly surprised at how easily this has gone so far *knock on wood*

    His right middle finger has started to lock up now :( He got the steroid injection during the procedure yesterday but I have a feeling he’ll eventually have to get the right hand done too.

    Thanks everyone for the good wishes and advice last week!

  6. LawCat*

    I signed up with a running training group. I think it’s going to be fun and good for me. I ran my first 5k last year and followed a training program on my own. I’ve run 6 more 5ks this year, but no longer have any structured training so my times have actually gotten worse (I’m already a super slow runner). My current goal is to run a 5k in under 42 mins (I average finishing in about 45 mins.) It will be a nice way to get out, have something that is for me, and make some new friends.

    1. L*

      Train through the heat of the summer and plan for a race in the fall (or on a vacation to someplace cooler). You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what all that training in the heat does for your time.

    2. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Yay, you will love it! I joined a running club a few years ago to train for my first marathon and it changed my life! I made so many friends and my running has improved exponentially.

  7. bluesboy*

    My fiancée is a really intelligent woman, multilingual, can talk about pretty much anything you want, but is in real difficulty with numbers. I mean REAL difficulty, sometimes she’ll count the wrong way (if the 25th is a Thursday she might imagine that the 24th is a Friday. She was once convinced that 13 months was less than a year).

    Does it matter? Most of the time, no. She’s great at her job, which is more creative, and a brilliant Mum (obviously I help the littl’un with his maths homework).

    But it’s a problem with money, and I wanted to ask advice. She can’t really connect the fact that spending money results in having less money, and if she spends more than she earns it’s a problem. I mean, she understands it on a theoretical level, but just not deep down inside. And she isn’t a shopaholic, everything she spends money on is reasonable.

    I’ve bailed her out a few times, but it has to come out of my savings and I can’t keep doing that or we’ll never manage to put money aside for the future. Right now we’ve reached the point where she’s having to give me her salary, and I give her an allowance each week. She’ll go a little over what she’s supposed to spend and so I have to budget knowing she can’t keep to it.

    It seems to be working. But I don’t like treating her like a child, it doesn’t feel right. And I’ve started lying to her, telling her that she has x to spend instead of y because I know if I tell her she has y she’ll spend more than y. And she can’t spend more than y if y is her entire disposable income!

    I don’t mind dealing with the financial side of the relationship, we all do different things to make our relationships work. But I would very much appreciate any suggestions on how I might handle this better. Thanks!

    1. Katie the Fed*

      A few thoughts:

      – Is she dyslexic or suffering from some other type of learning disability? The way you describe the trouble with numbers goes beyond poor budgeting.
      – Have you guys talked about budgeting and finances? How you’re going to do finances when you’re married? It might be easier to share finances now, with some basic budgeting. And some rules like “run it by the other person if you’re going to spend more than $100”
      – Would she be willing to use cash only? It’s hard to spend more than you have when you have just cash on hand.

      1. bluesboy*

        She isn’t dyslexic in the traditional sense, although I’ve heard there’s a kind of numbers dyslexia.

        We already live together, so getting married shouldn’t change much. Right now we each have our own account, plus a joint account which we use for shared expenses, mortgage, bills etc. We each put in enough to cover those each month and then we’re basically free to do what we want with what we have left (we have similar salaries anyway).

        We could pool our money, but as things stand I think that would just lead to her spending too much and me not having anything to bail her out with!

        I think cash only is a good idea, and worth trying, thanks! Right now she brings me receipts of what she spends, which is already too much, if she only has a certain amount in her purse it might be easier for her.

        I think we wouldn’t be able to work the ‘run more than $100 purchases by the other’ work as her issue is multiple small purchases. But cash only is definitely worth a go. I might even do it with her for solidarity!

        Thanks!

        1. neverjaunty*

          Cash only is a great idea. And yes, dysnumeracy is a thing. I am not nearly as bad off as your fiancee, but I have been known to decide that 65+30 = 100, and I can’t figure out a restaurant tip in my head.

          1. fposte*

            I’ve heard “dyscalculia” as the official term, but I don’t know for sure.

          2. Ex Resume Reviewer*

            This is so interesting to me, looking at the wikipedia article. I struggle with basic arithmetic and CANNOT read analog clocks for the life of me without sitting and counting each 5 minute interval. I failed a test in my college-level language course not because I couldn’t write the time in Japanese, but because I couldn’t figure out what time the stupid clock pictures were indicating on the test. They took away my tic marks. :(

            I also struggle with right and left, remembering names = faces and getting places on time (I’ve learned to just add 15 minutes to everything I do). I also can’t do choreography.

            However I’m great with music (was in orchestra for years) and have no problem visualizing things. I’m good with budgeting (yay YNAB) and finances… actually scratch that… my landlord recently sent me a letter because I’d accrued a $150 credit from overpaying. Eek.

            1. Misc*

              Me and my brother suffer badly from all of those things (in different combinations), but we’re pretty sure it’s ADHD in our case.

              I have the some problem with money – the future has no real bearing, either I can Spend or I can Not Spend, so I deal with it by locking as much of it away as possible in savings accounts of variable access levels. Cutting off access so I predetermine the amount I have to spend so I don’t have to think about it until the next time I get paid is really, really important. Otherwise I’d be in serious trouble.

              1. Misc*

                But yeah, I don’t use my credit card for casual shopping, I only keep it for online bill stuff so I don’t have to remember them. I move money from savings to eftpos card at specific intervals during the month (I get paid monthly) so I can cover the mortgage/bills etc but DON’T do it too early so I can’t accidentally spend it. My family thinks I’m amazingly good with money, and I’m actually terrible, my secret is I recognise this.

                So yeah, whether it’s a manual thing or a ‘juggle around in online accounts’ thing, the allowance idea is probably the best way to handle it. And breaking the money into specific chunks for ‘off limits’ savings, ‘back up for when you spend all the spending money savings’ and ‘spending money’ helps a lot. I may not be able to track the amount, but I can definitely remember that I’ve had to break into the back up account.

              2. Lindsay J*

                I need to do this. I have serious trouble with money and I think it is all ADHD related.

          3. Pennalynn Lott*

            Same here. Sometimes 8 x 2 is 16, sometimes it’s 10, and sometimes it’s 6. Thanks to commenter Elizabeth, I learned that “numbers disability” is a thing. She was the first person I ever heard use the term “dyscalculia”.

        2. brightstar*

          I have a lot of the symptoms of dyscaculia, though I haven’t been tested. People offer suggestions like “Go shopping with a calculator” and I’ve had to explain I’ll enter the numbers wrong.

          I’ve found having a list and sticking to it helps. And using a prepaid Visa might be a little more convenient than cash. And having a certain amount put into a different account first also helps because then its saved and I have to transfer it to spend it.

          1. JaneB*

            I have a colleague who can’t dial a phone number reliably unless someone else reads out the numbers one by one – the numbers get switched around on the paper, apparently. Thank heavens for contact lists with names, emails etc.!

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I love my credit union’s debit card, because it doesn’t allow overdrafts; it simply denies the transaction if there aren’t sufficient funds in the account.

        3. Raine*

          I will just confirm as an aside it is possible to be dyslexic with numbers — I am mildly (and oddly) so. (I say oddly because I write for a living and have no dyslexia with letters. With numbers, I do not mean I make typos, but oddly truly have to triple check that I have, say, an address or phone number correct without numbers transposed, or I’ll hear a number and write it down and it will not be correct even though in my mind it is and looks so.)

          THAT SAID. I can’t confirm a correlation between dyslexia with numbers and not understanding the basics of finance, or how numbering years/ddecades/centuries works, or the difference it will cost to eat at McDonald’s versus a steakhouse etc. And I’ve never heard of an equivalent with dyslexia with letters either (not understanding the spoken language, or not grasping that English and Russian are two different languages, etc.

        4. Tau*

          I don’t have dyscalculia, but I have had trouble with my money intuition in the past and let me just say – using cash helps me a lot! I find it a lot easier to keep track of what I’m spending if instead of using my debit card I just withdraw X amount whenever I run out of money and then keep in mind the last time I withdrew money. Then I can say “oh dear, the last time I withdrew money was less than a week ago, I’m spending a lot” or “well, the last time I withdrew was two or so weeks ago so I’m due something of an allowance.” It also helps with the multiple small purchases, since you know that when you’ve run out of money you have by definition spent X amount since the last time you withdrew.

        5. TootsNYC*

          cash only has the added advantage of this: studies have shown that most people (even those without numbers problems) spend a lot less when they have to spend it in cash.

    2. neverjaunty*

      There’s nothing inherently wrong with a system where she hands over her paycheck and you allot her discretionary spending – IF you’re both okay with it and IF you are totally transparent with the finances and IF both of you get the same ‘fun money’. Then it’s not you treating her like a child. It’s both of you recognizing that she has a complete inability to deal with numbers and budget management, and taking steps to make sure both that the bills get paid and her issues with numbers doesn’t mess life up for both of you.

      Where this wouldn’t work is if she tries to get around your system, instead of accepting that she can’t handle the math. That is, if you show her a spreadsheet of the budget to say “therefore, you can spend $X on discretionary things this month,” she needs to agree that she will accept this and only spend money on $X. If instead she decides that she gets to spend $Y because 2+2 = 5, then she is in denial about how her innumeracy affects both of you, and is on some level expecting to rely on your bailing her out. (This is not the same as her pointing out that, say, you have budgeted $3X for your own ‘allowance’. I’m talking about her questioning your math, not your priorities.)

      Do not get married until you resolve this. Once you marry, the question of what is ‘my money’ or ‘her money’ is resolved for you by the government, not mutual agreement.

      1. Bluesboy*

        Thank you for your comment, especially for the way you mention my feeling I’m treating her like a child, the way you look at it makes me feel better about it! She’s totally ok with it, in fact it was her idea originally.

        Getting married isn’t an issue because where I live getting married doesn’t automatically mean that the government makes those decisions for you – I live in a country where there’s no such thing as pre-nups, but your assets can easily be kept separate after marriage.

        She doesn’t ‘try’ to get round the system, she just doesn’t quite get how lots of small numbers can add up into big numbers. When I put it in writing it sounds so stupid, but that’s what it is. So she spends a little here and a little there, always on reasonably sensible things and it adds up to too much. I have a slightly higher ‘allowance’ than she does, but half of it goes into the bank for us, so in practice her allowance is a lot more than mine, particularly when you consider that the money in savings often ends up bailing her out anyway. I’m not sure she realises that though, because I don’t spend money on small things – I’m more likely to save up, and buy something nice, it’s possible that she doesn’t realise what I give up so I can do that, and feels that I’m the extravagant one. Maybe I need to make sure that’s clear to her.

        Thanks for your thoughts!

        1. Emmy*

          Would it help if she started writing down what she spent? Or would she still not get that “that means you have that much less now”? (Not being sarcastic, married to a man whose family budget was non-existent so they just always spent whatever is in their hand not remembering that it also had to cover bills.)

        2. JaneB*

          My sister is in charge of all the money in her marriage, and gives my brother-in-law cash each week to spend. They discuss big purchases, but BiL finds money stuff boring and if he has any, he spends it, plus a little more, and is especially bad at the day to day stuff, the over-priced snacks and drinks and new games for his phone and that. It was actually BiL’s idea, and it works great for them – they both say they’d never get to take the holidays they do if BiL ran the finances, or have been able to easily fix the roof when it leaked last winter, and my sister would be very stressed about not having any slack In Case (our parents were very short of money when we were growing up, especially when we were junior school aged – they both took on bits of extra work to make ends meet, and a drink bought outside the home was a Very Big Deal, never mind a meal, but there was no room for any kind of emergency (my Mum cried when my feet grew fast one year and I needed new larger shoes twice in a short period, but somehow they got me new shoes – I think we ate a LOT of potatoes that month) – my sister and I are both lucky enough to be doing better financially, but as soon as we began earning we both started an emergency fund. BiL… well, no-one in his family has emergency funds. They just think money will be there if needed, or use credit cards).

        3. Natalie*

          When you say savings, are you talking about emergency savings or money you were saving for a trip or something?

          If it’s the former, I’d encourage you to think of that as household savings and not part of your “fun money” allowance. Even with separate incomes and such, since you have a child and are getting married you are tied together. Her emergencies are yours and vice versa. I’m the money manager in my household and I save for both of us. It’s an account in my name just because it was set up that way before we met, but if his vehicle exploded that’s where the downpayment would come from.

          As far as the parent feeling, I totally get that. Once thing you might consider is sitting down together regularly and talking finances, even if you’re doing the active management. My fiancé and I had a lot of miscommunications at first because he wasn’t reviewing and thinking about our budget ever week like I was, so it just didn’t sink in the same way. And I felt uncomfortable making all of our decisions without his input. I still physically pay the bills, manage our investments, and sequester money in savings, but we’re both managers.

          One last suggestion as far as tracking would be something like Mint. You load your bank accounts and it pulls all of the transaction data, which you can categorize as you see fit. It also learns your categories slowly, although I’d say it takes a few months to really get it set up to work for you. But it was so helpful to both of us in highlighting how much money we were spending on crap.

        4. Alice H.*

          If there is any issues with amazon, there’s a thing called “Amazon Allowance” (not sure if its available in your country), but basically it adds money to an account’s gift balance regularly (monthly, every 2 wks, weekly, etc), and you can limit spending that way.

    3. Hellanon*

      It might be dyscalculia, which is related but numbers-related. But regardless, Gail Vaz-Oxlade might have the answer: actual money in actual envelopes. It helps because you are forced to think of it as a concrete substance, not some theoretical construct, and when it’s gone it’s gone. She’s got a website & a TV show in Canada, and while she mostly works with people who seem to rather deliberately not understand their spending, it might help in your case…

    4. PizzaSquared*

      I’m not sure I totally understand. Is her attitude along the lines of “yeah, money is important, but I’ll just buy this thing today and deal with the repercussions later” or is it more that it doesn’t even cross her mind to think about whether she can afford something when she buys it? And if it’s the latter, when she looks at the bills at the end of the month, is she shocked or dismayed if she’s spent too much, or does she not care?

      I think there’s a deep fundamental difference between just being bad with money (not keeping good track of it), and not understanding the seriousness of living within ones means. The former is reasonably easy to fix if one partner is good at that kind of stuff and can handle the record keeping. But I don’t think any amount of help or record keeping will fix the latter. And I’d consider that a pretty serious problem with someone I was planning on marrying.

      1. Bluesboy*

        Let’s say she has $100. She’ll buy something for $10. It’s not much, and she’s got loads left. So it’s cool. Then she’ll buy something for $15. Then something else for $10. And by the time she gets to the end of the month, she’s spent $150. Then she says “Oh my God, how did I spend that much!?”

        Each of the $10 things is a reasonable purchase in itself, none are extravagant. She isn’t trying to get hold of my money, she wants to be responsible (which is why at her suggestion I now handle the money).

        1. LV Ladybug*

          I tend to shop that way, too. Having cash, rather than a card, has helped me stop and count before I purchase something. I also have a bad habit of looking at my account and seeing X amount of money, thinking that’s what I have available instead of thinking about all the things that have left to be taken out of our account yet.

          My husband controls the accounts, makes the payments, etc. I have given him free reign to do so. I get my normal allotment for my coffee, lunches, etc. then he says we have X to play with this month, while keeping the rest in savings. Before I make any purchases, I send him a text. Even if it is for a $7 lunch. He is great with numbers and is able to keep a bank book in his head, and is able to make sure that we are on track. I don’t see it as having an allowance or being treated like a child, I know I am terrible at it and he is good. There are other things that I am in charge of that makes our marriage equal.

          1. Temperance*

            I’m weirdly the opposite – if I have cash, I fritter it away. A card keeps me honest and on point, especially because I know my husband reviews all of our transactions.

        2. Rana*

          I have that problem to a lesser degree, and what’s helped me is a combination of getting money away from me to pay major bills as soon as they arrive (so I don’t use up the money that should go to them thinking I have enough), and having an app like You Need A Budget (YNAB) to help me SEE the money being spent. (I used to try doing the cash-only thing, but that only really works if you make most of your purchases in person; if you’re like me, who pays a lot of bills and shops online, it’s just more money to lose track of.)

          I also sometimes find it helpful to tell myself that I can buy X number of things (like, this month, I can buy three things for myself that aren’t bills, groceries, etc.) rather than Y amount of money. I can visualize three objects; I have trouble visualizing the money as easily.

          1. Natalie*

            We do something similar – every pay day we pay whatever is due in the next week, and sometimes bills further out depending on how much we have and what’s coming up. We tried cash only for everything else but it didn’t really work – paying cash for gas is a pain, and we use red box and such a lot. So now my fiancé uses cash only for his daily discretionary spending (fast food, happy hour) and I use a card because I don’t struggle as much with keeping track of it.

        3. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I kind of have that problem. All the things I buy are just for the household and the family, and it seems that if I’m not buying anything extravagant and not spending much at one time, that should = frugality achieved. But it doesn’t. So I guess it’s lack of practical thinking and going by what “feels” like frugal, sensible spending on necessary or modestly nice-to-have household items.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Meant to add that since I don’t have that natural practicality that spending = less money, even if I buy only “virtuous” household necessities, I have to write things down. I’ve been using YNAB. Also, I have a separate account through a credit union that doesn’t allow any overdrafts, and I have my household budget direct deposited in there. The remainder of my monthly paycheck hours into our joint checking account, but I don’t write checks or draw any money from that account. My husband pays all the bills and I take care of all groceries (and cooking), my own gas, and a small amount of work lunches.

            I was actually good at the family finances years ago when I did it in Quicken, but my husband wss anxious about money and wanted me to be able to tell him our account balances off the top of my head. I can’t do that. Money amounts go out of my head as soon as I close a spreadsheet or put a receipt away. I could show him the balances in Quicken and explain each transaction, but he took the fact that my memory of it lived in the spreadsheet and not in my head as worrisome. I got mad at his constant harranging me to think just like him, so I made him start doing it. He’s okay at it, and our bills are paid on time, but when I was doing it we had more money going into savings and the accounts were balanced to the penny each month. He now admits that I was better at it, but I’d rather live under his adequate management than have to report on our finances to him when he’s such an ass about it. At least when he’s doing it, no one is harranging him to prove that the bottom line is ever at the top of his brain.

        4. Dangerfield*

          I do that too. I have ADD and unless something is literally in front of me, it’s like it doesn’t exist. So when I’m buying each $10 item, I have absolutely no recollection of every other $10 item. Until I run out of money, and check my bank statement! I’m experimenting with only keeping cash, and with having a paper record of what I spend money on. It’s hard though.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            That’s why I have to do a tracking system. I’m really good at details if I’m in charge of keeping track of them, but I’m terrible at keeping a running total in my head like my husband does. Even at work, I either live by my checklists or die by my lack thereof. If something is not written down and in front of my eyes, it doesn’t exist.

    5. blackcat*

      I’ve heard that cash allowance can make a BIG difference. I know people who do this for themselves. They keep credit/debit cards LOCKED away–in a safe or somewhere else inconvenient to get to. Every few weeks, they go to the bank to get cash. Cash gets divided up, one weeks $$ in an envelope. Each week, open up an envelope and put the cash in the wallet.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yes!

        My spouse and I don’t have dyscalculia, but we did struggle with credit card debt for a while, and we’ve found cash-only allowances to ourselves to be immensely helpful. Then the money isn’t an abstract number you’re signing for; it’s concrete physical objects, and you can count or even feel how much you have less.

        I’d say also the smaller the denominations the better.

        If you’re worried about infantilizing her, you should do the same and give yourselves both an allowance (instead of giving just her an allowance).

    6. Lizabeth*

      Envelope method works great for me…put $ in for each category and when it’s empty, that’s it for the month.

    7. Overeducated*

      I think the cash suggestions are good ones, but also think you could think about whether it would be useful to make it more concrete and less about numbers with a budget for “stuff,” not money. It’s often recommended that before you try to make a realistic budget, you track your spending for a month or two to see where your money is actually going. Maybe she could do that, but instead of the goal being “stick to $X in discretionary income,” the goal could be to identify sustainable spending patterns in non-financial terms, like “buy lunch out one day a week” or “replace one pair of shoes per season” or something.

      1. Bluesboy*

        This is interesting. Because I’m quite good with money I’m not that familiar with what to do if you AREN’T good with money. Tracking spending, and seeing where it’s going, that sounds like a good plan. We’re kind of doing that a little bit, in the sense that anything she spends over a certain amount, she gives me the receipt, but not for anything below that – we should probably try, at least for a few months, to try tracking everything. I’ve heard of people for example spending $100 a month in Starbucks without realising, right now this is something that could slip under our radar.
        I also think this could work because as I said above, she isn’t extravagant. I’ve known people who if they were told they could replace one pair of shoes per season would buy designer shoes…kind of defeats the point. But she wouldn’t do that. Thanks!

      2. Rana*

        This is a great suggestion. Concrete descriptions of actual things that the money can be spent on are so much easier to understand if you’re not so good at visualizing the money itself.

      3. it happens*

        I use the free app pocket money lite to track my cash – you make a ‘deposit’ of cash on hand and as you enter each purchase (at the store – do it then or you forget) it tells you how much you have left. Good for both tracking where the money went at the end of the week/month and how much there is in the wallet right now (as long as you’ve actually entered that cappuccino…) (And if you are really organized, you can export the file to xl or quicken.)
        Also agree that you both are doing the right thing having this conversation now

    8. Artemesia*

      For someone like this there needs to be system in place e.g. no credit cards. Spending with envelopes earmarked for whatever. And her retirement and savings deducted off the top of her check. She really really needs to be maxing out the Roth, 401 K etc because this is a person who will be destitute in her old age otherwise.

      The money for the (pay period) is literally in enveloped and when it is gone, it is gone for the (pay period) Her share of mortgage, food etc, comes off the top. (it sounds like you have separate finances so make the joint parts automatic deduct) If she runs out of money for lunches, she makes do with what is in the pantry. If she doesn’t have money for clothes, she waits till next pay period.

      Dave Ramsey’s ‘Financial Peace’ books might be helpful.

      But — it is one thing to be ‘bad with numbers’ and quite another to be babyish and expect Daddy to fix everything. Two different issues. You deal with bad math with systems and budgets and envelopes with your spending money, lunch money, grocery money, clothes money etc — Dealing with childish user behavior is probably about therapy and marriage counseling. This sounds like a much bigger crisis in your marriage than math.

      1. Artemesia*

        I missed that this was not the US but the principles still apply. The money that needs to go for expenses and the retirement savings and other savings come off the top and are locked away and her spending money is in cash with no access to credit cards. With someone like this no other system will work. But I’d still advise serious counseling and behavioral change before moving ahead legally.

        1. Dan*

          I wrote my own TL;DR below. But for posterity, I agree with you on the seriousness of the issue. OP’s fiancee’s unwillingness to take these steps *herself* is a huge deal.

          There’s a big difference between, “I don’t handle money well, so can’t have a CC. I must be on a cash budget, and have to have my savings and retirement done as a payroll deduction before I ever see it.” and “I don’t handle money well, and you do, so you’re going to have my back and fix things for me, right?” Those two choices involve no math whatsoever.

        2. Bluesboy*

          Thank you for this, I’ll try that book. Yes, as said above, I’m not in the US, but honestly, when you post on an American site you’re ready for people to reply with American terminology, and I do understand roughly what a 401K is, I got your point.
          I think the cash envelope is the way to go. I don’t think it’s childishness because as you said “you deal with bad math with systems and budgets” and that’s what we – her included – are trying to do. We’re trying to find the system that works for us right now. Major expenses off the top and cash spending seems to be the way to go. Thanks so much for your thoughts, and I’m ordering the book on Amazon right now!

    9. Beem*

      In addition to everyone else’s comments:

      There’s a great personal anecdote similar to this that I linked as “my website.” Click on my username to go there. In the end, one person of the couple completely took over the finances and gave the other a cash allowance.

    10. Dan*

      Ok, you have some problems here that aren’t related to the ability to do math. My ex wife was a lot like what you describe. She would think nothing of spending $10 or $20 at a time, because it was so little. But at the end of the month, she’d turn in a credit card statement of $1200, when my expectation was for something about half that.

      I had her as an authorized user on one of my accounts, set up in such a way that the statements generated were unquestionably only her spending. When I’d get the bill, I’d circle the big number at the top, and explain that this is not sustainable. She’d look at me, and try to “explain” each of the 20 or 30 charges and why they were “necessary”. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t give her the chance to explain, because she really couldn’t distinguish between “needs” and “wants.” More importantly, I didn’t want her to feel better about what she spent, because the issue was, again, the big number at the top. Besides, she’s an adult, I do not want to micromanage her spending. End of sentence, full stop.

      After three months of this, she looks at me and says, “You really don’t care what I buy, you just care about the total bill?” Uh, yeah. Why didn’t you believe me the first time?

      The other thing is, I made a decent middle class income but live in a high COL area. She came from an area of the country where the COL was much cheaper, and my income would go much further. But she refused to grasp the concept that things are *expensive* here, and she can’t spend what she feels like because *my* income sounds like a lot of money.

      My ex had a lot of mental health issues. I’ll be honest — we can label things and call them illnesses, diseases, disabilities, or whatever you want. But you still have to function in society, and shouldn’t burden other people with “extra” work because you have a “disability.” No, you need to understand your disability, how it affects your life, and setup systems to deal with it. (Don’t read too much into that second to last sentence, what I mean is that your disability is your burden too, not just mine. I’m not going to leave you hanging in a marriage, but if you are prone to spilling the milk because you have a disability, then you should have extra towels within easy reach… knowing you are prone to spilling the milk *and* being short of towels all of the time is not a good combination.)

      You can be the most computationally impaired person on this planet, but not grasping that a $1200/mo credit card bill isn’t sustainable isn’t a math problem, it’s something way worse. TBH, I don’t know what it is, but it shouldn’t be my problem to solve alone.

      I never got to the cash budget, my ex would have just spent the cash and then begged me for money the rest of the month. We would have had constant arguments about how we “needed” stuff that we really didn’t. How do I know this? She had a scrip for some psychiatric meds. After she moved out, when she’d come across any money at all, the first thing she would do is get her nails done. Then, she’d guilt family members into paying for her meds because she “needed” them, and didn’t have any money.

      You spend a lot of time talking about how otherwise great your gf/fiance is, and that’s all fine and good. But understand that you have a very serious issue that goes way beyond the inability to count very well. I’d suggest professional counseling. As you put it, you feel like you have to act as a parent, and you don’t like it. Been there, done that, exact same feeling. IOW, someone who won’t take responsibility for themself isn’t something you can solve alone.

      1. Bluesboy*

        This is interesting. I’ve seen the difference distinguishing between need and want before, so I get what you’re saying, and it’s difficult to deal with, especially because people figure that if they ‘need’ something, they have to buy it, and so there’s nothing wrong with their behaviour. For me, the difference between your situation and mine is that my fiancèe knows that there’s an issue and wants to try to fix it. I know I say above that she still goes over budget, but far less than in the past (she used to have a €1200 credit card bill, now it’s down to €400, so she’s moving in the right direction).
        Thanks for your thoughts and I’ll bear them in mind if she seems to be moving away from wanting to ‘fix’ it.

        1. Girasol*

          Modern advertising focuses on blurring the two by insisting that people “need” or “deserve” the product or service being sold. It’s said to make need-vs-want identification very difficult particularly for the generation that grew up with such ads.

        2. Dan*

          Think about this very carefully, because the difference is huge: Does *she* want to fix it, or does she want *you* to fix it? If the later, you can’t fix her problems, only she can. If you’re the one setting up the envelopes and doling out the cash, who is fixing the problem?

          My ex did everything she could to avoid taking responsibility for her actions, you want to make sure your fiancee is taking responsibility for hers.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Does she acknowledge a disconnect going on and does she want to develop a plan to compensate? This is the tough part. if the SO does not acknowledge a problem and/or refuses to make a plan to compensate everything can get so much harder.

      On the good news side of it, this is what marriage is- knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses and working with these givens. This kind of a silly example but if you think about it we needed a plan in this instance. My husband and I bought a house. We were both away from home for long hours and neither one of us was brawny/super strong (both of us have the same weaknesses in this example). Well, we needed to maintain our yard and driveway. I could not see us shoveling or using a walk-behind mower. (My strength, I could see problematic areas that he missed.) I picked out some tractors to go look at. (I had more familiarity with products and accessories.) We looked at the specific machines and he picked out which machine. He was the geeky one who caught on scary fast to the mechanics of a machine. I picked out the accessories because I was more familiar with what was available and what we might need. We got it all home and he took over from there- doing the mowing and the maintenance on the tractor. (Yeah, he caught on super fast. I knew he would.)
      It took the two of us taking turns using our strengths to get this situation under control. If we had opted for smaller machines we would have had hugely time consuming work that would have been beyond our physical abilities. It would have caused arguing in our marriage because we did not have a good plan for what to do about yard care.

      Check this out. Years later we bought another machine. At this point, he knew way more about tractors than I ever did. He wanted me to go see the machine he picked out before he bought it. I guess I had to go with him to bless the machine or something? Not sure why I had to go with him. Maybe it was my big picture perspective and I could ask questions to figure out if that particular model was right for what we needed it to do.

      If you frame it as the two of you taking turns using your strengths, this may make sense to her. It may help level the playing field as there will be times where you say, “It just make sense for you to make the final decision about X because it’s just not my strength and it is something where you will make better decisions than me.”

      1. Bluesboy*

        She was actually the one who asked me to take charge of budgeting (after several years together) so she does want to find a way to make it work. She recognises the issue. I like your story! Teamwork is what it should be about, and I don’t mind managing the joint account, mutual expenses etc, it just felt weird to be managing hers too. I guess I need to get used to us each trying to use our own strengths and compensate for each other’s weaknesses. Thanks for that!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Does she do the cooking/grocery shopping most of the time? You can tell yourself that she might think it’s weird to decide what you are going to eat. That is kind of weird if you think about it- letting someone else make our food choices for us.

    12. First Initial dot Last Name*

      I also have dyscalculia. No amount of math theory or lessons or discussion will change the way my brain messes with numbers. Please understand that dyscalculia is a learning disability, and those of us who live with it have to find ways to cope with navigating the world.

      It sounds like she is already onboard with giving you control of her finances. I agree with all of the suggestions to meter her allowance in cash. Cash is visual and makes more sense than a theoretical number in a digital bank account managed with a debit card. Using cash was a lot easier for me, I could see and count and make piles to manage what I had and how to divide it up to deal with my life. This pile goes to rent, this pile goes to the phone, this pile goes to utilities, THIS PILE FOR FUN THINGS.

      I will note, I do not have credit cards, period end of story. I can’t manage them. This admittedly is a detriment to my credit score. Oh well. I’ve rationalized that poor credit from mismanagement of cards is worse than poor credit from having no credit history. I may be wrong there, but I can sleep at night knowing I’m not in collections.

      A coping mechanism I have learned along the way is impulse control. I want something, I can’t have it right away, period. I must put it on a shopping list of FUN THINGS, that list gets figured into my budget, things must sit on the list for a minimum amount of time before I’m allowed to get it demonstrating to myself, (and my spouse), that I really do want/need it and it’s not just “ooh this looks cool”. My husband and I use the amazon cart “save for later” feature for this kind of thing, (my impulse buys are mostly books). When one or the other of us are shopping there and see something the other has saved for later, and it’s reasonable to spend an extra few bucks, we’ll get it. Before the internet I used a little pocket book to save magazine clippings of things I’d like to have, I’d put a date on it, if I still wanted it some time later I could justify saving money for it. Then it was moved to a makeshift piggy bank that I used to collect change and small bills. It is a crude method, but it works well, especially for small things.

      Practicing impulse control will go a long way and have extended benefits to the both of you over the long haul.

      1. Rana*

        This is really good advice. Often I find that the act of saving something to my wishlist is enough to scratch the “I wanna buy this NOOOOOOWWWW” itch so I can control myself, and then, when I later go back to look at the wishlish when I am ready to buy something, at least half the time I no longer want it. In fact, one of my gauges of whether I should buy something is if I can (a) contemplate it for a month or two (or more, if it’s expensive) and (b) still like it enough to buy it after that time. I’ll also do this in stores – if there’s something I’m not sure about, I’ll carry it around the store for a while, and after a while it either continues to seem useful and interesting, or I realize that I was just sort of infatuated with the idea of it, and I don’t actually want to own it. (This also helps when getting rid of things I already own – learning to recognize when I want to keep something merely because it is nifty, not because it is something I actually use regularly.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This is fantastic advice even if you don’t have dyscalculia.

        And thank you for your first paragraph. I struggle so much with trying to explain it to people and now that I’ve had to disclose / play the ADA card at work, it’s only going to get worse. I may steal that sentence about no amount of anything will change how my brain screws up numbers.

        And it’s not just numbers, either. There are other symptoms that can make it difficult to cope sometimes.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Agreed that this is great advice. My FIL, who did not have a problem with numbers, handled most of his purchases like this. “If I still want it in a week or two then I buy it.”
          I was talking to a woman at a tag sale the other day and we said, “If I can’t figure out where I would put it, then it can’t come home with me.”
          I use colors to control some of my spending. Blue goes in the living room, therefore no, I cannot buy that orange chair for the living room.

          I think it’s good to line a few go-to tools for deciding on purchases. It struck me the other day that things really are packaged and marketed in a manner to make you want to buy it. A great example was the faucet I got for my kitchen sink. It came packaged in a box that looked like a presentation case. A presentation case for a FAUCET? Really? Yeah, the company was stroking my ego. “Look at this lovely faucet you can buy. It’s so lovely that we put it in a presentation case as if we were selling the faucet to a king or a queen.” It’s. a. faucet. I found it on a clearance table for $10.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Ha, yeah and there’s usually a picture showing the faucet in a beautiful kitchen with sunlight streaming in through a window, and we think, “Yes! I want my kitchen to look like that!”

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Because the window and the sunlight are in the box with the faucet, of course. lol.

      3. Bluesboy*

        Thank you. I don’t know if she actually has dyscalculia or not, internet diagnosis says yes but that’s not exactly medical…either way, I don’t think maths theory or lessons will help her out, so simple, practical ways to manage it are probably what we need, and that’s what your post is. Much appreciated!

    13. Mando Diao*

      I honestly don’t think it’s just a numbers thing. It sounds like there’s some kind of other spending issue, even if it’s not shopaholic or hoarding level. Is she returning the stuff when she goes over her budget? Is she aware that you’re having to cover her when she spends too much? I hesitate to ascribe something less than kind to her, but she’s spending your money and doesn’t care.

      1. Bluesboy*

        It isn’t about it being ‘my’ money, even if we have joint accounts we live together, we’re in a committed relationship, we have a child – I don’t mind calling it ‘our’ money, and if she needs something I’m happy to get it for her. It’s more about the fact that we aren’t able to plan for the future without getting this under control.

        And she does care – she’s the one who asked me to take over her budgeting, she’s working on it, and she’s getting better, That said, you made an interesting point about returning things. As I said above, they aren’t expensive things – €10 here, €10 there. So it hardly seems worth returning them. But maybe psychologically it would be a good way to send her a signal that she can’t do it anymore. That’s something I definitely need to give some thought to. Thanks very much!

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          As I said above, they aren’t expensive things – €10 here, €10 there.

          So here’s a question that I haven’t read yet: does she know the why? I mean, is she spending because she’s bored? Is she spending because she’s sad/lonely/needs a pick-me-up? Is she spending because your child is pitching a fit/needs a snack?

          The first year Sex and the City was on TV, I watched it. I’m about to land myself in hot water with a bunch of people but after a while, I just couldn’t watch it any more. It just seemed to me to be more about brand names and conspicuous spending than anything else. There was some scene where Carrie simply can’t understand where all the money she made has gone… until she reveals she has an obscene amount of shoes, which when totaled up explained where the $40K had gone. Duh.

          So, I have heard that some women have tons of nail polish (for example). Because a bottle of nail polish isn’t that expensive and it’s a cheap way to get a quick thrill of new. However, most of those nail polish bottles have only been used once or twice. It may only be a few dollars here or there, but it all adds up. Like those people who go to Starbucks 3 times a day instead of brewing their own coffee, they just don’t see that’s where their money is going, it’s just their habit to treat themselves/more convenient than brewing their own.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I’m on a nail polish and hair product no-buy right now. I may never need to buy nail polish again, and I am not allowing myself any more hair products until I use up what I have. The nail polishes work just as promised and expected, but dammit, none of the hair products has made me look just like the woman on the box. :-(

    14. Amy*

      I’m sorry if this comes off overly harsh, but I think you’re making too many excuses for your girlfriend (or being too quick to believe her excuses). I’ve worked in education and special education for a long time, and never have I met someone with dyscalculia that would affect them in this way.

      Dyscalculia tends to manifest as issues writing down numbers and issues reading numbers, with the associated arithmetic problems. I have never seen it manifest as a fundamental inability to understand principles such as “lots of small amounts add to a big amount”. In fact, many of my dyscalculia pupils were highly able mathematicians and could explain very advanced mathematical principles to you without any problems at all, it was literally just manipulating the numbers which was the problem.

      Sure, dyscalculia might explain the occasional overspend, but it wouldn’t be what you’re describing here. And it certainly wouldn’t explain why she doesn’t seem to have any interest in fixing the mistake herself, and has instead just thrown her hands up and asked you to essentially be her bank manager.

      Basically, it sounds like your girlfriend has a common or garden spending problem. And to be honest, even if the dyscalculia was causing it- it doesn’t matter. The advice is the same: she needs to take responsibility for her spending and work to change her habits. That doesn’t mean you should leave her to fend for herself, “taking responsibility” could mean “recognise that I need my partner’s help with this, and work with him to find a solution”. However, what it doesn’t mean it “give lip service to the idea that I have a problem, but expect my husband to solve it”.

      1. Amy*

        Edit to add: even if we take the term ‘dyscalculia’ out of the equation, I’ve still never seen a child who wasn’t suffering with a very severe learning disability who had the issue your girlfriend claims (not realising that lots of small spends make a big one). I’m the same to some extent- I make lots of small purchases and am surprised when they add up to more than I expect. But that isn’t a disability. It’s not that I don’t understand the concept. It’s me not being responsible with my spending at the time.

        If she were claiming that she simply sucked at doing the maths, that would be one thing and very understandable because lots of people suck at maths and make errors. But to say that there is some fundamental flaw in her mathematical processing which makes it impossible to sort out her spending – very questionable. If there is indeed a psychological problem or disability, I would say that would be a disability in the impulse and risk taking parts of her brain, not a maths issue.

      2. KR*

        I think we should give the OP some credit that they have an accurate read of the situation.

        1. Tau*

          Agreed, especially since it was the commenters who brought the term “dyscalculia” into the game in the first place.

          I’m also really not comfortable with saying “learning disabilities don’t work like that.” There are a lot of learning disabilities out there that can manifest in very different ways between different people and at different stages in life. The “you mean lots of small things make one big thing?” difficulty actually reminds me of my problems with time management which I suspect are due to Asperger’s, and the people commenting with dyscalculia seemed to find it familiar. You can point out that the dynamic is problematic – which I agree it is – without attacking the problem.

      3. bluesboy*

        No, it doesn’t come off overly harsh & I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

        As with some of the examples I gave above, like counting backwards by mistake, she DOES have maths issues. I’ve assumed that this is her main issue with budgeting, but you might be right, maybe it’s just as much or more down to impulse control. Food for thought, thanks!

    15. ginger ale for all*

      I have been reading the comments and I like everyone’s input so far but have you thought about what will happen if you predecease her? My parents had a lot of money woes due to my father and so they went to a system where he got an allowance for over forty years. He recently asked to be taken off of the allowance and made two cringe worthy mistakes. What I am now wondering about is what will happen to him if my mother, in her 80’s, becomes incapacitated and isn’t in charge of the budget. I don’t think she even shows him the processes that she goes through. So even if she is horrible with numbers, please discuss with her what goes on with the budget just to mirror the hit by a bus idea that is mentioned in AAM in the workplace.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        When my grandpa died, he had prepared well enough that my grandma should have been modestly set for the rest of her life. Well, what she did was meet a man who always had some money-making scheme or needed to “borrow” money from her until her nest egg was all gone and then he left her. My grandpa had always taken care of the money and they lived comfortably, but she couldn’t handle herself after he was gone.

  8. Katie the Fed*

    Alison – I finally decided to take the plunge and try Blue Apron. The packaging troubles me but I need some new ideas for what to have for dinner and I’m sick of planning it all. We’re going to try for 3 nights a week for a couple months – if nothing else I’ll get some new ideas because I seem to be stuck on ideas lately.

    What I really need is a service that plans a week worth of meals and gives me a grocery list. But it’s a start :)

    1. LawCat*

      I recommend Cook Smarts if you want to get the groceries yourself, but want the service to provide the meal plan and shipping list. My husband and I use it and we LOVE it. We double the recipes so each dinner is also lunch the next day. Almost every meal we’ve had is delicious. There’s also a very active, positive facebook community to show off your successes (and mistakes… there have been a couple people with “blender incidents” in the past :-D) and ask and answer questions.

        1. Jessica*

          Emeals.com also offers weekly meal plans/shopping lists, with a range of “themes” like budget, slow-cooker, paleo, etc.

          1. BioPharma*

            Is there an option for just a 3-meal plan with Cook Smarts? I’m wondering because I tried emeals for a bit, and although you can select a a subset grocery list (using app) for just 3 of 7 meals, you’re left with a ton of leftover ingredients. I’m sure you’d still get some leftover ingredients (which by the way, is the counter part to the packaging of blue apron!), but maybe less because the plan incorporates leftover ingredients… Ended up giving up on emeals bc the extra ingredients (like half and onion, half can of X) stressed me out.

            1. LawCat*

              The default on Cook Smarts is 4 new dinners each week. You can make all or none of them. You can add in items from the archives. This week, we are making 3 of the meals and adding a 4th from the archives. They have a 3 week plan as a free trial/sample (but I don’t think you can do substitutions from the archives on it).

              Some of the meals have dependencies from prior meals in the week (like, use the leftover sauce from the day before), which can be an issue if throwing in something from the archives where you did not make the other associated meal, but I think they have been cleaning that up in the archive. I don’t find it happens that often.

              For perishable leftover ingredients, we just make a stir fry every weekend (or a soup in the winter) and nothing goes to waste. They have a great guide to stir fries on their site, which I think is free amongst their infographics.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Ooh, I might check this out! I don’t mind going to the grocery store (and actually now we have Amazon Prime Now in my city, so I can even get them delivered) but I get in such a rut with what to cook.

        Do you know if they have good vegetarian meal plans? I looked through some of the Blue Apron meal plans and it seemed like a lot of cheese and pasta. Which, I mean, I love cheese and pasta but it’s not the healthiest!

    2. neverjaunty*

      Shamefully, I have just started buying those “ten minute skillet meals” from the grocery store (you can get fancy organic etc etc. varieties if you care to spend the money). Mr. Jaunty is just not going to cook from scratch much, and this is much better than fast food.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        What’s shameful about that? It sounds like you’ve found a way to feed yourself and Mr. Jaunty in way that fits your tastes, budget, and tolerance for cooking.

      2. Temperance*

        I don’t think that people who cook from scratch are morally better than those who do not. No reason to have shame.

    3. PizzaSquared*

      We use Blue Apron from time to time (meaning, we “skip” at least 1 or 2 weeks a month, but we have an ongoing subscription). I like it for exactly the reason you describe: it pushes us out of our ruts. We’re both good cooks, but it has taught us a couple of new techniques, and has definitely prompted us to make things we’d never try if we were just flipping through a cook book.

      I suspect your concern with the packaging is the environmental factor, but my bigger complaint is that despite the fact that they over-package everything, they still seem to manage to have leaks on a regular basis. It’s very frustrating to open a box and have everything coated in flour….

    4. Lizabeth*

      Take a look at the Macheesmo website. He does a blog, meal plans for purchase and recipes to download. The recipes I’ve tried have been good so far :)

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I literally just finished making Blue Apron’s potato and pea samosas and am sitting here eating them right now. They’re delicious! (You will see a photo of them in a sponsored post later this month.)

      Re: being sick of planning it all — oh yes, I am right there with you. I actually did the thing you mentioned doing a while back — I asked my husband to be in charge of dinner one day a week, and said that I don’t care what it is or how he obtains it but I just want a break from thinking about it. (That does not leave me in charge the other six nights — we have a system for most of the rest of the week now, with things we make jointly and a night of take-out.) It is unbelievably nice to know I don’t have to think about it at all that night.

      Blue Apron is kind of the same relief for me — I’m happy to cook, I just don’t want to have to figure out what we’re going to eat and deal with obtaining the ingredients.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        See, I might pick up some techniques too, because it would never, EVER occur to me to make samosas. Or fry anything. I definitely need some inspiration! I told my husband he can use a BA box for his night of the week, so he’s happy :)

      2. Allison Mary*

        We started using Blue Apron a few weeks ago, too! We don’t keep every single delivery, but we’ve done some really fun things (like homemade pot stickers!! omg, so good!) and tried things that we wouldn’t otherwise have tried.

        I’ve recommended it to my grandparents, who plan to try it once they’re back in town. It’s spendy, but I feel like it’s restaurant-quality food, which you’d pay a lot more for, if you were actually getting it in a restaurant. And some of the stuff is really fun.

      3. Artemesia*

        My husband of 40+ years and I started trading cooking responsibilities when we moved in together and have had various schedules during different life phases. By establishing this early it made it easy to adapt as we go. The KEY principle is not doing the cooking but being RESPONSIBLE for the meals. When I am not cooking I don’t have to give it a thought unless he asks my opinions on something. It is the planning and taking responsibility that is the hard part.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I regret that when my husband and I first married, I was so eager to try recipes and cook that I would call him up and tell him not to cook when it was his turn. When we met, I kept my freezer full of Lean Cuisine dinners and never cooked anything. Then as a young wife I got excited to try my hand at being domestic . If I had it to do over again, I’d slow my roll and give him a chance to build a cooking habit, too.

      4. Tau*

        Blue Apron or the like isn’t in my budget, but I’m really stuck in a cooking rut myself and this sounds so useful. I’m pondering having a night a week where I get random posts of a cooking blog until I find something that sounds good, just so I cook with a bit more variety!

        Also, potato and pea samosas sound absolutely delicious.

        1. Temperance*

          I bought myself a bunch of cookbooks at a used book sale for $1 or $2 each for inspiration. I highly recommend trying this if you can. I also had an app for a while that was called the “dinner spinner” or something like that, where it randomly chose a recipe.

    6. Red*

      I had one of those that I tried through a groupon… emeals, I think it was. With the groupon I paid $19 for a 6 month subscription and I could pick a package – they had one for dieters, low carb, kid-friendly, slow-cooker heavy, vegetarian, a couple other options – and every week they’d send a seven-night meal plan, including recipes and a breakdown of the shopping list! I almost never ended up using it, but I still have six months worth of recipes to look through and organize one of these days. (There may or may not be a folder with some of the plans linked via my username if you’d like to take a peek – link expires in 30 days, if I did it right.)

    7. Dan*

      I’d be more willing to try Blue Apron if their scheduling system would allow me to do just one delivery a month. Seriously. As a single guy who gets out and about, one shipment will last me two weeks. I also do like to cook from scratch, so wouldn’t want a delivery every other week either.

      If they’d allow me to preset a delivery schedule without having to go in every week and cancel, it would be a winner.

      Side note: There was a CSA (farm share) who came to my office building soliciting members. The smallest share they would do was 2. I asked about one, they said I could find a friend or something. The thing is, my office building has 3500 people in it. If you’re already serving a bunch of people, packing smaller boxes isn’t going to kill you.

      Whoever finds a way to easily serve single people will make a killing. These prepared meal services could do it if they would make scheduling easier. I get that you have to have a minimum quantity per shipment to make it worth it, but crud, set up your website to let me decide when to get my shipments without making me log in every week.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I get Blue Apron about once a month. You can cancel about four to five weeks at a time, so you just need to remember to go in once a month to cancel the next set of deliveries if you don’t want them. They send you a weekly email about menus, so I use that as my prompt to remember to go cancel any weeks I don’t want.

      2. LBK*

        Totally agreed, I’ve looked at every version of meal prep delivery services I can find and the lowest plans are always still too much for one person. I know you have the option to skip weeks but the portion sizes are still set up for 2 people, and I’d rather pay half the amount and not always have leftovers.

    8. Sarah in Boston*

      Also take a peak at Meallime! A lot of their functionality just became free and I liked it quite a bit when it didn’t.

    9. Ellen Ripley*

      There are a lot of services that will do weekly meal planning and give you a grocery list and recipes. I’ve tried or investigated several of them.
      – Emeals is probably the most widely known. It’s good if you have young kids who are picky eaters or if budget is your primary concern, because they have several versions that are tied to particular grocery stores and what sales they are offering every week. The recipes are very down-home middle America, probably a bit dull for adventurous eaters. They also have some dietary variations, vegetarian and I think low carb and a couple more.
      – The Fresh 20 focuses on using a small set of ingredients, mostly vegetables and fruit, for the week. It was a book first so you could borrow it from your library if you want to see the basic structure. I liked the recipes but the dependencies of prepping all the veggies ahead seemed like a good idea until I decided to skip a day’s recipe and then ended up with extra ingredients I couldn’t use.
      – At the moment I’m subscribed to No More to Go – four or five meals a week, customizable recipes and grocery list. I like it mostly because the recipes are tasty and interesting, but not too complex or time consuming (which is what got on my nerves with Blue Apron eventually; that and the packaging).
      – Slightly different in function is Plan to Eat – it’s not a weekly plan but a website that allows you to collect/upload all your recipes, schedule your intended meals for the week or month, and generate a shopping list from them.

      There are probably more I can’t think of right now, but hopefully that’s helpful for someone.

    10. Post Script*

      My husband and I have been using 5dollardinners – she makes these awesome budget meal plans in sets of 20 meals (usually 4-8 servings per meal) and she makes the list using Costco food/pricing – the whole list ends up being about $150. They last us forever, and we usually end up mass cooking for one day and freezing everything. The last time we went to the grocery store (for things besides milk and eggs) was the beginning of April. So unless you are thinking about when you’re making food, this may not be a good option for two, but would be perfect for a family!

  9. Cruciatus*

    So this week I had a chance during the day to talk to someone at my local bank about mortgages and credit. We didn’t do anything official, but she thinks I may not have enough credit. So frustrating to hear that! She even showed more non-traditional credit sources but I didn’t fit well enough into those categories (like cell phone bills–I’m on a family share plan which my mom has always paid for with her credit card since we’ve had it since I was in college. It’s just stayed like this mostly out of laziness I think). The mortgage lady said she’d think it might be good if I opened another credit card. But I don’t want to. I have the one and it has a perfect record of being paid for the last 6 years. According to Credit Karma my credit score is very good (750 or something), but even it showed a warning for too little credit. I have only a little, but what I do have is good, dammit!

    Am I screwed? I was hoping to start house shopping this summer. I don’t make a lot, but will have a large down payment and am looking at houses in the $75,000-125,000 range (affordable cost of living area). What should my next step be? I know I can try other banks. Should I? Should I start house hunting anyway? Get a realtor? Everyone says something different. I was given a pre-qualification form at the bank. Would it be worth it to fill that out and see what comes back to me?

    1. anonymouse*

      I was just coming here to write a similar post! I have a 760 credit score which includes three credit cards (the oldest being only 5 years), open open loan, and one closed (paid in full) loan. My credit utilization is under 20%, but I’ve been told that to get a good mortgage I need more credit. I’m also loosing at a much higher price range for houses (high cost of living area), but it’s still frustrating to be told you need to take out more credit lines to possibly get a good mortgage rate.

      I sympathize!

      1. Cruciatus*

        Best of luck to you! Very frustrating. I understand they want to see a history of responsible credit, but I have that! Why do you need X amount to prove it? Based on the below suggestions I may try my county’s credit union. Their rates are actually better than the bank I visited, though I don’t know if I would automatically get that rate…but it’s worth looking into!

    2. neverjaunty*

      You should talk to a reputable realtor, and try other banks. Some banks have a habit of trying to steer inexperienced lenders to types of loans that are good for the bank, but not so good for the borrower.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      I am certainly not an expert on this. I got my first mortgage 9 mo out of college back in the mortgage free-for-all days. But, rumor has it you need to find a bank that does manual underwriting. They will look at more than your fico score to determine if you’re mortgage worthy. Churchill Mortgage is the one advertised on Dave Ramsey, but I am sure there are others.

    4. enough*

      This just seems a little crazy. It used to be that having too much credit available was a problem.
      Maybe for Cruciatus getting a second credit card that you use very sparingly would help (like just for a monthly recurring bill). But for anonymouse with three credit cards I don’t see where another one would make a difference. Maybe try getting the credit limits raised a little.
      And as far as Credit Karma or any of the statements from the reporting services, they feel the need to report something to explain why you do not have a perfect credit score. Usually framed as these are reasons why you may not be perfect, not this is why you aren’t perfect. I have a score well over 800 and have gotten the babble about what may be effecting my score that makes absolutely no sense.
      And if you have a credit union near by check with them. Sometimes you can do better. And different banks might have some differences so it wouldn’t hurt to check around.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Echoing the recommendation for talking with a credit union. They absolutely bailed my dad out when my mother’s final illness wracked up huge bills. Decades later, I did a refi through a credit union and cut my mortgage payment in half. I am eight years into a 30 year mortgage and I have it half paid off because I was able to pay ahead. A CU saved my own butt. I cannot say enough positive things about CUs.

    5. Kay*

      I don’t know if this is a reasonable thing to accomplish in the shortish amount of time you have, but I built up my available credit by regularly asking for the credit limit on my main card to be increased. I only put a few hundred dollars on it a month for essential bills, and I kept inching the limit up so that my available credit ratio was super high.

      I would also try other banks, because 750 is very good, and is about where I was when we bought our house a year ago with zero difficulties. I worked with our local credit union specifically because I wanted transparency and local people to work with rather than chasing the best rate for a tiny difference.

    6. danr*

      Get the second card and don’t put anything on it, except for a small purchase now and then that you pay off immediately. If you’re going to buy a house, you’ll need more than one card. These days the banks seem to look at a good credit score, steady income and low expenses. Good luck with the hunt.

    7. Emily*

      Opening another card might not help, either. New credit lines can ding your credit score for a bit. Given that you have a good credit score and are planning a large down payment, I would shop around for pre-approvals. I’d also recommend asking a credit union about their mortgages. In my experience, they’re more willing to look at your overall financial picture and how the loan you’re seeking fits in with that, rather than only running your numbers.

      1. ScarletInTheLibrary*

        Exactly! When we went through this process not that long ago, some people in the mortgage business said to get a card and pay it off every month. Other mortgage people said that having a card open for just a few months would throw up red flags with underwriters. I recommend talking to a lot different mortgage people. Some can be with credit unions, others not.

        Something that it not mentioned in this thread but can wreck a loan is the appraisal. Ask about the process at each lender and how appeals are addressed. Our appraisal was way low (think 10% less than asking in an area where houses are usually on the market for three days) because she couldn’t do math and all the houses are the same. Since we were able to eat it, we had to put more down. If you can’t, then your rates and ratios can affect the possibility the loan would be denied by underwriters during the contract period.

    8. BRR*

      Definitely try more than one bank. Is their a credit union you are eligible to join?

    9. rozin*

      I was able to get a house with only one credit card to my name and roughly the same score as you (I think it was 760 or something), but I cashed a lot of bonds to make a really big down payment. My parents also agreed to underwrite me (fortunately I’ve been able to pay without issues). Maybe see if you can get someone close (like a relative) to underwrite who has a long credit history when you purchase the house. It is possible, but it can definitely be drag.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I actually can make a huge down payment–buy many of the houses I see outright. I don’t want to do that because I want to keep money in savings, but I have the ability to put down way more than 20%. I explained that at the bank but she was unmoved. I did consider having my parents involved in that way. I’ll talk to a few more banks/credit unions and see what they say and consider going that way if it looks like I’d need to do that.

    10. Noah*

      I would get in contact with a mortgage broker, they will know which banks or credit unions are willing to work with people in your situation. The fact that you have large down payment will be very helpful. You will pay a higher rate than someone with excellent credit. I don’t think there is anyway around that. You have very little to show that you make on-time payments besides the single credit card.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Good recommendation- I used a mortgage broker for my refi. It probably cost me just over $500 for his services. He got it right. I applied to ONE place, not ten. They accepted my application. Closing was easy as pie. Everything went so smoothly. I have to believe the broker eased the path.

    11. Dr. Speakeasy*

      Agreed with the shopping around statements. We’re in the process of buying a house -my credit was 730, we had a short sale in 08, and we only have one credit card. We’ve had zero problems getting a 30 year conventional loan. We locked in a rate of 3.65%. As long as you have 20% for the down payment, I can’t see why you wouldn’t be able to get a mortgage at a decent rate.

    12. Housing bubble*

      So jealous you have housing avaliable in that price range. A tear down where I live costs 550k. Plus I think our house renovation will cost us about 150k, 30k for the yard, and about 100k for an carriage house we want to put in.

  10. S*

    Alright, so I’m gonna go ahead and whine for a bit… I’m currently in the process of moving into my boyfriend’s apartment (it made more sense than looking for a new one and having to move out of two apartments instead of just one), and I am SO stressed out… I have to get rid of most of my stuff and furniture because we have too much of everything, and it really sucks… I sold some items and gave away some more, so a bunch of strangers came by today to pick up their items… And they were circling my things like vultures! “Anything else you’re giving away for free? How about this? *points at flat screen TV*” – “No, sorry. I’d need to get some money for that.” – “Oh. Well, I want it for free, so let me know if you change your mind.” It was hard to stay polite.
    And the worst thing about the move is that it’s going to draaaaaaag itself out over most of my three months notice period because there is so little pressure to get it all done at once.
    Sigh.

    1. Cruciatus*

      Oh yes, certain garage sale-ers are extremely rude (not all, of course). We had a sale a few years ago and we were pretty strict about not starting early and our house is a bit off the road–but they’d then walk to the house from the road and look for all the furniture pieces. I almost didn’t want to sell anything to them but then you’re trying to get rid of stuff so it’s a catch-22!

      But back to your stuff–could you not put some of it in storage for now? Maybe you guys will buy a house in the future, or maybe it won’t work out (not to be a bummer). But my point is that being able to access your own stuff may be helpful in the future for many different reasons. And maybe boyfriend could put a few things of his in storage as well. You’re moving in, but it should be your place (as a couple), not his place and you just live there.

    2. Artemesia*

      If you are committed for life, it is one thing to be getting rid of duplicates. But if you are moving in for convenience (terrible terrible idea as moving out is almost as bad as a divorce) then figure out how to hang on to things. You will hate having to buy all this stuff again if you split up and the things you gave away will suddenly become expensive when you need to replace them.

      Inertia is a terrible force that keeps people together or even gets them married when if they didn’t live together they would probably have moved on.

      1. Natalie*

        Inertia kept me in a relationship 3 years past its sell-by date. It’s a powerful force.

    3. Pennalynn Lott*

      Can he get rid of a bunch of *his* stuff, to make room for more of yours?

      1. Artemesia*

        Oh yeah. If this is not happening you are already behind the curve when you start.

      2. Mando Diao*

        I was going to suggest this, especially since (#sorrynotsorry) I wouldn’t trust that a guy’s furniture and appliances are in all-around better condition than a woman’s. Don’t get rid of your nice couch when your boyfriend’s was found on the curb and then dragged through two different bro-apartments.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          Ha. When Boyfriend moved in with me 13 years ago, he sold or gave away most of his furniture because it was crap. I was like, “Noooooo. . . your $150 couch made of plywood and cardboard [I kid you not] doesn’t trump my $2500 custom-made sofa!” And that black-lacquered end table from the late 80’s? GONE. Ooh, or the splatter-painted bar chairs? Equally GONE.

          And don’t even get me started on the matching dolphin dishware-and-placemats set. Ugh. (The placemats were the rubber kind normally reserved for messy children’s dining. He was 37 at the time).

          1. Mando Diao*

            I always cry inside when a woman leaves her well-decorated apartment to move in with a dude who hasn’t bothered with decor. You always wonder why the guy didn’t just move into the apartment that already has grown-up furniture and 2 or 3 pictures on the walls.

            1. SandrineSmiles (France)*

              Everytime I read something like this I get confused about my gender.

              Nah, still a woman xD

            2. lol*

              lol my boyfriend had a better decorated apartment than I did. I had a nice bed and couch, but he beat me in every other aspect. I’m awful at decorating. I just forget to put pictures on the wall and I only had cheap ikea tables.

            3. Oryx*

              I did it because I was moving from an apartment into a house. Granted, the only grown-up furniture I brought was a dining room table. At 34, I still lived like a college student in many ways. And he outranks me on the decor factor.

          2. Bibliovore*

            oh, Mr. Bibliovore’s apartment was furnished by accepting cast-offs from an office renovation and 8 Ikea billy bookcases. His curtains were from his mom circa 1970’s. He owned one bowl.

  11. bi anon*

    I was at brunch with a friend this morning and overheard a different table talking about the Amber Heard and Johnny Depp news and they kept referring to Heard as his “bisexual wife” or saying things like “well, she’s bisexual, so she’s probably lying” or “of course he was worried about her cheating”. You know, the normal accusations against bi women. Top that all off with the way he media is dragging her sexuality into everything as if it gives Depp justification to mentally or physically abuse her and I’m just so upset about it.

    It doesn’t help that my last girlfriend broke up with me because she said she couldn’t deal with her fear of me running back to a man at some point. I really wish the mainstream LGBTQA movement actually understood and paid more attention to people who don’t only identify as lesbian or gay. I’m so, so tired of all the gross stereotypes of bi people, from within the community and outside it.

    1. Grumpy*

      Lainey over at LaineyGossip is doing some incredible writing about the power dynamic and PR moves going on in that split. No affiliation.

    2. Noah*

      Bi man, but I’m right there with you. There is definitely the stereotype that we jump from partner to partner and have sex all the time. Some of the straight women I’ve dated worry that I’m really gay, and some of the gay guys worry that I’ll run away and get married to a woman.

      1. bi anon*

        Do you ever get strait women asking for threesomes? I get that from some straight men all the time. Or they’ll ask really invasive questions about previous female partners.

        Whereas some women like to quiz me on how many other women I’ve been with, as if there’s a set number or they need to make sure I’m really interested in women and not just bicurious.

        1. Noah*

          Only once from a women, but I don’t think the threesome thing is as big a deal culturally for women as it is for men. Guys it happens more often, but that probably comes from the sex-crazed, up for anything stereotype. I did have a guy (who I didn’t know was married) introduce me to his wife and try to get something setup. He just assumed I would be ok with it for some reason.

          I have been quizzed by many women on how many men I’ve been with. It is like there is a weird boundary where it is ok because I was just experimenting and then also a higher number where I must really be gay and only using women for cover.

    3. FD*

      Ugh, that sucks, and I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it. I’m a lesbian myself, but I have some friends who are bi, and I know they sometimes have to deal with bullshit like this. It’s ridiculous and unfair.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I never understood why anyone would think that. If you’re monogamous, you’re going to be with ONE person and that person only–if you’re also bisexual, that only means it could be a man or a woman. Or at least that’s what I always thought. Just because you’re interested in either doesn’t mean you want them at the same time! Getting married would imply that you’re with that person only.

      Being strictly hetero, I struggle to understand it a little bit (and I’m trying to write a character who has a VERY fluid gender/sexuality), but I would only assume a person would cheat if they were a cheater.

      1. bi anon*

        A lot of people view a bisexual person getting married or dating someone as choosing a side and there’s still a fear for some people that they’re going to leave their spouse/partner for the opposite gender. If I’m dating a woman, I’ve chosen to be gay, but if I’m dating a man, I’ve chosen to be hetero – which obviously isn’t true since I’m bisexual and my sexual identity doesn’t go away depending on the gender of who I’m dating, but someone who views it that way is always going to be worry that I feel like I’m missing out or will regret “picking a side”.

        I’ve had gay women tell me that they’d be more upset if I cheated with a man than a woman and have known men who’ve felt insecure that they weren’t “enough” to keep me interested. I think it comes down to gender, in the end and some non-bisexual people not being able to understand being attracted to more than one gender identity – or that attraction for some people, can be fluid enough that it’s based on personality and gender is just secondary.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          You’re not choosing a side, though–you’re choosing to be with one person. I guess they don’t understand that their partner’s gender isn’t the deciding factor, and because they’re so focused on something they don’t understand, they forget that someone who is going to leave them could still end up with a person of the same gender as them.

          I think it comes down to gender, in the end and some non-bisexual people not being able to understand being attracted to more than one gender identity – or that attraction for some people, can be fluid enough that it’s based on personality and gender is just secondary.

          This makes sense to me. And when you think about it, the part about personality is kind of true for most of us. I’m only attracted to men, but who I want is based on THAT particular person and what I find attractive in men overall, etc. I had a bf once who was afraid if I hung around a gay friend that she’d hit on me. Um, NO, because she doesn’t think of me that way. And she has a very distinct type, and I am totally not it! So the same was true for her.

          Of course, we don’t have any idea what went wrong in the Depp/Heard marriage because we weren’t there. Nor will we know what’s going on with Johnny unless he flat out tells us. Which I doubt will happen. Whatever it was, it may have had nothing to do with anybody’s sexuality.

    5. The Rat-Catcher*

      There are a couple of hairy, ugly monsters out to play – the “anything that moves” stereotype about bisexuals is a big one. But if not that, the media would find another way to justify or victim blame (see: Kesha and Dr Luke).

      1. bi anon*

        Oh, definitely. I think what’s bothering me is that when a celebrity comes out as bi, they’re still called “gay” or have a “lesbian past” instead of being identified as bi. They’re usually only identified as bi when it’s something bad or immoral someone is trying to blame them for or justify.

        It just makes me sad that for all the queer rights movements in the US, it’s still mostly focused on gay and lesbian individuals and everyone else is shuffled off to the side.

    6. Lily Evans*

      It’s so frustrating. I particularly love the “bisexuals are just confused” sentiments (something my dad likes to say, my parents don’t know I’m bi). I mean I’m confused about a lot of things, like: What even is a mortgage? Who decided that raw mushrooms are an acceptable part of a veggie platter? And what kind of person mows their lawn at 7am on a Saturday? I’m not confused about my sexuality though, thanks. (Anymore at least, because let me tell you I didn’t know bisexuality was a thing until college, so I thought that I had to be straight because I definitely liked guys and that all straight girls really wanted to kiss their girl friends sometimes. Turns out that wasn’t the case.)

      1. Anon attorney*

        Nothing useful to add, but I hear you. I am confused about lots of things but being attracted to people of all genders is not one of them. It feels entirely simple to me but what do I know. Western society does not deal well with anything nonbinary in general.

    7. Cas*

      To warm the heart, see Gettin’ Bi from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – a climax in a very good story arc about a character realising they’re bisexual

  12. LisaLee*

    Has anybody here ever lived in Newark, NJ? I just applied for a really awesome job there (at Rutgers, if it matters) but I realized I know jack about the city and don’t know anyone from around there. I’ve been poling around looking at available apartments and at the city website, but it’s hard to get a real sense of it that way. Is there good public transportation? Do you need a car? Is it fairly easy to get an apartment? What’s the culture like? Are there lots of things to do?

    1. Mimmy*

      As a lifelong New Jersey resident, I’m somewhat familiar with Newark, though I don’t know anything about living there. I think I can answer a couple of your questions:

      I am very familiar with Rutgers but have only been to the Newark campus maybe once or twice, but from what I remember, it seems safe (if that’s your concern).

      For public transportation, check out New Jersey Transit (I’ll put the link in a reply so as not to hold up this post in moderation). I just took a quick look and there are a few buses that stop near the Newark campus.

      I’d say there’s plenty to do in Newark! There is one theatre I love called the New Jersey Performing Arts Center–absolutely gorgeous inside; plus there are several sports arenas that double as concert venues.

      Hopefully someone who lives closer to Newark (I’m about 40-45 minutes away) comes along, but I hope this helps a little. Please feel free to ask additional questions :)

      1. LisaLee*

        Thanks for responding! I’m not incredibly concerned about safety–I’m young and single, so living in questionable areas is not the biggest deal. Do you know anything about bookstores or the literary scene in the area? I’m a big reader and like going to that stuff, but I assume being so close to NYC that a lot of it is over there.

    2. Yachtie*

      I’m from NJ and I don’t think you’d want to live in Newark. Along with Camden, it’s one of the cities in NJ that you try to avoid due to it’s high crime rates. I’ll admit that all I know about Newark is what I read in the papers and I’m sure there are nice parts but I couldn’t tell you about them. I would personally live in Hoboken (or some other nicer town) and take the 30 min commute into Newark via the Path train. Newark does have a cultural district that includes the NJ Performing Arts Center, there’s a football stadium if you’re into that so there are things to do. I’m not into the club scene so I’m not sure what the night life is like.

      In terms of public transportation, Newark Penn station can take you to the airport and New York City in a relatively short amount of time. There are also plenty of buses that run pretty frequently as well. It might be more convenient to have a car but I don’t necessarily think you’d need one.

      In my opinion, it was hard to find a decent, affordable apartment in northern jersey that wasn’t roach-infested and in a high-crime area ( I had a really low budget though).

      Even if you don’t like Newark in particular, I found NJ to be super convenient because it’s close to NYC, Philly and beaches, etc. If you don’t like Newark, there’s plenty of other cool things nearby that you can explore. Good luck

        1. BRR*

          Jersey city has a lot of nice areas to live. Some is rough but it’s really gentrifying. You can live there without a car and have easy access the nyc. The area near the journal square path station might be your best bet for price and you can take the path to Newark. I’m not sure about getting to the campus from Newark pen. You night want to check city data for that walk. It looks close but might not be safe at night. I’d recommend not living in Newark though.

        2. danr*

          Jersey City is not ‘right next to Newark’. It’s right next to Hoboken. If you’re not using the PATH trains to go from Newark to Jersey City, there is a maze of roads and heavy traffic. For ‘right next to Newark’, look to the west and a bit south.

        3. Theguvnah*

          Just chiming in. I lived in Hoboken for eight years and my recently ex boyfriend lives in jersey city (grove street area) and works at Rutgers Newark and easily commuted without a car.

          I have one couple I know who does live in Newark proper and they seem to like it. It is not where I as a single woman would ever choose to live if I could avoid it.

          Jersey city is great. Grove street still has some affordable places the farther from the PATH you can get. It is definitely changing monthly and block by block so visit if you can when apartment hunting.

          I’d avoid Hoboken unless you are looking for “bro” culture (ho-broken is its nickname both for culture and because it’s infrastructure problems especially post Sandy are notorious, though it is charming and beautiful).

          Other nearby towns like Montclair and Maplewiod or West Orange might interest you though they are more family towns than JC.

          Good luck!

      1. Doreen Green*

        This is neither here nor there, I suppose, but I work in Camden, and “try to avoid it” is not everyone’s experience! Thousands and thousands of people live, go to college, run businesses, and go to work in Camden every day.

    3. Mando Diao*

      I lived in Newark while attending Rutgers, and …..seriously, live anywhere else if you can. The crime rate is incredibly high, it’s hard to keep a car there (parking is bad and the NJ car insurance is $$$) but the public transportation isn’t centrally located and shuts down at an inconvenient time. Not kidding, don’t live there unless it’s free.

    4. Snoggle*

      Newark has a train station. So if your job is walkable from the train station, you can live in pretty much any town that has a train station and commute. So Metuchen, Linden, MetroPark, all are within a 30 min train ride. You could even live down by the shore.

      1. danr*

        There is public transportation and Rutgers runs its own bus service in Newark. According to the website it’s getting an upgrade to be more like the campus bus service in the New Brunswick area.

    5. Massachuset*

      lived in jersey city heights for 4 years and enjoyed it. my partner drove to newark for work those years, and the commute was 30 to 45 mins. i wouldnt recommend living in newark; but if you wont have a car then it limits your places to live in the sense that every time you switch from train to bus or bus to train it can really lengthen your commute. there are lits of cute small towns in nj, but pick a place to live based on whether you have friends or not, what you do for fun, and your family situation. people commute a long way for work in the nyc area, so if you are planning on making friends through work you may find that a lot harder if they dont live near you. jc heights was affordable for us, easiest way to newark is by bus, and it was also an ok commute into the city, even on the weekends. happy to give more soecifics if any if this is useful!

  13. Ex Resume Reviewer*

    So I cut too close in a parking garage this week and banged up my car on a massive concrete post. :( It’s enough damage to be worth going through my insurance, but there’s no local adjuster so I’m supposed to go get some estimates from local shops and then let my insurance company know who’d I’d like to work with.

    I’ve gotten two estimates so far that are drastically different. Shop A: $1500. Shop B: $2500. Both shops have good reviews and are well known in town for quality. Both shops are charging the same hourly rate for repairs, but Shop B added a slew of line items that I think are questionable.

    The damage is in front of my passenger-side rear tire, scrapes to the paint and denting of the quarter panel. Door still functions fine, but it needs to be fixed. Shop B is saying they need to bill to “repair” my rear window because they’re going to pull up some rubbery stuff to get paint underneath. But not a minute before this statement, they said they’d be blending the paint in, which makes it sound like they’re NOT repainting the whole panel, as Shop A stated would be done. Shop B is also billing for 25% more time to do the same line items as Shop A listed. All told, Shop A is writing 11 hours of labor and Shop B is writing 26!

    I’ve never had a car worth repairing before, so this is all new to me. I’m going to try and hit up one or two other shops I’ve heard are good, but I’m a little confused. How can two estimates be so wildly off? Is Shop B trying to screw me/my insurance, or did Shop A miss a whole bunch of stuff?

    1. enough*

      Could be a little of both. Sometimes you can’t always know what needs to be done till you start. But if you were to use shop A and they find more that needs to be done they will have to go back to the insurance to get it approved, otherwise you will be paying.

      1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

        Wait, if they find more work and my insurance doesn’t approve, could I then be on the hook for the difference? Or do they have to ask me for approval to do it?

        1. Nicole*

          I’m not sure they are required to ask your approval, but they should, and I’d certainly make it clear to them you only authorize the initial quote and they need to call you if anything else comes up before they proceed. I also think it’s great you’re checking two more places because I think their quotes will give you a better idea of what really needs to be done and whether the other two shops are being accurate with their estimates.

          1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

            Oooh good point, I will definitely make that clear with whomever gets my car! I really don’t want to be on the hook for more than my deductible.

            I’m sure hoping for some clarity with additional estimates. I’m a little disappointed there’s no local adjuster, but otherwise my experience with my insurance company has been fabulous.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I think a lot of it depends on your insurance. Someone backed into my car three weeks ago and did a number on it– from the outside, it didn’t look like he had done too much damage, and the original estimate was for just over $1000, but once they opened up the car they found that he had basically pushed my headlight apparatus into my radiator grill and cracked it. Total was over $3000. Now, in my case, the other guy was definitely responsible and his insurance was paying, so of course I told the shop to take care of it and I knew my insurance would handle it. I think you should ask your claims adjuster about what happens in that scenario, because I’m sure it happens all the time. Chances are, you’re still only responsible for your deductible.

          1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

            Eek! I’m so sorry you got hit, and I hope you are okay.

            I’ll have to give him a call Monday and find out what their policy is. I can’t imagine what else I might’ve screwed up, but I fix networks not cars. :D

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Thank you– we’re fine! The car was parked at the time. Third hit in two weeks, actually! And the only one that did significant damage.

              The one thing I have learned in this whole process is that the insurance company has seen it all. So has the auto body shop. And the rental car place. If you have good insurance with a company you like, all you have to do is ask– they’ve probably answered more questions than you could ever come up with. (For what it’s worth, I have USAA, and I am thrilled with them right now– ymmv.)

              1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

                I’ve heard USAA is incredible. I had a friend in a terrible accident (rear-ended at 70 mph and she was stopped at a light) and they did a great job for her.

          2. Lindsay J*

            Yeah I was rear-ended and I honestly didn’t even think the damage was worth bringing it in – it didn’t look like anything! But my boyfriend urged me to, since the other person’s insurance was paying all of it and it wound up being $2200 worth of damage to the hatch and undercarriage.

      1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

        No, worst thing I’ve ever dealt with was a brake job or new tires. I’ve been lucky with my Nissans. It seems like most places in my town do either mechanical or body work, but not both.

    2. StillHealing*

      I’m so sorry, and I understand. Did that very same thing last fall in the parking garage at work. It’s incredibly frustrating first of all to try and squeeze even a small car into the tiny spaces. I turned my passenger side mirror in to back up – because I didn’t want to tear the mirror off….which then caused me to scrape the side of the car in several places trying to successfully back out of the spot. Secondly the cost of having it repaired and the hassle of getting the car in for repairs, etc.

      I went with a body shop that was recommended by my insurance. It was also the closest to my work so I could take transit to and from. It cost a little over $2000 to fix.

      What’s your deductible? Could the lower quote be what it would cost after the deductible?

      1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

        My deductible is $750, so I’m still coming out quite a bit ahead. :) Plus I have rental car coverage through my insurance, which I need to get to work reliably since I don’t have a SO or friend to take me. Despite being a 5 minute drive from the office, the bus schedule isn’t a good option since repairs may end up when I’m on call and I can’t be stuck on a bus/walking ages with my work laptop when things break.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Shop B could be padding their estimate because they have no idea how much is really broken without tearing it apart. (Not a slam against B, this stuff is tough to figure out sometimes.) Or it could be that Shop B does not want that particular work and therefore wrote high in the hopes of avoiding it.
      Yet again, it could be that Shop B knows your insurance company does not pay in a timely manner and they do not want the hassle of dealing with your insurance company.
      My husband used to be an adjuster, can you tell? He got out of it for obvious reasons.

      I would ask Shop B if they will be billing you less time, if the job takes less time than they estimate. Typically insurance companies have lists. Replacing a windshield on a Ford model x takes 1.5 hours plus cure time. On a Chevy it takes 1.25 hours plus cure time. (Just making up numbers for the hours here.) Anyway, insurance companies have incredibly lengthy lists of tasks and time frame that they go by.

      In short, yeah, B could be trying to mess with you/your insurance company, or maybe not. It’s really hard to tell based on one story. It usually takes a series of stories about a shop to find their patterns of poor behavior if there are any poor behaviors.

      1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

        Hmm… sounds like there are lots of variables here. I don’t know anyone who’s been to that body shop recently, unfortunately. I had a friend take her car there ~5 years ago, but they totaled it so there was no repair work done. I’ve got two other shops in mind to check out. I’ll definitely be curious to see if anyone else comes up with the same line items as Shop B.

  14. Pennalynn Lott*

    What were we just saying last weekend about drinking on an empty stomach? Thankfully I didn’t do anything foolish in front of anyone, but a single can of Progresso Light soup all day was not enough food for my usual consumption of Friday night beers (plus some champagne gummy bears). The room started spinning when I tried to go to bed, so I had to sleep sitting up for the first hour or so with a nightlight on. Yowsers. I’m 49 years old and “drunk” still manages to sneak up on me.

    But those champagne gummy bears were awesome! :-D

    1. Very much anon for this*

      I think I started that conversation last week (thanks for your comments, they made me feel better). Tonight I had two small glasses of wine but an absurd amount of Chinese food so I feel slightly sick for other reasons :) but yeah drinks loads of water and you will fine.

    2. Clever Name*

      Ha ha! :) I’m 36, and the two times I’ve gotten really drunk were in the last two years. :/

  15. Hellanon*

    Can you still get credit for adulting if you are past 50?

    … I probably know the answer to this. Regardless, I’m (finally) getting around to writing a will (well, writing a will and setting up a living trust, which required getting my business partner to address a few things with me… sigh.) and making sure that I leave more than informal instructions for my sister to follow when the time comes. Which, as my (very awesome) estate lawyer reminded me, it may not: my sister is younger than I am, but a lifelong heavy smoker who’s a little haphazard with her health. So my lawyer, very reasonably, asked me what I wanted to do if my sister went first, and I… had no idea.

    I have no kids, she has no kids, my cousins are well-provided for by my respective uncles, and so it is at least somewhat likely that I will actually need secondary beneficiaries. I finally settled on two local cultural institutions and my best friend’s daughters, but it seriously took me most of the drive home & a good portion of the next day to figure out an answer. What do you all do, if your “who to leave it to” list isn’t obvious?

    1. enough*

      Just remember that this should be an ongoing process. While you have come up with something now you may want/need to change it. Maybe your best friend wins the lottery. Or your sister doesn’t pass away first but is in a nursing home and needs a trust set up to take care of things and not an outright inheritance.

    2. KR*

      Off topic, but my boyfriend brought up adjusting his life insurance policy to me last time he visited. He’s in the military and required to have a beneficiary if the unspeakable happens. Currently it’s his parents and when he brought it up it caught me off-guard.

    3. Artemesia*

      My husband and I leave everything to our children and grandchildren; we make charitable donations regularly.

      If we all perish (more likely when they were younger and we were more likely to be traveling together) then we have designated several charities and cultural institutions to receive the estate. I see no point in the money going to relatives we rarely see and our siblings and their children are all well provided for.

    4. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I anticipate having nieces and nephews someday (though am fine if they choose not to!), so they’re number 1 on the list. I hope to set up a college/post-high school fund for each of them at some point as well. If I marry someday and he has nieces/nephews, we can discuss how we want to handle things, but I imagine we would keep it separate.

      I’m childfree for life, so no kids to pass anything on to. If I have no nieces/nephews, that’s fine too. I would designate a much-beloved charity as my beneficiary. I have friends with children, but I don’t see myself giving them money. While we’re all very close, time changes friendships, and I wouldn’t want to feel guilt for selecting one friend over another (and I simply will not have the type of estate that could be generously divided!).

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Interesting question and I will be following this along. The kids in my life have more money at age 10 than I did at 50. I do not feel a big need to “remember” them. My first thought was friends who were not as well off as my happy relatives. I haven’t gotten a second thought.
      I take it your sis is your executrix? I am wondering what to do about that, too. I have closed four estates and I will never, ever do it again. It’s brutal to ask someone to do that, I am not sure I can.

      1. the gold digger*

        My husband is still dealing with his parents’ estate – but it has been less than a year since they died. It has been a royal pain the neck because their house was full of junk and their papers were disorganized and of course there was the porn, the equipment, and the naked photos of his parents using the equipment.

        We were at my mom’s last month. I am her executor. She is about a million times more organized than Primo’s parents (and also about a million times nicer) but she still has Stuff. As in, the patterns we used to sew our own clothes in the 70s. She still has the patterns. She has 30 years’ of clothes for herself, which was how when she voluntold me to sing in the choir with her at church and I had nothing but jeans, she was able to find me a pair of pleated, pinched-ankle khaki slacks from 20 pounds ago that no longer fit her but did fit me.

        (Side note: Is there anything better than wearing the clothes of your 73 year old mother to church and singing the music you hate – Marty Haugan has something on the people who publish and buy the Gather hymnal – and sight reading it? I don’t think so!)

        Anyhow – I asked my mom if she would perhaps consider donating things she no longer uses to someone who might be able to use them so that it will be easier to clean her house out when she dies. (Which is not for a good 20 years, I hope!) (Or if she moves in with my sister and brother in law, who have many times expressed their desire that she do that.)(I forgive my BIL for teaching my mom to text using the voice function on the iPhone he gave her just for offering to have her live with them when she gets old enough to need help.)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          My worst one was every weekend for a year and a half. Then phoning and other work during the weekdays. Never. Ever. Again. I learned way too much about proper disposal of DDT. ($300? It’s insane.) I also learned that no one deals with ether. Helpful hint: If you do your own hand loads please do not leave hundreds of empty primed shells around. Did I mention never, ever again?
          I try to keep things organized here and only keep what is relevant to current needs. It’s still gonna be a serious work.

    6. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      I have no kids and will be having no kids, and my parents only had me… so currently all my beneficiaries for retirement things, etc. are my parents. I don’t know what or who I’ll leave my things to if I pass away after they do; perhaps I’ll have an SO by that time? I know I won’t be leaving anything to my relatives; we don’t get along.

      Or maybe I’ll leave everything to the cat, if he’s still around, so he can be one of those trust-fund kitties and spend the last years of his life rolling in catnip.

    7. Clever Name*

      My aunt, who has no partner and no children is leaving her entire estate to charity. :)

    8. AliceBD*

      Ooo this is a good one! Especially because I need to find a lawyer to do a will/living will/etc. I’m 26, and so far not married and have no kids; my slightly younger brother is the same, although we’re both open to both getting married and having kids. So right now he is my beneficiary on everything, and I am his beneficiary on everything. If either of us married and/or have kids I’m sure the money will go to our own spouses/kids or lacking that our niblings.

      Beyond that….I think the food pantry in my town. Also the church I grew up in (that my family has attended for >60 years), the church I attended in my previous city (which is tiny and struggling but has an outsized impact on the local homeless community), and my current church in this city.

    9. Joanna*

      Well done on getting a will organised. You absolutely get adulting credit for this. It’s a pain but will likely save your family and friends a lot of trouble. I work in banking deceased estates and it’s so frustrating to see families go through a bunch of extra steps and needless disagreements that could have been avoided if only the person had written a will.

      Charities/cultural organisation are a popular choice, but chat to your lawyer when making the will about if you need clauses for what happens should the charity not exist when you pass away (eg. whether the money should go to the other listed beneficiaries or if your executors are to pick another organisation they believe fulfils the goals of your nominated one).

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Yes, you get points for adulting. :)

      It’s often assumed that single people don’t need a will, but yes you probably do, if you have things/accounts/anything you want dispensed or handled in a certain way after your demise.

      I don’t care what happens to my stuff, but I have a great deal of online crap that someone would have to deal with–informing certain parties, etc. My brother has all my info just in case (and he’s the only person I trust would actually handle it). If I were married, I would make sure my husband had all that information. *sigh*

      1. Joanna*

        Digital deceased estates is such a fascinating new area that no-one really knows what to do with. I’ve seen people put passwords in wills but I really DON’T recommend that as lots of different people and organisations may need to see the will. Can be worth letting someone know how to access your important digital things though, A family member was recently executor for an estate and had a stack of trouble because while they had or worked out the passwords for most things, they didn’t have the ones to de-register the deceased person’s Apple devices so they could be sold.

    11. Temperance*

      I’m an attorney who occasionally works with low-income seniors who don’t have families. The saddest was when a woman asked if she could leave it *to me*. We had just met that day. :-/ It was heartbreaking – I was the first person who had shown her kindness in a period of time.

      What I advise people to do who don’t have an obvious list is start with the basics, letting them know that they don’t need to leave it to family, they can choose friends (some people honestly don’t know this). If they’re older, I’ll ask if they attend church or volunteer somewhere/have an organization that they particularly like.

      I did a will and POAs for a friend who is estranged from his family, and his partner is first beneficiary, followed by a local LGBT center.

      1. Anon attorney*

        I have my will set up so that family members get X and if they predecease their share goes to a charity relevant to them. I’m more concerned about my power of attorney as my husband and mother are both seriously ill and my few remaining relatives I wouldn’t trust to choose a flavour of ice cream for me. I want to ask a close friend to do it but not sure. In my jurisdiction social services will step in if nobody else can but I don’t want that.

        1. Temperance*

          POA is such a bigger deal, IMO. That’s really difficult. I need to draft mine now to set it as my husband and then my sister as backup, but I have relatives who I wouldn’t pee on if they were on fire, so I get it.

  16. Cristina in England*

    Is anyone else decluttering or spring cleaning? Share your successes/progress! I have a stack five boxes high of baby clothes to get donated to a local group. And I still have enough baby clothes left to have another child of either gender. :-/

    We are going to have to empty the attic later this year to renovate and I am only just now realising what a fraught relationship with stuff my parents have. They aren’t hoarders but my mom buys something to solve any and every problem and my dad never gets rid of anything. I am quite excited to shed some of this family of origin baggage and get rid of stuff!

    1. Artemesia*

      After clearing out my parents home I was happy when we moved cities at retirement to get rid of 80 per cent of our stuff. We probably furnished several apartments for refugees in the old city; we got rid of most of our furniture, all but a handful of our kitchen stuff, and most of our clothes and a huge library of books. We gave our son our 8 feet of vinyl and all our CDs and most of the family antiques (and paid to ship it cross country to him). We threw out nearly 40 years of accumulated junk. Now we live in a small two bed condo and when we die our kids will have a fairly small stack of stuff to sort through. It is very freeing to not have all that stuff we don’t need or use.

      1. AliceBD*

        My parents recently downsized after my brother graduated college and got a job, and they got rid of so much stuff. They are keeping a few things for us in the attic — family pieces that we want, but my brother and I can’t hold on to right now in small apartments. They also regularly donate stuff they no longer need (after checking we don’t need it, for certain large-ticket items). I’m so happy they did it because my aunt and uncle have no kids so my brother, cousin, and I will have to go through their stuff and they have never gotten rid of stuff ever and I cannot see them downsizing by choice (i.e., when healthy enough to go through stuff on their own). So the less work I have in 30-40 years time, the better.

    2. Nicole*

      We’ve been doing a lot of decluttering recently because we’re holding our first ever garage sale in the next week or two (weather depending). I didn’t think we had enough items for a sale since we donate to Savers at least twice a year, but it turns out we do!

      Two weeks ago I went through our closets, this past week my husband went through the garage, and today I organized our hall closet and master bathroom. I finally used the label maker I purchased last year which, because it’s me, I thoroughly enjoyed.

      Whenever I reorganize our home, I update a note in Evernote I call “Where Is It?” because I like keeping track of what we have and where it’s being stored. It’s always an eye-opener and usually prevents me from buying duplicates of anything (because seriously, unless you’re reorganizing your entire house weekly, it’s easy to forget).

      I’m one of those people who feels anxious when there’s clutter or disorganization so it feels really good to purge!

      1. Seuuze*

        Go to http://www.theminimalists.com/minimalismmeetup/

        The minimalism, de-clutter, less stuff, more time for relationships movement is going on all over the country. I never realized how much freer and unburdened I felt when I started this process after ending my second, 23-year marriage and went to grad school as a baby boomer! I now live in a 2 bedroom apartment down from a 2600 sq. ft. house with four bedrooms and a studio and three bathrooms.

        There are also two books they have written about the subject and why it works for them. And of course there are many other people out there discussing this topic, joining groups and downsizing a lot! They also address issues of what to do with photographs and sentimental items. They now have a documentary out that is playing in a number of cities. I liked the books better than the movie, but the movie had several scientists discussing the sociological issues of accumulation.

        It is a challenge to begin the process, but once you start, and see how you feel, it is difficult to go back to the old ways. Give it a try, or a shove, and see how you feel and what you think.

        It actually has been hardest on my indoor cats. I had bird feeders, hummingbird feeders and lots of windows, sun and places for them to hang, chase and sleep. They had their own “room” for the cat litter as there was no basement. Now there are still way too many places for them to sleep, but no stairs for chasing or lots of closets for hiding. So it goes. We all have to adjust to the new norm.

        Good luck. I hope you find it a satisfying journey.

        1. Hellanon*

          I love getting rid of stuff. Clothes I’m not wearing go to Goodwill, books go to the South Pasadena library, random household bric a brac goes to Girl Scout yard sales and the like, and the amazing thing is that I do this every. year. yet there’s still more stuff. All I can think is that I’d held onto more than I realized when my parents were offloading in the 90s… Regardless, I’m by no means a minimalist, but I do like the idea of only holding on to things that I really like, the things I’ve chosen rather than those that were chosen for me.

      2. fposte*

        There is a lovely little app called “All My Things” that allows you to map out a total house inventory and has room for putting in photos and receipts, I believe. I put most of the house in there a couple of years ago and haven’t come back to it for a bit–now that I’ve done a lot of purging, I really should.

    3. Temperance*

      Yes, but I also just went to a Trash to Treasure sale, where everything was $1/bag …. so I’m not doing a very good job. But hey, I now have some really nice blankets and a pair of leather boots I wouldn’t have paid full price for.

  17. Ice Bear*

    Hive mind:

    If you message two of your friends, a couple who live together, asking whether they’d be interested in joining you and your spouse for a specific event a few weeks in the future, at what point would you feel a little annoyed that they haven’t even acknowledged your message? Especially if you can tell they read it within an hour or two of you sending it (this is on FB messenger) but almost 48 hours have since passed without a response?

    When someone messages me I always try to get back to them ASAP, particularly if I’ve read it because I don’t want them thinking I’m blowing them off. I’m not expecting them to know whether they can come, but if it were me I’d at least let the other person know I received their message and that I’d get back to them.

    It’s situations like this that messes with my mind. I start questioning whether I’ve offended them or they don’t really like me, etc, etc. which feeds into my social anxiety. And when I feel rejected in this way it make me less apt to extend invites in the future, which I’m sure is partly why I don’t have as many friends as I would like.

    So, am I expecting too much and/or being too sensitive?

    1. LawCat*

      I wouldn’t get annoyed and would just follow up in maybe a week (if the actual event is not for several weeks). Maybe they don’t know yet, maybe they forgot, no big deal. Just follow up.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Maybe not the most likely scenario, but my sister just got a normal phone plan after being on a prepaid one for a few years, and the Sprint people told her that it was not uncommon to not get all your texts on prepaid plans. (That was the problem that prompted her to change phone plans.)

      Otherwise, I personally just forget stuff. I might get a text, and if I don’t answer it right away, it could be a few days. I don’t intend to be rude, although I guess it is.

      1. Izzy*

        My son and I have prepaid Sprint plans and this happens all the time! Or they come late, or out of order. Very annoying. Occasionally funny, as when I get a text “Be home in an hour” an hour after he gets home, but most of the time just seriously annoying.

    3. Bluesboy*

      Some people get a message, don’t know the answer yet, and write back straight away to say that they’ve seen the message and will get back to you when they can. Some people just figure they’ll get back to you when they can. Don’t let it mess with your mind. Plus 48 hours isn’t that long anyway, not on a workday. It’s two evenings, if I already have plans on one of them it really only gives me one evening to talk to my partner, check my calendar and get back to you.

      If I were you I’d just send them a quick friendly reminder.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I wouldn’t read too much into it. Sometimes people read messages intending to message back “later,” and then life happens, and they forget to circle back. Remind them in a week or so and just say “If you can’t make it, totally cool. Would love to catch up with you two another time, though.”

      1. SophieChotek*

        +1.

        If you want to make sure specific event (i.e. with tickets) don’t get to waste, maybe add a “need firm commitment by X date.” (with above message). Then if you don’t hear from them, move on to next group. (presumably once these friends commit they won’t back out later.)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Forty eight hours is no where near enough time in my opinion. Both spouses have to figure out if they can commit to the time, they might have to figure it into the budget and there may be logistical issues that you are not aware of.

      Family member used to notify us the day before or the day of his son’s event. This family member was always surprised to find out that we would not be available that day or we did not answer the door because we had left for the day already. Finally we concluded that family member did not really want us in attendance. sigh.

    6. Jillociraptor*

      Do they consistently fail to reply to your texts? If so, you have more latitude to be annoyed (and also should probably try something like, “Wanna go on a wine train on June 29? I’ll call on Tuesday to talk over the details” instead of just texting).

      If they just haven’t replied to this one yet, I’d say it’s much more likely that they just need time to figure out their calendars, or someone clicked to the message at an inopportune time to reply and then forgot to reply later (this is me at least twice a day).

    7. Joanna*

      I wouldn’t make too much of it. There’s been many times I’ve read a message while I’ve been in the middle of doing something else and intended to reply when I’d finished what I was doing but never gotten around to it

    8. The Rat-Catcher*

      This is why I hate the “read” thing on Facebook. I don’t answer messaged right away and it never used to be a problem.

    9. Temperance*

      I am trying to be gentle, but I think you are too sensitive and that you do expecting too much. I’ve occasionally accidentally opened an FB message while on the train or at work, and forgot to respond. I have a high-pressure job, and I’m getting over some serious health issues, so stuff that isn’t urgent …. sometimes falls through. I can’t answer social questions immediately because Booth and I have busy schedules and partial season tickets to our local soccer team.

      I get anxious because I feel like my schedule is making my friends who have more free time/less going on think I hate them or am blowing them off when it’s just a combination of being a lawyer + going to PT 3x/week + having a lot of preplanned social events due to soccer games.

    10. Lily Evans*

      There’s always the chance that they glanced at it when they were busy then just forgot to reply (I do that all the time and I always feel guilty!). I purposely avoid opening FB messages on my phone for that reason when I know I can’t reply right away. Maybe just send a friendly follow-up message?

  18. AvonLady Barksdale*

    For those of you who gave me such great advice, an update on my attempts to start running regularly! I’ve been doing pretty well– I now run for 5 or 6 minutes during my morning walk. I’ve learned that it’s all in the first jog– I can now go up to 90 seconds without feeling like I want to die, so I do that for the first one, and subsequent jogs go for 45-60 seconds. I’m a little frustrated that I haven’t gone beyond that, but I know it takes a ton of time to go from nothing to full-on running. It is also humid as hell here, so while the mornings aren’t yet unbearably hot, the air is starting to get super thick and breathing through that is hard.

    I’m kind of surprised I haven’t given up yet, but I keep finding things to keep me motivated. First thing: the dog will be much less reluctant to run if he spots a crow or two, so when he wants to take off after them, I take advantage of that. Second, I ordered a few pairs compression capris and two new sports bras– I’ve been running in yoga pants and I just end up a sweaty mess, plus, it helps me if I feel like I look the part. I also got a Fitbit Alta for my birthday last week, and that helps a ton in terms of keeping me going. Onward! New goal is to hit 8 minutes/day by mid-July.

    1. Felix*

      Congrats! That is fantastic news. I agree looking the part totally helps :) keep up the good work!!!

    2. Susiecq*

      I’m doing something similar except in using the couch to 5k app. Have you heard of it? Over the course of 9 weeks it trains you to be able to run 5k. It’s all about interval running so it ties in with what you’re doing all ready, just adds structure and a coach talking to you during your run. It’s pretty cool, I’m on week 4 and went from not being able to run for more than 30 seconds at a time to running 5 minutes at a time.

  19. Anonyby*

    Anyone got comments/opinions/suggestions on good walking shoes that aren’t sneakers?

    I used to lovelovelove Skechers Bikers shoes for anything where I’d be walking all day–vacations, daycations, etc. However, I got one pair after they switched to the memory foam insoles, and now they’re just junk. What used to be a very supportive shoe now has no support, even after switching out the memory foam insole for a Dr. Scholls one that works very well for me in making cheap shoes good. (Seriously–same insole in my Gabriella Rocha boots and I could walk in those for a good solid couple of hours before pain, where in the Skechers it’s maybe 10-20 minutes.)

    I’ve tried another Skechers shoe -Stardust- that has a different memory foam insole (their “air-cooled memory foam”), and while it’s lovely for work, it has ZERO arch support, and my feet get super sweaty in them right away from lack of breathing, and they’re starting to get a bit of an odor to them after a couple months even though I’m only wearing them once or twice a week (and not on consecutive days!).

    I’m just getting completely frustrated with not having non-sneaker options that I can walk in.

    1. Kay*

      Anything made by Merrell. They make extremely nice non-sneaker shoes. I have a pair of dressy black shoes for work that I could walk all day in. My job can require me to be on my feet for hours at a time on some days.

      …and now I’m drooling over some of their sandals, sigh.

      1. Artemesia*

        I now live 95% of the time in Merrell ‘breeze’ mesh top clogs — they are just incredibly comfortable. I have some hiking shoes for when I need waterproof or laced shoes for stability on slippery trails or rocks. I have some boots for winter also Merrell both high top weather proof and low slipons for cold and snow but not deep snow. Also have some athletic soled sandals that are decent enough looking for wear with summer skirts.

        For me they are just the most comfortable shoes. And many of them are a notch up from sneakers. I would search for a brand that works for you and see what they have.

    2. Coffee and Mountains*

      I hiked all over DC in Croc ballet flats (not the clogs; you would never know these are Crocs!) and they were awesome! Rubber soled, very light and comfortable. They have holes in them for air but my feet can get sweaty in them, but after multiple days of wear with no socks. A day off or so in between or using sock liners takes care of it. If they do smell, they’re all rubber and super easy to clean.
      I NEVER thought I would recommend Crocs, but I did a bunch of research online before I bought them and people kept recommending them, and now I’m a believer. (Except for the clogs. Still hate those)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I have a pair of leather Mary Janes from Crocs that I bought for Exjob–the carpet-covered concrete floor was doing a number on my feet/back. They are great. They have the spongey stuff on the inside, but you’d never guess from the outside that they are Crocs.

        1. Anonyby*

          I do have leather Crocs as well! A pair of A-leigh boots and a pair of A-leigh sandals I love to death. I then got a pair of kitten heel leather pumps from them based off of my happiness with the other two, but the pumps are weirdly proportioned. Heel is about two sizes too big while the toebox is too small, and I don’t have weirdly proportioned feet (at least the only thing weird about them is that they’re average size while my height is definitely well below average). Those are going to get taken to Savers next time I go.

    3. Punkin*

      I bought some super comfy Propet shoes from JC Penney. Not sure if they still carry them, but I was amazed.

    4. the gold digger*

      I’m afraid the only advice I can give is not to buy Ecco shoes. I bought some hiking boots years ago and barely wore them. I got them out of the attic a few weeks ago to wear on a trip to Colorado. Primo and I stayed the night with some college friends in Denver. As they were showing us to our room, I noticed I was leaving chunks of dirt on their beautiful white carpet.

      I was horrified and couldn’t figure out how I had tracked mud into the house – I didn’t think I had walked through any.

      Turned out to be the rubber on the soles falling apart. The boots are completely unwearable now. I am not happy that shoes that cost $200 a decade ago fell apart.

      1. JaneB*

        So sorry to hear that – ecco are my absolute favourite shoe brand and I’ve been impressed with the quality and durability of their stuff, maybe there’s some sort of difference between European and US sourcing?

        They fit my wierd feet (heel two width fittings narrower than the front, and an unusually deep big toe joint), the biom natural motion line in particular suits my cranky hip, and they’re robust. I do usually wear the soles out first, but there’s a LOT of me so I put extra stress on the shoes, I have slightly odd walking patterns (and bad habits like scuffing my feet on the floor or table leg when sitting), and have always worn out shoe soles unevenly and relatively quickly.

        1. fposte*

          Fistbump of solidarity from another duckfoot here.

          Somebody at work was wearing the same shoes I was the other day and I genuinely didn’t recognize them–she’s like a 13AAA and I’m like a 13AAA put in a trash compactor.

    5. Lizabeth*

      I wear Asics for an everyday shoe and to play volleyball. I’ve been eying their walking shoe option for my next pair. They stopped making the style that I totally love. Asics.com – women’s walking shoes.

    6. Milton*

      I got Tieks a few months ago. I like them a lot. It took me like a week and a half to break them in. I wish I was one of those commenters that only needed to wear them for 5 mins to do that. Anywho, hmmm non sneaker…what about Sole Society? I have some calf high boots that have been good. Aerosoles? Walking Shoe Company? There’s one more I can’t find…Nature’s something? I’ll come back.

      1. Theguvnah*

        It took me literally 2 months to break in my Tieks. I was getting so angry and felt like I had been scammed by all the reviews I read! I’m just now starting to get the hype. And even considering another pair…

    7. Aardvark*

      I’m a big fan of Keen. I’ve got a pair of the Rose sandals that I pretty much wear all summer and Tyretread boots that I wear all winter. I had to put arch supports in the boots (no support and I’ve got flat feet), but once those were in, I wore them every day on a 2-week vacation where I averaged 15-20k steps a day. My feet still hurt at the end of the day, but in a normal “I walked 3-4x as much as I normally do!” way (and with my feet it’s kind of unavoidable.)

    8. SophieChotek*

      I had some Rockports (World Tour) style that I loved. As in I am on the fourth pair of the exact same style; as soon as I would wear a pair out I would run out and buy another pair. But sadly they stopped making the style in my size. (Grrr.) Got good luck with a pair of New Balance Shoes now–but I think those are more like sneakers.
      For walking shoes, it’s worth it to ask a knowledgeable salesperson which shoes have been approved by the American Podiatric Association (APMA I think). Every pair I have had that has worked for me has been “approved” by them. Often a shoe company (i.e. Rockport, New Balance) will have many styles that they will call “walking” shoes, but only 1 or 2 actual styles are actually “approved.”

      1. Artemesia*

        I always have a new pair of my favorite merrells in a box in the closet and have 3 pair in rotation right not — totally trashed pair for wear painting, or to the beach, oldish pair for around the place, newish nice looking pair for wearing out — and the new pair in the box on the shelf. I live in fear that they will stop making the shoe I live in (like every lipstick color I have every liked)

        1. SophieChotek*

          Artemesia — I am glad I am not the only one who feels that way about a good pair. Those can be hard to find. (Buy another pair now.) I was so bummed when they stopped making my favorite Rockports. I asked the Rockport stores to look nationwide and in the warehouse–no luck. I even have an alert on eBay/Amazon, but never found a “new” pair that someone may have discovered in the back of their closet.

    9. StillHealing*

      ahnu brand shoes are the MOST comfortable shoes I have ever owned. I’m currently down to just one very worn pair but have owned four pair over the years. Styles vary – flat slip-ons, sandals, hiking, etc. Cute for sure and many people compliment them but it’s the comfort that keeps me buying them. I’m an over 50, large woman and typically, my feet don’t get fatigued wearing ahnu brand shoes. It’s truly a bonus that the styles are often quite cute.

    10. Mirilla*

      I have a pair of Teva hurricane sandals that are good for walking on well worn trails. I would not wear them in very tall grassy or dirty areas though. They are comfortable!

      1. Anonyby*

        My favorite brand for flip-flops are Teva! I’m on my second pair because the first were worn so much that the foam got squashed flat and the label in the heel became raised above the foam. I still wear that pair as slippers around the house! My Teva flip-flops totally saved me the year I was stupid enough to bring a new set of shoes with me to Disneyland… I had gotten a new pair of the Bikers because the velcro was wearing out on my old pair… and completely forgot that the back of the shoe rubbed until it was broken in. Whoops.

    11. LCL*

      I like light hiking boots. Keen’s are the most popular around here, but I despise the fit and gave mine to the thrift store. There isn’t enough depth in the toe box. My latest favorites are Eddie Bauer brand mid height boots. New balance are quite popular, but I broke my ankle in a pair chasing after the dog.

      When the weather is nice I walk in Chaco sandals, the version with two narrow straps. They are a sandal with a heavy vibram sole and a unique fastening system. I did sunburn my feet in them today because I was at the beach. It’s always something!

    12. AliceBD*

      My parents LOVE their Keens for very comfy summer sandals, although they are not fancy. We’ve had good luck with Merrels.

      I have Alegria shoes, which aren’t walking shoes in the sense of “go for a hike” but which are in the sense of “be a tourist and go see the sights and spend all day in museums and walking tours” or jobs where you have to be on your feet a lot. They come in VERY cute patterns. Pro-tip: They make two types of insoles. I always have to switch to the other insole (they do it at the store) and then the shoes are super comfy right away. So if the first ones you try one don’t seem to quite fit correctly, try them with the other insole before you discard them.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I quite like Geox shoes for when I want something more comfortable and sturdier than ballerina flats but daintier than trainers.

        1. Al Lo*

          I bought a pair of Geox sandals for traipsing around China last summer. I’m super picky when buying shoes/boots, since I always want both fashion and function, and I’m not okay with things that look more functional than fashionable. I spent hours shopping for good walking sandals that would still look kind of dressy (I wear more skirts/sundresses than shorts in the summer), and ended up with a pair of Geox sandals with a little bit of a wedge (2″). Low enough to feel like flats, comfortable enough to walk a lot, didn’t rub anywhere, and dressy enough to feel like I wasn’t wearing tourist shoes.

    13. Nella*

      Kerns. I love my jeans and probably have around 6 pairs of them. Anything from sandals to heels to winter boots and hikers. And I have a pair for my work shoes. My keen sandals have probably have been on 3 different continents and are still going strong in their 6th year of life.

    1. the gold digger*

      What’s going on? Burying a boss with a front end loader and now this? The common factor is I have lived in both places. Hmm.

      The more important question – was the driver actually forklift certified? This could be an OSHA violation as well. :)

  20. Coffee and Mountains*

    I’m trying to be healthier and one of the main things I’m trying to do is drink green smoothies for breakfast. My favorite is spinach/apple/kiwi, but I can see this getting old after a while. I’m going to start mixing it up with a different fruit to replace the kiwi (so next week will be spinach/apple/blueberry), but I’m wondering how to change up the spinach (or do I have to?) The only other green I know of that people use is kale, are there any other good ones for green smoothies?

    1. LisaLee*

      Kale is good, but I would recommend chopping and freezing it before using. It can be a bit tough fresh but the freezing helps break it down. I like kale/apple juice/pineapple/orange.

      1. Cristina in England*

        For my fellow UK residents, you can get frozen single kale portions at Tesco! I love my single serving kale cubes (cylinders really), I just thaw one and put it in my dinner nearly every night, no matter what I am having. Since they’re frozen and small they might be good for a green smoothie, if your blender can handle it?

      2. K.*

        Lemon juice also helps with kale – the acid breaks down the bitterness (this is good for kale salads too, massaging the kale with lemon and oil). Fresh ginger is good too. I like kale/lemon juice/peach/ginger.

    2. nep*

      I’ve read from many sources it’s good to change up the greens — if you’re interested there’s plenty on line about that.
      I was pleasantly surprised when I tried spring mix for a smoothie when I was out of baby spinach. It was great.

    3. Forrest Rhodes*

      Have you tried starting with baby bok choy? The big ones are good too, but a whole baby version is a great starting point, then my combinations get completely nutso. Depending what’s at hand I throw in some (but never all) of the following: a few cucumber coins, a quarter of an apple, a fistful of frozen blueberries, a slug of pomegranate juice, always a banana (potassium, and it makes the drink really creamy), a couple of orange slices, even tomato, celery, and bell pepper, then a little icy-cold water or OJ. Sounds completely ridiculous, I know, but it’s fast, easy, and the concoctions never taste exactly the same but they’re really good.

      Long ag0 a friend gave me a sign that still hangs in my kitchen: “Approach love and cooking with abandon.” That works for me, and I wish you happy concocting.

    4. Kimmy*

      I love beet greens in a green smoothie. The greens are sweet and add really nice flavor the smoothie.

    5. TB*

      While not technically a “green,” zucchini is delicious in smoothies. It adds a great texture and volume, and its mild flavor doesn’t compromise the taste. I normally dice up a small zucchini and toss it in.

  21. LV Ladybug*

    Figuring out the hard way: If you want to clean out your office, get new furniture. Nothing will make you throw more junk away when you do that. I pulled all the files out from the cabinet, they went back to 2010, they were either tossed or boxed up for storage. I am currently living in havoc unable to find everything, but I feel so much better about my surroundings.

    1. nep*

      It’s great purging old stuff and just getting organised.
      Sometimes when I know I need to clean out my bag I use for work or a section of my closet, I just dump everything in the middle of my room. In an instant, forced to purge and tidy up.

      1. LV Ladybug*

        When I get a new purse, I just pull the things I need out and leave everything else behind. I will then go back much later and actually throw that stuff away. My husband laughs at me for having these half empty bags in our closet.

    2. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Or buy a shredder. Whenever I have a shredder, I am constantly looking for things to shred. So SATISFYING!!

      1. LV Ladybug*

        I love using our shredder at work. My problem is that I have to hold onto documents, etc for a long period of time. I wish I could get rid of a lot more than what I already did. But I would shred anything I can. I love using that thing. (And of course I just broke it. Just my luck.)

  22. Nicole*

    Anyone else going to The Cure concert June 10th or 11th in Chicago? I have tickets for the 10th and I cannot wait. They’ve been my favorite band since 1991 and this will be my 6th time seeing them live. I’m so excited!

    1. misspiggy*

      A friend of mine is, and she’s sooo excited! Cure loyalty seems to be a very special kind of loyalty. Hope you have a fabulous time!

    2. Tris Prior*

      I wish!! I’ve never seen them but the tickets were way too $$$ for me. :( Have a great time!

      1. Nicole*

        Thank you for the wishes, and sorry you’re not able to go! I wasn’t too happy about the price of the tickets either, but they are pretty much the only band I ever see in concert so I made an exception. :)

        1. Tris Prior*

          I feel like suddenly tickets to concerts here have gone WAY up. I really want to see VNV Nation – never miss them. Their tickets are usually around $20. This time: $37, and that’s before fees. And it’s just the Metro, not one of the big venues.

          I wonder if the city is putting the screws to performers who come here now, so that is getting reflected in the ticket prices?

  23. Anonymous Educator*

    Last week I binge-watched Dramaworld. This week, I’ve been obsessively watching The Americans. Very engrossing!

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Just finished season 1 and starting season 2. How many times did I think “if only they had cell phones and the Internet…”?

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Yes! I love how low-tech it is. I’m a bit nostalgic for that time (as someone who wrote a lot of snail mail back then).

  24. Milton*

    Any suggestions on how to be a better (home)cook?

    More background: I can cook (my husband would disagree, haha), just not like my MIL or grandma. What makes their cooking so good?! Is it because it’s made with extra love? An extra pinch of sugar or spice or salt or pepper? Do I need better quality ingredients?

    I went one of the top 15 restaurants in the world last year and it was such a wonderful experience! I don’t dare try and recreate gastronomic concoctions at home, but the balance of flavors and the simplicity of it at times…it was delicious! Could I make something equally amazing from ingredients in my pantry or the local grocery store?

    IDK, maybe I’ve watched too many high end cook shoes on Netflix :)

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Technique. It all starts with technique. I learn how to make a TYPE of dish, like a gratin or a curry, then I play with variations and flavors. Start with a few recipes and try paying less attention to what’s in it and more to how it’s done. After a bit, you’ll start to figure out how certain things come together.

    2. danr*

      You just need to cook more. Look for recipes that are simple and master them. Also, look for recipes that apply to more than one dish. Look over the various cooking magazines and try the recipes. We like Bon Appetit and Food and Wine. A neat cookbook is Keep it Simple from Bon Appetit. It has basic recipes and tips on how to apply them to other ingredients. As you cook more, you will find that you adjust seasonings better. I almost always make the recipe as written the first time and start changing the second, except for two things… garlic and salt. If the dish is meat and garlic isn’t included, I usually add it. I look at the salt and cut it by half or more. If you want to cook fancy, the best cookbook for a beginner is Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking since she gives complete instructions. Follow them and you’ll have a dish that folks will love. Finally, don’t admit to making mistakes. We all make mistakes and usually no one will notice.
      Happy Cooking.

    3. Aardvark*

      It may be the salt :) I had a breakthrough from meh cook to pretty okay cook when I learned was to taste for seasoning just before serving. If something tastes bland, salt will bring out the flavor (added slowly.) If everything tastes dull, usually a small splash of vinegar or lemon juice (depending on the flavors) will brighten everything up.

      Also, when I look at a recipe I think of the flavors that go into a good meal. Does it have some richness from fat? Does it have some flavor and pizazz (herbs, spices, bold ingredients)? Does it have some acid? Does it have some umami element? If it’s lacking an element, I might adjust my recipe to include more of it (like adding bacon grease when browning aromatics to up salt/umami if I’ve got some.)

      1. TootsNYC*

        I took a group cooking class for a work bonding thing, and the pro cooks coaching us said, “use more salt than you think you need.”

      2. cardiganed librarian*

        I think that very often the deliciousness of mom’s/grandma’s cooking was that it came from a less health-conscious era, and if we saw the amount of butter and/or salt that went in, we’d automatically reduce it when replicating the recipe.

        A friend told me a story I love – she wanted to make her northern Italian grandmother’s meat sauce, and she went to the store and got all the things she thought she’d need – meat, tomatoes, onion, garlic, spices… And when she asked her grandmother for the recipe, it turned out that it contained meat and tomatoes and three kinds of fat – and nothing else.

    4. h.cowl*

      Just cook more!

      My parents cooked (pretty easy, boring stuff) but honestly just never taught me (maybe they thought I’d just pick it up my osmosis??). My husband fondly remembers in college when I made him a quesadilla by turning the burner on high, or served him crunchy pasta (underdid “al dente”). Maybe a year after those incidents I bought my first cookbook and just went for it. Now I cook every night, and honestly I think I’m pretty great at it. Most beginner or simple cookbooks have a huge section at the beginning about equipment and technique. Read it, pick some recipes, and just start.

      1. h.cowl*

        Also, give your husband a whack if he compares your cooking to your MIL’s, because that will definitely not help your confidence.

        1. Milton*

          LOL. He’s a smart man, he’s never mentioned it. It’s just one of those things you know. The first time I met them/stayed with them I knew at first bite she was a badass cook.

    5. Artemesia*

      I bought this enormous cook book called Silver Spoon that was a sort of joy of cooking type book but Italian (in English). Every dish I made from this thing has been terrific. I have found that internet recipes while easy to find are very much a mixed bag — so many of them are not well tested. With Silver Spoon, I would say buy a type of fish then look in the index and make a fish recipe — and it would be lovely.

    6. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Practice, practice…then practice some more. Don’t be afraid to throw something out and order pizza if you stuff it up, but also don’t take that as a failure of your kitchen skills. Professionals try and try again. There are so many failures you didn’t see before that “perfect” dish hit the menu.

      Other thoughts: butter, salt, pepper, and good quality olive oil make all the difference. Restaurant food in general uses real butter, cream, etc. That’s why it tastes so good! :)

      Restaurant chefs taste *while* they’re cooking, from start to finish. They’re constantly adjusting seasoning, etc.

      Cook with fresh, local food whenever possible, but be prepared for a higher grocery budget. Grocery store produce is nothing when compared to a perfect tomato grown a mile from your home!

      Find a recipe you want to try, and make it. My family spends dinner discussing the food we’re eating. What could make it better, or should it stay the same? Once you’ve adjusted it to your liking, add it to your file with the changes noted. Move on to the next recipe.

      Avoid blog recipes until you’re comfortable reading further into what the recipe really means (unless they’re from big names that have a lot of feedback in the comments!). Stick with food websites that use recipe testers, if at all possible. Bloggers often aren’t skilled at testing, and provide recipes that just won’t work (no offense to any food bloggers out there!).

      Otherwise? Just keep doing it. Chefs are good because they’re in a kitchen for 12 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week. Cooking is like breathing!

      1. Nye*

        Agree with all of this wholeheartedly! To add a specific recommendation, Cook’s Illustrated is a good recipe source, since they test extensively and give extremely detailed instructions. If you follow them, you’ll always get something good, and you’ll often learn a bit more technique. I also like Smitten Kitchen, Flour Arrangements, 101 Cookbooks, and David Lebovitz in terms of high-quality, reliable cooking blogs. If you want paper books, the Ottolenghi cookbooks have good and interesting flavors and very reliable recipes.

    7. Dan*

      Pantry? Depends on how empty it is. Grocery store? Yeah.

      For me, good food is all about flavor. The trick when you are starting out is to cook recipes that are forgiving — that is, where you can adjust as you are cooking to develop the flavor profiles that you want. So “saucy” things are a good start — you can modify the sauces on the fly.

      Books I started out with, and have really liked: This guy Hugh Carpenter does Asian American fusion. His books “Hot BBQ” and “Hot Chicken” have some good recipes. Bonus: There’s a lot of overlap in ingredients, so you won’t have to buy 10 ingredients every time you cook something new. After a handful of recipes, you’ll just be buying the main protein plus one or two other things.

      Another series that’s quite accessible to the novice home chef: Morton’s Steakhouse (big steakhouse chain) has two books out there. They’re easy, and packed full of good stuff. I make my own Blue Cheese and Ceasar dressings from these books; I will never go back to bottled dressing again.

    8. Weekend Warrior*

      I agree with everyone that you just need to cook – and laugh about the things that don’t turn out. I once made butterscotch pudding, mmm, only to grab the wrong box and add baking soda instead of cornstarch. Cornstarch thickens while baking soda causes everything to foam up! I didn’t know what I had done at first and just stood there frozen.

      Try a lot of cookbooks from the library to find the ones that work best for you, both in flavour and in how they set out the method. I love Jamie Oliver’s gusto and flavours but I find his recipes very hard to follow in how they’re laid out in many of his books. Martha Stewart – easy to follow and great results. Also lots available online. America’s Test Kitchen – great results if you can skip the palaver they often include. :) (ATK Cooking for Two annual publications are really good if you don’t want huge portions and lots of leftovers.)

    9. Mando Diao*

      More butter in baked cooks. Try adding an extra 25% to written recipes.

      In savory dishes, salt and pepper. Recipes are written to be bland under the assumption that people will salt to their own tastes.

    10. Nye*

      Wanted to comment separately on baking, in case that’s part of what you’re wondering about. Baking is different than cooking, and technique and precision are critical. So having a good recipe, using the right ingredients (real butter, flour that isn’t ancient and rancid, etc), measuring accurately, and understanding technique (creaming? stiff peaks?) are especially important. Cooking is often much more forgiving in comparison.

      My biggest recommendation for both cooking and baking is to start with a good recipe and follow it precisely the first time around. Don’t substitute, don’t shortcut. Once you’ve done it once, you’ll understand how it works a bit better and what it should be like, and can play with it in future.

      Also, if you rarely cook/bake, check your ingredients and make sure they’re fresh. Anything containing fat can go rancid (flour, butter, shortening, etc), baking powder can get damp and lose its leavening power, herbs and spices can get stale. I tossed a 13-year-expired can of cooking spray when moving in with my partner; no idea where or when he got it but these things have a tendency to linger if not used regularly.

      Specific baking recommendation: get a small kitchen scale and weight your ingredients, don’t measure by volume. Huge increase in precision, and therefore success.

  25. I hate driving*

    I’m in my late 20s and trying to get my license (I need it now for practical reasons) and no matter how much practice I get… I just feel completely uncomfortable driving. I honestly hate it. Can I ever get over it? I mean, I know the answer is more practice, but are there any other tips and tricks? I had lessons last spring and I’m taking more right now, but I just feel like I’m not getting any “better.”

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Hard to say. I’ve seen all cases. People who were fine driving from Day One. People who were terrified and then got over it. People who were terrified and stay that way for decades. People who used to be fine with it and then got terrified later. I’m sorry you’re experiencing this.

      1. Anne*

        I was fine w it when I was younger. Now in my late 20s I hate it. I try not to have to drives places. Obviously I have to drive to work but I’m used to that drive and it isn’t far

    2. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Yes, to an extent!

      I actually developed severe driving anxiety after a move to a major city. Driving became my most hated activity. I avoided it as much as possible, would circle back to ensure I didn’t hit anything, etc.

      Therapy was my starting point, but for you, professional lessons might help in addition to therapy. It sounds like you need a “voice of reason” to help you recognize where you’re improving. Therapy helped me with that part (and eventually, I drove on the thruway, by myself! Now, I can drive in rush hour traffic with only minimal anxiety.).

      I wish you the best of luck!

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      For me, I actually found that changing my instructor helped, I didn’t gel with my first one but then I was given a recommendation of someone else by my co-worker and he was so much better. Maybe that’s an issue?

      1. I hate driving*

        Maybe. I know this is going to sound stupid, but all of my instructors (well, 2) have been sooooooo critical of EVERYTHING that it just makes me not want to drive at all. Period. I feel like all I do is make mistakes. I know that you need to learn how to drive safely, but my god… it’s almost deflating.

        1. catsAreCool*

          I think that makes a lot of sense – who wants to do something when they’re being criticized and never praised?

      2. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Yes! I was terrified of driving when my parents were teaching me. (They let me practice driving in big empty parking lots and places like that when I was around 14.) But as soon as I was in a real driving school, it got better.

        I think it also helped that (in Texas at least) we had to have a certain number of hours driving and a number of hours observing. So they would pair us up with another student, the instructor would take us out and one student would drive, the other would observe in the back seat and then we’d switch. So I saw other students making mistakes or getting advice from the instructor, and it made me feel like less of an idiot!

        A couple of years ago, I got into an accident on the highway (thankfully very minor and nobody was hurt, but my car was totaled). Since then I have had a lot of anxiety driving on the highway. Thankfully it’s getting better just because I’m making myself do it, but it made me realize that driving isn’t something that I’ll always feel 100% comfortable doing.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure what you are looking for. I don’t think I learned to drive until AFTER I got my license. And that was a shocker for me, I thought people knew how to be great drivers and that is why they had licenses. NO, I was at best mediocre and scared crapless.

      Definitely change instructors. Get a different person.
      Also try to figure out the particulars of why you are uncomfortable. It will probably be a list if you are like most people.

      In my state, DMV offers new driver prep courses that you take online. Maybe your state has something like that. What is good about these courses is you get used to hearing/reading about driving situations and learning how to describe them. Once you know how to describe them it is much easier to ask more questions. I did a driver safety course online just recently and I got more out of it than I thought I would.

      When I helped a friend to get her license, it became obvious to me that she knew how to drive. I asked her “why am I here?”. That kind of shook her at first and then she got a handle on it. She said, “You are helping me build confidence.” Oh my. How true. We can know what to do and yet in the moment of need totally forget what to do. When I first drove on my own, I would literally talk to myself to make myself concentrate on the steps. There just seemed to be so much to watch out for all. the. time.

      How’s your mindset, how are you doing with your self-talk? You say you hate driving and I hear ya on that one. But do you follow up with anything? For example: “I hate driving but I need to do this, so I will learn it.” There are so many things in life that we have to master, there is no choice and the task is not fun nor do we get a sense of accomplishment. For some people this describes driving, too.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Yeah, I wasn’t any good at driving till after I got my license. And I waited till I was 18, and it was a need. (I live in area with no public transportation.) My dad taught me, and he can be a bit quick tempered.

        I still kind of hate driving, but it helps to have the radio on. It drowns out the negative self talk.

        1. KR*

          Yes to the radio! My dad drive with me a little before I went into drivers ed and he kept the radio off so I could concentrate. When we drove in drivers ed, we kept the radio on (you could hook up your own playlist or favorite radio station) and two or three of your classmates would be in the car and they were encouraged to talk and act like normal people in a normal car. It helped me relax so much and get used to driving. Also, yes to finding a new teacher or driving buddy. Someone to get you used to it.

    5. Cam*

      It gets better, but it takes a long time, at least for me. I live in the DC area and for the first six years I had my license, I never once voluntarily got on the beltway (major interstate circling the city). It wasn’t until I absolutely had to drive on it to get to my first job after college, that I became more confident in my driving skills. I still hate driving and especially driving somewhere new. GPS helps a lot, because I find that I can’t concentrate on driving well and navigating at the same time. I still use it even if I really should know where I’m going by now, bc I’m just so much more confident if I can concentrate on the road and not on finding my next turn.

    6. doreen*

      Are you doing any driving besides the lessons? Lessons for a couple of hours a week are not going to do much to help you feel comfortable. In my state, you can drive with a permit as long as there is an accompanying driver so if you can do that I would recommend driving as much as possible. (When my son had a permit, anytime he and my husband were in the car, son drove. And they went out driving just for him to get practice. ) The others are right about not really knowing how to drive until after you get a license , but that’s about experience , too. When you have say 200 hours behind the wheel you’ll be at a certain comfort level- and whether those hours are pre or post licensing isn’t going to make much difference.

    7. Dangerfield*

      Honestly, when I look back to my driving right after I passed my test, I am horrified I was on the road and I don’t know how I didn’t get in an accident. I was so anxious and stressed that my driving was awful. If I got in a slightly awkward situation – it being hard to get onto a roundabout because there was lots of traffic – I would panic and my brain would shut down and I would just try and get out when it wasn’t safe. The idea of driving at rush hour literally gave me panic attacks.

      But now, I’m a good driver. I drive to places I don’t know, I drive at busy times of the day, I don’t panic. Once I’d realised I really had to do something about it, I started out by only doing very easy, very low-stakes drives – a couple of miles at 7am on a Sunday morning, 8pm in the evening. I adjusted my work schedule so I never had to go anywhere when the roads were busy, or I took public transport.

      I asked confident drivers who I trusted to drive me on my most regular routes at very busy times and I paid particular attention to the things that freaked me out – roundabouts! – and sort of tried to play out in my head what I’d do – when there were gaps I could pull out into, what I would have done in X situation etc. It gave me the opportunity to really see that no, I wouldn’t get stuck in an awful situation because if I was just patient, a safe opportunity always came up.

      To be honest, I probably could have done with professional help, but that wasn’t an option. This worked!

    8. Accountant*

      I hated driving when I was a teenager. Most teenagers were so excited to get behind the wheel. I was terrified and hated it and was so anxious when I had to practice and take lessons that I almost felt sick. I failed my drives license test twice because I was so anxious when I went to take it. Well, I’ve been driving for 17 years now. I’m a mediocre driver, I still dislike it, but I’m not terrified anymore. I just made myself keep doing it and eventually I “unclenched” for a lack of better word. The one time I was on cymbalta for about a year for something else was the only time I truly drove worry-free.

      So, TL;DR, I still don’t like it, but it got better with a lot of practice and time.

    9. TootsNYC*

      I don’t get a lot of practice anymore, and get nervous. I also feel like I’m not focusing as well as I should. I’ve started narrating my driving, actually–it helps me a lot!

      I say stuff like, “I’m going to watch for that car at the corner, it should slow down” and “The light turned red up ahead, so I’ll slow now.”

      It’s sort of silly. But I really feel safer.

      1. bibliovore*

        I got my license at 54. Verbal using everything was helpful. I am coming to a stop sign. Full Stop. This is an uncontrolled intersection.

    10. Menacia*

      I’m 51, I did not get my driver’s license until I was 21, drove very little, and then at 25 moved to a state with a terrific public transportation infrastructure and did not drive for 10 years. Before moving to another state where I *had* to have a car and drive everywhere, I took driving lessons and basically forced myself to drive. The first lesson? On one of the worst highways in MA, my knuckles literally hurt from me clenching the wheel so hard…but you know what, I actually did fine! Each time it got better, and yes, the instructor absolutely makes all the difference. One thing I would have done differently was not to be in the car when other students were driving, it was obvious this one woman had NO clue, and was driving in the breakdown lane! I kept gasping (could not help it!) because she was awful. Now I drive to/from work every day, and while I’m certainly comfortable driving, I still hate it.

      I can’t wait to retire to a nice *walking* community in FL!

  26. Random Citizen*

    Car question for the AAM crew! I am looking into buying a new used car (I currently drive a ’03 Buick Regal), but just got a promotion and a raise and am interested in upgrading. Right now, I’d be willing to spend around $5,000-6,000, but could be a little flexible with the range. I am in love with Dodge Chargers (have wanted one for years) but assumed they were totally out of my price range until I checked online and found a half dozen used ones in my area for around $6,000.

    So, has anyone here owned a Charger? Are they as awesome as they look? Are you more likely to get pulled over by the cops (red or black are my fave colors, but I’m definitely flexible for the right price, and, hey, it’s a Charger! Any color is cool, right? :))? The ones I saw were 2006-10 models, mostly with upwards of 150,000 – what range should I expect? How’s the gas mileage? Also heard that at least one insurance company (don’t have a name) classes them as a four-door sedan instead of a sports car – is that common?

    Any and all information would be welcomed, and other car suggestions are welcomed as well! I’m not looking for a sports car specifically, I just love the look of these so much and always have, and excited that one could actually be within my budget.

    tl;dr: I want a Dodge Charger! Thoughts?

    1. Noah*

      A good friend drives a Dodge Charger that he has owned since he bought it new in 2010. I’ve driven it a few times. His is the V6 version, so not super powerful or anything but good enough for daily driving and freeway passing. My only real complaint is that the steering feels a bit disconnected, but it is a large car. He really likes the size now that he has two kids because it is very easy to put two carseats in the back. That is impossible in smaller cars like my Mazda 3.

      I don’t know much about pricing now but I do know that Dodge was offering major incentives when my friend purchased the car new and is was around $15k for a new one. Most American cars don’t hold their value as well as the imports, especially the Japanese brands. The auto transmissions used in the Charger can have issues, so I would make sure it shifts smoothly and correctly. FWIW, my dad drives a 2004 Jeep Liberty with the same transmission and it has nearly 180k miles without any issues. Just wanted to point out one commonly known and potentially costly issue to consider.

      1. Random Citizen*

        Thanks, Noah! I’m looking for a used one, so definitely a lower price range, but $15k for a new one is actually a lot better than I thought. Used ones I was looking at were mostly SXTs with a V6 engine, so it sounds like similar to your friend’s. The size is actually one of the reasons I like it – just feels safer and less vulnerable on the road. I currently drive a Buick that I fondly refer to as my boat, and guessing the size is pretty similar?

        Thanks for the head up on the potential transmission issues! I’ll be sure to pay attention to that and hopefully get one checked out by a mechanic before buying (I’m leaning towards finding one from private owner vs. a dealer because it’s cheaper, but don’t want to miss any major mechanical issues either). Appreciate the advice!

    2. LCL*

      I love the charger, but love the challenger even more. I would take either one. I wouldn’t pay as much as you are talking about for any car with 150,000 miles.

      1. Random Citizen*

        I’ll keep an eye out for one with lower mileage then – I’m thinking closer to 100k? Do you like the look of the challenger, or the way it drives better?

    3. Amadeo*

      Kelley Blue Book (Kbb.com, I think) is a good way to figure what the price range would be for a used car you’re looking to purchase. I, personally, don’t go for high milage used cars ever, but that’s just the way I was raised and a preference I stuck to. Be sure to look up that price range first to get an idea of what you really ought to be paying and go from there.

      You can contact your current insurance agent and ask them what the insurance would be for the sort of car you’re looking for and get an estimate so you’d know that right off the bat. Also, if you live in an area that receives winter weather, be aware that those cars are rear wheel drive and nose-heavy, rear wheel drive sports cars are nightmares in winter weather. Ask me how I know.

      1. Random Citizen*

        Yish, I live in a very snow-heavy area and for some reason was thinking rear-wheel drive was better on ice, but I’ll be rethinking that assumption. Kelley Blue Book had a Charger with this mileage around $5500, but I was just guessing at the condition since I haven’t looked at any particular ones for sale in person yet, but will definitely check again once I have one in mind. Thanks for the insurance tip! I’ll check with my agent on that.

        1. Amadeo*

          No, front wheel drive is always better when it comes to snow and ice. I have a Mustang, trust me, I know. I’m 4×4 truck shopping now that I have a more secure job (I’ve had the car for 6 years).

          So, I recommend thinking very hard about your vehicle choice if you’re going to have to commute in the snow a lot. It’s doable, to a point, but it can get hair-raising.

          1. Random Citizen*

            Yeah, okay. There’s a lot of snow and ice where I am. :) And my commute is really short right now (10 minutes, less than 5 miles through town), but I do want a car that will be reliable and not inclined to slide around so much. Mustangs are my other car love, but Chargers seemed more sturdy for winter driving. Weather-wise and style-wise, I’d jump at a Chevy Avalanche, but those are waaay out of my price range right now, so I’ll keep dreaming. I’m not so set on a sports car that I’d want to put up with a risky drive half the year.

  27. TheLazyB*

    I went for lunch with one of my friends today and leveled with her about feeling hurt that she and one of our other friends do stuff together much more often than either of them do with me, and not including me when they do stuff together when they know each other kind of through me. Not blaming her, and I acknowledged that things are how they are and I don’t want them not to do stuff, but just telling her that sometimes it stings. And she totally understood, and she realised i wasn’t blaming anyone, and it just helped so much.
    Nothing has changed, I haven’t got a new perspective on it or anything, I just feel lighter (and ironically, closer to her) for getting it off my chest.
    I didn’t plan to tell her anything about it but she asked about something and it just went from there.
    I just needed to say it to someone. I feel so much better. Lunch and then a few drinks in the sunshine also helped :)

    1. TheLazyB*

      Thank you both! I would never have imagined I could actually tell her but I’m so glad it turned out that I could :)

  28. SophieChotek*

    Theater in Boston

    Several weeks ago someone asked about getting involved in community theater in Boston. (Sorry not sure where original post is, and not sure OP would see if I did find it and posted.)

    Just wanted to update OP that I asked some theater-minded friends from the area, but no one ever bothered to get back to me–which is typical. Sometimes they’ll get back to me–other times, they never do.

    1. Much Anon About Nothing*

      Theater anon here!

      Thank you for asking around on my behalf, it was very kind of you. It’s too bad no one got back to you, but I appreciate the update!

  29. brightstar*

    I’ve had a rough couple of weeks dealing with a family member in the hospital and ensuing drama. I took a mental health day yesterday only to cut off part of my finger while cooking dinner. They were able to reattach it, but I wish it hadn’t happened. I had to concentrate on remaining calm while my boyfriend rushed me to the hospital, and we got home to find out he hadn’t turned the oven off even though I asked twice if everything was turned off. But he is taking great care of me. I just find the entire thing frustrating.

    1. SophieChotek*

      So sorry to hear that!
      I hope your finger is okay–it sounds serious if they actually had to “reattach it!

      1. brightstar*

        It was just a bit of the nail and side. They stitched it but I’ll need follow ups.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      OW OW OW!

      I did that a couple of months ago, minus the reattaching – I took a chunk out of the side of my fingertip with the mandoline slicer. All they could do was bandage it up and wait for it to heal over.

      Hope your recovery is swift!

    3. fposte*

      Ow ow ow. I’m glad to hear it will be okay, but I know that horrible moment when you look down and see something irreversible has happened that now has to be dealt with.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, really. I watched a person take the tip of their finger off with a pair of pruners. There’s that moment of “I can’t believe I just did this to myself.” It was the very tip, which I saved but she did not want it. In some ways, I was pretty shook too because it happened so fast. ugh. I wish you speedy healing, OP.

        1. brightstar*

          I think my boyfriend was more shaken at first. It’s not as bad as originally thought, so I’m grateful for that,

  30. Student*

    I am so sad. I hit a dog with my car today.

    The dog leaped out of an open car window stopped in the middle lane, right onto my front driver’s side. I slammed the brakes as soon as I saw the dog coming out the window, but the front bumper and the dog definitely had contact. The dog ran off, but I am so worried about it. I didn’t see whether the owner recovered the dog, but I hope so. I pulled over, but the owners had driven off by the time I went to go talk to them (took a minute to pull over cleanly, and to check the front of the car). I feel so bad for that dog, and I hope they took it straight to a vet. I don’t think I could’ve done much different, but I wish I could’ve done more.

    1. nep*

      I’m so sorry that happened to you.
      Sounds like you did what you could in the moment. Yes — let’s hope the dog got some care at the vet. Take care.

    2. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      This isn’t your fault, and is a good reminder to any pet owners out there to crate or harness the pet while driving, honestly.

      You did everything you should have done in the situation, know that. There was nothing more you could do! Please don’t beat yourself up over this. Buy yourself a nice dinner, watch a silly movie, and get a good night’s rest, knowing you did exactly what you should have done.

      1. BRR*

        I always get very nervous when I see a dog hanging out of the window. I know the owners response will be “hasn’t jumped out yet.” Well the point is to prevent it from happening.

        1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

          It’s also a projectile!

          If you get in an accident, your dog could hit you (or your passengers) in the head when they fly forward from the impact. If not, they will go straight through the windshield. Why would you want to put your beloved pet in a position where they might die due to lack of proper harnessing?

        2. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Oh, I cannot stand that! I’ve heard horror stories of dogs jumping/falling out of a car window. I won’t even crack the window when my 70lb dog is in the car!

          I do need to get a harness-attachment thing for her, though. Thank you for the reminder, going to check Amazon now!

          1. Rebecca in Dallas*

            Oh, and don’t get me started on people who let their dogs ride in the bed of their pickup trucks.

      2. SL #2*

        My friend drives with her dog sitting in her lap, which makes absolutely no sense to me because a) that’s even more of a distraction than a cell phone, and b) what if the dog gets aggressive at something outside the window and tries to jump out?!

    3. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I’m so sorry that happened to you! :( Sounds like it couldn’t have been avoided. You did the right thing by trying to stop to talk to the owners.

  31. Allison Mary*

    Alison, I just have to say how much of an influence you have had on my life – as much over my personal life as in my work life, in fact! Has anyone else started using Alison’s suggested verbiage to deal with difficult situations in their personal life? (This is going to be partly a rant about my own irritating family situation and partly raving about how helpful I’ve found Alison’s blog in dealing with it.)

    Here’s my example: I’m in the process of trying to get one set of parents to come around to the fact that I’m poly. My dad is being kind of a jerk about it, and I’m combining advice from Dan Savage and from Alison in how I approach it. Dan Savage suggests giving parents one year to come around, and after that, to stay out of their lives if they’re not meeting your needs. So, much like the manager having a serious come-to-Jesus talk with their poorly performing employee, the gist of what I’m trying to communicate to my dad is this:

    “I need X and Y from you. It’s really not optional for me. I understand you need some time to process this, so I’m willing to wait up to one year from now, for this need to get met. However, I need to be very clear with you, that if in one year, my need for acceptance isn’t getting met in the ways that we’ve discussed, my presence in your life is at stake.”

    Because my dad has been trying to argue with me that he IS being accepting of me (by removing financial support that he’d been previously providing, once he learned I was poly? Yeah, I don’t think so, Dad), I even went and tracked down Alison’s post in the situation where a manager’s employee was arguing/disagreeing with her about the employee’s performance evaluation. Because I’m going to try to adapt that phrasing to my situation, when my dad inevitably argues that he IS being accepting, and that his idea of acceptance ought to meet my need for acceptance.

    “I hear that we see this very differently. But ultimately, what I need from you is…”

    Thanks for all your wonderfulness, Alison. :) You inspire me.

    1. Yikes*

      Ok, so relationships are give and take.
      What about your dad’s needs? It’s not all about you and if keep forcing it onto him, you will be lonely.
      I can imagine how much fun you’d be at a family function.

      He knows. Give him space, leave your partners at home for awhile. Then slowly introduce them one at a time. It’ll take time but you’ll be better off in the long run.

      The money? Yeah, you are adult enough to support yourself. You arent owed anything.

      1. Allison Mary*

        That wasn’t really the point – I wasn’t looking for advice. More talking about how I feel more equipped to handle my own situation, with things I’ve picked up from this blog.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Hey now, “I can imagine how much fun you’d be at a family function” is a pretty unkind thing to say, and really unwarranted here. (And I assume what she’s telling her dad she needs in order to stay close is not financial support, but acceptance of who she is!)

        1. Allison Mary*

          Just came back to check this… yes, exactly, Alison. It’s not the financial support that mattered, but more its emotional significance (I had asked for the financial support a few months prior, and it was really, really really hard to swallow my pride that much and be that vulnerable with my parents – so having it yanked over a discovery that I don’t adhere to monogamy, was fairly hurtful). We’re fine now without the financial support – it’s all the rest of the lack of acceptance that’s a problem for me.

      3. Temperance*

        Actually no, in this case, they are not. Her identity/orientation is *hers*. She doesn’t have an obligation to change it for him.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Aw, thank you. That’s really nice to hear! There’s definitely crossover between much of the work stuff we talk about here and life stuff.

      1. Allison Mary*

        There really is. My partner gets really sick of hearing me say things like, “You know, Ask A Manager has wording that is actually really helpful for this personal life situation…” :-P

    3. Sibley*

      Hope you see this – check out Captain Awkward’s blog. I know she’s got some posts that may be helpful. And good luck.

    4. NewBee*

      Ack, commenting fail! I was going to second your point (currently doing the similar boundary-setting with my family about my pregnancy, first great-grandchild status be damned), and good for you for standing up to your dad! Using that phrasing really forces the person to “own” what they want (to punish you or to have a relationship with you), because you also get to choose what you want (to spend time with people who respect your life). I’ve found it so helpful in dealing with people who characterize their meanness as “neutral” or “natural” and expect others to just deal with it.

    5. Lily Evans*

      It’s definitely helped me in my personal life too! And comments here led me to Captain Awkward and the scripts for dealing with parents and friends on that site have been beyond useful. I’m super grateful for the community on this site.

      And I hope things get better with your dad! I haven’t come out to my parents because I’m afraid of something similar happening. My dad’s helping pay off my student loans and without him I wouldn’t be able to meet the monthly minimum and stories like yours scare me.

    6. Colette*

      I have definitely used Alison’s advice in my personal life (specifically about having a big picture conversation when addressing individual incidents wasn’t working).

  32. Mimmy*

    I could use some input from the AAM hive about something that happened this week, and I want to see if I handled it correctly.

    tl;dr version: Was I right in not meeting up with the person who finds your phone because you get a bad vibe about him?

    I get on the train to go home after my state council meeting and go to pull out my phone to show my train ticket purchase (you can buy tickets right from your iPhone!). To my horror, the phone is nowhere to be found! I had to buy a whole new ticket!

    When I got home, I called my husband at work. He used the “Find My Phone” feature using my iCloud account to see if we could locate my phone. Yup, as I suspected, it was back where I boarded the train. I had put my phone in one of the outside pockets of my purse, then set the purse between my legs. We don’t know if the phone either fell out of the pocket or someone took it without me noticing.

    So hubby activates the thingy where you send a notice to the phone so that a person who finds it can call the number we list. Right away, someone called me to say they’d found it and asked where to meet him. Did I mention that the train station where I lost the phone is an hour away from home? Not exactly a quick trip.

    I don’t drive and my husband’s office is 45 minutes away, nowhere near where I lost the phone. So I panicked and asked the guy if I could call him right back and took his number. I called my husband and asked him to call the guy, figuring they could more easily come up with a plan (since I don’t drive, I don’t know all the ins-and-outs of the state). Hubby calls back a few minutes later saying let’s just forget it – he did not trust the guy and when hubby looked up the guy’s location, it was in an area we were not familiar nor comfortable with.

    The guy could’ve genuinely wanted to give the phone back because he tried to call me back after hanging up with my husband, but we weren’t willing to take that chance – it could’ve just as easily been a trap, either to harm us or to get a reward. I wish I’d asked if he could just mail it to us because of the distance. So we just erased the phone and suspended the account until I get a refurbished phone, which should arrive here in a few days.

    Was this the right move? Should I have taken my chances that the guy really did intend on returning the phone with no strings attached? I don’t like making assumptions just based on a person’s character and the location we think he was in (he was not at the train station when we spoke with him–hubby said it almost seemed like he was in a field, not even a residential area). But you never know these days.

    Oh – one other thing: Right when I boarded the train, I told a conductor that I’d lost my phone, thinking he could just radio back to the train station to be on the lookout on the platform I had been waiting on (assuming I had indeed simply dropped it). Nope – the conductor says I could just call customer service. Is that normal? The case was pink, so I figured it could be easily spotted.

    1. Nicole*

      I would have asked the person whether he could meet you somewhere public like a store or restaurant (similar to how my husband and I will meet someone off Craigslist when we’re selling something). There’s little chance they’d try something in that setting. I can understand you feeling uneasy about meeting them somewhere not crowded, however.

    2. Pennalynn Lott*

      If it were me, I would have arranged to meet the guy at a police station near him. I know lots of police stations around here have designated themselves as “safe zones” for things like Craigslist transactions.

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        +1

        However, it’s just a phone. Just because we would have done something differently doesn’t mean you did anything, wrong OP. A phone is relatively easily replaced, whereas other things? Not so much.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          Oh, sure! I’m not even remotely saying the OP did anything wrong! Just offering up what I would have done in their situation. (I try very hard to only say what I would do and never tell people what I think *they* should do).

          1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

            Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t take your comment that way at all! I completely agree with your original comment.

            I meant more for the OP’s comfort, but should have posted to the main thread instead of responding to your comment. :)

    3. New Reader*

      There are any number of ideas for what you might do in the future if confronted with a similar situation. But you asked if you did the right thing. I think that trusting your instincts was absolutely the right thing to do. If something seems sketchy to you, and particularly since your husband also thought it was sketchy, go with that gut feeling. Better safe than sorry

    4. Elkay*

      I think you did the right thing. As for the response from the conductor that sounds right to me. I was on a train once where a 15/16 year old girl had a lot of luggage she jumped back on to grab her last bag and the doors closed with her on the train and her bags on the platform. She asked the guy running the food cart if he could help and he had literally no idea what to do about her bags or her ticket. I think trains run as a totally separate entity to stations.

      1. the gold digger*

        Sort of related – it is useful to have some kind of identification on your items. I was on the train from the airport into town in Minneapolis and a guy forgot his laptop. His name and contact information were nowhere on the computer. I was able to power up and find something to contact him, but it took some effort.

        I tape a business card to my computer and have contact information on the inside as well as on the outside of my suitcases.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      If you can afford the refurb (i.e., you’re not going into debt over it), I think you did the right thing. I would trust your husband’s instincts (and your own). Trust your intuitions.

      That said, I’ve been the discoverer of a lost phone before (left behind in a ZipCar). I called the owner. We met in a public place, and I just returned it. No expectation of reward. No malice (obviously). I think in 90% of the cases of lost items, people are honest and just want to return things to their original owners.

      But if you get a bad vibe, better not to risk it.

    6. BRR*

      For the conductor part, that sounds normal. I wouldn’t even say it’s rude but know it’s a pain for you.

    7. Lindsay J*

      I would have agreed to meet the guy in a public place to pick up the phone. What’s the worst that he could do in public? And if he tries to hold the phone until you give a reward, then and leave and write off the phone at that point.

      I’m really wondering how much of a read of the guy’s character your husband could get based off of a phone call, and maybe the guy looked like he was in a field because he pulled over while he was driving or something? And I would doubt it would be a set-up since it’s not like the guy was looking for a phone to find to lure someone into a compromising position, he probably just happened upon it and wanted to return it. And meeting in a public place again would mitigate the risk even if he did have bad intentions.

      I don’t know, I think writing off the phone seems overly fearful to me. But, if he hadn’t called you would have had to write if off anyway so I guess you aren’t really any worse off.

    8. Temperance*

      Honestly, I would have met up with him in a public place. Those “find my phone” things aren’t going to show you the exact spot something is in.

    9. Amy*

      I feel like you overreacted. It’s not the “wrong” thing to do and maybe you just didn’t quite convey the menace you felt but nothing you said made me think he had bad intentions. He answered the phone as soon as you tried to contact it, he was happy to speak to your husband, and he even tried to call again when you said “nah, don’t bother”. All of those are things I’d do, and I really don’t understand why you were concerned by any of that behaviour.

      At the end of the day, if you can afford the refurb then it doesn’t matter if you did the right thing or not. And you’re 100% safe following your instincts (but I feel that you’d have been 99% safe getting the phone unless you’ve missed out some really key information).

      Genuine question: what should/could he have done that would make you see him as ‘legit’ that he didn’t do? It sounds like apart from living in a ‘dodgy’ location, he did exactly what I’d expect anyone to do when finding a phone- talk to the owner and arrange to meet them to return it.

    10. V.V.*

      People lose many things around here, and when I have found them I take them straight away to the local police department and have them take custody and a report. Then I post an ad on Craigslist asking people who reply to give a detailed description of the missing item. Such as Found Camera, Ketchum area, then if they write with the correct details, it was a Pink Nikon and can kind of tell me where they think they lost it, I refer them to the police station to get it.

      It avoids a reward (I am uncomfortable accepting one, and I don’t want people to think they have to give one) or skeevy situation.

      One thing I find odd, is people writing and describing photos on their cameras when I would never look. I know people do look, and I know my aversion is sorta strange, but it feels invasive to me.

    1. Mimmy*

      Best 1: FINALLY finishing my paper from hades and getting the maximum points – so I’d say I’m finishing my program with an A average!

      Best 2: Meeting some of my (online) classmates for the first time this past Wednesday at a reception held for this year’s graduates of the whole school, not just my program. I was really surprised at how many from my program alone were in attendance. I think they all knew each other from the in-person classes, but they were welcoming to me (I was strictly an online student).

      Worst: See post above about losing my iPhone :(

      Up for “Best” for next week – My Commencement is in two days!!!!

    2. Mirilla*

      Best: splurged on the Amazon echo and am loving it.
      Worst: still at my crap job and struggling to stay positive in my job search. I dream every day of walking out.

    3. nep*

      Best: Watching live-streaming of the Hissene Habre verdict, and survivors’ reaction after their decades-long battle.

    4. LizB*

      Best: The online D&D group I joined had a great character creation session this morning, and we start our first campaign next week! I love my character and am super excited.

      Worst: My car’s on the fritz again. Something to do with the engine. I took it in on Wednesday but they couldn’t figure out exactly what was wrong without taking lots of things apart, and I needed to be able to drive it that evening and the rest of the week, so I couldn’t let them keep it overnight. I’ve blocked out Tuesday and Wednesday this week as no-travel days, and will take it in first thing Tuesday morning so they can hopefully fix it, but ugh. I hate this. I don’t have enough money saved up right now to buy another car if it’s something really bad, but I need a car for my job… maybe I should look into leasing, even though I really don’t care about having something new or particularly nice. I just want something functional, and a leased car would be under warranty, which might be helpful… I don’t know. I hate how stressful this is.

      1. SL #2*

        I’m doing my first-ever D&D campaign too! I posted about it last week but I don’t remember if you were one of the ones who responded. We’re starting next week as well.

      2. QualityControlFreak*

        BEST: Invited to a LARP with a bunch of old gaming friends.

        WORST: Due to an accident I now have some little helicoils in my brain which need to stay right where they are, and that means I can’t do any heavy fighting, because being hit in the head, even with a helmet, would be Very Bad. I have always been a heavy fighter. For upwards of thirty years. I want to play so badly and I have no clue what to do with myself.

    5. Caledonia*

      Best: Andy Murray is the first British man for a ridiculous amount of years to be in the French Open (tennis) final. I really hope he can win.

      Worst: Everything else in my life. The universe just keeps on giving me crap.

    6. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      BEST: biggest, fattest paycheck of my (relatively short) life arrived; replaced my 32″ TV with a 46″ TV

      WORST: swiped a concrete post with my car; buried in work with prospect of more work and OT this summer due to big projects and being a man down*

      *But this leads to more Big Fat Paychecks and so… trying not to whine too much

    7. Sparkly Librarian*

      Best: finally got access to get our adoption web profile set up!

      Worst: my mental calendar has been off a day this week, so I was majorly late both to my godfather’s birthday party today and also to a work conference yesterday.

    8. Ruffingit*

      BEST: God answered a couple of prayers today in a big way.

      WORST: I’m reaching the point of being close to a nervous breakdown with all the stress from life stuff. I really, really need a vacation. Have one planned for October. CANNOT WAIT.

    9. Rob Lowe can't read*

      Best: Reached the “acceptance” stage with the changes in my job that will take effect in September.

      Worst: Forgot to put a bunch of stuff on the grocery list and had to make a second trip to the store today. Ugh.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Best: Had a pretty good birthday on Tuesday– big improvement over last year. I got a ton of messages, then my bf took me to dinner at a place we’d wanted to try for ages. I ate ALL THE THINGS and they were delicious. Then we ran into a couple we know at the bar and hung out with them for a while, and it just felt very much like home.

      Worst: Had a really frustrating week at work. Expressed my frustration, was told there was too much on my plate… Then I was given 3 extra projects. I’m facing two or three more weeks of late nights and it sucks.

    11. Gene*

      Best – urologist said no need for surgery yet.

      Worst – managed to crush my hand collapsing a Little Giant style ladder today. I was doing house stuff today so could spend tomorrow getting the major parts of the WorldCon costume sewn. But I’m now unidextrous for a while, so that’s on hold. The good news here, it got the main part of my hand, so I still have fingers.

    12. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: attended a wonderful retreat today with a dozen women called “Embracing the Impermanent” where we examined how we hold onto or let go of the good or bad things in our lives. The last module of the event was “play”, and we could choose from among many different toys where we would create something that would be taken down when we were finished. There was a tray full of beautiful colored glass stones for making mandalas on small cut-out circles of colored leather; a box of sticky sand and tiny implements for building a sand castle; a miniature Japanese sand garden and a little rake for making patterns; and other similar toys to choose from.

      Worst: My foot that had a stress near-fracture injury last summer from wearing backless platform shoes is inflamed and painful again. I quit wearing all the offending shoes, but there was one pair that is backless but not on a high platform that are comfortable and that I thought would be okay to wear. Now I have to go back to wearing all ugly*, all the time.

      That’s sulky hyperbole; I know (or at least am optimistic) that I can find proper shoes that maybe aren’t totally ugly.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: Had a very nice six days off and birthday, despite being alone YET AGAIN. I got pretty relaxed and chill and came back to work feeling much better (I had been pretty stressed and have had trouble adjusting to changes at work).

      WORST: Came back to a PIP because of my stress. Oh joy. Well, apparently I am so much of a fuck-up that even a staycation can’t fix it. And that pretty much erased all the calm/zen I had achieved. #justkillmenow

      Something really amazingly good had better happen soon, or I’m going to jump off a frickin bridge.

      1. Jean*

        Please don’t jump! I would miss your comments. And more importantly, your family and friends would be heartbroken. Most importantly, I hope things get better soon.
        Can you look for another job while working through the PIP? Or look for a SO via online long-distance? There are worse things than long-distance. Wouldn’t the happiness of finding someone offset the annoyance of long-distance until you could resolve the geography?
        Ahem, that’s enough of me barging with unsolicited advice. I’ll show myself out now. But seriously, don’t jump. Internet hugs (if you’ll accept them from an advice barger-inner :-\ ).

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This is the best job I’m going to find here. If I have to get another one, it will pay less and there wouldn’t be any long-distance stuff even if I could find someone. Also, I really think the Universe needs to realize that SOMEONE ELSE COULD COME HERE, TOO. (Though why they would is a mystery to me.)

      2. ginger ale for all*

        Yikes – don’t jump. You can get through a PIP! And if you decide to go for another job, I know a nice online blog that would be a great help ;)

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Elizabeth, I feel like I know you from your comments on here, and I’m rooting for you and wishing for you what you want for yourself. Hugs and ~~~~ good vibes ~~~~.

    14. ginger ale for all*

      Best – I got a little bit of cleaning and purging done in my bathroom and I hope this carries over to my work desk because it is a mess.

      Worst – I have a crush on someone new and I am still a bit hung up on my ex. I need to be better able to move on romantically.

    15. Sorgatani*

      My Best/Worst both happened on Wednesday

      Best: Went to see “Matilda the Musical” matinee.
      I had not heard the songs beforehand, but I grew up reading the book and I like Tim Minchin’s work.
      It was worth the hype. The songs are lodged in my brain now, but I enjoyed them, so I won’t mind if they stay there a bit longer.
      And on the way home, one of my job applications got a positive response – only a one-day casual thing, but I’m happy about it.

      Worst: Discovered 15 minutes from my home station that I had been sitting on chewing gum the whole way (over 2 hrs), and it was fully melted in by the time I spotted it. I had to sit on my scarf on the drive home so I wouldn’t transfer it onto my car seat.
      I’ve been trying to budge it with hot vinegar and a nail brush, but it’s still pretty stubborn.

      1. Older Not Yet Wiser*

        I think you are supposed to use vegetable oil to remove chewing gum? Or put the garment in the freezer for a while and the gum gets brittle and easy to remove. I’ve never tried either of these tricks but have read about them.

        1. Cristina in England*

          Only use vegetable oil if the gum is in your hair, not your clothes! Freezing and then scraping it off would be the first thing I’d try.

    16. Anonyby*

      Best 1: Been working on a cake for a friend’s birthday. His birthday was earlier this week, but I’ll be seeing him tonight. My first time making a fondant figurine! And painting fondant! (I ended up without enough time to mix colored fondant, so the paint had to do.) And I also plotted out next week’s cake for a big gathering, that I will need to put my new figurine-making skills to work with.

      Best 2: A friend asked if I’d be willing to volunteer to make a cake for an event at the non-profit he works for. Exciting! :D

      Worst 1: Oil change on Tuesday took a very long time and screwed up my plans for the rest of the day–I had forgotten to finish checking in, so my car wasn’t worked on for hours because it wasn’t in the computer system. Sigh.

      Worst 2: Sucky birthday, and this was one of those milestone birthdays too. A couple years before I had vowed to do my own thing for birthdays and I was able to fulfill that vow last year, but work prevented me from doing that this year.

    17. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Best:
      -I got a (surprise) raise, likely performance-based–a total surprise since I’ve been working here less than 10 mos. Is this normal? lol.
      -Destination wedding next week

      Worst:
      -My mom attempting to micromanage where she wants an imaginary wedding to be, me telling her I could choose to have it elsewhere, and her smiling and nodding but not “getting it.”
      -There will likely be no proposal/wedding for another 3 years. By then I’ll be approaching my mid-30s. Between the high COL here and grad school stuff, it feels like forever….

      Silver Lining:
      -Am applying to jobs in the South, and Northeast. Where’s a good place to get a job that’s affordable? I’ve looked at Illinois, Atlanta, and heck, even South Dakota….I need ideas….

      1. Ruffingit*

        I’ve heard North Dakota is a good place to work. Also Houston is not bad in terms of COL, but the weather sucks.

    18. Temperance*

      Best: Comic Con and a Trash to Treasure Bag Sale for $1/bag!
      Worst: I stabbed the middle of my hand and now it’s a giant bruise and my fingers hurt.

    19. Lindsay J*

      BEST: Spent last weekend on the California Zephyr train going from Denver to San Francisco. I got to see lots of beautiful scenery and talk to cool people in the dining car. And spend 33 hours with the boyfriend mostly without the internet to distract us.

      ALSO BEST: Boyfriend got a call requesting references for a job that he interviewed for recently. And it’s with his “dream company”. Also, the job is in Chicago, which would mean moving away from these terrible Houston summers and all this flooding. But he would train in Houston first, which would allow me time to determine whether I can transfer with my current job or find a new job. And it looks like we could afford a nice townhome in Chicago as long as we sell this place.

      THIRD BEST: I treated myself to a mini wardrobe refresh (since my one pair of jeans literally fell apart at the seams). I now have all new underwear, a new pair of jeans, and a bunch of nice soft t-shirts. And I got two new bras a month or so ago. And new PJs since I left one of my pairs of pajama shorts at the hotel in Denver (which also meant I didn’t have pajama bottoms for the night on the train or for our hotel in San Francisco lol).

      WORST: Got written up at work. I completely deserved it, but the incidences were awhile ago so I thought my manager was going to let them slide. I have a new supervisor though and apparently he thought it was necessary to ensure the policy was being enforced evenly (which I understand). I could have been fired for the one issue (in our handbook it’s considered a no-call-no-show) so I’m grateful they didn’t do that at least. But I’m one step away from being fired for the next year, and not eligible for promotions or internal transfers or bonuses until it goes away.

      MAYBE WORST?: I have a psychiatrist appointment coming up on Tuesday. I made it back in March, so hopefully this guy is worth the wait. But I’m nervous about it. I want to get back on some type of drug for my ADHD, and I’m afraid I’m going to come off as a recreational Adderall seeker or something. Also wishing that maybe he’ll suggest the magic bullet to fix my depression but not actually expecting that to happen.

      And I have a dentist appointment Thursday. It’s either to build the crown on the tooth they root canal-ed a couple weeks ago, or to fill three cavities. Either way, irritating and expensive. And when they did the root canal they left bleach in my mouth for too long and I wound up with chemical burns all over my mouth which was much more painful than the root canal itself. I wouldn’t really go back except that they offer a payment plan with no interest or other fees, and it’s good for orthodontics too so I might be able to get my mouth fixed sometime this century using that. And I requested a different person for the crown and fillings, too.

  33. junetwentyone*

    Just a quick follow up/thanks to those who offered dating advice last week. I did end up canceling the one date I was waffling on, and then a different guy canceled on me – karma? LOL

    Still, I went on two other dates this week with guys who seemed promising online but enede up being kind of duds. Ah, well! It’s not like I was expecting to hit a perfect match on the first try.

    Also, shout out to commenter Allison Mary whose excitement over her awesome date a few weeks ago is what prompted me to get off my butt and get out there.

    1. Allison Mary*

      Woot! I’m glad you felt inspired! :)

      Also, still dating that boy! Who, by the way, I found through an internet dating site (OKC). We’re up to our eyeballs in NRE, and he and his wife are coming over tomorrow morning to meet my primary partner. So let that be your encouragement to not give up, even with the annoyances of online dating. It’s a numbers game, and the more numbers you encounter, the higher your chances of meeting someone you click with. :)

      1. Allison Mary*

        Just realized I’d already mentioned last week the fact that I met him through OKC, which is probably why you mentioned the inspiration. Haha. Sorry. But yeah – success does happen! XD

    2. bi anon*

      It’s always disappointing when you go on a date with someone who seems so great online but then that connection fizzles in person. I try to chalk it up to nerves, but sometimes people just don’t click in person, you know?

  34. Elkay*

    Given the strong food theme going on here this week, can anyone recommend some good low-carb vegetarian meals which don’t involve cheese or mushrooms?

    1. Pennalynn Lott*

      It’s not a full meal, but one of my favorite dishes is sauteed kale with shallots (and garlic and a splash of lemon juice). I also love creamed kale. (Don’t know if you’re avoiding all dairy, or just cheese). Oh, and garlic mashed cauliflower. And yellow squash sauteed with garlic and white onions.

      1. Elkay*

        Thanks, I’m not particularly avoiding dairy it’s just that I’m not a huge fan of cheese and a lot of veggie recipes seem to rely heavily on it.

    2. Red*

      Are chickpeas low enough carb?

      1 can stewed tomatoes
      1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
      1 onion, roughly chopped
      2 cloves minced garlic
      2T olive oil
      1 tsp chili powder
      1/2 tsp paprika
      1/2 tsp cumin
      1/2 tsp lemon juice
      1/4 tsp pepper
      1/4 tsp salt
      1 bag baby spinach (or one bunch kale)

      Put everything except the leafy greens into the crockpot, crock it on low for 4-6 hours (or whatever, I’ve left it for 8 before). Put the greens in about 20-3o min before you want to eat. This is the original recipe – I generally increase the spices significantly. :-P also, for omnivores, it’s excellent with smoked sausage or shrimp added.

      1. Elkay*

        I’m happy to give chickpeas a go, I’m just tired with potatoes/rice/pasta. I love slow cooker food so this sounds great, thanks!

      1. Elkay*

        Sounds good, thanks! I never think about beans/pulses which may be why I’m struggling.

        1. Saro*

          I actually replace meat with garbanzo beans when I’m cooking recipes that were originally non vegetarian. A tasty dish is the sofrito on skinnytaste website. I replace the chicken with cooked garbanzo and/or kidney beans. There are Afghan dishes on afghan culture unveiled website where you can do the same thing. Although I guess those recipes have rice.

    3. LawCat*

      You can do stir fry or curry over cauliflower “rice” (basically cauliflower in teeny pieces after going through a food processor; Trader Joe’s sells it already in “rice” form.) We also sometimes use our spiralizer to make zucchini or sweet potato “noodles” instead of wheat noodles then put pasta sauce on them. Both these strategies can really cut down on carbs in a vegetarian meals.

      1. Elkay*

        I don’t have a spiralizer but I wonder if the grating blade on my food processor might work instead.

    4. Lady Kelvin*

      Ihave a great veg-curry that we make in a crockpot. We usually serve it over brown rice but you can eat it without rice too for low carb. You can also alter the veggies in it to whatever you like to eat, so if you want low carb you can subtract the potatoes and add in something else. Ultimately, its the curry sauce that is worth it from the recipe, and then customize the veggies.

      http://www.popsugar.com/food/Sunday-Slow-Cooker-Vegetarian-Curry-2448237

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I like to roast whole heads of cauliflower and serve them with some kind of sauce (usually tahini). Greens or something on the side. I use Michael Ruhlman’s recipe; preheat to 425, put the cauliflower in a cast iron skillet (he doesn’t recommend cast iron but I do), rub it with oil and shove it in the oven for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, take it out, rub the top with some butter and throw on a few pinches of salt, back in the oven for another 40 minutes. It gets all caramelized and delicious.

      You could make shakshuka! Super easy. Make a spicy tomato sauce: saute onions and garlic in olive oil, add a can or two of diced tomatoes, salt, red pepper flakes. You can add other veggies if you like, like spinach. Once the sauce has cooked down a bit, make a few little depressions in the sauce and crack an egg into each one. Cover and cook for a few minutes (this isn’t an exact science), then you’re done.

      I also make a ton of Thai-style curries, which are easy to make low-carb. And frittatas. I have been known to saute some onions and garlic in a skillet, add whatever veggies I have, cook it all down, beat a few eggs, pour them over and cook in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes and call it a night.

      1. Elkay*

        I like the sound of shakshuka and frittata, I don’t know many egg based dinner recipes.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I cook a lot with eggs– there’s so much you can do with them. I also recommend reading Martha Rose Shulman’s recipes on the NY Times site: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/projects/healthy-recipes. She has a lot of very basic recipes that can be modified as needed, and when we went full-on vegetarian-only in the house, she became my best source of inspiration.

    6. Chaordic One*

      I have dairy AND soy allergies. Since I can’t have cheese made from cow’s milk, I frequently substitute “nutritional yeast” in recipes where they ask for cheese (or I’ll use goat cheese). Nutritional Yeast is not exactly the same as cheese, but it adds flavor. There are several different brands, but I usually use “Bob’s Red Mill Big Flake Nutritional Yeast.”

    7. Emilia Bedelia*

      I’ve been super obsessed with this roasted carrot recipe lately- it’s loosely based off a smitten kitchen recipe. Roast carrot sticks with garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika and cumin. Toss with tahini paste, olive oil, and lemon juice- it should be evenly coated but not too heavily. I like to put either capers or orange slices in also. You can eat it by itself, hot or cold, or on top of salad- I like to put on a big dollop of yogurt and toss it all together. Tahini is one of my favorite ingredients – so nice and rich, with a really interesting flavor that goes well with so many vegetables
      I’ve also been making another salad with corn, tomato, avocado, onion, black beans, and lime juice- basically a very chunky guacamole. Good on top of lettuce
      Also, pureed vegetable soups- carrot, cauliflower, broccoli, all make lovely soups just by cooking in broth, then blending and flavoring as you like. You can add milk/cream also- I use coconut milk because it doesn’t spoil as quickly and I always have it around

  35. esra*

    Welp, I got dumped out of the blue yesterday. We’d known each other for ten years as friends, and earlier this year he pursued me, told me he loved me, wanted me to move in with him, crazy affection… then boom, done. Half my friends warned me and I feel like the stupidest woman alive. This one is going to take a lot of bad movies and Chinese food to get over.

    1. Caledonia*

      Oh esra *hugs* You’re not stupid. Bad movies and Chinese food sound like a good plan.

    2. Emmy*

      I’m sorry. You are not the stupidest woman alive. You are not stupid. You took a chance and that is brave You are a brave woman.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      You’re not stupid, even though it may feel that way. Just be glad you wasted less than a year on this guy!

    4. ginger ale for all*

      I am recovering from being dumped myself. Sending you a hug. It’s awful. It’s been five months for me and I am now trying to get out there and try dating again.

      1. esra*

        I was happily single before, and I think I’m just going to go back to that. I’m kind of a homebody, and online dating is the worsssst.

        1. ginger ale for all*

          I am an introvert and I used to love being by myself but gosh, I do love having someone to hug and hug me back when I am down. I am dipping my toes into online dating for the first time. I am trying in a niche site for ballroom dancers looking for dance partners so hopefully it will go well.

          1. ginger ale for all*

            I also have a minor crush on someone who I will never have the courage to say anything to.

            1. Jean*

              Incurable optimist here: You can’t test the waters? Speak up tentatively? Send an email? Sometimes good relationships begin when one party summons the courage to say or do something. On the other hand this is my second time today barging in on someone with unsolicited advice. Maybe I should follow the advice of the late, great Ann Landers and MMOB (instead of MYOB).

          2. esra*

            Huh that is interesting, I didn’t know those kinds of niche sites were a thing. Best of luck! I hope it goes well.

            Agreed on the hugs.

            1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

              There are dating websites for just about everything these days! Some, far better than others haha.

              1. ginger ale for all*

                There is even one where you list your favorite books to try and find a match. Which sounds kind if cool except that I read a lot of books about serial killers.

  36. jauntyjukebox*

    Any recommendations for restaurants in Baltimore? Staying around Inner Harbor but have a car.

    1. Lizabeth*

      Joe Squared – awesome fried ravioli and pizza. There is one in the Inner Harbor area. Found out about them on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. DDD probably has some other suggestions too.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      B&O Brasserie on Charles Street, in the Hotel Monaco. Walking distance from the harbor, great food and awesome cocktails. I recently went back for my high school reunion and got a huge list of recs, but that one is the only one for which you won’t really need a car.

      But you can take the water taxi to Harbor East, where there are a bunch of good spots. Wit & Wisdom comes highly recommended.

  37. Random Citizen*

    Legal experts of AAM! I am looking into making a brief video consisting of movie clips – just a few lines from each movie – to show at a private event honoring a family member. My question is whether this is allowed under fair use guidelines or if I’d be in a legal grey area in doing this. I may purchase a few longer sections to include as well (like a full song, think “Life is a Highway” with the video background from Cars), but would buy those separately.

    So… is this legal?

    1. enough*

      Don’t know the legality but usually personal use is ok. The issue is if you are using it for commercial purposes (profit).

    2. Joanna*

      It’s probably a grey area, but for a small, private event that’s not making profit for anyone I really doubt you’d run into trouble.

    3. CopyrightMan*

      First, it depends on what country you live in. Since you use the term “fair use” instead of “fair dealing,” I’m going to assume this is for the US. Second, the US fair use standards are notoriously murky (see 17 USC 107). From your description, it sounds a lot like a “mashup” of movie clips, which is not a transformative use. I think it is best to clear the rights in advance. You may find that the use is free, but this is not the same as saying that the use is fair.

    4. blackcat*

      If you’re showing it at a private event, there is really, really nothing to worry about. It’s not an issue. It’s fair use of media you own, for private purposes.

      If you distribute it on the internet, that would be a problem. I don’t think it would be an issue to distribute it on discs to family, though that is a gray area. So, don’t put it on the internet.

      The worst legal outcome would be the HIGHLY unlikely event that a company would tell you “Hey, don’t do that.” They couldn’t realistically sue you because you wouldn’t have made any $$ or cost them any $$.

    5. ScarletInTheLibrary*

      Fair use is a defense to copyright infringement, not a free pass. Technically all fair use is in the legal gray use, so it’s more of a matter of what shade. And judges can have different interpretations in determining if fair use is a defense (and generally if a judge determines it is a defense, then the chances of a judgment in the copyright holder’s favor go down). The four factors judges in copyright infringement cases consider are: the purpose/character of the use, nature of the copyrighted work, amount/substantiality of portion taken, and effect upon potential market.

      In your situation, it is very unlikely that this would go anywhere. The character is mashup lines from multiple movies for a private honor event and it’s unlikely that this would have an effect upon potential markets. Also the amount/substantially taken is likely small, so you might be okay with that factor as well. With this being said, it’s still copyright infringement. It’s just likely to be an acceptable form of copyright infringement.

    6. Random Citizen*

      Thanks for the feedback everyone! There will be maybe 80-100 people present at the event and the full video will be maybe five minutes at the most, with a mix of different clips. I could contact all the movie companies, but the event is in a week, so I’m not sure I’d have time, especially since we still have to put something together and decide what movies will be involved.

    7. Dynamic Beige*

      Technically speaking, I don’t think you’re allowed to copy, edit and reuse video like that. However, since this is a private event and you will not be posting it on the Internet nor distributing copies of it either for free or purchase and no one is coming to this event on a paid ticket… the odds of anyone finding out are pretty low. In the corporate events that I do, it never ceases to amaze me how clients do not understand that they cannot have their video edited to $PopularMusicTrack unless they pay for that privilege — they just go ahead and do it anyway.

      To the best of my knowledge, if you were going to broadcast something like what you are planning to do, you would have to contact all the rights holders and either ask for their permission to use it or pay in order to use it, sometimes both (there are some artists who refuse to allow their work to be reused for certain things, see when musicians get upset because a politician uses their music to walk out at a rally). At LastJob, we had someone who managed all these sort of things, tracking down rights and handling royalty fees.

  38. Anonsie*

    Does anyone have any recommendations for good personal finance blogs or websites? I really need some common-sense, down to earth advice on how to get my money in order. Like, say, the financial equivalent of this blog?

    1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      Google YNAB (aka You Need A Budget)! There are four basic rules with the YNAB method. If you choose, you can purchase their software to go with it, or just do your own thing with Excel if you’re handy.

      The rules are:
      1) Give every dollar a job
      2) Embrace your true expenses
      3) Roll with the punches
      4) Age your money

      I struggle with rule #3 the most, as I have trouble saving up for things and tend to just BUY them now. However rule #4 keeps me from wrecking everything with that — basically aging your money means getting a month ahead with your paychecks. For example, I’m paid monthly and the check I received June 1 will cover my bills for August. This month I’m living off the money I was paid May 1. No more worrying about what you can afford to pay before the next paycheck, since there’s always one acting as a buffer in your account.

      1. LawCat*

        I second YNAB! It really helped us get things together.

        Blogs I like include the Simple Dollar and Get Rich Slowly.

    2. Not Karen*

      Not a blog, but I would recommend searching Youtube for any clips with Suze Orman or Gail Vaz-Oxlade. Gail does have archives of a blog on her website, but personally I find her speeches more useful. If you’re in Canada, last I checked the Slice website has full episodes of her shows.

      The one blog I follow is the Frugalwoods, which may or may not be what you’re looking for.

    3. Dan*

      IMHO, most personal finance blogs underestimate the psychological relationship we have with money.

      If you want to get your finance life in order, start with the big picture. Figure out how much money you need in retirement (easier said than done, consult a professional if necessary) and what you need to get there.

      At the immediate end, you need to know how much you’re spending every month and why. Be brutally honest about things you can cut, and cut them.

      Be clear about the difference between needs and wants. Don’t rationalize.

      Fwiw, I don’t budget, at least not in the strict sense of the word. I understand myself and how I spend money; my budget is big picture thing that allows me to live life without having to fuss about every dollar every day.

      1. Dan*

        Btw, get the word “deserve” out of your vocabulary. That single word is financially disastrous. You can only spend money you have or can afford. You can’t spend it because you got yelled at at work or your boyfriend dumped you.

      2. fposte*

        Jason Zweig’s Your Money and Your Brain is a great book about the psychological side of dealing with money.

    4. New girl*

      Honestly, I find the personal finance section on Reddit to be very informational.

    5. SophieChotek*

      The Moneyologist — which is on Marketwach
      The Billfold
      Helanie Olen – Slate

      — will try to post links separately

  39. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    I’m going on my Very Last business trip (at this job) this week! I’ll be in Halifax for two days–I love the city and miss being near enough to visit it, and I’ll have one evening and one half day all to myself! Even though the forecast is for rainy and chilly weather, I’m pleased as punch to have some time to myself in a city I like. Added benefits: Decent hotel, at least one Very Nice business meal, I get to fly Porter instead of the dreadful Air Canada!

    I’m going to enjoy as much of this trip as I can because it’s going to be a zoo after I get back. My husband is getting laser eye surgery, we’re going on a house-hunting trip, my parents are coming for a very brief visit to see a local air show, and then it’s July and we’re moving in the middle of the month. I’m already exhausted.

    1. Felicia*

      im going to Halifax for the first time later this summer! And Air Canada IS awful… i had a nightmare experience with them this winter and never again. For Halifax Im flying West jet but im going to DC on Porter next week, Ive flown Porter several times and I like it

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        We went to Halifax in August and really enjoyed it! Kind of wish we had planned to spend a little more time there. Our favorite spot was called Stillwell– beer and small plates, including this amazing turnip kimchi that I still dream about.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          Our work event is going to be held at the Bicycle Thief, which is EXCELLENT, but I’m also hoping to hit up a couple of pubs on my own in my free time, and maybe the immigration museum if I feel adventurous.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            We had dinner at the Bicycle Thief! It was really, really delicious. We also went to the Maritime Museum. My boyfriend keeps making noises about applying for jobs at Dalhousie when the time comes, and I roll my eyes and laugh at him, but it wouldn’t be the worst fate in the world.

      2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Halifax is a super fun town! (Just be aware when you fly into Halifax that it’s a good 45-minute drive from the city itself, let alone downtown–about a $75 cab ride, but there are less expensive shuttles available). I love flying Porter, I would take them everywhere if I could and scorn Air Canada forever.

  40. Kyrielle*

    Hope everyone in overheated areas is staying cool!

    I’m tired of it already, but our AC has stayed ahead of the outside temperature, so I’m just going to be grateful for the minor miracle that is.

    I really feel for all the people putting on the art show in our town center park (with, uh, almost zero shade anywhere) this weekend though. :(

    1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      Oof yes, I put in my a/c today since it’s nearly 90. Definitely enjoying the cool air, but disappointed to be putting it in so early in the year. I can usually get away with no a/c until the last week of June since we’re up in the mountains. I’m hoping this isn’t a sign of the summer and how fire season will go. (I had a nightmare about being trapped in the valley while the city burned when Fort McMurray blew up a few weeks ago.)

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yeah. We are not in the mountains but we’re in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and we reached 98 yesterday. Forecast today is for 100, but I’m hoping we don’t hit it. :(

    2. SL #2*

      It’s already cooler than it was yesterday; I was stuck in traffic for an hour and a half yesterday in 92-degree weather. I couldn’t stand it about an hour in and took a quick detour to one of my favorite coffee shops that I don’t go to often. I just needed to get out of the car and the heat!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      It’s JUST warm enough to need the air, and it’s been humid so the A/C has been helpful in dealing with that, but then it cools off enough so you’re basically just running a fan. :P

      This coming week is supposed to be hotter. We’ll see how my window units are holding up.

    4. the gold digger*

      Primo took the bold bold step of taking the space heater out of the bedroom and putting it into the basement last weekend. :) It snowed just a few weeks ago, so I hope it wasn’t too soon.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I did that a few weeks ago, and then the temperature dropped into the forties at night. But it’s warmed up considerably since then, so I moved them back out. I refuse to turn on the heat again!!

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It is sooooo humid here. The dog didn’t want to go out for long this morning, so I decided to take him for along walk in one of our local parks. There’s a 3.5-mile path around a lake that we’ve done a few times– it’s pretty hilly and not at all easy. He handled things pretty well, but at one point he insisted on being allowed to go in a stream and drink water. This dog haaaaaates getting his paws wet, so you know he must have been pretty hot, poor bud. I felt the same. Dropped him off at home, ran some errands, and am now in my a/c with my feet up, watching Netflix, while the pooch is sacked out on the guest bed in the coolest room in the house. There are a bunch of things going on around town, but there’s just no freaking way.

  41. Audiophile*

    I have a nice dilemma, I have 3 tickets to a show at Tarrytown Music Hall on Tuesday. One ticket I purchased, and the other two I won after entering a radio station’s online contest.

    I posted on Facebook to see if anyone wants any of the tickets. Hopefully I can give the two free ones away, since I doubt they’re better than the ticket I bought.

    Also finally planning my vacation to Florida. I’ve settled on July 25-August 1. I was going to make it a little longer, leaving on the 21st or 22nd but I rental car for more than a week is exorbitant.

  42. Heart-shaped Box of Chocolates*

    Going to New Orleans for a conference this week. staying in the French Quarter. Any ideas on where to grab good, healthy meals while I’m there? Also, any ideas on good shopping near there? I’ve been there once before and done most of the touristy stuff.

    1. the gold digger*

      Not so sure about healthy, but I sure liked Acme Oyster Company. Actually, I have never had a bad meal in NO.

      As far as tourist stuff – have you been to the Mint Museum? That’s worth the trek. The historical museum overlooking Jackson Square is also great.

      Laissez bon temps, etc!

    2. Christy*

      OMG, I could not find any healthy food in the French Quarter when I was there. We went to Green Goddess and it was not good. The food was healthy but not tasty. I wish you luck, my friend

    3. Cruciatus*

      Depending on what is more important, eating healthy or eating in new restaurants, you could try buying a few meals at a grocery store and then eat them in some of the hot spots or wherever you are visiting. Maybe a little less exciting, but NO and healthy food are not two words I have ever heard together!

    4. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      I struggled finding healthy options in NOLA when I was there conferencing — try Carmo on Julia St a couple of blocks from the conference center. It’s Peruvian tapas, ceviche, and vegetarian friendly, and I went with other not so adventurous eaters and we all loved it. Also, almost every restaurant has some sort of grilled fish without heavy sauces, so fish or shrimp and a dinner salad was my last ditch option. It was tough — we didn’t even manage to find a convenience store with yogurt and apples in the French Quarter.

    5. brightstar*

      New Orleans isn’t known for its healthy cuisine. You would probably fair better traveling uptown as there are less touristy options there. I would think certain cuisines like Asian tend to be healthier in general than Cajun or Creole. You’ll most likely have to keep an eye on choices: salads, grilled veggies and meats or seafood.

      Magazine St. is the main shopping, or you could venture to Lakeside Mall in Metairie. Royal Street and Decatur have shops as well.

    6. Sophia in the DMV*

      I’ve been here in NOLA since Wed also for a conference. Currently at airport. Lots of good food though not healthy. Keep in mind portion control. The oyster fest will probably be over if you read this but that might have healthier food

    7. Pharmgirl88*

      We went there last June and found a west African restaurant that was pretty good. Bennachin on Royal street. They had a lot of vegetarian options too.

  43. Dr. Speakeasy*

    Any suggestions for looking for furniture – looking for living room set, futon for basement, counter stools, kids room furniture. Price range – just about a step up from IKEA. My favorite site so far is Joss & Main but they don’t have much in the way of kids room furniture.

    1. Joanna*

      Try second hand stores. Sometimes you will have to pick through a bit of junk but sometimes you can find some great pieces very reasonably priced

    2. the gold digger*

      I have found most of my furniture at estate sales and Goodwill and on the side of the road. Seriously – I got a great dresser someone was throwing away. It was painted this horrible gloppy blue, but the bones were really good. I refinished it and put on new hardware and it is now gorgeous.

      I got my sofa and two rocking chairs at an estate sale 25 years ago. The sofa has been reupholstered and the guys said it was super solid good construction. I think it was probably built before WWII.

      My end table was at Goodwill. Again, covered in gloppy paint, but dovetailed joints and hard wood. I paid $7 for it and refinished it. A friend in the antiques business who is a certified appraiser told me he it was maple and he would price it at no less than $150 (and that was five years ago).

      Look for old, well-made furniture. You can fix the ugly outside – and once you have a piece of really good furniture, you won’t need to replace it.

      1. Dr. Speakeasy*

        This is good advice – but we’re being gifted the kids sets. And while I can take my time looking for end tables and such, the kids need beds and such right away. I was looking more for websites that folks like, etc.

    3. Jean*

      +1 on the suggestions re second-hand stores and consignment stores. You could also try local flea markets and/or estate sales. Be ready to resist the urge to buy something cool that doesn’t fit your life or living space.

      Craigslist is a mixed blessing. You can get some bargains. You can also get sucked into buying semi-useless junk if you’re not savvy enough to inspect the furniture very carefully before buying. It also helps to be brutally honest with yourself re plans to refinish / repair / repaint. (Know thyself and thy skills and be honest when thou assesseth thine free time, work space and storage space! Also have some idea of how much money thou mayest or mayest not have or wish to spend upon paying others to repair, refurbish, etc.) Not that people were misrepresenting their merchandise, but I was definitely too naive, inexperienced and/or starry-eyed.

      These days I try my best to consider Craigslist browsing as window-shopping _only_.

    4. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      Try Pottery Barn Teen for kids stuff– might be above your price range but I’ve heard that the quality is quite good and there are always sales…. For other furniture, you might try CB2 (crate and barrels lower priced sibling). I’ve found some reasonably priced, surprisingly sturdy furniture at World Market. All of them have web sites.

      1. Dr. Speakeasy*

        I forgot about World Market – that is probably just the place for the counter stools we need.

  44. Sparkly Librarian*

    I have a Little Free Library at my house, and I’n going to put out a bingo card for summer reading. Squares will have things like “Read outside”, “Read aloud to someone younger than you”, “Go swimming”, “Draw or paint an alternate cover for your favorite book”, etc. What would be some good ideas for prizes? They should be fairly inexpensive and hopefully summer-related, and nonperishable. I don’t know how many I’ll need, but based on the visual headcount of kids in the neighborhood and the activity I’ve seen at the LFL so far I’m thinking about 20-30. Right now I’m wondering whether the ice cream truck will be able to set up some kind of gift certificate.

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      Ooh, and jars of bubbles for the littlest. Dollar Store probably has ’em.

      1. LizB*

        Dollar store has a ton of good things, as does the dollar section at Target. It can be nice to offer kids a choice, so if you want you could get a few different items and let them pick. Sidewalk chalk can be good for the summer, slinkies and play doh are always a hit, bubbles are a great idea.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          Yaaaaaaaas. Low-effort, non-perishable, affordable, and with a variety for choice. Also I intended to get sidewalk chalk anyway. Thanks!

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      Oriental Trading Company has all kinds of great cheap prizes! One of the most popular summer reading prizes at my old library was stick on mustaches. Everyone wanted one!

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I don’t know what would be the US equivalents of Hema.nl and Tiger-stores.com, but they have no end of good small gifts. I have bought novelty pencils (with little wooden characters on the end), boxes of small hedgehog and squirrel paperclips and clothpegs in the shape of ballerinas.

  45. Sleepy*

    Advice on getting to sleep earlier?

    I recently got one of those Fitbit trackers that have a sleep monitor, and it’s sort of called to attention how few hours I’m getting each night (less than 5 on average, pretty much never hit my target of 7). I always knew I should get more hours (always sleepy in the afternoon), but having it spelled out (in numbers lol) makes it much harder to ignore.

    I get up at 6:00am on weekdays (no flexibility there), so I really need to get to bed around 10:30pm or thereabouts, and while it’s not like I have any need to stay up late, but just can’t switch off. I know all that advice about avoiding TV or other monitors, but are there things I can do to wind down?

    1. fposte*

      Is your problem getting to the bedroom or turning off when you get there? If it’s the first, one thing that’s helped me is that the lights in my living room are on timers that go off at 10. If it’s the second, are we talking insomnia or just doing stuff that isn’t sleeping in the bedroom? If so, make it hard for you to get to the stuff by taking it out of the bedroom. (Device chargers shouldn’t be plugged in there, for instance.

      1. Sleepy*

        I live in a shoebox-sized studio so everything’s in the same room. I don’t usually have the TV on, but the computer is a lot harder to walk away from (damn Netflix). It’s the getting /into/ bed part that’s difficult for some reason, like I just can’t be bothered to do it (does that even make sense?).

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I have a time window–if I miss the window, fatigue becomes an obstacle in getting to bed, which is weird but true (that’s what led to the automatic lights-out policy). Can you try siteblockers like Leechblocker or Stayfocusd and set an alarm for when you need to hit the shower, brush your teeth, or whatever? That might start the dominoes going earlier.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Me too–and if I fall asleep on the sofa, gah. I sometimes end up waking up really late and then going to bed is almost futile because getting off the sofa, brushing teeth, etc. wakes me back up again.

        2. Dangerfield*

          You can get power sockets with timers on to plug your lights into for when you’re away so it doesn’t look like the house is empty. Can you get one for your computer? If you know it’s going to power off at 10pm no matter what, would that help you to get to bed? I know that, for me, if something is switched off it’s a lot easier to leave it alone than to switch it back on.

        3. Natalie*

          Do you have f.lux on your computer? It causes the screen to get less blue (and more yellow) slowly over the evening. Blue light is a “wake up” signal, yellow is a “wind down”. It has a bunch of settings and you can deactivate it temporarily if you’re meaning to stay up late.

    2. Joanna*

      I have the same problem. I’m a night owl but I have to be up by 6.20. I found getting more comfortable bedding helped somewhat. I couldn’t replace my whole bed but even a better soft underlay made a difference.

      This one is probably an introvert specific thing, but not engaging in substantial conversations soon before bed is important for me. I’ve had to set boundaries with more extroverted (and less sleep deprived) family members. They had to be told that ringing at quarter to 10 at night to discuss anything that wasn’t very urgent was inappropriate.

      1. the gold digger*

        I treasure my sleep and almost never get enough. The biggest issue in our marriage is not our religious or political differences but our bedtime differences – Primo is a night owl and in a perfect world, I would be asleep by 9:00 every night.

        I wanted to strangle him the night he came downstairs at 9:45 – it was an April 14 – to inform me that we had made a miscalculation with certain investments for the prior tax year and would have to spend hours sorting things out to file our taxes correctly.

        1. This is why you do not wait until the last minute to do your taxes and
        2. THIS IS NOT THE NEWS I NEED AT BEDTIME.

      2. Nicole*

        Good point. I have the Do Not Disturb feature activate on my phone at 8:15 pm on work nights because I start winding down around that time. The light in the living room automatically turns off at 8:30 pm and I go upstairs, brush my teeth, wash my face, put on lotion, etc. Then I read or do something relaxing not involving a TV so that by the time 10 pm arrives (and sometimes earlier) I’m ready to fall asleep.

    3. Tennessee*

      I had the same problem, not being able to switch off. The cure for me was counter-intuitive — I left the tv on! It gave my brain something to latch onto that wasn’t whatever I was currently worried about. I listened to anything that didn’t take a lot of brain power, was something I’d seen before, and didn’t have a lot of sound variation (gun shots, bombs, etc). Sometimes used an eye mask. Lately I’ve used an iPod with the sound of the shows ripped instead of the actual show (no lights, which helps give me a deeper sleep). Also use a pillow speaker, at a low level so I can *just* hear it. I now get 8 hours every night.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      My heat goes down around 9-9:30. By ten it can be cold in the house during the winter especially. Can you do something with the temp at your place so that you feel more motivated to turn in for the night?

      1. Chaordic One*

        Find something silly, familiar and comforting like syndicated reruns of an old sitcom. “Friends” does it for me.

  46. Needing Motivation*

    Hi there,

    I am hoping someone can give me some encouragement or motivation. I’ve always been very overweight. For most of my 20s I was in the mid 200s (I’m 5’5) but the last two years I’ve really struggled emotionally and yesterday I stepped on a scale and it said I number I never dreamed I’d see. 302.

    I won’t lie. I cried. I know I need to change but I don’t know what to do. In the past I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried low carbs/high protein, I’ve tried carefully tracking calories and fat, I’ve tried every exercise regime under the sun and I usually lose 5-10lbs then nothing. I’ll keep it up for another several months without an inch or pound lost before giving up in frustration.

    I feel like screaming. I know I need to do something but I don’t know what to do. My best friend (who is really and truly awesome but is also naturally very fit) suggested just being more active and watching what I eat but I already eat healthy (and correct portions) and I already walk around 15,000 steps a day (my tracker keeps me updated) which isn’t huge, but its a lot for me.

    I’m only 30. I feel like this is ruining my life. I don’t date because I’m so insecure. I feel constantly judged. I just want to change but i don’t know how.

    1. Joanna*

      Have you had your doctor run tests to look for any underlying issues? 15,000 steps is actually a fair bit of exercise so it’s odd that it’s not helping if your diet is already reasonable.

      1. Needing Motivation*

        I’ve had lots of tests run. We’ve looked at my thyroid which came back normal, hormones which came back typical, the odd thing is whenever we do blood work everything is right where it should be. I’m not diabetic or prediabetic. My cholesterol is great. Even my heart is strong. I am blessed with strong genes, but I doubt it will always be this way.

        1. nep*

          Just curious — was vitamin D included in the blood work? I’ve seen ‘unexplained weight gain’ as one effect of D deficiency.
          Do you track what you’re eating? Keeping a food journal can be really helpful.
          Do you eat healthy fats like avocado?

          1. Needing Motivation*

            Hi there,

            Yea Vitamin D was looked at too. It was a bit low but for my part of the country it was within norms. You are so right about food tracking! I started doing it about three years ago when I really wanted to change how I ate and focus on making sure I was getting a really nutritious diet. I use a great app to track all of my food (even down to the little jolly rancher I had, etc) and my water (because I often overestimate how much water I am drinking).

            I don’t tend to eat avocado because I cannot stand the taste, but I do make sure I get a sufficient amount of healthy fats in my diet. I made the mistake years ago of trying to cut out too much fat. You just end up hungry all the time. The key is a moderate amount of healthy fats.

            1. Camellia*

              For two decades numerous doctors told me my thyroid and vitamin D results were “a little low but still within normal range” so they elected to do nothing. Then I met a doctor who said the same thing, but said she wanted to put me on Synthroid and D anyway because her experience showed that “a little low” was too low.

              It was like magic! My weight started dropping, my chronic mild depression improved, and my hypoglycemia disappeared. Some of us are sensitive to small things and what is normal for others may not work for us. I am so thankful for this doctor! I wish more were like her.

            2. Cristina in England*

              I think there was a study recently about how the 100% RDA of vit D is actually more like 20% of what people should get. Also, the study concluded that taking high doses of vitamin D had beneficial effects for chronic diseases. You can get high dose ones from Amazon that are very small, and you can even get it with a dropper so you don’t have to take a pill at all!

              1. nep*

                I’ve come across that quite a bit in looking into vitamin D — that many see the RDA as really low and most people need more than has long been recommended.
                People in many regions are chronically low, yes, but that doesn’t mean low-ish levels are OK; in my experience some doctors seem rather indifferent when it comes to vitamin D.

    2. fposte*

      Losing weight is really, really hard. It’s anti-evolutionary. The people who succeed in doing it don’t go on diets that they then get to let go of–they have to change how they eat forevermore. (You also probably saw the recent research that suggests the body kicks into a retention mode when you’ve had a weight loss, so you gain weight at a lower calorie intake than before.) It’s like going on the wagon.

      I’m not sure if you’ve tried a program, and I think that might be worth doing if you haven’t. Weight Watchers is still the top recommended program, and you can do it online now, though the social support can be a big factor in success. Definitely also talk to your doctor. But keep in mind that this is a long game, and your first goal is to stop gaining weight.

      In the meantime, have a look at Brian Wansink’s Slim by Design, which I read after a recommendation here :-). It’s an excellent guide to ways to set up your kitchen and your shopping to affect your food intake.

      1. Needing Motivation*

        I tried Weight Watchers but I struggled to hit the necessary points and when I wasn’t successful they told me to eat more. I changed how I eat years ago and now really listen to my body. I eat until I am full and then stop. When on WW, this resulted in them saying I need X points and me only ever getting to X – 10.

        Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll definitely look it up!

    3. blackcat*

      Honestly, it may be impossible for you to lose weight without surgery. It sounds like you get lots of exercise (15,000 steps a day is a lot) and eating right. You said you’ve been really struggling emotionally–it’s possible the additional gain is entirely due to stress/emotional distress (for most people, stress causes weight gain, even in people who don’t stress-eat. It’s a biological adaptation). Have you been in therapy? Addressing what has been stressing you out could be really helpful.

      Another thing that could be helpful is spending time reading bloggers/writers in the Health at Any Size community. Looking a pictures of people your size who are happy/living fulfilling lives could help.

      Finally, I’m going to reply to myself with a couple of articles about what happens, biologically, when people diet. Dieting is almost certainly not the answer for someone in your position–it could make things worse.

      1. Needing Motivation*

        That is my deepest, darkest fear. That something is actually wrong with me that will keep me from losing weight without surgery. Because surgery isn’t an option for me. My insurance does not cover it and I cannot afford it. And even if I could, I have personally seen it fail after the person tried so hard. I would hate to save for the next 5+ years, have the surgery and then have it fail.

        1. fposte*

          It’s not something personally wrong with you–it’s the way we’re designed. It’s not like there are scads of people losing and keeping weight off except for a few outliers. It’s hard to beat that–but it’s not impossible. (I also wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of surgery–it’s got a much higher success rate than dieting alone.) I think you’re at a frustrating stage where you feel like you’re doing all the right things, and if they don’t work, nothing does. But “right” in diet is often a moral call and not a medical one, and while it’s really tough to get away from the weird morality overlay when talking about weight, it’s better if you can.

          BTW, there is at least one study that associates high levels of physical activity–about an hour a day–with keeping weight off longterm once you’ve lost it. From what I can see, that would be about 30,000 steps if you stick to walking, which is more than you’re doing now. Can you bump your step rate up now and see what happens? That would be a pretty simple change to quantify.

          1. Needing Motivation*

            This made me laugh. I have short little legs so my 15,000 steps is inclusive of about 45 minutes of walking. I’m still working to up my daily step count (I started at barely breaking 5,000 most days) my goal is to be consistently above 20,000 by the end of the summer.

            1. fposte*

              Sounds like a good goal generally!

              A tangent, but as somebody with short little legs myself, I don’t find it makes my steps take longer–if anything, they’re quicker than taller people’s. It’s distance that I fall much shorter than average on :-).

        2. blackcat*

          I didn’t mean to suggest that there was something *wrong* with you–on the contrary, your biology is doing what it evolved to do. I found the article’s discussion of a weight set point very true in my experience–while it ticks up a bit with age for most people, we weigh what we weigh. I can exercise for 2 hours a day for a month (I have done it), and I come out weighing the same amount or slightly more, still with a soft belly (but with thighs of steel!). Our bodies try to keep us where we are–but it sounds like you are *healthy* despite your weight.

          I know weight loss is your goal, but maybe a first step is becoming okay with your body the way it is now. Therapy can be a great place to do this, and it’s also why I recommended the Health at Any Size movement. You may even find it easier to lose weight if your focus is on feeling good, rather than weight loss. I can’t find the link now, but I remember reading that the people tend to stick with exercise routines are in it for the short term pluses (feeling good that day, training for a race 1 month away) rather than long term, hard to reach goals (such as loosing 20+ lbs).

        3. Student*

          This eventually boils down to physics. You have to use more calories than you consume, end stop.

          That’s hard, very hard – especially when there are underlying medical (including mental) issues to manage. It can take time. But there’s no way around the basic energy balance problem – you have to eat less, or exercise more, or both. Changing what you eat but still eating the same amount won’t generally help. If you exercise a lot already, it may feel like you shouldn’t need to exercise more – but you do.

          Don’t rely purely on the nutrition labels, or the exercise machine accounting for calories – those are estimates. Assume they are wrong, and always assume they are wrong in a way dis-favorable to your health. To compensate, exercise and/or eat less by maybe 5% beyond your base plan. If that doesn’t work, assume they’re wrong by 10% , and so on, until you start to see results.

    4. the gold digger*

      I am so sorry. Although my number is not yours, I have struggled with my weight my whole life as well. (Called “fatso” when I was a kid, my mom had me on a diet when I was five, my 73 year old mother STILL talks about dieting every time I talk to her, etc.) It is so, so hard to lose weight and keep it off. I want to give you a big hug and tell you that your worth is not determined by your size.

      I hope you figure something out that makes you happy. xo

      1. Needing Motivation*

        I no longer go home to see my family because every time I do my grampa talks about how I should be more active and how as I get older it will get harder to lose weight.

        I love him very much and I know he means well, but it really hurts and feels like that’s all he sees when he looks at me.

    5. ginger ale for all*

      Yikes, to have that many steps and eat healthy and still have problems has got to be a punch to the gut. Since you have already been to the doctor and you seem to be on top of things foodwise, would seeing a trainer to have them evaluate your steps and exercise part of your life be feasible?

      1. Needing Motivation*

        I would love to see a trainer. I’ve wondered if there might be something else I can add in, or even just to have that kind of encouragement when it gets hard.

        Unfortunately, money is really tight right now. Rent in our market is skyrocketing and pay is not keeping up. I got a 2% raise this year and rent went up 11%. We’re a victim of the Great California Exodus.

        I am hopeful that I’ll be able to get into cheaper housing soon and that will be the first thing I look for.

        1. nep*

          Are you doing any kind of strength training in addition to the walking? Squats, push-ups (starting on wall or counter-top — these count), lifting some dumbbells or kettlebells, stepping burpees on a bench or counter-top? Throwing some of that into the mix could help.
          Also you might try intervals during your walks — doing some rounds of 30 seconds full throttle (whatever is all-out effort to you) then about a minute your usual pace.
          I don’t know whether you fall into the trap that many do — failing to see short-term results can make some people feel like giving up…then allow themselves that bag of chips (or whatever) out of sheer frustration or for comfort. Just know that even when you are not seeing immediate results, every day you eat well and move your body, you are making progress.
          Wishing you all the best.

          1. nep*

            (With all that about exercise said, of course it’s primarily going to be down to what you’re eating. Moving your body is essential and good for your overall health, and as someone else mentioned helps with keeping weight off once lost. Working with weights really changes your body. Both weights and intervals can help burn calories. But in my experience — for myself and people I know — cutting portions and especially eliminating refined sugar, alcohol, and processed stuff is the key. You know that already — just wanted to add that to my bit about exercise.)

    6. KitCroupier*

      Motivation is the hardest part of getting healthier. Not starting, but sticking with something day after day.

      What’s worked for me is several things:
      1) Stop looking at the scale. Weight can fluctuate 3-5 lbs a DAY. If you weigh yourself at the wrong time you can discourage yourself.
      2) Look for non-scale victories (NSV). Did you run/walk a 5k? Hit all your Fitbit goals? Make five healthy meals a week? Did you go down a pants/dress size?
      3) Set realistic goals and reward yourself for them. I didn’t buy the newest version of the Fitbit until I’d gone to the gym 4 times a week for a couple of months. Then it was new exercise clothes. Or wireless headphones. (All my rewards are fitness related so I get to use them while hitting goals.)
      4) Find something that interests you and only do it while exercising. Listen only to an interesting podcast or audiobook while walking on a treadmill or outside. (I love Zombies, Run! which is an app for Apple and Android. I went from not being able to run a mile to running a 15k though it took me a few years!)
      5) Falling off the wagon will happen. Maybe you’ll stop going to the gym for three months or eat fast food for a week. Accept that it happened and start over. No one judges you as harshly as yourself.

      Good luck on getting healthier. It’s a long road that won’t happen overnight. Slow and steady and concentrate on feeling better over looking better.

      1. Needing Motivation*

        I’ve heard this advise and it is all well and good to focus on non-scale victories, but the scale also matters. I know not to weigh myself daily (and to weigh myself at the same time consistently) but man I cannot possibly explain how disheartening it is to make all the right choices, to work my ass off until I am exhausted every day and to do all the “right” things and six months in have no weight loss. Non. Zip. Zero. No inches lost. None.

        At a certain point the mind turns to “what the hell was the point, then?”

        1. Student*

          The point was, you aren’t doing it all “right”. I wish I could make that sound less harsh, but it’s the fact you’re seeing on the scale after 6 months. You have to get out of the mindset that you did everything “right” and figure out what, exactly, you are doing wrong. Everybody screws up weight loss – but nobody likes to admit they are screwing up weight loss. Weight loss is hard. Admitting you made a bad choice or failed to execute something correctly on your weight-loss quest is the only way you’ll start facing what you did wrong and trying to fix it.

          If you’re going to put yourself through hell, you’d best choose a hell that gets you some weight loss in the end, right?

      2. nep*

        Just a word on the word ‘motivation’. It really struck home for me when I read something along these lines — motivation is fleeting; what really counts is discipline and commitment. Because those will have you eating clean and exercising even when you really don’t feel like it.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I’ll cry with you, it if helps.
      Lots of things “block” weight loss. I can honestly say if I had not gotten into alternative stuff I probably would not have finished losing the extra pounds.
      I learned a lot. For example, fragrances and other allergies were blocking my ability to lose weight. And I got away from chemical cleaners and my weight loss resumed.
      I had some structural misalignments that were causing problems which in turn caused me not to lose weight. I got a chiro for those.
      I was also lacking vitamins and minerals. The thing that was stressed with me is that malnutrition does not automatically mean a person is skinny. Sometimes malnutrition blocks weight loss as the body clings desperately to what it gets.
      Proper hydration is a bfd. Keep those bowels/kidneys working, if the bowels are not working a couple times a day then this could be part of what is going on with you.
      Medication. If you are not familiar with your meds even the OTCs take the time to google each one for side effects. I have seen several people blossom right out do to a med they were taking.
      And finally this last one is tough, I have seen examples of heartbreaks and worries causing changes in the body and the body just will not lose weight. If you have any griefs or sadnesses that are lingering on and on please consider grief counseling. And consider that counseling as part of your plan to lose weight.

      I’d like to draw your attention here to something. None of these things I mention here have anything to do with the foods you are eating or the exercise you are getting, please notice that. It shocked the crap out of me that before I finally lost weight almost every single aspect of my life changed, including my worldview. You are totally correct to turn and look at things other than food and exercise. I don’t think you need motivation, you have plenty. What you need are ideas that actually work.

      1. Needing Motivation*

        I know one of the more recent obstacles is the birth control I am on. I opted for the implant which is well documented to, if not cause weight gain, hinder weight loss. But it is also the only one that helps with other issues I have so I went with it.

        Also, I love my chiro :)

        1. Miki*

          I hope it’s not Essure (the implant you mention)
          All the ladies who had it experienced a major weight gain (to the point of constantly looking 8-9 months pregnant all the time) and bloating, even though they didn’t change their diet and exercise. If it is Essure please look for Essure Problems FB page.

          1. Ms. Didymus*

            It is not Essure, I considered that but opted against it because the side effects seemed much worse.

    8. Today's anon*

      Like everyone said, it’s really, really hard to lose weight so be kind to yourself. But something is off if you are eating well in the correct proportions and walking a ton and gaining weight. I tend to give myself far too much latitude if I’m not really vigilant, and it all adds up. Somethings that helped me:
      1. sometimes I was eating too little or one or 2 big meals/day. I do better with smaller, more frequent meals. That was surprisingly hard to do. The total calories was the same. Same with choosing more nutritious food, even for the same caloric intake.
      2. you can’t afford a personal trainer but can you get some weights or into a cheap gym? Weight training will make you toned and you will lose inches, even if the weight does not change. Also, our bodies get used to what we are doing really fast, so even though you are walking a ton, your body is used to it. Can you switch it up? Go swimming, train for something like a 5k, go hiking or biking,…just to keep your body guessing so to speak.
      3. Sleep is super important. Good sleep makes losing weight (and all the actions around that) much easier. Non-sleep = holding on to weight.
      4. Therapy – You say you had some struggles and it sounds like you are feeling in a pretty low place right now. People in general are so not helpful around weight loss (I got that comment all the time, just eat right, blah). A good therapist can help you deal with the issues and the frustrations and the anger at all your family.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Great point about sleep. Energy has to come from somewhere. If we do not sleep then we MUST eat to get our fuel for the day. This is why it gets harder and harder not to graze as the day wears on- the body is looking for fuel to keep going.

        2. Ms. Didymus*

          Surprisingly good these days! I range between 7 – 9 hours a night and my handy dandy tracker confirms I spend nearly 1/2 of my sleep in deep & REM cycles with 1 or 2 wakeups per night lasting less than 5 minutes each.

          I used to really struggle to sleep and I found that reducing the number of pillows on my bed allows me to sleep so much better. I lay down and just crash now.

          1. Ms. Didymus*

            Oh man, this is how I know it is past my bedtime. I thought I had posted asking about people that sleep track (I guess i never hit submit?) and I thought this was in response to my post. Sorry for the hijack and off to bed I go! :)

    9. Pennalynn Lott*

      Nerd Fitness (and its Facebook group for women) has been a life-saver for me. I love the philosophy (just do one tiny thing different today than you did yesterday, because real change takes a long time so you need to measure things in baby steps, not leaps and bounds). It’s $99 for a lifetime membership (with a 100% money back guarantee; the founder is serious that he wants you to be happy with your purchase) and comes with training videos and food plans / suggestions, all of which is easily modified to fit individual situations. For instance, both of my hips have been replaced, so I can’t do high impact exercises. So when the warm-up calls for Jumping Jacks, the videos offer the alternative of Walking Jacks.

      There’s no counting points, no one single “right” way to become healthier, and the Nerd Fitness Academy Facebook group for women is the most supportive thing I’ve encountered in my life. It, alone, is worth the price of admission.

      P.S. After joining NF last June, I lost 55 lbs between June 1 and Dec 31. I need to lose another 30 lbs, but I’ve kept the 55 off, and I’ve become stronger and more flexible. I couldn’t have done it without NF.

      1. nep*

        Wow — brilliant endorsement. And well done, you. (I’ve glanced at the site a few times and always liked what I saw — get a really good vibe from the founder.) Thanks for this. And keep up the great work.

    10. Nicole*

      I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling. Have you considered taking probiotics? I wouldn’t necessarily say they burn fat, but I noticed when I started taking them I stopped gaining weight even though my diet/exercise remained the same.

    11. GiantPanda*

      My apologies if these ideas are not helpful for you. I am single and can change my eating in any way I want without inconveniencing anybody else.

      It sounds as if you get enough exercise so maybe look a bit harder at nutrition. Here are some things that work for me (and might or might not work for you at all):

      – No drinks with calories ever. Coffee without sugar and cream, juice without sugar, diet soda or water only.
      – I check nutrition labels when shopping. Lean meat, small packages, … no candy. The variation between e.g. salad dressings is amazing. Buy nothing I don’t *really* want to eat.
      – When preparing food I often put a single portion on three plates. Eat the first part, wait 15 minutes. Still hungry (of course), so heat up the second part and eat it. If I am not hungry after the second part (quite often) it goes into the fridge, to be eaten instead of breakfast the next day.
      – Permit myself to throw food out. Not that I want to, but if I am not hungry and would only eat the stuff because it expires otherwise… then letting it go might be the better choice. (This was very hard to learn.)
      – Find lots of ways to distract myself from eating. This tends to involve bookshopping. And going to bed early.

  47. Alinea*

    I made 4 open terrariums today and they are so cool!!! Aaahhhhh. I feel like mf’ing Martha Stewart. It suddenly occurred to me that this would be a nice gift for my friend’s 30th birthday and I ended up making one for my mom and 2 more for me.

    There were some lovely low planters at Walmart (Better Homes) and I bought glass containers at JoAnn’s AND there was a 40% off coupon on their app. WTF! I got the app for my wedding and I’m glad I’ve kept it for random stuff like this.

    Moral of this story: go make yourself a terrarium or just plant a bunch of succulents in a planter/vase/whatever you got! It looks so pretty.

    1. Saro*

      That sounds really pretty! Are they hard to keep alive? It seems like it would be a fun project with my two year old.

      1. Alinea*

        Yes! They are very difficult to kill. In fact, I was so worried about them drying out that I over watered some of them. Still didn’t kill them. Just had to replant them. I’ve had them for 2-3 years.

        I wish I could post a picture!

    2. CMT*

      JoAnn’s always has great coupon deals! If there’s not one for what you want, wait a week and there will be.

  48. Be the Change*

    This is a question mostly for the men on AAM, but it’s definitely a women’s issue. Help me understand what seems to be an epidemic of low-level ill treatment of women that all too frequently breaks out into actual violence. I’m talking about the cat-calling, grab-assing bullshit that can escalate to roughing a woman up if she defends herself. I’m also talking about things like hitting on pregnant married women, as happened to a friend of mine in seminary by men studying to be Christian religious leaders. Also talking about someone I came across who joined the Navy and was flabbergasted that her young fellow sailors deeply, deeply to their cores, believed that women “owed” them sex. Why does all this this happen and what can women do to live their lives without it, fully living, and not having to avoid places or experiences?

    For the record I’m not asking for myself, because for some reason I personally have never experienced anything worse than a stupid remark at a meeting, and that was 20 years ago. So I really, really don’t understand. What I can understand is the impulse to become a screaming harpy in response, but that seems both risky and ineffective, so…what?

    1. fposte*

      You’re asking for an answer to “How do we fix ingrained sexism?” in a blog comment? You couldn’t have gone for something easy like world peace :-)?

      1. Be the Change*

        Chuckle. I guess when you put it like that my question certainly does sound naive.

        Oh, and not that I think the men on AAM would ever do this, it’s just that I can’t ask the men who do!

    2. Dangerfield*

      I feel like this stuff is getting worse, not better. It’s exhausting. And so many men want to deny that it’s happening, even when women are telling them that this is their experience.

      1. Merry and Bright*

        +100 When this kind of crap comes from those in power, I despair. Where do you even start?

        In the 80s there was a notorious case in London which still reverberates. A young woman was in her own home when burglars broke in and one of them raped her. At the trial the judge gave the rapist the shortest jail sentence because “her suffering wasn’t that bad”.
        So burglary was worse than rape…
        With these attitudes so ingrained world peace would indeed be a better prospect.

      2. Temperance*

        What’s even better is that his father asked for no punishment because a “20 minute mistake” shouldn’t ruin his life. How about, HE RAPED SOMEONE?

        1. SophieChotek*

          Or the Father that made his 14 year old daughter marry her rapist?
          (If the report is true)…

        2. nep*

          As long as rape is so readily dismissed as minor, as long as there is not consistently severe punishment for rape, this repulsive and pathetic state of affairs will not change.

        3. nep*

          As long as rape is so readily dismissed as minor, as long as there is not consistently severe punishment for rape, this repulsive and pathetic state affairs will continue.

        4. nep*

          (Oops my mistake / double post — I thought first time did not work but it must have just been delayed.)

        5. Lindsay J*

          And what about the victim’s life? I won’t say her life has been ruined, but it has been irrevocably changed. By someone else’s “20 minute mistake”. She is young, too. I’m sure she has a lot of potential in some area, too (especially after reading her statement). And she isn’t the one who made a “20 minute mistake”. She isn’t the one who broke the law, and raped someone. But she has to live with the consequences of that for the rest of her life. But no concern from the rapist, the family or the judge about that.

      3. catsAreCool*

        I think that judge should lose his job, and the Stanford rapist should get a new trial where he’s sent to jail for a lot longer. He raped an unconscious woman – he should get a punishment that is severe.

      4. Lindsay J*

        It was hard for me to read the article I had about the case to the end because I got angry every other line.

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      This has been on my mind lately as well. I’m in my 20s and I’ve gotten off pretty easy with regards to sexism, I think. I work in a public facing role, so I’ve been hit on by random guys but they’ve usually taken no pretty easily. Only had to escalate to my boss in one case.

      Then this week, a cop came to my apartment building (my neighbor across the hall has been involved in a custody battle and apparently made threats . . . You can hear everything here). So the cop and dude are talking and the COP says that ALL WOMEN ARE UNSTABLE. It’s basically a soap opera over there, so I can’t say who would be the better parent . . . And I get trying to not antagonize already upset people, but there’s got to be a better argument than that! I was pretty floored.

      The other thing that bothers me is sexism of women toward other women. My own mother will talk about how petty women are and to avoid working with women . . . PEOPLE can be petty, Mom, not just women.

      Vent/rant over.

      1. fposte*

        With the cop thing, it’s worth remembering that cops will say whatever they think will improve the situation, including lying like a rug if they think it’ll settle the dude down. So hopefully that was what was going on.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          I get that, I really do. And having heard how unstable things can be over there ( girlfriend sleeping with his best friend, him screaming at the baby, etc) I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. But the baby is a little girl and it bugs me that her dad would think that way, that a cop telling him stuff like that would calm him down. But of course no one’s perfect.

          1. fposte*

            I would agree that that is very, very far from perfect.

            I tend to agree with Miss Girl that it’s getting better. But I think “better” doesn’t necessarily mean women deal with less shit–it’s just that we’re getting the same amount of shit while having broader and richer opportunities. But those aren’t broader and richer opportunities for *all* women, so women stuck raising a kid on their own while working a low-wage job aren’t really getting much compensatory liberty for having their asses groped.

            1. Aurora Leigh*

              I think you’re right. There will always be jerks in the world after all. And male jerky-ness is becoming much less institutionalized all the time I think.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              I agree that we have more opportunities. And -this is huge- we discuss the problem publicly.

              Growing up my father insisted on me taking four years of math and science in high school. At first I balked. Then I realized that I had a family member who was telling his daughter that education was wasted on women because women were not teachable. As a society things like this were just not discussed openly. The only thing you could do was live your life as you saw fit. Back then, we were so broken as a society I did not even know what to say to my family member when she told me. Now, of course, age and time have changed much of that for me.

              A friend tells a story a story from the 60-70s. A woman lost her husband, he passed after an illness. They had seven kids. She had to go on food stamps. Instead of trying to help the widow and her kids, people said, “tsk, tsk, tsk” and gossiped that she needed to work harder at her problems. Too bad about all those kids, they said. I dunno, what was she supposed to do put them back where they came from? grrr.

    4. enough*

      I wish I knew what was going on. Is it happening more often, or is it we hear about it more? I’m over 60 and have a degree in engineering and never had any real issues with sexism (except from the foreign born teacher). I had more problems with women who had chips on their shoulders daring anyone to offend them. Or the student who had no use with helping other women in engineering because no one helped her.

      1. F.*

        I am in my mid-50s and have had similar life experience. Maybe it’s because I have always gotten along better with boys/men and prefer their company. Throughout my life, I have been treated far worse by women than men. That is my personal experience, and I understand that others have different experiences.

        I do think many people are far more sensitive to perceived slights than they used to be. Incidents that would have received no attention (rightly or wrongly) a few years ago are now in the media. Outrage is rampant, and whether over perceived sexism, racism, or political differences is commonplace. An entire industry has been created out of grievance mongering, which requires more grievances to sustain itself. Is it any wonder that many people have turned off the television and other media and no longer want to hear about it? I don’t know what the answer is, but the divisive forces want to be sure we are at each other’s throats while they work their agenda. I want no part of it. I treat others as I want to be treated until they prove by their maltreatment of me that they no longer deserve it.

        1. fposte*

          Though another way of saying that is that people no longer feel they have to tolerate abuses that they had previously had no power to object to.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Well said. When we drag things out into the light of day, usually things appear worse before they get better. The sheer fact that we bring the issue into the light is actually a huge step forward. Child abuse is another issue that is no longer swept under the carpet. I knew a few kids who were regularly beaten growing up. I am very pleased that, now, collectively we are able to say NO this is WRONG.

            We need to keep saying it over and over.

    5. MissGirl*

      I actually believe it’s getting better. The reason we’re hearing about it more is that people are actually talking and doing something. Think about the women Cosby attacked; that happened twenty, thirty years ago. Either they didn’t talk because nobody would listen or they did and nobody listened. Women now have more of a voice than ever.

      The status quo is changing but whenever that happens there’s always a push back. What we’re seeing is that push back, which means we’re making progress. Think of your friend in the military. Those attitudes have always existed but we didn’t have women in the military to challenge that way of thinking; now we do. It’s also important to remember that those with a dangerous attitude toward women also have a better platform (internet) with which to communicate their views. So while their views aren’t new, they are louder. But so are our voices.

      The biggest example of this is your last paragraph. You have gone twenty years and only experienced stupid remarks. There are idiots, but they are getting fewer. We are making progress.

      1. F.*

        Think about the women Bill Clinton has attacked. They have been coming forward since before his first presidential campaign, yet nothing is done and his own wife has conspired to silence them, all the while running on the I AM WOMAN!! ticket.

        1. CA Admin*

          I’m sorry, but that is very gross. A woman is not her husband’s keeper and everything bad that he does shouldn’t reflect on her.

          Implying that women are responsible for the behavior of the men in their lives (sons, husbands, boyfriends) is a similar type of sexism.

    6. An Average Guy*

      I’ve never once cat called or groped a woman and I’d be shocked and appalled if any of my friends had. I literally have no clue why someone would do that or what they hope to achieve by behaving like that.

      Ask the arsehole men behaving like that, see what they have to say for themselves but don’t expect and answer from most decent men as it just as much of mystery to us as it is to you.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        If you really want to help, then please call out your friends / acquaintances if you see them do that. Make it very uncomfortable for them–I think a lot of the gross dudes egg each other on, and/or the decent ones don’t say anything. Say something.

        1. An Average Guy*

          I’ve grown up with sisters and female cousins I’m very close with and I hate the thought of them being hassled by jerks it’s so gross and unnecessary to treat anyone like that. So I do say something when I see that sort of thing happening.

        2. Clever Name*

          This. I saw a tweet a while back that said essentially: Sorry nice guys. The assholes have ruined it for you. Start policing your asshole friends and maybe we can talk in 5 years.

          1. An Average Guy*

            But they’re not friends of mine. Why should their bad behaviour reflect on me just because we are the same gender? That’s wrong in so many ways and I bet you wouldn’t apply that line of thinking to any other class of people.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              It’s because we have no idea if a stranger approaching us is a nice guy or an asshole. And sometimes, the approach starts out nice but then when the woman says no, the entitled butthurt asshole immediately comes out. Which is actually pretty scary.

              “Hey, would you like to go out sometime?”
              “No, thank you.” (said very politely)
              “Well, f*** you, b*tch; you’re an ugly c*** anyway.”

              1. An Average Guy*

                It’s horrible when guys act like that, maybe it’s some sort of ego or pride thing that triggers that type of response. (Not that makes it OK.)

                But I’m still disliking the idea that I’m somehow responsible for and should police the bad behaviour of other just because we share the same gender.

                1. Panda Bandit*

                  It often has a greater impact when another man is calling them out. These are people who have more respect for men than they do for women; who do you think they’re more likely to listen to?

                  No one said you were personally responsible for it. Everyone should be calling out bad behavior no matter what gender they happen to be. That’s how change happens.

            2. Student*

              How is their bad behavior reflecting on you? We’re asking you to speak up, IF you see one of your friends treating a woman badly, or IF your friends express very misogynistic ideas to you. Nobody’s picketing your house, dude. Just asking you to say something if you see something. Why do you feel so put out by that?

              1. An Average Guy*

                I had written a slightly longer reply but it got lost somewhere.

                Im not being asked to speak up, I’m being told because of my gender I’m responsible for the behaviour of a subset of my gender.

                That’s what I object to.

    7. Clever Name*

      So I was walking outside by myself at at a “new urbanism” type of development about 6 months ago. It’s built on the grounds of an old mall in a suburb of a big city and it’s one of those places that has shopping and restaurants and apartments/condos/town homes. Very walkable and desirable. It’s actually very cool, and I love going there. Anyhow, I was outside after dinner, and I walked by this guy who stuck out his arm with an open hand, as if to grope/grab me. I mentioned it to my husband in a “that was weird” type of way. Later, we were walking into a bar in the same area, and we were right behind the guy! There was a bouncer checking IDs, so I mentioned it to him, thinking if he knew about this guy it might save him some trouble later. A while later, the bouncer came up to me and asked if I would make a statement to the police about the incident. (The bar had also asked the guy to leave). While I never would called the police myself about the incident, I was really glad that they took it seriously. It really sent a message that they wanted everyone to feel safe there, and that means not allowing behavior that was once dismissed as “boys will be boys”.

    8. Mazzy*

      What? Where is all of this coming from, are you in an unstable country? Most commenters are in the US. I don’t identify with this at all and feel like calling it out because so much has improved over the last 30 years. I keep seeing news stories that won’t let old issues die; many feminist journalists, for example, write as if their in 1955. You will always find one person who is racist or sexist or a criminal in a country of 315 million people. That will never end. But things have improved. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard or seen a catcall in this decade or even the last, and I work in a very busy city.

      1. An Average Guy*

        Check out the everyday sexism project on Twitter, there’s still a lot of it around in the us, uk and Australia.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Well, reams of studies show that sexism and racist continue to have real and harmful effects on loads and loads of people — in hiring, in housing, in education, in criminal justice, and in so many other areas of life. It’s not about one person in a country of 315 million; it’s about deep-rooted societal bias, both unconscious and otherwise.

        1. Student*

          … that impacts 50% of the country, in the case of sexism.

          I see sexism frequently, in the US. I think a part of it involves how far outside “accepted” gender roles you step. I live outside many traditional gender norms. I’m the breadwinner in our household, I’m in a male-dominated field, and many of my hobbies are male-dominated. When I’m with my husband on dates, I often drive us, or pay for the dinner. On vacations or business trips or in meetings, I’ll often take charge regardless of whether there are men around when it makes sense for me to do so.

          And boy, do I get push-back for stepping outside the lines society has drawn. I’ve had complete strangers come up to my husband to tell him he shouldn’t “let” me drive (my own dang car!) when we’re driving together. I’ve had people pressure me to wear more feminine clothes, or show more skin. I’ve had people pressure me about what I eat, over and over. I have trouble getting salespeople to treat me like a full decision-maker when my husband is around. Waitstaff often put the check “in the middle” now, but they still hand it to my husband frequently – never, ever to me, not once, even at places we frequent weekly where I’ve been paying every single time for over a year. I’ve had guys grab things out of my hands when it suites them, with no regard for how I may feel about it or whether it makes sense, often against my clearly-expressed wishes; suitcases, heavy gear, electronics, tools, doors, etc. I’ve got significant experience with power tools in machine shops, but I’ve been required to have a guy (with no tool experience!) run tools for me because my machine shop use makes the shop owner uncomfortable – he hasn’t observed me on the tools at all, so there’s no reasonable basis for his concern. I get treated better when I hide my gender in online hobbies than when I make it visible. I’ve been insulted by co-workers on the basis of my gender (most recently, accused of being a stripper by a colleague, in a room full of guys). And, yes, I’ve been raped. Been groped or suffered attempted rape a couple times beyond that.

          I’m glad you don’t run into this as often as I do. Really, I am very glad it’s not as pervasive as my experience has been. Please don’t minimize it for those of us who have to deal with it more often than you do.

      3. Panda Bandit*

        It’s still happening everywhere. I got catcalled yesterday though thankfully it’s been years since anyone has tried to get gropey. I’m in one of the largest cities in the US.

    9. Lindsay J*

      I’m hiding out on here and making late comments that probably won’t be read because I was done with the internet at 8AM today.

      The first straw was on Reddit. I don’t tend to go to subreddits on there where this toxic mentality pervades everything. But the top post on /r/motivation was about being nervous about talking to a girl and the basic premise was: all women are crazy anyway. At worst, you’ll get a date and have to deal with the craziness, at best you’ll get rejected and not have to deal with that shit and learning to deal with rejection is important to becoming a man. The comments were full of further crap about all women being mentally unstable, and touting the fact that poor men can’t express interest in women because as soon as he does she “dries up like the sahara” leaving him lovelorn and confused because she really wants someone who ignores her instead.

      The second was reading the comments on a post about Adele on Facebook where they had some unkind things to say about her former weight, and then about every woman who is overweight, and then about all women in general.

      After seeing insinuations that Amy Schumer should kill herself (or that seeing her picture make the people looking at it want to kill themselves), and seeing a comment on r/personalfinance talking about how all women are golddiggers yesterday (in a thread where it wasn’t even relevant – the thread was about the OP bringing their male SO over to the USA and figuring out how to help them build up credit). I’m just done. I’m staying here, my all-female facebook cooking group, and maybe r/trollxchromosomes. I can’t deal with anything else.

  49. Amber Rose*

    I’m in Osaka Japan! I’ve been awake and travelling for 24 hours and I’m half dead. Husband has gone in search of food.

    Tomorrow we explore.

    1. Clever Name*

      Have fun! Report back! I’d love to go to Japan, but the thought of not being able to read any signs makes me really nervous. (I don’t speak a bit of German but was able to navigate just fine in Germany with a guide book and picking up words here and there)

      1. Lindsay J*

        Same here! I was trying to decide between Germany and Thailand for my vacation last year. Germany won out because I was going in the winter and I wanted to see the Christmas Markets, and because I was concerned about my first solo-travel out of the country being to a country where I couldn’t read anything. Plus I knew most Germans are very proficient in English, but in my experience working with international workers at Six Flags the Thai employees as a whole had the lowest level of English proficiency.

        Japan and Thailand are definitely on my list for the future, though.

  50. Mazzy*

    Does anyone else like any of the real Housewives series? I’m dying for opinions on the New York one that just started again for the 8th season. I like Beverly Hills and NY because the people seem the realest (and some even have jobs outside of the show!). I fell in love with the NY one years ago because it was one of the first reality shows of its type, so I felt the amount of the conversations that are fake is very low. They may stage scenes, but I always felt the conversations were real and many of the items are things regular people argue about, where I find many of the other cities argue about first world problems.

    No one in my circles watches or admits to watching any of these, and I just find the progression of certain cast members’ lives fascinating, both because its a lifestyle I probably won’t ever afford, but some of the problems are things I don’t want to deal with either. Namely being a socialite who built up a huge façade of being mega-wealthy and successful, only to end up living the rich person version of paycheck to paycheck (a la countess De LeSepps). Sonja Morgan’s failing business ventures also fascinate me for some reason. Especially the Tipsy Girl drink idea that was a total rip off of bethenny Frankel’s Skinny Girl . What is she thinking?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t watch much tv. But it has struck me that some people who seem to have it all and the all has payment books attached to it. I went over to someone’s house. I realized they were paying for loans on their cars, boats, house, furniture and education. There was probably other stuff that I was not aware of.
      Someone used to say, “It’s not how much money you make. It’s how much money is left after the bills are paid.” For the most part we spend to match our level of income. My take on this is that it’s a trap that is similar to a hamster wheel.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I haven’t been a regular NY watcher in a while, but sometimes I’ll watch an episode On Demand because I read comments from people talking about it. I feel really sorry for Sonja most of the time, because I think she could be a genuinely nice person who would be fun to hang with, but she is so obsessed with “looking the part” that it’s leading to her ruin.

      Also? I hate Bethenny. Haaaaate her. I think she’s a nasty, self-absorbed, narcissistic piece of work who thinks “being real” means you can bulldoze whomever is in your path. I miss the days when she was normal. Those were the Kelly Bensimon days.

      I used to hate LuAnn. I like her a little more now that she’s divorced. But I’ve come to hate them all, hence the lack of regular tune-in.

      1. Mazzy*

        I am beginning to hate Bethany as well. We are similar in looks and age, but I’m getting sick of her “I need to tell it like it is” moments where she is extremely nasty to someone, and paints something/someone in the worst possible light. She needs to tone that down. She acts like it is a good thing that she is calm afterwords, only reinforcing her narcissism. If you’re nasty to someone else, it’s not a good thing that you are calm and collected after it.

  51. annoyed*

    I think I need to take a break from dating. I had one online potential match ask me last week if I’d keep my phone in my bag when we met up and another I met for coffee this morning who, upon seeing me enter the coffee house, phone in hand, stuck his hand out and said, “you can have your phone back at the end of the date”. I turned around and walked out of the coffee shop at that. No loss there.

    Being on your phone while on a date is incredibly rude, regardless of gender, but I’m tired of men acting like all women are constantly attached to their phones (and putting things in their profiles like “doesn’t constantly use her phone!”, as if this isn’t something men are guilty of too ffs). Don’t treat me like a child and tell me to put it away or take it away like I’m a naughty child who’ll get it back if I’m on my best behavior. It’s infantilizing.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      Ugh! Sympathy!

      I’ve just started browsing profiles online (Christian Mingle) and have seen a couple where guys spell out exactly what you should and should not wear — no pants, no shorts, culottes okay, no piercings except ears . . . I’ve had brushes with denominations like that in the past, but it seems a bit much for a profile!

      1. annoyed*

        I see a lot of “thin and athletic, always has a smile and laughs at my jokes, has class and is a lady, is fashionable” and it screams that they’re looking for a very particular type of women. Which, fine, I don’t begrudge anyone for looking for a certain type of person to date, but for me personally it’s such a turn-off to see someone write a laundry list of what they want someone to look and act like.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Gross. Think of it this way, they’re letting you know that they’re creepy before you even meet them, so really they’re saving you time!

    2. Lily Evans*

      It’s also a huge red flag for future controlling behavior. What kind of guy expects a woman to give up her major way of communicating with friends/family when she’s meeting a stranger for the first time? What a serious creep. Leaving was definitely the right call.

      1. annoyed*

        IKR? Like I said above, it’s incredibly rude to be on your phone during a date, but demanding I turn it over? No way. It threw up so many red flags – as do the many profiles I see requesting women not bring their phones to dates at all….and honestly, just the assumption that all women are on their phones 24/7 is insulting, but asking me not to bring a form of communication when I’m meeting a stranger. Definite red flags.

        1. Lily Evans*

          And it just shows how little some men pay attention to anything that’s outside of the masculine experience that they don’t even consider how godawfully creepy that is. Going out with a strange man as a woman is such a risk and so many men don’t even acknowledge that. What is it like to feel comfortable meeting a stranger for a date and not having to worry that they might rape or murder you?

          1. blackcat*

            Or they know how creepy it is and they do it anyways. It could be a way to screen for women who are more susceptible to their BS.

            My guess is 95+% of the men who do this don’t realize it’s super creepy. The other 5% devised the strategy of taking women’s phones so they can’t escape when the dude starts acting awful/corners her.

    3. CMT*

      Definitely infantilizing, misogynistic, and controlling. If there’s any upside, I guess at least you didn’t waste any time on these people.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, it reminds me of the CEO who tests applicants by insisting on a 6:30am interview. When people tell you who they are, believe them.

        This jerk did you (annoyed) a favor…

    4. Dan*

      I went on a third date to a ballgame with a woman who spent the entire game taking selfies and texting her friends, and paying next to no attention to me. This after two good dates. (Hey, if she thought they sucked, there would have been no third date, right?) I was annoyed as all get out, but it’s not my business to tell you what to do. I can, however, pull the slow fade…

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ugh, I’d fade too. When I’m out with someone, whether it’s our third date or our thirtieth, I expect that we’re going out to spend time with each other, not be immersed in our phones–we can do that at home. If we’ve been together for a while or have just gone public and we want to post a selfie of ourselves with an activity or location in the background, that’s different.

      2. anooooon*

        The only explanation I can come up with is that she didn’t really want to be at the ballgame. I know I’ve felt guilted into going somewhere for a date I have no interest in and being bored out of my mind. It’s still rude to be on the phone, but ngl if I was dating someone for awhile and I went to a football game with them, I’d probably be itching to check my phone out of boredom.

        1. Dan*

          She works for a major league sports team, and FWIW, bought the baseball tickets. If she did not want to go to the game or would otherwise be uninterested, she really needs to work being more assertive, I’m not a mind reader.

          I won’t ask how you can get bored at sports games, but I like them because you can talk to the person you’re with and it’s not disruptive to others. TBH, I could argue that paying too much attention to the game and no attention to your date is just as bad as spending all of your time with your phone.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Well, I would get bored because I don’t like sports. But if I agreed to go to a game with someone, I would at least try to pay attention and chat with them—I might actually learn something, and it might be fun even if I don’t end up a huge baseball/football fan.

            And yes, you’re right–it would be just as rude if the person I’m with were all about the game and totally ignored me!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      That’s gross. How did Mr. Phone Police know you would stay on the phone? Because he made a stupid assumption because he was stupid. And gross. Good for you for walking out!

      The only time I can see using my phone on a date is if 1) he went to the loo and I was texting someone, “OMG HE IS SO AWESOME” while he was in there, or 2) if I had to call emergency services because a tree fell on us or we got mugged or something.

    6. Anonsie*

      Ugh, gross.

      Your reaction was perfect, though. Did he do or say anything as you walked out?

    7. Lindsay J*

      Wow, they both sound incredibly rude.

      I hate it when I’m a date and the other person is on the phone. The solution to that, though, is to ask the person to put it away in the moment, or to just finish the date and decide not to have a second one.

      Good on you for walking out on the second guy. OMG I don’t know what I would have done.

  52. So Very Anon For This*

    I know this is too late to get much traction, so I’ll try to entice you with a salacious teaser: Years ago, I was in a long-term, messed-up relationship with a (minor) celebrity, and I saw him again for the first time in a decade this weekend. (He’s a musician. If you’re from North America and over 30 you almost certainly know his band and at least a couple of their songs, but you probably wouldn’t recognize his face or name unless you are a fan of the band.)

    When I was in my early 20s, I met this man. I knew who he was. I approached him in a coffee shop in my hometown; he was on tour. We chatted, we hit it off, we became email buddies. Over the course of several years we became good friends and, long story short, we fell in some sort of love. He was married. I knew this. I did it anyway, and I have no excuses for myself. I was awful. It was stupid, and painful for all involved, and still beautiful in the way that love is. It ended, he went back to his wife, I went on with my life, years passed, we haven’t been in touch. I met my husband and the musician became just another part of my history.

    Anyway, his band toured through my city and I went to his show. I just went to the show; I didn’t seek him out or say hello. The closest I got to him was 30 rows back from the stage. I can’t imagine that he saw me or knew I was there. I expected it to feel vaguely nostalgic (both because of the relationship, and because of course I had become a big fan of the band during those years and have been to lots of concerts, listened to all the albums, etc.). What I did not expect was this flood of memory and emotion and love and everything. I’m reeling.

    This thing is well and truly over. I have no interest in rekindling anything, if there were anything left to rekindle. I have a beautiful marriage. I don’t want to change anything about my life (other than the usual stuff – be in better shape, finally get rid of that lingering debt, etc.). So I’ve just been surprised by how sad? or something I feel. I’m sharing it here because I don’t want to talk about it in my real life. The relationship I had isn’t a secret from my husband or my best friend (although it is from just about everyone else), but I just don’t want to invite this emotional reaction into my real life. I want to get it out and let it blow on down the road.

    Anyway. Thanks for listening!

    1. fposte*

      Aww. I’m glad you could tell, and it’s an interesting story. I think it’s not surprising that you felt considerable emotion for somebody who’d been an intense part of your life. And maybe you’re also feeling some nostalgia and tenderness for the twentysomething you who was all wrapped up in this impossible situation. Not such a bad thing to check in with her now and then :-).

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m not a fan of the idea that if you’re over someone and happy with your life that it means you will feel zero emotions and go full Vulcan if you see him again. He was a real part of your life. He was in the past and will stay in the past, but that’s your actual past. It didn’t get erased.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      That’s totally understandable. I have people in my past about whom I’d probably feel the same way if we ever saw each other again. I wouldn’t want them back, but if you really cared for someone, then unless they were a complete monster, there’s probably always going to be a little tiny piece of your heart that belongs to them. And that’s fine. It reminds you that you’re a person with experiences and while some of them may have been painful, others were really nice.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Life is a movie, not a snapshot. If we look at the snapshots we can really be surprised by the amount of emotion in the snapshot. We can totally recall with great detail the good stuff and/or the bad stuff. We need to remind ourselves of the larger context or the movie.
      This is the brain sorting. Back to the filing cabinet analogy, only this time with photos. All the photos dump on the floor and now you have to pick them up. So you decide to put them in order according to current needs rather than tucking them back in the old way you stored them. You viewed these photos as the Current You. Time has been very kind to you. It’s allowed you to gain perspective that you did not have before.
      Typically people can only go back and look at “the old photos” or the old memories when they have moved to a safer, more secure place in life. While this musician shaped your life story, he did not become your life story. If we are lucky we have many people in our lives who do this. It’s not always a romantic involvement. I have my wise friend who I talk about. He was just a friend. Circumstances are such that he has left my life, but his words go on and on. I cannot count the numbers of time I have used his wisdom. Of course, I am sad that I do not see him, but thinking of what he would say about matters makes me feel good. He definitely influenced my life.

    5. So Very Anon For This*

      Wow, thank you.

      I am so touched by your generous responses. I expected to get either nothing at all, criticism for the harm I caused, or curious wondering about who he might be. I was preparing myself to explain and justify what happened and deflect questions about his identity. I really appreciate the kindness and sensitivity I’m receiving instead.

  53. Lily Evans*

    I’ve had a low-level pollen allergy related sinus headache plaguing me for most of the past week and I’m so tired of it. Allergy medicine is already so expensive, but the kind with decongestant components is even pricier, but I might just have to bite the bullet and buy some. This is why I like fall so much more than spring.

    1. Anne*

      Mine have been worse than ever this year. I buy the generic brands. I like generic benedryl but the f you take a lot it will make you sleepy. It mix it up with some other generic stuff also.

      1. Lily Evans*

        I’ve switched to generic too, but even the generic brands really add up! Benadryl isn’t too pricey and works well, except it does make me drowsy so I can only take it at night.

        1. blackcat*

          I miss the days that Allegra was prescription, and I had insurance where generic prescriptions were $4/month.

          These days, I buy it in bulk. The generic is often $30 or so for 90 pills–still 2 or 3x what I used to pay. But you should see me at the register when that stuff is on sale!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Try some willow bark. It’s the natural equilvant to aspirin. Sometimes grocery stores have it but you can definitely find it at a health food store. It’s the only thing I have ever found that works on sinus headaches. No side effects, no grogginess, nothing. There is a regular strength and there is a double strength willow bark. Don’t waste money on the double strength, I have never seen that much difference between the two. And the regular strength is a lot cheaper.

      I keep willow bark in the house now. It helps with almost anything that has gotten swelled up. My husband used willow bark and ice on a very, very large bruise on his arm. (He fell.) The swelling went down by 70% in about 45 minutes. I gave some to a friend who broke her toe. She had been hobbling for days. The next day she saw a definite difference in the amount of swelling.

    3. Clever Name*

      Ugh. I hate allergies. I’m a huge fan of chlor trimeton. It doesn’t have any decongestants, but always knocks the shit out of my allergies. It’s from the 70s and it’s hard to find. It comes in 4 mg tabs, but you can take up to 12 mg at a time.

  54. Pokebunny*

    Anyone use any form of password managers and can recommend one — preferably one accessible from more than one place? I’ve been using the same password for every site since 2001 and it’s probably time to change. *lol*

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I use LastPass and it works great for me. Cloud-based so accessible from anywhere, and there’s a very good mobile app.

    2. Short and Stout*

      Keepass, not cloud based but your database is accessible over all devices if stored in the cloud.

    3. Lily Evans*

      I’m kinda paranoid, so I keep a handwritten list in my purse. I don’t even write out the passwords, I write a string of hints that only really make sense to me in case anyone else ever finds the list.

    4. Camellia*

      We created a system using variable and static data to combine in a specific way to create passwords. This means that, for any given website, we can figure out what our password will be, even if the other person set it up. This has made things so much easier for us, with no need to try to track passwords.

      We also set up a system for security questions. Pick a category, like “flowers” and make a list of flowers starting with each letter of the alphabet. Then for the key word of the security question choose the flower that starts with that letter. So “whathe was your first car? ” has the key word of “car”, so the answer would be “chrysanthemum” or “camellia” or whatever you had picked for that letter.

      Anyway, this works great for us, maybe it would work for you.

  55. Oryx*

    I JUST FINISHED WRITING MY BOOK.

    Non-fiction is sold on spec and six months ago I signed a contract for a memoir. Today I finished the manuscript. This is only Phase I — now it gets sent to my editor and there will be rewrites but man oh mangoberry does it feel good to have a completed body of work.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      1) CONGRATULATIONS!!

      2) I don’t know if “man oh mangoberry” is a saying of yours or just autocorrect, but either way I am delighted by it.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Yaaaaay! \0/

      That’s a great feeling. Now if only I can finish this monstrosity of a mess of Secret Book, LOL.

      Have a glass of wine or your favorite beverage of choice and relax. You’ve earned it!

  56. Katie the Fed*

    So…I’ve suffered depression and anxiety for the better part of my adult life. Not terrible – but it’s not fun. I saw a therapist for a while who helped me work through some things and eventually I decided to bite the bullet and take a low dose of citalopram, which helped even things out.

    Well, several months ago I made the stupid decision to get off the medicine because I was feeling fine, and I continued to feel just fine. But lately I can sense it creeping back in on the corners and I’m scared. I immediately started my medication again, so it should be better soon.

    But how do i explain to my loving, wonderful husband what this is like? He has no experience with it and I know he wants to help, but I don’t think he has any idea how hollow and worthless I feel, and that everyone hates me. I tell him and he takes such a rational approach of “well, I love you!” but I understand that it’s not rational. I just…can’t seem to get him to understand this.

    Any advice?

    1. Lily Evans*

      If you’re seeing a therapist could you either get your husband to go with you, or have your therapist help you come up with a method of explaining? It’s so hard to get someone who’s never experienced mental health problems to understand what it feels like and a therapist probably has helped couples through that before.

      I also really like the depression posts on Hyperbole and a Half (I’ll link in another comment) they’re funny but at the same time do a good job of illustrating how frustrating it is to try to describe depression to someone who hasn’t gone through it.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I’m not seeing a therapist now. To be honest, I felt like it was useful but we reached a point of diminishing returns and I didn’t feel we were getting anywhere new, so we decided to part ways.

        1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

          Time for a new therapist!

          Seriously. I’ve reached end points with several of mine. While wonderful for what I needed then, they eventually stopped being able to get me over the next big hurdle. That’s when it is time to reevaluate.

        2. Lily Evans*

          That’s understandable. I’ve brainstormed a bit more and maybe one of these things might help with your husband (I don’t have an SO, but these are things I’ve used with friends and family):

          1. Being really specific with him about what reaction you’d like when you talk about your depression. Do you just want to vent and have him respond with something like “I’m sorry you feel that way” instead of trying to “fix” how you feel? Are there more specific actions he can take so you feel loved? Hearing the words is great, but sometimes feeling loved in other ways makes a difference too. Giving him a script might make him feel more able to help you instead of feeling useless while you’re unhappy.

          2. Keep a list (mental or written) of “proof” that the people in your life love you. This felt like major BS when I first tried it, but it actually did help to have objective evidence when I was feeling really down. I lean toward logical thinking, even in my emotions, though, so YMMV.

          3. Encourage him to find a community (probably online) of people whose loved ones also suffer from depression so that he has a safe space to talk to people in a similar situation and can get some tips from them. It’s tough watching someone you care about fight with an illness that’s mostly invisible and hard to empathize with (and that’s so unfortunately stigmatized).

          I really hope that things work out for you guys!

    2. fposte*

      Oh, that’s no fun. I’m glad you’re back on the meds and I hope you feel better soon. What is it that you need him to know, for a start? Does he think this is not real and you’re trying to convince him? Or is this more trying to get him to understand so he can appreciate where you are? If it’s the last, could it be okay if he just respects that it’s hard for you without understanding exactly what you’re feeling, and are you clear you don’t need him to solve the situation, just understand it?

      One possibility is to frame it in terms of physical difficulties (maybe even specifically yours). If you’re not able to walk, “I can go get you whatever you want, honey!” doesn’t solve the problem. Right now you can’t get where you need to go. So you’d like him to be [patient, sympathetic, fill in the blank] while you’re trying to get there again.

      P.S. We love you too.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Thanks for this, fposte! I’m actually feeling a bit better – maybe it was just a temporary funk instead of a return of the depression, which is good. And he’s learning and it’s good for me to know he accepts me even with those issues – he wouldn’t try so hard to help if he didn’t love me :)

        You guys are the best, seriously.