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

Eve stretchesThis 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: Belgravia, by Julian Fellowes. This is by the guy who created Downton Abbey, and it is as Downton Abbey-esque a novel as you will find — haughty countesses, gossiping servants, questions of heir legitimacy, and more. It’s quite enjoyable.

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

{ 751 comments… read them below }

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      You gotta love kitten belly! I just want to rub my face in it! (But of course it’s a trap . . .)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Finger is still swollen and not so bendy, but it’s better. I’ve almost finished the antibiotics–here’s hoping the infection doesn’t come back. I can’t afford the hospital bill as it is. I don’t want to do that again!

  1. ljs_lj*

    How on earth do you get the smell (or substance) of cat pee out of a couch?

    A few weeks ago we discovered that our couch smelled of cat pee – we have a few cats and one is getting elderly, so we suspect she had an accident. We stripped the cushions and washed the coverings and for a few days it seemed like we had fixed it. But then the smell came back. Now we think that some of the upholstery that can’t be removed was affected. Total time since discovery – possibly as much as a month now. There are no visible stains, so we have to rely on our noses to figure out where the problem is. The smell is starting to latch onto our skin and clothes whenever we use the couch.

    Is there any hope or should we scrap the couch and start looking for a new one?

    1. Lady Kelvin*

      You need to find a cleaner that denatures the proteins in the urine, probably from a pet store. We have one that works great for dog urine. Then find the location of the spot with a black light and follow the directions on the bottle. It might not work the first time, but with a few repeated treatments it should stop smelling.

    2. Long time listener, First time caller*

      Cat rescuer here! Use hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle (brown bottle) CVS sells one. Thoroughly soak the area, run a fan on it to dry, keep it out of sunlight so it won’t discolor the fabric. Repeat as needed. We stopped using pet sprays as they are watered down and quite worthless (though expensive!) Do both sides of cushions in a bathtub and really soak them to penetrate! Buy some pee padd, we used them with our elderly kitty when her kidneys were going, they are lifesavers. Good Luck.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks for this tip! We recently discovered one of the cats has been spraying the twin bed in our guest room, and, of course, we have guests coming in a few weeks. Hopefully this works, as I really don’t want to buy another box spring right now. If it doesn’t, I’m considering buying one of those plastic zippered mattress covers and encasing the box spring in it.

    3. evilintraining*

      Ugh. I remember my sister trying to do that with a comforter. The cats decided to note their displeasure over a litter change by taking it to her bed. Long story short, RIP comforter.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          The only change I’ve ever made to our cats’ litter box was putting a litter mat in front of the door. Big mistake; they thought it was an extension of the box for them to pee on. So now I just content myself with constantly sweeping up litter tracked from the box.

          1. Megs*

            Do any of those mats work? I’ve used a couple and all they’ve done is gradually get filthy before I have to throw them away. I’ve got two cats so a covered box is out, and even with a fairly high-walled box, there’s still litter all over the place.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              I have two covered boxes: one for each cat. The mats have never worked for me because the cats just pee on them. I thought it would be nice to catch the litter, but no! As far as the cats are concerned, it just adds an uncovered pee area to the front of their covered boxes.

          2. Kerry ( like the county in Ireland)*

            Yeah, I bought high-sided litter pans to stop one from occasionally peeing on the floor; the other cat took to kicking all the litter and poop on the floor. Okay, you win.

    4. Lauren*

      I’m not sure if it will help get it out of furniture, but it does work on rugs and carpet; vinegar. Plain, distilled white vinegar. Buy a couple of gallon jug and put out some bowls and/or mugs of it (not diluted) around. (Don’t worry; your cats won’t go near it.) Try to place it close to the couch but safe from being knocked over like under the coffee table and side tables, etc. Leave it out for at least two weeks, maybe longer. When you are home, keep the doors and windows open as much as you can.

      I have to warn you it will get worse before it gets better–but it WILL get better. I had an unneutered male cat spray and everyone said it would never come out. But it did after three weeks.

      1. Stardust*

        Yes, I’d recommend an enzyme spray such as Natures Miracle. It works well along with a black light to see where to spray.

      2. Honeybee*

        I was going to recommend this. I used this to get the smell of dog pee out of my carpet when my dog was housetraining (and dog vomit out of a variety of cloth when my dog was in this weird vomit-on-everything stage). It’s really good at this. I recommend the gallon bottles, though, because you need to use a lot per stain.

      3. Pen and Pencils*

        This stuff if absolutely amazing. Also much much cheaper to get it through Amazon

    5. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      Dish soap! Cat urine = protein and dish soap breaks down protein! (Also good for blood stains.)

      I was visiting a friend’s house and their elderly cat decided to spray my luggage at one point. Didn’t notice it until I had flown home. A bit of scrubbing with dish soap and my luggage was 100% cured.

    6. Artemesia*

      Our cat peed without us realizing it on the pet cover on our brand new guest bed couch — I thought the pet cover was liquid proof; it wasn’t. And we didn’t go in that room much and so the couch was a disaster before we realized it.

      I tried everything. Many products just add a perfumey smell to cat pee. What did work although it took many applications and time was ‘Anti Ickypoo’ a product you can buy on line. There is a pre spray to neutralize all the other soaps and junk you have used to no avail. And then a spray that neutralizes the odor with strong enzymes (not perfumed). I soaked the cushions many times as the pee had sunk in of course. Today, you literally can’t smell a thing even with your nose up close to the fabric. The stuff does work. A friend with a cat that loves to pee in odd corners borrowed it and it worked for her as well.

  2. Cristina in England*

    We’re going on a 5-6 hour car trip with our 3.5 year old and our 7 month old. We don’t have a car, and this will be our first long car trip (we have done long train rides but you can always walk around the train when kids get antsy). I am trying to think of great surprise toys for the ride (for my 3.5 yo, I think I’m ok for my 7mo). We have a white board/erasable crayon set, but apart from that and a favorite movie on the iPad, I am coming up short. Do any of you have some great car distractions?

    1. Tess McGill*

      Do you have access to an Etch-A-Sketch? How about s kids back seat steering wheel (with all sorts of buttons and gadgets) that attaches to the back of the front seat. Crayola Color Wonder markers (they won’t mark on anything but the special paper that’s sold with them). How abou the Magnetic Color Maze by Melissa & Doug?

      1. Cristina in England*

        Ooh I will check out those markers, that sounds great to have at granny’s house as well (I have a feeling there will be lots of light coloured furnishings…). I had thought of a Magna Doodle but learning how to control the Etch a Sketch might keep her busy for hours. Thanks!

    2. Elkay*

      Are you sure your kid won’t get travel sick? Might be worth loading up the iPad with some audio books too.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Oh no, I hadn’t thought of that. She has occasionally gotten sick on a bus but only on 1 in about 10 trips. I will bring extra bags and cloths!

        1. Elkay*

          I still get travel sick as an adult and reading or looking down has always made it worse, which was why I suggested the audio books (realised I forgot to include my logic in my response!)

        2. Lily Evans*

          One of my friends growing up used to get carsick occasionally and her mom would keep buckets- like sand-castle making type buckets- in the back seat just in case. And when they went un-used they were an extra toy to have.

      2. C Average*

        Bonine is a wonder drug. It’s kid-safe, chewable, and non-drowsy. I have two motion-sickness-prone stepkids, and they are both happily non-queasy on road trips thanks to Bonine.

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          Bonine is the best! I get massively seasick and sometimes carsick (even as an adult) and Bonine actually works; Dramamine never did.

          Outside the U.S. I think it’s sold as “Sea Legs.”

    3. Stitch*

      Go to the dollar store and pick up a bunch of little things, and wrap them up, that way the 3yr old gets to unwrap them and then play with it.
      And plan so excited rest stops on the way, just let the kid out to run around helps with being strapped in a car seat for hours.

      We took our, then 2yr old, on a 2 day car trip. Action figures, small stuffed animals, beanie baby size, and don’t forget snacks

      1. Jb*

        I always stop on my trips with my dogs, and some rest stops have really cool playgrounds that look like tons of fun to me (a 27 year old).

      2. Cam*

        You can bring activities for the rest stop too, if you don’t mind making it a longer stop. A ball to bounce, chalk for coloring (if there is a safe spot for that), bubbles?

      3. Mander*

        Yeah I avoid McDonald’s but when I am traveling with my niece and nephew I understand why the playground area is so popular.

    4. Lola*

      I drove straight across the US with a 5 ish year old – just me and him. We were putting in 12+ hours driving a day and this was before i-pads & i-phones. Selling it to him as an adventure helped set the scene and I know he still remembers the trip!

      He had books, colouring, sticker books etc. and we played a lot of car games like I-spy, First one to spot a red car etc., Picking out letters in roadsigns etc.

      I find that wrapping up little gifts for when he got really bored worked wonders and have used the same technique on trips with my kids at all ages when we travel. Just because it’s wrapped up it seemed all the more special. Favourites were hot-wheels, baseball cards, comics, magnifying glass, stickers, card games, silly putty etc..
      You could also do a “pass the parcel” type game with multiple wrappings & where they’re allowed to unwrap one layer every time they see a tractor or an aeroplane.

      My son remembers parts the trip quite clearly and a year later I drove back with him and his younger brother which was easier because they entertained each other to some degree!

      Staying engaged with them – pointing things out, talking about the unusual things we saw etc. made the time pass more quickly for me too.

      Happy memories & I’d do it again. Now they’re 21 & 23 and we just got back from a 1500 mile roadtrip to Chicago. We still play silly games but I no longer wrap up surprises!

      1. Cristina in England*

        Your trips sound lovely. I used to love spotting license plates as a kid! Thanks for reminding me to have fun on top of just surviving the trip.

    5. OhBehave*

      Pack a cooler with snacks such as yogurt tubes, fruit and veg, etc. Freezing water bottles will act as ice packs and you can also drink them as they melt.
      Small cookie sheet that’s magnetic. Buy some magnetic letters, numbers and other things so she can create ‘words’ and other pictures. You can glue magnets (as long as your kiddo won’t eat them!) on the back of pictures or make a magnetic dress-up doll (if you have a girl). Cracker Barrel of all places have some neat magnetic packs that my kids loved.
      You might want to buy a shade for the windows. Sometimes that sun can get very hot.
      We also tried to stop at little towns along the way to play at a playground. It was a nice little break for all of us.
      My parents used to always leave very late at night because we would sleep most of the trip.
      Have fun!

    6. TheLazyB*

      My small child is a bit older but loves counting a certain colour of car until he gets to 10, then switching colours. Just in case you get desperate. I’ve been there. Oh and ‘I spy’ with colours.

    7. Yetanotherjennifer*

      We used to never travel anywhere without the game Uno. It was a huge hit when my daughter was a toddler (only decent kids toy we could find one endless travel day in SD) We expanded our uses as she got older and bought a new deck when she was old enough to play the game. The colors and numbers are big and bright. At this age you can talk about colors and numbers and play concentration and maybe go fish, and the baby can hold a few cards to feel a part of things. I also liked to bring a small bead roller coaster and a construction toy with interlocking flat shapes. A lap desk is handy for playing on and a small soft pillow is great for naps.

    8. MelPo*

      I have 3.5 year old twins and we have driven from Connecticut to Florida a couple of times. Favorites for my two: Melissa and Doug make removable sticker sets that come with a background and a million stickers to put on the background. These are amazing. (Also great for sticking on hotel room windows btw)

      An empty plastic water or soda bottle with the wrapper removed + a bag of pompoms from the craft store kept my twins occupied for ever last trip– as long as you have some that are a little big for the bottle, the challenge of squishing them in there is perfect for the car.

      The new playdough plus. my kids love playdough but the regular kind becomes a permanent decoration on car interior but the new plus, while disappointing in a fun factory, doesn’t stick to anything and has a slightly wetter consistency.

      Giant pipe cleaners. I don’t give my kids pipe cleaners bc they are sharp and so could be used as weapons (twins!). But my book/toy store carries giant soft ones that are still bendable. We love them. They can make sculptures or just twist them together – they love to figure out all the different color combinations.

    9. Artemesia*

      When our kids were that age we did sing a longs in the car to keep them entertained. We had one odious tape called something like the ‘Puppet Pals’ and we had sock puppets and sang along to that. We had Sesame Street stories and tapes and stuff. Our rule was no individual entertainment in cars i.e. in our day it was walkman head phones. We saw car travel time as family time and worked to develop car games, car songs. The kids picked music for the road and we would tape their stuff on one side of a cassette and ours on the other and then it would automatically reverse and we thus took turns. We also did a lot of story telling. Mostly round robin stories where one person would start and the next person add on. We have done that with our grandchild and it works great with her too.

      Sticker books were also a hit. There are sticker sets with plastic reusable stickers that will make a story on a background board.

      I remember those long car trips to the beach for summer vacation fondly now.

    10. Troutwaxer*

      Books on tape. We traveled to the family reunion and listened to Sabriel, with Tim Curry reading the book and the trip was paradise. Obviously you will want to choose books that are age-appropriate.

    11. Connie-Lynne*

      My parents used to make it a treat to ride in the front seat of the car for a while. They’d set us math problems to do based on what was happening on the drive (“we’ve used x much gas and drove y miles, how many mpg are we getting? When do we need to get gas next?” “We just traveled x miles in y min, what’s our average speed?” Etc etc). When we got them right, we could sit in the front for a while.

      As a kid, I thought the math was tedious and overly nerdy of my dad, but as an adult I now use long trips to do all sorts of mental figuring — from wood cuts for building projects to investment planning. It keeps me occupied when driving alone.

      1. Liane*

        Unfortunately, toddlers should not ride in front in many vehicles, even in their car seat/booster, due to the airbags.

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          Oh, do UK cars not have the option to disable passenger airbags? I just assumed that was universal.

          Moving a car seat around might make this too much of a PITA anyway; I erroneously read 7 mos as 7 years!

    12. Jen*

      Magic ink books! They keep our 3 year old busy for a solid 30-40 min. Stickers. Small car snacks/treats like fruit snacks and goldfish. Etch a sketch or the magnadoodle. We also make a game out of the shapes/colors of road signs that’s good for a solid 30 min.

      We also allow her to watch one movie on our old iPhones, with headphones, on a long (>2 hour) trip. We try to save that for times of desperation. Ours isn’t quite old enough yet but our nephews love audiobooks.

  3. Nicole*

    Panic attacks – who else suffers from them? I had a real bad one in the middle of the night last night and no matter how many times it happens I always think it’s something else and I’m going to die. Taking a Xanax and distracting myself with Netflix helps me while I wait for the medication to take effect but I really wish they wouldn’t happen at all. Any strategies on preventing them in the first place? Mine typically occur just after I’ve fallen asleep. I feel drained today even though I slept in.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      I don’t get panic attacks, but I get nightmares, and I’ve had good luck with meditating before I fall asleep. I use a very simple app called Pranayama (or Health through Breath? they keep changing the name). There’s no talking, just sounds to help you time your breathing. If I do about 10 minutes of slow breathing in bed at night, it seems to help me sleep and release the tension I’ve built up during the day.

      Not sure if this will help panic attacks, but this has been so helpful for me that I wanted to share it anyway.

    2. FD*

      I don’t remember how old I was when I started having them–I’d had them for as long as I remember. No particular apparent cause, just crappy brain chemistry. I’m going on two years panic-attack free. I still have anxiety, but it tends to keep to the flailing, stressing, worrying level instead of the actual panic attack level. Some things that have helped:

      1. Finding the right medication. This took a few tries, but we settled on a low level of an anti-anxiety medication that seems to work well.
      2. Meditation strategies. This helps when I’m starting to get very stressed. Weirdly, I finally found a meditation method that works for me not from a psychology book, but from a professional book called the Charisma Myth. YMMV, but it worked for me.
      3. Figuring out what environmental factors make it worse for me. My anxiety is substantially reduced by seeking out jobs where I have a fairly high level of control over the outcome of my area of responsibility. This doesn’t even mean management jobs per se–I’ve had some success even working in a call center because I feel that the outcome of my calls is primarily dependent on my skills and abilities, which I can develop and control. This has meant preferring jobs where I have my own duties, more than working primarily on teams.

      1. Nicole*

        It’s funny you mention that book since I have it on my want to read list.

        I know what you mean about jobs too – my one prior really stressed me out and that’s when the panic attacks started. I’ve always been an anxious person but never had panic attacks until then. Now I have them sporadically.

    3. Stitch*

      I don’t often get panic attacks, but i have some anxiety issues, someone told me about 5 Things.
      Look around and pick
      5 things you can see
      4 things you can touch
      3 things you can hear
      2 things you can smell
      and 1 thing you can taste
      This helps ground you back in your surroundings, and has you focusing get on where you are. And the use of numbers and senses helps your whole brain focus.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Looking up and looking around is super hard, especially the first time. It feels like the world will end or you will explode or something. Get yourself situated so you know you are safe, such as a good chair. Then look up and look around. I did this on three separate occasions and the worst of the attacks stopped. It was the second best idea I found.

        The first best idea was to give up artificial sugars. Since I had been using them for over a decade I did not think they were a problem. Oh boy, was I wrong. Ditching the artificial sugars reduced the problem substantially.

        And watch out for dehydration. Dehydration symptoms take many forms. One of the forms is that dehydration messes with the brain and the ability to think/process.

        1. Nicole*

          I can totally see dehydration being a factor. I don’t drink as much as I should due to a bladder condition that has me running to the bathroom way too often which is embarrassing when out with others. Couple that with our fridge’s water dispenser breaking and me not caring for tap water or bottled water much (and I drink water 99% of the time), and I’m sure I didn’t drink nearly enough the day before the most recent attack. I’m trying to balance it out between staying reasonably hydrated but not tied to the bathroom all day. :)

      2. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        Something similar that I do I learned from a counselor.

        Sit on a chair or couch, and place one hand under your thigh, and one hand on your chest. Breathe in, and out, slowly. Focus on the sensations that are occurring in your body, and work very hard to just “see” them as an outside participant. (This part is HARD! Don’t get discouraged. Also, practice this when you’re just stressed, and not in the midst of a panic attack. That way, you’re practiced by the time you do have a panic attack.)

    4. J-bunny*

      I have problems with anxiety if I’m stressed for an extended period of time. I haven’t figured out how to avoid it but when I’m having an episode I have some success talking myself down because I recognize that it’s anxiety and not something else. I try to logic it out. Like ok I feel like I can’t breathe but if I actually wasn’t breathing I would pass out so obviously I’m alright. I also try to slow down my heart rate by taking deep even breathes and for some reason taking my pulse and feeling my heart beat makes me feel better.

      Over the last two months I’ve actually had some worse anxiety than in the past and decided I need to make an appointment with the Doctor because my coping techniques are not cutting it this time. Sorry I have no real advice but I commiserate.

    5. CL*

      Have you tried taking a regular antidepressant? It can help to keep a more even keel. Preventative rather than reactive. I had to go off mine for a while last summer and I was a total mess even with Xanax. When I went back, it has worked wonders for me. Something to at least talk to the doctor about.

      1. Nicole*

        I did try once over a year ago but was having difficulty adjusting to the side effects of the medication. I’ve been meaning to try again but with my husband being out of work and us not having great insurance, I was trying to wait it out. Prior to the past month I hadn’t had a significant attack in quite awhile.

    6. Jillociraptor*

      I’m not sure if you’ve explored any regular medication, but Ativan worked really well for me to help prevent middle-of-the-night panic attacks. I took it for about a year, and rarely have nighttime attacks anymore (maybe like 5 times a year).

      Do you have any triggers that set off your attacks? When I was able to identify some of the things that would start my brain going all wonky, I could use mantras or counting to distract myself from those triggers. That can be hard because I found anyway that it’s not like trigger –> panic, it’s more like trigger –> lunch time –> nothing –> panic, so it took a little while to see that, oh, when I get in a cycle of bad thinking in the morning, it often results in a panic attack in the evening.

      1. Nicole*

        I think my main trigger is ruminating over something that is causing me stress because the attacks typically happen the night after I’ve been anxiously thinking about something that has either already happened or is going to be happening soon. But it’s not consistent. For instance, I am a very fearful flier and leading up to a flight I’m obsessively thinking about it, yet I haven’t had any attacks.

        Also, one seemed to come out of nowhere at work a few weeks back. I rarely have an attack during the day and I can’t think of anything that was particularly stressful around that time so that threw me for a loop.

    7. Minta*

      I’m sorry you experience panic attacks. They’re just miserable.

      Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is very helpful. Look in your area to see if any classes are offered. It’s worth the time, effort, and money (if there’s a charge). I’ve taken the class twice, and DH has taken it 3 times.

      The program has a medical origin; I understand that it was originally developed with heart patients in mind. I like it because it focuses on the physiological, biological — as opposed to spiritual, new age, or religious approaches. The goal is to take advantage of neural plasticity to insert space between our environments and our natural reactions.

      MBSR started at UMass Med School and was pioneered by Jon Kabat Zinn–author of Full Catastrophe Living. It’s available all over the U.S. To read more, and to look for classes, try searching MBSR classes in your local area. You can learn more about the origins of the program by clicking the UMass link you’ll see after you Google umass stress reduction.

    8. Junior Dev*

      A bit late to the party, but I find good hard exercise buys me 24 to 48 hours of reduced anxiety and better sleep. If I go longer than that without exercising, my anxiety starts to build up and doesn’t tend to go down. Make sure the exercise doesn’t stress you out more (sometimes I get very anxious when biking in traffic, for example).

      1. Nicole*

        I usually exercise on an elliptical in my own home so it’s not stressful. I just checked the app I use to track my workouts and the last time I exercised was on Thursday and my attack was Saturday early morning (1 am) so there might be something to that.

    9. StillHealing*

      Very interesting thread! I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been dealing with these nighttime attacks. Could it actually be PTSD?

      I have anxiety as part of my overall severe PTSD diagnosis. It took YEARS, weekly intense therapy, and multiple medication trials to find something to knock out the Night Terrors. Often I’d bolt awake just after falling to sleep! Finally, doctors discovered Clonidine at bedtime worked. Even a very low dose works like magic, for me.

      Clonidine may help you fall asleep and stay asleep. It’s very cheap with very low side effects. It may work for you and ward it off whether it’s PTSD or a panic attack.

      I totally understand feeling exhausted in the morning. The sleep deprivation is just keeping the cycle going. The more that pattern continues the more it gets engrained. However, it is possible to find the right medication to help.
      Best wishes to you.

  4. TeaCozy*

    Just wanted to rejoice because my apartment application got accepted yesterday! I can move out of my parents’ house!

    1. OhBehave*

      Congratulations! Look out world! I remember that feeling of freedom! My first apt was a small studio. Best place ever!

    2. SophieChotek*

      Congrats! How exciting. I am sure it will be nice to have your own space and rules.

  5. KL*

    How do you go about making a simple website?

    My boyfriend is a dubstep music producer (and I’m a business major, so I tend to have that marketing/business mindset), and I want to make a site for him and his brand. So it’d just need to be a fairly simple layout, with the ability to click on music clips and play them, and so on. I don’t have the skills to code something from scratch, so I’d like to use one of those platforms that give you the basic layout and you customize it. Suggestions?

    1. Megs*

      I’d check out SquareSpace – we used it for our wedding website and I found it very easy to use. I want to say it was $10 a month.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      WordPress is an oldie but a goodie (Ask a Manager uses WordPress), even though SquareSpace and Weebly are trendy now.

    3. Jessica (tc)*

      There are a bunch of free or for-pay sites these days, so I’d check a few of them out to see which ones work best for you and the type of setup you’d like for the page: Weebly, WordPress, Blogger, SquareSpace, Wix, etc. Some of these have both a free and a paid option, and others have a hosted or self-hosted options.

      Some might require you to pay to upload music directly to the server, but others might not. A workaround might be putting the music on another site (like SoundCloud, for example) and then dropping in the widgets for the specific songs.

      I currently work on a couple of self-hosted WordPress sites for others in addition to having my own self-hosted WordPress MU setup, but I arrived there after looking at all of the options and figuring out which did exactly what I wanted in the way that worked best for my needs. I’d encourage you to check a few out and see which have the options and features you need (possibly for free).

      If there are sites that you like the look of and/or they have the features you want in your boyfriend’s site, you can check which CMS they are using here: https://whatcms.org/. Be aware, though, that these are generally for self-hosted options, so there would potentially be a cost for hosting, a domain, and/or the CMS itself.

    4. Mando Diao*

      You might want to consult an entertainment attorney before uploading music. It would be one thing if he was uploading clips of music that he wrote, arranged, recorded, produced, and played all the instruments on by himself. If you’re uploading tracks he produced that were written, performed, and recorded by other people, you can’t use that to promote just your boyfriend, especially if the other people involved don’t even know about it. As producer, your boyfriend doesn’t have the legal right to make money or promote his brand through the use of someone else’s copyrighted songwriting without permission and possibly paying all of those people.

      1. KL*

        He makes electronic music, so it’s all done entirely by him on computer software. Thank you for the cautionary advice though!

    5. First Initial dot Last Name*

      Bandcamp! It’s a free web platform for musicians. I’m not a music maker so I haven’t dug into it but I listen to music there, artists can set up their own pages, monetize tracks and I’m pretty sure can link those tracks through their other social media sites.

      Blogger, a google product, is free and you can register a domain directly through them. WordPress can be free or you can pay a premium to be ad free, lots of free themes that might appeal to a producer, plus the tagging, categories and menus are easy to figure out. Those are great for blog style, chronological posting and stuff, but if you want to organize tracks like an album or mix type thing, maybe squarespace is worth the cost. Start by thinking about the goal of the site, draw up some thumbnails of hierarchical organization, (people who say they don’t have opinions on this often have very strong opinions on this), think about producer and dj sites you hate to help you pick out attributes you love.

      Having a web presence is a multi-channel situation these days, just a webpage isn’t enough, also consider folding in YouTube videos of him building tracks, or doing a Twitch or Periscope of live sets, nerdy music nerds love to see other people twiddle knobs! And… having an Instagram and snapchat just for music production stuff are helpful ways to generate and connect with a fanbase.

    6. KL*

      Thanks everybody! I really appreciate all the tips. Feel way more prepared now to start setting something up for him.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      Even if you host the site on WordPress, Wix, etc., you may want to host the sound files elsewhere, like SoundCloud. If your boyfriend’s site becomes popular, and people are downloading a lot, the bandwidth and storage costs can be considerable. If you have a hosting site for the sound files that’s dedicated to sound streaming, there’s usually a monthly or yearly fee you can pay for virtually unlimited downloads.

    8. Artemesia*

      I have a blog and it was dead easy to use WordPress and their templates. It is easy to put in pictures and their are lots of tools. ULtimately he will want to have a professional build a great site probably, but starting out without budget, WordPress is a godsend.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        One of the weird things about WordPress is that the .com is the “free” site. If you go there, your URL would be something like myboyfriendsband.wordpress.com. It’s the .org that is the one where there are questions about how to install etc.

        The question to start with is: does your boyfriend want his own custom URL? Because that will have to be paid for and registered (and renewed). Just don’t use GoDaddy. There are plenty of other registrars out there. If he wants his own URL, then he will also need to pay for web hosting, which isn’t hugely expensive depending on the package and bandwidth, but it is still a monthly cost. In the case of my web host, installing WordPress was an automatic “click here to install” kind of thing. When you log in to your site, it tells you what updates there are available.

        WordPress comes with a bunch of themes and if you want something different, you can purchase a theme (and sometimes download free ones). There are also tools and plugins that will allow you to build your own theme, but that’s more advanced and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you decide down the road that you want to make this your career or side gig.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          You can pay WordPress itself to host you with your own custom domain name. If you want it to be free, you can make it yoursite.wordpress.com, but if you pay WordPress, they can still host it for you but make it yoursite.com

          But, yes, I would recommend pretty much any host over GoDaddy. They have a unique combination of bad customer service, a confusing user interface, constant pushes to upsell, and sexist ad campaigns.

          I think the simplest thing to do would be to start with WordPress.com, but if you are going to go third-party host, I’d recommend ICDSoft.

          1. Trillian*

            Not to mention, before the rules changed, leaking to squatters. I did a domain name search on Go Daddy on a name I wanted. Went back to register it later that day and it was taken by some outfit in Florida with an ‘if you want to buy this domain …” I had to wait until their hold expired and then register it. Not with GoDaddy.

    9. Honeybee*

      What about SoundCloud? SoundCloud was pretty much devised for this purpose, and he can make a simple Wix/Weebly/WordPress/whatever website and then link to his SoundCloud account from there.

  6. Megs*

    Hey, my first weekend open thread – hi everybody! So yesterday I was stocking up for a weekend at the Place-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named and found these P3 Portable Protein Packs. I’m a big fan of the “grown up Lunchable” style of food, and these are freaking perfect. I’m gonna have to search up some small divided tupperware and make these myself.

    1. Stitch*

      I’ve done that for the kids’ lunches. One kid has to eat gluten free, so regular lunchables are out, I found some rubbermade (I think) and some gf crackers, and lunch meat and a small treat. I bought several containers and could fill them up so she just had to grab one for her lunch every morning

      1. Megs*

        I make lunches for my husband and I using ziplock divided containers – make a stack over the weekend, toss in some crackers and good to go in the morning! Sadly, the internet seems to think they were discontinued a couple of years ago, so I guess when our current supply is toast, we’ll have to figure something else out. Thanks to hand-washing and having more than enough to rotate they’ve lasted a pretty long time so far.

    2. OhBehave*

      A Bento box may be just what you need. You may want to look in the school supply aisles as this would be the season for a large variety. My daughter has one and loves it.

      1. Megs*

        I’ve got a bunch of the ziplock ones, but I’m thinking something smaller for these – they’re more snack or breakfast sized. I’m sure there’s something out there. I know I spent a lot of time looking for the larger ones and checked out a bunch of the bento styles, but ziplock was cheaper and surprisingly sturdy.

        1. fposte*

          Would you be game to try a smaller *undivided* container and DIY the divisions? Dollar stores and Big Lots generally carry wee plastic lidded containers that can fit into larger containers, and square silicon baking cups can work if you’re packing tightly enough that spillage isn’t a problem.

          1. Megs*

            Oh, that’s a really good idea. I’ve actually been googling around and haven’t been finding what I’ve been thinking, but those silicon doodads look like they might work with ziploc’s one-cup rectangle containers.

            1. acmx*

              Not sure where you are but HomeGoods sells sistema brand containers and some are divided. I have one that is ‘350ml split/11.8 0z’

              sistemaplastics dot com

    3. Lillie Lane*

      My husband LOVES those P3 packs, and we were spending a small fortune on them, so I convinced him to make his own. We now get bulk nuts (in whatever type/roast/salt he likes), block cheese, and he asks the deli attendant to cut a slab of meat as thick as they can (about 1/2″). Then we cut everything up and portion it out. He actually loves these because he gets more food and he gets better quality/more interesting meat, like Cajun turkey or other flavors.

  7. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    My husband and I are having a baby in less than three months (hooray!) and I’m starting to worry about being ready. Not mentally; I simultaneously can’t wait to meet her face-to-face and also feel like I couldn’t possibly be really prepared for what it will be like to be a parent. But nuts-and-bolts having-baby-stuff ready. Each decision seems so complicated: do we need a bassinet, what kind of stroller, and on and on and on. I’ve asked friends with babies for their recommendations, I read zillions of Amazon reviews, I’ve read some other review sites (Lucie’s List, etc.).

    Fellow AAM readers who are parents – how do you wade through all of this and actually make decisions?!

    1. Stitch*

      Congrats! Many of the things you think will be necessary you use once, things you think are silly become life savers. All you need right away is somewhere for the baby to sleep, somewhere to be fed, and diapers and clothes. Bassinet is nice if you want baby nearer you than the crib when newborn, otherwise unnecessary. As for strollers, pick one that is easy to use, push, unfold, pick up, etc
      A lot of stuff you can get later as you need it

      1. EmmaLou*

        And practice with that stroller because at first you are going to be tired and stressed about “doing it wrong.” Soon you’ll be able to flip that puppy up or down with twitch of your knee and a stern look. Speaking of “doing it wrong,” you will. Everyone does. Children are resilient and chock full of love and forgiveness. Healthy, clean, fed and loved. (The clean bit comes and goes. Within moments.) Congratulations on this thrilling journey!

    2. evilintraining*

      My kids are grown, but I haven’t forgotten how stressful all that can be! IMHO, a bassinet is almost useless, unless you want to have more than three kids. They outgrow it too fast. I borrowed one from someone. I can’t comment on a “big” stroller because they’re very different now from when I had little ones, but an umbrella stroller was my best friend. They pop open so fast and are really light and small, so that sucker stayed in my trunk all the time for shopping trips.

      1. Windchime*

        I agree about the stroller. I had a big, fancy one for my first baby and it was a huge pain to get it out of the car and get it all set up. I used a simple umbrella stroller for the second one and that was much easier. Of course, this was like 30 years ago so the big ones might be easier now.

        1. Overeducated*

          I use both for one kid! The big one is great for jogging, rough surfaces, and day trips where he needs to nap on the go or have weather protection, so I use it most. The umbrella one is better for short trips, public transportation, and saving space generally. But we didn’t get it until he was at least six months old and had strong head control.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Don’t worry too much about it — just remember, people were having babies before there were car seats or exersaucers or diaper genies. As long as you have food and shelter, you will get by. In fact, what I hear from a lot of my fellow parents is “yeah, that [baby thing] seemed like a great idea at the time, but it turned out we didn’t really need it”. I’ve recommended to new parents to just concentrate on the basics, like a high chair, a car seat, a crib, and clothes, and get the rest as you need it. Other people will probably gift you things, especially if you have friends or family with young children. Used/loaner stuff is great for seeing what works for you and your baby. But after a couple of months you’ll probably start getting a better feel for what you really want.

      This method also doesn’t make you feel like you’re heavily invested in doing things one particular way (co-sleeping or crying it out, disposable or reusable diapers, etc.), because your baby may have other ideas. :)

      1. Observer*

        Oh, and even some of the “basics” aren’t going to be an issue for a while. For instance, newborns don’t need a high chair….

        As for the rest -100%

    4. Nella*

      Your baby should sleep in the same room as you for the first 6 months of their life. I had a bassinet for about the first 3 months. Then I switched to a playpen with a bassinet made by i’coo. It’s long bit not as wide. It also has a change thingy that you can use and it’s portable if you travel. After 6 months you can get a crib.

      As for strollers it really depends on what you need and how much you want to spend. We went with a City Select Baby Jogger. We got it because we have no side walks where I live and lots of gravel and dirt. It does wonders on that. Plus it has plastic wheels which means no corrosion. Also we went with a Britax car seat as it had the smallest adaptor. If you do a lot of city walking or have a smaller car get something that fits. Also the stroller I have collapses with just a pull of the Handel and comes with a pouch ton put keys and wallet in. That was extra on the Bob.

      You don’t need a high chair till they can sit. Someone gave me that foamy kiddy chair you are supposed to keep on your table but I never used it. We just went straight into a high chair. Sine my little one was a puker we got a HiLo chair. It’s pricy but no fabric except for the straps which I never use and they detach and it all wipes down. Plus when she out grows the high chair, she will have a low chair to use till about 6. Also I never remove the tray and just slip her in, which saves a lot of time. I also buy pla ticket table covers from the dollar store and put it under her chair to catch the leavings and toss as needed it it’s too much of a mess.

      I found the crib in a bag sets a waste of money. I just got several fitted sheets and blankets and bumpers. I know your not supposed to use bumpers but mine would whack herself good when she moved around. Oh and get 2 sets of waterproof mattress covers for the crib and your bed. Accidents happen.

      1. Jen*

        On balance, our first slept in her crib in her room from day 1. No issues. We did have and use a baby monitor.

        #2 slept in our room in a mini pack and play (in bassinet mode) for the first 4 weeks because she was a July baby and the nursery didn’t have a/c. Moved into her nursery and crib in September. We had the mini pack and play for our first but basically never used it.

    5. Yay*

      Look into babywearing. A ring sling is awesome for newborns. As they get older, a soft structured carrier is great. I loved my beco and onbu I had.

      As they get older and want to see more of the world, I would put my daughter on my back in the beco. It left my hands free to do things and she was up higher and could see more.

      Dont over think things and ignore the mothers that tell you only one way is best. Do what works for you and your family. Good luck.

    6. neverjaunty*

      1) You’re never ready.
      2) It will be okay, really.
      3) As long as you’re not actually doing anything actively harmful to the baby (like using a broken car seat), do what’s practical rather than what’s perfect.
      4) You can never have enough onesies or cloth diapers (for wiping up messes)
      5) Some day, you will look back on how worried you are as a parent and laugh.
      6) Busybody strangers who try to tell you that your baby needs a hat/shoes/safety belt/front pack or otherwise attempt to give you advice, in ANY other way besides ‘Look out! Your baby is about to wander in front of a moving car!’ should be ignored with prejudice.

    7. fposte*

      Generally, whenever it’s incredibly difficult to choose one thing out of several similar things, it’s because any is fine.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        This is actually a really good rule of thumb in the rest of my life, so it does make sense it’d apply to babies as well. :-)

      2. Cristina in England*

        I love this rule! I tend to get bogged down obsessing over small details.

      3. Stardust*

        “Generally, whenever it’s incredibly difficult to choose one thing out of several similar things, it’s because any is fine.”

        Thanks, fposte! Love this!

    8. Mkb*

      I’m a new mom, just had my first on 7/5, so definitely not an expert but these are the items I’ve found useful so far: Rock n play sleeper, pack n play (with these two items I don’t think a bassinet is necessary), medela breast pump (free through most health insurance), video monitor, clothes (don’t get too many newborn sized clothing, my baby didn’t fit in them at all), linens for crib and pack n play, diaper bag and a few sets of bottles.

      1. Sandy*

        We had the opposite problem with baby clothes!

        Nobody gave us newborn clothing because you never know how big the baby is going to be, and we didn’t buy any for the same reason. Figures, our baby was TINY and we wound up having to run around like maniacs while she was still in the hospital, trying to find little clothes.

        I say, buy a couple of the little outfits. If your baby is too big for them, they are too big, and you give them away to your next pregnant friend.

      2. Observer*

        WIC also does baby pumps in some states.

        Get it even if you are a SAHM – having some milk in the freezer is a really good idea while the baby is small and a decent pump makes it much easier to do that.

    9. mehowe*

      This is something that’s generally hard to get/give advice on because every baby is different and every parent has different styles. My own kid, who is now 14, was super clingy and I found myself not using all the various gadgets that other parents assured me were essential. I’m sure they weren’t trying to mislead me and that *their* babies loved them, but mine did not. Kind of like my cats will ignore their toys to chase around a scrap of paper.

      That probably wasn’t very helpful. One thing that I might be able to offer is that I was a volunteer certified Child Passenger Safety Technician for many years and I have put lots of kids in lots of carseats in lots of cars, and I would be happy to answer any questions on that.

    10. Cristina in England*

      Don’t be afraid/ashamed to get two of something, even big things. You may need two strollers, one “travel system” and then an umbrella stroller, for instance. An upstairs Bumbo and a downstairs one (or even a dining room high chair and a kitchen high chair). I have little arm/hand strength and I find it difficult to cart around a high chair from room to room with the baby in the baby carrier (Lillebaby is my favorite by far, FWIW!), so I have a high chair and a Bumbo with straps and a tray for one of the dining room chairs.

      Maybe the takeaway is: don’t buy things until you need them, but also it’s ok to buy two if you need two!

    11. OhBehave*

      Yay! Congratulations.
      Sometimes the interweb is a bad place! So many conflicting to-do’s. I would look at a friend/relative who has a similar lifestyle as you and see what they have.
      Keep in mind that 50% of the stuff out there for babies is not needed. Babies are simple creatures. They need clean clothes and bottoms, their parents, food, a place to sleep and a safe home.
      Lots of the big stuff really depends upon your lifestyle. If you are quite active, you will probably want a nice running/sturdy stroller, portable crib (I kept one at my moms’ house), baby-wearing apparatus, etc.
      *Obviously get the best car seat you can afford. Your hospital or police/fire station can make sure you’ve installed it correctly. These now have expiration dates so be careful of used seats or any that have been in an accident due to possibly weakening of the structure.
      *Register for tons of sleepers. Ask for a variety of sizes taking into account the weather where you are. You may want some larger sized blanket sleepers for colder climates, etc. These are so convenient and you may have to change baby several times a day depending upon diaper blowouts or spit up. By the way, most onesies (undershirts) are made to be pulled down the body in the case of a diaper accident. No pulling them over the head!
      *I loved having an extra changing pad/cushion for our main level. No running upstairs for changes. Of course, after the first kid, a blanket worked just fine! Poor subsequent kids :)
      *Receiving blankets were great as they weren’t too heavy and were just the right size.
      *Burp cloths – especially old cloth diapers. So much more absorbent than the burp cloths now. My son was a professional spitter!
      *stroller. The stroller/carseat combo is very convenient. You can use this for years. The ones with the adjustable ‘floor’ were great. You could lay it flat for infants and snoozers. Get very comfortable with the stroller as there will be times you need to fold it up because you have a screaming baby demanding a nap and food. Having a stroller that folds easily and quickly is a must!
      *We loved our bassinette for our main floor. Kiddos could have a nap but still be close by. There are lots of options with portable play pen/cribs that have a bassinette insert. Our kids slept in their cribs from day one, but you could also use the bassinette next to your bed.
      * baby monitor. This really depends upon how much you want to know! If you NEED to watch them, then video is the way to go. Otherwise a simple monitor is fine.
      * infants don’t need many toys, but after a few months they are really active. An activity mat for tummy time is good.
      *if you plan to nurse, invest in a good pump. A used one is fine. Freezer baggies for your liquid gold too.
      *If choosing formula, a section formula travel container is great. Measure out what you need for a bottle and away you go. Easy to use.
      *two diaper bags. One large for trips or daycare and a smaller one for errands, church, etc. Washable if possible.
      There are TONS of things out there for baby. If you are registering for showers, make sure you look to the future needs of your baby. Once she can hold up her head, you may want an Exersaucer. These are a huge help!

      1. Neruda*

        I feel so stupid but I never realised onsies were designed to be pulled down over the body if needed. And I say this as someone who has worked with many young children, and has a 3 month old. My mind is blown :-)

    12. Sandy*

      Amazon is your friend.

      Seriously, there’s very little reason to stock up on all this stuff before the baby’s arrival, other than maybe the nesting instinct. Crib, stroller (maybe), a couple sets of clothes.

      Everything else you can figure out later, as you get a better sense of what your particular kid needs or wants. Carrier vs stroller, rocker or no rocker, bimbo or high hair or lap, one piece PJs versus two piece, etc.

      Online shopping is MADE for 2 am buying fits in between feeds.

      1. Honeybee*

        Amazon has a program called Amazon Family – members get a discount on diapers and other baby- and family-centric items. It’s the same price at Amazon Prime and is included with that membership if you add a child’s profile to your Prime account!

      2. AnonInSC*

        Yes to about everything in this thread, but especially this. Amazon Prime Family is the best. As long as I had a short notice (last sleeve of diapers vs last diaper) it saved so many trips to the store.

    13. StarHopper*

      Congrats!

      When I was getting ready for my now 3-year-old, the ‘stuff’ part of things was overwhelming. I used this checklist as a starting point: http://alphamom.com/pregnancy/ultimate-baby-registry-checklist/, but my goal was to buy as little as possible.

      Some things that I am glad I got:
      – Britax stroller (the three wheeled one?) was really easy to deal with
      – Crib & Changing Table (I mean, some people say you don’t need one. I really did.)
      – Glider WITH gliding ottoman for reading to sleep.
      – Baby K’tan Wrap (if your baby likes being in a carrier, this one was my favorite. Some babies hate being wrapped up though.)
      – Cloth diapers (lasted until we were ready to potty train) & cloth wipes
      – Decent breast pump
      – Bouncy infant seat for parking a baby when you can’t carry him. Mine could vibrate, but he didn’t seem to mind when the batteries ran out.
      – Sound machine
      – Bottles. I got a lot of different kinds because I had read that babies can be picky. Mine was not picky, and reflux was never a problem. Don’t get fancy here unless you need to.
      – Fisher Price booster seat high chair that straps to a dining room chair. We are still using it as just a booster seat to this day.

      Some things I didn’t really need:
      – Boppy Pillow (was too unwieldy)
      – Pack n Play (We had planned to use the bassinet insert in the early weeks, but co-sleeping, even in the same room, was really not a good fit for us or our baby. We ditched it after a month. Never used it as a baby containing device either, since he strenuously objected to being contained)
      – SO MANY swaddling blankets. I had a dozen easily, plus regular receiving blankets. I did not need them all.
      – Baby Play Gym. Turns out babies are cool looking at ceiling fans.
      – Exersaucer. SO big. It is still in the basement somewhere, hogging all the space.
      – Pacifiers. (Seriously, he was a thumbsucker in the womb. Pacies were a no-go. YMMV)
      – Car seat. I mean, you need this, but I didn’t think about ease of use and wound up with something that was annoyingly finicky to buckle. After he outgrew that, my mom got us a Britax convertible seat (backwards to forwards facing, the Marathon I think?) and it is SO much easier. Also look in the reviews for seats about how easy seats are to take apart & clean & put back together after bodily grossness happens in them. Trust.

      Some things I never got and never needed:
      – Wipes warmer
      – Baby swing
      – Breastfeeding Cover (I used thin scarves I already wear, or hid him in the Baby K’tan.)
      – Stroller that the car seat could go into (we just put him in the K’tan. Seriously I loved that thing)
      – That jumpy thing that you pop in the door frame
      – Bottle sterilizer (we boiled them the first time, then just stuck them in the dishwasher)
      – Baby food maker (I just used my food processor)
      – Any sort of crib toy that lights up or makes music.

      I hope that helps. Start with the basics, and if there’s anything expensive that you worry you’ll regret, or that you don’t think you’ll use for more than a few months, try to buy it used or borrow it. My exersaucer was a third-hand freebie, and it was only in use for 2 months. I bought a couple of infant carriers used on Craigslist to try before being gifted a second-hand baby K’tan that my friend’s baby hated, but my baby loved. You just never know what your particular baby is going to need until you’re all in the trenches, but Amazon will still be there after baby is born! Good luck!

      1. Windchime*

        Ahh, the baby jumper. We used to call this a “Johnny Jump-up”. My first kid loved the jumper; we hung it from the spiral staircase (after strapping a pillow to the center metal post so he couldn’t smack up against it). He would jump and laugh and just loved it. My second kid hated it; he would just hang there and look sad. We only tried a couple of times before we realized that he was just not into the jumper.

    14. New Bee*

      Commenting to follow this thread, because I’m in the same boat (we’re due around the same time). Putting together the registry was one of the least-fun things of this pregnancy so far; making decisions is hard, especially because we want to save money but also don’t want to buy cheap crap! So far, we’ve gotten lots of high-end hand-me-downs, which is a lucky break.

      1. Glouby*

        I got along fine without any high-end items! I think there’s so much consumerism and guilting of parents surrounding this, so I wouldn’t worry about it, New Bee! Congratulations!!

    15. Artemesia*

      All you need is a box for the baby to sleep in and stuff you can buy at the supermarket and a car seat. Seriously. Babies need diapers and shirts in summer and a swaddling wrap can be handy. And they need someplace to sleep but it can be almost anything safe. WE used to sleep our son in a dresser drawer as a small baby when we traveled with him. We would put the drawer on the second bed in a hotel room and put a pad in the bottom. He was fine. A crib or a bassinet or a box all work.

      I am sure you have or will be given some baby clothes and probably will have a crib — if you want a bassinet that can be handy the first weeks — we were given one and used it for a couple of months putting him right outside our bedroom door and then used it downstairs for day time naps. (when he was right next to the bed, I couldn’t sleep but outside the door he was at hand for the nighttime nursing.)

      Once you have gotten used to the baby, you may find certain baby clothes really are great and get more — we never used onsies because our babies were longish and they just didn’t fit right. You will probably find that some things your friends love are worthless for you. Our first child loved the swing and it gave us a little break when we needed a few minutes; our second just didn’t. We used a backpack a lot with our first from 6 mos to 2 years. With our second, less.

      The one thing I wouldn’t do is stock up too much. Get the basics you need right away and if you are nursing as I said at the start here, all you need is something to dress the baby in, a place to sleep and a car seat. We bought a used changing table and used it for both kids. Lots of people just use the floor or a bed — I found having a changing table really nice on the back. There are dressers that have changing table tops and If I were outfitting a nursery today, I would get one of those.

    16. Observer*

      You don’t have to have all of this stuff before the baby comes. So, that’s one thing to keep in mind.

      The other thing is that to a large extent it really does not matter.

      Seriously. OK, you want things like your car seat to be safe, and you want to stay within a reasonable budget. But, beyond that, there is no such thing as a “perfect” choice for any of these things. Furthermore, it really won’t make a difference if it’s near perfect or not. You do want to check out whether a particular item, such a stroller, is likely to meet your particular needs. EG, are you going to need to be able to fold it easily? Is space going to be an issue? Are you going to be pushing in places where stability is a big deal, or are you going to be a lot of uphill pushing, where light weight is important. Figure out what are the big issues for you, and look at just those things.

      As for a bassinet, they are nice and can be useful if your room isn’t big, but you do NOT “need” one. I kept my kids in their full crib in my room til about 18 mo – 2 year, but we had the room for it, and it was easier than dealing with a baby in another room. Someone gave us a really pretty cradle when my first was born, but it destroyed (long story), so the rest of the kids “just” had a regular crib.

      1. Phyllis B*

        Congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Having three children and six grand-children, I must agree with the folks saying a lot of it doesn’t matter, but I agree with making sure you have a stroller and a car seat you are comfortable with; this will make your life so much easier. I had a changing table with my first child and liked it. We loaned it a friend and never saw it again, so the others had to make do with the kitchen table or the bed. We had a bassinet, but the problem with that was transitioning them from the bassinet to the baby bed. By baby #3 we learned not to do that. All my kids/grandkids loved their swing, and it was a life-saver at dinner time when I was trying to do 6 things at once. None of them liked slings. They wanted arms. When my oldest daughter had her first, she just knew she needed a Diaper Genie. She used it three days and took it back and exchanged it for something else. Mine also liked mobiles. I had one over the crib and one attached to the ceiling fan in the living room. If you don’t want to buy an extra mobile, tape balloons to the fan. Also the pads you put down that have an arch with toys over it was popular. A playpen was great, too. I could put babe in while I was doing something and they would either look at balloons/mobile or when they old enough to sit up I would give them toys or they would pull up and “talk” to me while I was busy. I could take it out on the patio and they loved it. One thing I haven’t seen mentioned that was a life-saver for me (when they get toddling age) is a child lease. I know there is a lot of controversy about these, but these are a life-saver (especially when you have two children less than 2 years apart.) They can “roam” a bit without you having to hold their hand and you don’t have worry about them doing the “break and run.” And believe me, they will do the break and run. The main thing is, enjoy your baby and get the items that make the most sense to you. Oh, and one more thing. If you go to grand-parents’ houses a lot, it might make sense to have duplicate high chairs, ect. there. I’m sure any grand-parent would be glad to have these things if it means getting to see the grands more. (I meant leash, not lease. For some reason, it won’t let me go back and correct.)

  8. CoffeeLover*

    My best friend has been struggling with functional alcoholism and I’m not sure what to do. He’s a very aware person and he’s admitted to being an alcoholic. He’ll say he’s planning to cut back, but then the next time I see him he’s drinking again.

    To give you a little background, he’s always been someone that takes a long time to follow through on the things he knows he needs to do. He’ll take years to break off a bad relationship (or wait til the other person does it), he’ll go long stretches of time being unemployed (because he doesn’t apply for jobs), he won’t leave a toxic job, etc. In all these scenarios, I’ve been very vocal about the fact he needs to make these changes while also trying not to overstep my “friend” boundaries. He recently got diagnost with a heart condition (he’s in his 20s) that may lead to heart disease in the future. He also suffers from anxiety attacks, which were medically diagnost, but he still hasn’t gotten around to getting the proper medication.

    Needless to say, I’m worried about him and I’m worried about his drinking. When it comes up in conversation, I’ve told him that I’m concerned and that I think he needs to stop drinking. I try to avoid inviting him to places that serve alcohol, and I almost never drink with him. I think maybe I need to take a harder stand, but I don’t know how and I don’t want to push him away. I’ve suggested he go to a therapist, which he was open to, but which he, again, hasn’t followed through on. I think he really needs to talk to a professional but I don’t know how to get him to one.

    Honestly, in a way I’m worried I’m the only one he has (for a lot of reasons his parents are no help), and I’m planning a cross-Atlantic move soon. What can I do to help my friend and to not abandon him in this difficult time?

    1. Renee*

      1. It sounds like he has some sort of avoidant personality disorder, likely related to (or exacerbated by) the anxiety. He needs therapy.

      2. If he won’t go, there’s not much you can do. You can try an ultimatum but you might find that he chooses the behaviour over your friendship. I think this likely.

      3. Sometimes letting people fail and face the consequences of their behaviour is the only way they will change. This is especially true of drug addicts (which alcoholism is.) It may actually be beneficial to him, in the long-term, if you are supporting him only from afar.

      4. I heard a great saying that gives me comfort when I see people being self-destructive: “The lesson repeats as needed.”

    2. A. D. Kay*

      Just throwing this out here: Google on Naltrexone and the documentary “One Little Pill.” It’s an opiate antagonist that has been shown to help people control their drinking. It’s used extensively in treatment programs in Finland and other countries, but has not been utilized here for various reasons. Not saying your friend doesn’t need therapy, but the proper medication could give him some breathing room while he decides to give therapy a try.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Stop trying to take a stand with him. You have told him how you feel. He knows what he needs to do. He is not going to suddenly smack his head and say “You’re right! I need to break a lifelong pattern of not getting around to things, I’ll do that immediately!” because you tell him to repeatedly.

      TL;DR – stop letting him outsource his worrying to you, it makes things worse.

    4. fposte*

      What neverjaunty says. You’re doing his work for him, so why should he do it? Maybe he’ll quit, but right now this is the friend you have, and you’re not going to change that. A friendship that’s about your telling him how he has to change his life isn’t a real friendship for either of you, so if you can’t let it go, it’s probably time to step back.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Ironically, he drinks in part because he feels he’s not good enough. When you tell him he needs to stop drinking he reads that as …. he’s not good enough which means time for another drink.

        It’s very difficult to maintain a relationship with someone who has addictions like this.

        My father never stopped drinking. I did manage to set a few boundaries. Don’t call me when you are drunk. When you come to visit we will NOT be drinking. I would help him with non-alcohol related problems. If he dented the car, oh well. It almost killed me to set my boundaries, but once in place I found the boundaries were very helpful. And regardless of whether he agreed with my boundaries or not, I was consistent and he know what to expect my reaction to something would be.

        1. Mazzy*

          First sentence is very well put, from my experience befriending an alcoholic. I have to commend the OP though for not drinking around him. My friend would often come to me upset that no one would accommodate his requests to do non-alcohol activities, which was very ironic – he was supposed to be the one who needed the alcohol, not them, yet they just HAD to have loads of alcohol at events one after the other. Then criticize him for drinking. It sounds bad when I write it out, but that must be a fairly common experience.

    5. Dan*

      It’s his life, you have to let him live it, no matter the consequences. “Reminders” don’t help, and pretty much just piss him off.

      Don’t fall into the trap of being the only one he’s got. If he’s alienated others, it’s on him. You are only one human, you can’t bear two peoples burdens.

    6. Lauren*

      He has to want sobriety. No one can care enough or do enough to make him care. He has to want it enough to seek it out himself, and there’s nothing you can do or say that will “help” him make that choice.

      May I suggest Al-Anon to help you help yourself? This group understands your situation and your feelings.

      1. nep*

        +1
        He has to want sobriety — more than he wants to always and forever have the crutch of alcohol.

    7. Mallows*

      Whoo, this is timely. OK, a bit long I guess: I would call myself a high-functioning alcoholic (no work troubles, no DUIs, none of those rock-bottom stories you hear) and Not So NewReader has it: I drink to make myself more interesting socially, and I drink to numb how empty and dull and loser-ish I feel sometimes. Not saying everyone is the same, of course, but I doubt any reminders you throw him are going to be anything he hasn’t said to himself a hundred times in the light of day.

      If you can do it without hurting yourself, be a safe person for him to come to if he tries sobriety. I love my friends very much but there aren’t any I feel safe telling I went to my very first AA meeting last night, because what if I fail? Try to make him feel safe to try, when he’s ready, and if he comes to you, support him and don’t hate him if he lapses at first. While no one could have pushed me into trying sobriety, having that support now would mean the world.

      1. Lola*

        This is how I feel too – I can never achieve anything when someone tells me to – finding my own way is an important part of the process for me.
        I hope it goes well for you & you get the right kind of support from your friends!

    8. Mando Diao*

      You’re not his parent or his romantic partner. It’s not up to you to fix him. I wouldn’t say this about everyone, but based on what you’ve said I feel I can be blunt about this: The fact that quitting is hard, that’s not good enough. We all do things that are hard every single day. Lots of us do harder things than getting sober. Sounds like he just doesn’t want to.

      Addiction is a disease that causes people to prioritize their own comfort over other people and responsibilities. Their whole lives revolve around “Am I comfortable? Am I comfortable?” Your friend doesn’t want to give up his feeling of comfort. He just doesn’t want to.

  9. Caledonia*

    I finally finished watching The West Wing. I’d been putting off watching the last season because I didn’t want it to end and because there were Major Sads in it.

    I’m now having one of those existential crisis though because I’ve finished it and am not sure what to replace it with….

    1. evilintraining*

      I did that with DVDs because I didn’t watch it when it was on network TV. And I also didn’t want it to end! Such a great show with great characters! My boyfriend and I keep saying that it should come back with President Sam Seaborn.

      1. Caledonia*

        Yeah, I never watched it on TV either, I think it would’ve passed me by as I was only in my mid-teens when it started.

      2. Jessica (tc)*

        We binged on Netflix and then bought the discs after falling in love with it. I really wanted to see the Santos presidency, to be honest.

      3. AnotherLibrarian*

        Consider watching it again fairly soon. I picked up a lot of things I missed seeing the first time through.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Second the Blue Bloods recommendation! Also White Collar is really good if you haven’t seen it yet, also.

      2. SophieChotek*

        Second Blue Bloods.
        Also what about Madam Secretary? Or an older show on that theme – Commander-in-Chief with Geena Davis

    2. Mags*

      I recommend watching Dulé in Psych next. It’s wild seeing him as such a totally different character.

    3. MelPo*

      Also, don’t miss The West Wing weekly podcast! Joshua Malina hosts and it is so fun to hear the inside info and all the tiny details I missed even though I have watched the whole series several times.

    4. Jax*

      Just start it over again! My partner and I have been together for 3 years and have probably watched it all the way through at least 4 times. What an amazing show!

    5. Mike C.*

      Luckily you’re living in the golden age of television!

      What sort of things are you looking for, and are there any turn offs or deal breakers?

  10. Felix*

    Arguments/fights/disputes whatever you call them, how do you and your significant other bounce back from one?

    We try to talk it out, apologize and then once we get to a good conclusion we will hug or cuddle.

    Wondering what others do, would really like to learn how to get back into a positive happy space more quickly.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      That sounds like what we do, too. I think it helps us not to force it sometimes – if we’re heated up then it helps to take a few minutes away from each other and do something distracting. Then come back and talk about it more calmly. Also, we often appreciate each other aloud after a conflict, saying out loud how we’re glad that we’re able to listen to each other and talk things through.

      There’s also an internal part that I’ve worked on with myself, where I actually genuinely let go of grudges when I say I do. Or, on the contrary, if I’m not actually feeling resolved about something, I make myself say that rather than saying, “It’s okay” when I don’t really mean it. It’s something I’ve been working on for years and am still working on, and I had to un-learn some bad habits from prior relationships, but it’s the thing that helps the most. It means my partner can actually believe me when I do say “It’s okay, I forgive you and I’m sorry for my side.”

      1. Felix*

        Oh, that’s a great strategy. I like the openness and honesty- it would make forgiveness much more meaningful.

    2. Tara*

      Yea, I have this problem too! We fight well, and kindly, but I find that we are just so bad at getting back to a good space.

      We’ll have an argument, explain ourselves, apologize, plan how we’ll avoid it in the future. And then just sit there sadly not knowing what to do next. Knowing that the argument is over, but not knowing how to get back to our regular life for waaaay too long.

      1. Felix*

        Yeah I hate the sitting around sad. I find that hugs/full body cuddles really help us moving on. Sometimes that’s a bit impractical though…

    3. Temperance*

      We talk it out and sincerely apologize, or honestly just table it. We totally do the pause thing from How I Met Your Mother.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      There’s a back and a forth, some times you win and some times Partner wins.

      It took us a while but we learned to laugh at ourselves. We would joke about “having it”, “Oh, it’s your turn to have it, YOU remember why we are together. You have it this time.” We would say this to each other when one had been exceptionally kind in spite of poor behavior from the other one. We figured if at least one of us remember why we were together we were in better shape than a lot of couples.

      You know, it’s those moments when we are kind for no obvious reason at all, that can really bring a main relationship back around. This works in other relationships also. We love people for how gentle they are, not for how harsh they are.

      The reconnect seems to be in each person recognizing what it is like to be the other person. “I can see how you say that because of A and B that happened to you.” OR “You know, I can really see why you think that way, even though I disagree, I get why you believe X.” Sometimes it’s not about agreeing or disagreeing, it’s simply about understanding.

    5. Connie-Lynne*

      My partnER needs reassurance, like a hug, after a fight. I need private time to stop feeling angry after things have been resolved. Needless to say this made “ending fights” awkward until we knew this about each other.

      It’s still awkward, but we can now both ask for what we need. We can’t always give the other that, but we can talk about it. “Would you be OK hugging me?” “Maybe in a little while, right now I need to cool off.” Or “I can give you a hug right now, you probably want one but don’t want to ask.” Or “I want to fix things but I think you just want me to leave you alone is that right?”

      Just knowing we have a big mismatch in how we handle upheaval has let us handle it in far kinder ways toward each other.

    6. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      If it’s an emotionally charged thing rather than just a stress-induced spat, we walk away for a while until we’ve had time to cool down and decide what outcome we wanted instead. Then we talk, often over text or email, apologize for our part in the fray, talk about the outcome we wanted, and decide how that can be achieved for the next time. Sometimes the argument or hurt feelings are more about the way the previous conversation went downhill, and that’s fine too.

      I’m very much a Don’t Touch Me person when I’m mad so hugs don’t enter into the equation until all is resolved. YMMV of course.

  11. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

    UK readers – need help!

    I have some interviews coming up shortly (hurrah!) but I am not a fan of my current pant suit. I do have a great black sheath dress I could wear, however I will need a jacket/blazer to go over the top. Also open to a new suit entirely.

    I moved here from the US and brought US-sized clothes, and I am an 18/20 in the UK and am finding it extremely difficult to find clothes that are decent quality in that size or are of a decent cut for my (hourglass) body (but with extra thigh!).

    Can anyone point me in the right direction for help? Im in London but I really can’t deal with Ox St on a weekend. Is it worth it to get a personal shopper at John Lewis or something? They never seem to have the right sizing there, however.

    Help!

    1. Elkay*

      What’s your budget? John Lewis is expensive (to me). Marks and Spencer and Debenhams are kind of mid-range prices (and where I’d go for work stuff). Dorothy Perkins is the next stage down (if you’re in London they’ll probably have size 18/20 in stores but worth double checking).

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Im open to paying ££ for quality. There is a specialist boutique shop in Holborn that carries German suiting for the larger ladies, but if I don’t have to pay a couple hundred that would be great. Note: I’m about 15 years into my career and am interviewing for more senior positions in conservative industries (but not legal or accountancy).

        I wish I was two sizes smaller so I could cram myself into Hobbs or Reiss or something, but lets face it, thats not going to happen in the next two weeks!

        I think I’ll suck it up and brave M&S tomorrow since I need hosiery anyway and see if I can get a new pair or two of black work trousers and poke around, but it all seems so overwhelming. What I really need is someone to dress me and make me try new things because I just dont get what is going on in fashion these days…

        1. Elkay*

          Debenhams also have personal shoppers. I think in John Lewis and Debenhams a personal shopper is worth trying because otherwise you end up wandering from concession to concession desperately looking for the same item (or maybe that’s just me getting flashbacks to the last time I tried to buy jeans!).

          1. JaneB*

            Is the german shop Ulla Popken? If so, do try them – or I used to like the Ann Harvey line, they also have nicer work wear for larger ladies I’ve found, and it was a better cut for my very hour-glass figure than UP (which seems to cut more for tubular ladies, if that makes sense). They might have changed their business model or gone out of business as a physical shop chain, I’m not sure…

            When I was around 18-20 UK size, I often found something in M&S that was decent, although I ALWAYS look like the late lamented Hattie Jacques playing an army sargeant in deliberately ill-fitting khaki in any jacket, my shoulders and bust are just NOT DESIGNED to cope with proper fitted stiff sleeves (especially now there is more of me). Wishing you good shopping mojo!

            1. Mander*

              Ann Harvey is now sold through Bon Marche. It’s not as good as it used to be but you might try there. And there’s always Evans but TBH I have never been terribly impressed with their clothes.

    2. Marzipan*

      Next? They do a reasonable range of sizes, I think, and they usually havea variety of suits and smart work things.

      1. Caledonia*

        Next have a sale on just now too.

        M & S have a more ‘work/professional’ range called ‘autograph’. You could try Wallis, as well.

      2. Merry and Bright*

        Yes, and they all sell in a range of lengths for trousers, and have a choice petite, standard and tall in other clothes to suit your height.

    3. Lucina*

      I’m also size 18-20. If you find the large lady equivalent of Hobbs please let me know!
      In my experience both M&S and Debenhams are good, but not exceptional. M&S does not fit me because I’m too flat chested, so if you have the opposite problem it could be good for you.
      If you want to spend more, there is an Italian brand, Marina Rinaldi, that makes beautiful clothes in plus sizes. Their younger line is called Persona. I’ve seen both in a shop in Edinburgh and from the website it looks like they have a shop in London (who doesn’t?)

    4. Confused Publisher*

      Have you had a chance to look at Simply Be? They have an Oxford Street shop, but also a pretty decent online shop.

    5. Short and Stout*

      Potentially Jaeger in the sale? Lands End online have some blazers but not many suits.

    6. Heaven*

      If you have an Evans nearby, they’re a fantastic plus-size store for workwear. They do a huuuuuge range of black trousers – wide leg, tapered leg, straight leg, bootcut, palazzo – plus I’m pretty sure all available in pear fit which is fantastic for hourglass ladies who need extra space in the hip/thigh but a nipped-in waist. My local store also has some really nice blazers in now, although they might be a bit too business-casual for your needs. They also have a lovely selection of blouses. And, since they’re a plus-size store, 18/20 is on the lower end of their available sizes, and thus 18s and 20s should almost certainly be in stock for everything you want to try on.

      There’s also a personal shopper service available! I don’t know about down in London, but my local store is currently running a promotion where they give away a free book on dressing to your shape for the first however many personal shopper appointments.

    7. Ismis*

      Pepperberry go up to a size 18 and they also give you different “curvy” options, so if you go up to a 20 just to fit the roundier bits of the hourglass, you won’t need to in these clothes. I’ve had great luck with jackets. I usually order online but the website tells me they have a store in Oxford Circus. Good luck!

      1. Tau*

        Ooh yes. I’m a “standard” size, but I’m a bit curvier and my Pepperberry button-down is the ONLY one I own that doesn’t make me look like I’m wearing a sack. If that’s a consideration, absolutely check it out.

    8. Marillenbaum*

      As someone who is also #TeamThigh, I would recommend wearing the sheath dress with a jacket–it’s generally easier for me to find dresses that fit without tailoring than slacks, and if you have something that works, why not use it? You can always splash out on a new suit once you get the job! Good luck!

  12. Al Lo*

    Last week there was a thread about finding shoes for large feet. I was very late to the game, but had wanted to comment that I have a friend who shops for her dress shoes at a brick-and-mortar store that caters to trans women and the drag community, so she could try on heels and other dress shoes that she can’t find in her size at regular shoe stores. I remember the thread having some conversation about online versus physical stores, and that might be a solution, if you live in a city large enough to have a specialty store like that.

    1. Stephanie*

      Budget providing, Nordstrom is great for larger shoes. I wouldn’t say they have the cheapest shoes, but you can also try Nordstrom Rack for their clearance items. And yeah…I most definitely asked a drag queen where she got her awesome shoes.

  13. Mimmy*

    Skinned knees suck!! Need suggestions for extra-dry skin around scabs!

    As I mentioned last week, I fell on two separate occasions during our weeklong shore trip. Both times, I had not been paying attention and missed a step. Badly skinned my right knee in the first fall (landed on sidewalk) and the second fall onto outdoor carpeting outside our hotel, opened it up again. (I was on my way to a pedicure appointment, and felt bad that, despite a couple of bandages, blood was running down my leg at a couple of points while the pedicurist was working on me :( )

    So it’s a week and a half later, and it looks like crap! I think the larger scab is s-l-o-w-l-y getting smaller, but it’s all scaly and itchy and red around the outside of the scab. I think I might also have a small rash next to it.

    I need good suggestions for creams, if any. I tried Solarcaine once but someone later told me that could be irritating. I’ve also sometimes put on hand cream, also probably not a good idea. My husband thinks I should just leave it alone but by the end of each day, I just want to throw something cold on it!

    1. Jules the First*

      I was just coming here to moan about the fact that the unexpected arrival of summer in London has left me with a farmer sunburn (face, neck and forearms)…it was solid cloud when I left the house this morning so I skipped the sunscreen – I did not expect to do my three hour horse jumping lesson in the outdoor arena under brilliant sun!

      From one klutz to another, it’s good for scabs to stay soft and pliable (DON’T pick at them, no matter how tempting!!). Try plain vaseline, a water-based lotion, or (my personal favourite) a damp washcloth that’s been in the fridge for half an hour.

    2. Stitch*

      Keeping the edges of the scab moist will keep it from being pulled open. I tend to use a cream like bacitracin for the first while to keep from getting infected. I can’t remember the name, but I have something from the bandaid aisle that I use

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s pretty much what I do. I put Neosporin on it and a bandage to cover until it’s not so hurty. My concrete steps are crumbling and I keep falling down them so I keep skinning my knee. :P

        1. DaBlonde*

          I use the generic brand of neosporin, triple anti-biotic ointment in a petroleum jelly base.
          Helps it not get dried out and itchy so I don’t pick at it (much).

    3. ObfusKate*

      Try Tegaderm, a clear wound dressing that sports doctors use for abrasions. It will keep the wound moist but is breathable. One application will last several days.

    4. LCL*

      What you are describing with the large injury sounds like it might have foreign matter still in it, or maybe getting infected. Might be worth getting looked at if it doesn’t get better. For uninfected scrapes, A & D ointment works for me. It’s greasy and a pita but works.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Aloe vera?
      Hydrogen peroxide?
      Three way antibiotic?

      The itchiness could be healing. An itch is the body’s call for a scratch. A scratch is necessary to stimulate blood circulation. Increased blood flow would bring more nutrients, etc to the wound.

      When I was in a motorcycle accident, I tossed the pain killers because they did not work. What reduced my pain was the three way antibiotic on my road rash (abrasions). I also had puncture wound to my knee. Since the knee bends all day long, I kept it covered until the scab went away. I changed the bandage regularly with new three way antibiotic each day. I don’t see why you couldn’t put an ice pack on it for a short bit each day if you feel you need to. Just don’t let it get wet and stay wet. Not a doc, but I have managed to puncture both my knees at some point. And that one accident, I had road rash on almost every single damn joint on my body. grrr.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      I’m a fan of bag balm for serious moisturizing (with a bit of disinfecting). It’s got a distinctive smell and is kind of sticky, but it keeps it soft and flexible.

    7. Chaordic One*

      OTC hydrocortizone such as “Hydra-Cort”. I’ve had better luck with the petroleum-based ointment (it’s basically Vaseline), but the creams work to. It seems to speed up the healing a bit. The ointment is a bit messier, so you might want to bandage the knee.

      1. JaneB*

        Vitamin E oil is good for scars/tender skin – often recommended for stretch marks! I’ve found it helpful to rub in around the edges of grazes etc. as the new skin forms to help it keep moving.

        You can buy the oil in a bottle, but I prefer to buy the capsules (in gelatin, intended for swallowing, often described as ‘soft’ capsules on the bottle) because they keep better. You can just snip the gelatin capsule with kitchen scissors when you need to use some oil, and it’s a handy ‘serving size’

  14. Mimmy*

    Second questions: Good foot stool suggestions wanted!

    Because I’m small, my feet barely touch the ground. This has been particularly difficult in our computer room. I got an adjustable foot rest maybe a year or two ago, but it’s just not doing it for me. I was hoping for something simpler, like a small step stool. But it’s probably also not helping that I am at my computer constantly, and my chair is not designed for all-day use (it’s a task chair I think). I just don’t want to buy another chair – I don’t think we’d have room anyway because my husband also uses the room and has a large desk and chair.

    1. pandq*

      I’ve used a block I bought at a yoga place. Relatively inexpensive and comes in different sizes. I can carry it with me in a bag if I know I’m going to be sitting at a meeting for a long time also.

      1. Jessica (tc)*

        You are my new favorite internet person! I have been looking for a real (wooden) box, because I found one at work that someone had built that was the perfect height and wanted one at home. But these yoga blocks are cheaper and are sheer genius (and softer)!

    2. AliceBD*

      I have a foldable foot stool! I keep it at my couch, but you can fold it up into a little bag and put it in your purse. I’ve seriously considered getting a second one to take with me. My mom gave it to me but I’m guessing she got it on Amazon. It says Econo-High on it. I love finally being comfortable on my couch.

      1. Jessica (tc)*

        Would you be willing to point me to the one you bought? After I saw those little rests at the Lincoln home in Springfield, Illinois, I searched everywhere for one. The reviews were spotty on all of the traveling ones I saw, but I really do want to get one and would love to hear how you like yours (and which you bought).

    3. fposte*

      Rubbermaid makes some lightweight one-piece stepstools that might work for you. I have one at work and one at home. It looks like there’s a 9″ and a 7″ so you could try both and see what works best for you.

    4. periwinkle*

      I’m 4’10” and have spent much time over the years trying to find things to put my feet on. Last year I discovered this:
      https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001MS6XW8

      It’s a half-cylinder foam foot cushion, about 12″ x 18″ x 6″. It’s very squishy and easy on the feet. If you want to have your feet as an angle you can flip it onto the round side, but normally I use it flat side down. It’s light enough to move around easily with your toes. I’m in my home office a lot (one telecommuting day/week plus grad school) and this footrest makes my IKEA desk chair more bearable. In fact, I bought a second one to use in the living room to avoid the leg-dangling thing while watching TV. After a year of use I still think it’s the best accessory in my home office.

      Sometimes I have to compete for space on the footrest as it makes a desirable cat bed, too.

  15. Stephanie*

    Debating on whether to make the switch to a Mac. I’m fine working in both PC and Mac systems. Most of what I do is browser-based or in Office and I’m a little computer savvy, so I could never justify spending the extra money on a Mac since I’m far from a super user or someone who needs the super user-friendly interface. That being said, I’m mailing out my less-than-a-year-old PC laptop for warranty repairs (battery is acting up and my keyboard driver decided to uninstall itself) and am getting a little exasperated. I can get a student discount on a Mac through my grad school, so it’s tempting.

    I don’t think I’m particularly tough on laptops? I barely travel with it and always carry it in a padded compartment. Just sigh.

    1. 30ish*

      Completely anecdotal, but while all of my previous laptops broke down after 2-3 years, my MacBook is still going strong after more than 5 years. I don’t know what I’ll do once I need to replace it though, since Macs seem to cost almost double the price of other notebooks.

      1. Jules the First*

        I’ve had three Mac laptops in the last 16 years. The first one bit the dust after four years when it was left unplugged for six months…oops! The second one was five years old when it got stolen from my apartment (by far the cheapest way to replace your laptop, incidentally…); the replacement my insurance company paid for is still going strong seven years later, having cost me my £50 deductible and another £75 last year for a new battery. Yes, they’re expensive, but they come with almost all the software you’ll need and they’re virtually bullet proof.

      2. Red*

        Seconding – I have six Apple computers ranging in age from 4 years to 32 (seriously, it was my first computer when I was 3, purchased in 1984) years old, and every single one of them still works exactly as it was intended to when it was brand new. (The older ones obviously aren’t useful by modern standards, but that’s a different issue.) I’ve had several others in the past, and a solid dozen or more iPads and iOS devices — without exception, they worked perfectly up until the time I decided to trade them in for a newer model. I tend to be an early adopter and sell hand-me-downs to my friends and family when new generations of things come out – at one point, six or seven generations of iPad that I’d purchased new were floating around our circle, all still in great condition.

        1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

          *Caveat* — every computer/ipad I currently have was designed/brought to market while Steve Jobs was still alive.

          Similar here — starting buying Apple/Macs in 1987 — their durability taught me the economical way to buy them was always to slam as much RAM in them at purchase as I could afford, because I could then stretch their useful life out by 2-3 years when software (Office, I’m looking at you) needed upgrades. My first iPad is still around too. As others have indicated, lately with the mobile devices, it seems like charging/battery life is what goes bad first, but if they are plugged in, they are fine. I took one of the first Mac laptops to SE Asia, and it survived everything — mad power surges, humidity, and tiny ants crawling in and out of the keyboard.

          My son has a 3 yr old macbook pro (and he hates Apple sort of on principle, having built a gaming computer to suit himself) but we are sending him off to college with it and I’m pretty sure that it will keep working for writing papers, etc. for the next couple of years. He’s dropped it a couple of times and mangles his power cords badly also. I would say that it’s probably a good investment to buy Apple power management instead of cheaper off brands.

          I used to run a campus IT department that included desktop support for 100+ employees. My desktop IT staff (not an Apple fanboy by any means, but able to make fair and judicious assessments) said that Macs either worked fine, or were completely broken, but Windows machines from delivery were on a sliding scale from slightly broken to completely broken. That was mostly about OS, but it’s worth noting that we had a 4 year replacement cycle for all computers including laptops, and if we had a budget freeze (In higher ed? Surely you jest), the Macs could go much longer without replacement in a graceful manner than the PCs of any kind could. And I would note that since we bought in bulk, there were certain models that just seemed to die at a faster rate than others. Right now we are experiencing a faster die rate of a particular Dell laptop model (about 2 years instead of the usual four) than expected. Desktop keeps saying that they want to replace my Mac Air (4 years old) but that’s because it’s underpowered and slow for the spreadsheets I sometimes need to work on, not because it’s failing. And unless the new Pros are as light and therefore as portable as my Air, I’ll resist!

    2. Katherine*

      I freakin love my mac. I’ve used both all my life, but PC since I left college, and it is so good to be back on a mac. Everything (apps, key commands etc) works, everything is simple. I do programming so I don’t NEED simple, but I spend so much time on the computer at work that I want my home interface to be ultra simple and limit clicking around. I’m a photographer so I bought a mac pro retina screen, but if you’re not the air might do and it’s pretty inexpensive. Also! Resale on macs is awesome. I sold my college Mac pro, broken screen, broken casing, many dents, wouldn’t turn on.. For about a fifth of its original price. Try selling a good condition older model PC.. You’ll get like 20 bucks.

      1. Honeybee*

        Now, that is definitely a consideration. I checked out eBay and you can actually sell Windows PCs with decent build quality for good prices after a few years (like Lenovo Thinkpads and HP Spectres, which are the two Windows PCs I own). But you’ll get more money for a Mac. I sold my 4.5-year-old Mac for $400 last September – and that was on Glyde and that’s because I didn’t want the hassle of selling it on eBay.

    3. Megs*

      My husband has been gradually winning me over to the cult of Apple. The tax stinks, but their products really are super solid. I just replaced my Kindle Fire with an iPad mini and while the price jump hurt a lot, the increase in quality is apparent. Here’s hoping it lasts longer than the couple of years it took the Fire to start seriously pooping out.

      1. Mags*

        I did the same, although I’ve always been a fan of Apple. My Kindle fire worked for… a few months? My first gen (refurbished) iPad Mini is still going as strong as it was the day I got it. Apple is pricey, but I find them worth every penny. My 10 year old MacBook Pro is still working.

      2. Honeybee*

        Hey, how did you like your Kindle Fire?

        I’m trying to decide whether to go with an iPad mini or a Kindle Fire. I’ve had an iPad since the early days (and I had an iPad Air until less than a year ago) but I had a short-lived experiment with Android phones and tablets, so I currently have a Samsung Galaxy Tab. I don’t like it, though, and have been looking to go either back to an iPad or to a Kindle. 90% of what I do on my tablet is read Kindle books, which is making me think I could save money and have an easier/smoother experience with the Kindle store. But I do sometimes surf the web on the tablet, and on top of that I would probably just buy a used iPad mini 2 for $200 or less. I don’t need the latest.

    4. Myrin*

      Regarding your last point, I think it often doesn’t have anything to do with how tough you are on laptops but more with sheer luck? I got a new laptop a couple of days ago after having owned my old one for six years (and it’s still working but you can totally hear the fan going into hyperdrive sometimes or see how it takes veeery long to load) while I know others with the same/a similar model had to replace theirs much earlier despite taking good care of it.

      (Also, can I just say that I find it super annoying that you apparently get almost only built-in batteries now? The only problem the aforementioned old laptop ever had was with the battery and since I basically only use it from my desk anyway, I just took the battery out and had the computer plugged in at all times. I fear battery-related shenanigans are going to happen to this new machine and it will be much harder to deal with now.)

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m not an Apple fanatic. Don’t have an iPhone. Hate the iPads. Apple Watch is completely useless. AppleTV is horrible. I love Linux and have an Android phone.

      That said, hands down the absolute best laptop out there is the MacBook Air. I’m sad to see rumors that Apple may be discontinuing (i.e., not updating with new versions of) the MacBook Air.

      The MacBook is cute and slim, but it has only one port (including for charging), which is a major downside. The MacBook Pros are slimmer than they used to be, but they’re still too heavy.

      I would highly, highly, highly recommend the MacBook Air. It is just the right balance of (especially with a student discount or if you buy a refurb) relatively affordable, sturdy, light, fast, and reliable.

      1. Megs*

        To be fair, the Apple Watch is only useless if you don’t have a use for what it does. My husband has one and while I initially thought it was pretty dumb, it’s honestly been a huge time and attention saver. He’s an attorney and has to be on call all the time, so the watch is great because it filters his calls and emails so he only has to glance at the most important ones instead of pulling out his phone all the time.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          When I went and looked at them in the store, the blue shirt told me it was “an accessory for your iPhone” and I was all uh… what? You mean it doesn’t do anything on its own? No, it’s for your phone. It doesn’t use Wifi? No, it is connected to your phone. I live in a cellular dead zone, my phone is rarely on, so I just didn’t see the point.

          But, I can see how if you’re someone who is constantly getting texts and e-mails, it would be much subtler to turn off your phone’s sound and be alerted through a watch you can just glance at.

          1. Windchime*

            I have a couple of friends who have Apple watches and I find it kind of annoying. They are constantly looking at their watches. I know it’s because they must have gotten a text or something, but it makes me feel like they are constantly checking the time and are antsy to leave.

            1. Honeybee*

              I have an Apple Watch and I had to train myself out of automatically glancing at the watch every time I got a notification.

    6. periwinkle*

      Just to add to what’s already been said, you can run Windows on your Mac so you’re getting two computers in one! On both my Mac Mini desktop and MacBook Air, there’s a Windows partition that I use for Windows-only software (both productivity and games).

    7. Short and Stout*

      I’m a committed spendthrift and bought a Mac with a three year warranty last year when my less than two year old Lenovo broke.

      Windows laptop build quality appears to be getting worse and worse … unless you spend the $$$ at which point you are at Mac prices anyway.

      1. Stephanie*

        Windows laptop build quality appears to be getting worse and worse … unless you spend the $$$ at which point you are at Mac prices anyway.

        Yeah, no kidding. My first laptop in college was a super cheap Dell, so I wasn’t that surprised when it stopped working sophomore year. But even upping my budget, man, I’m still at every two years at this point. And it’s less than the laptop doesn’t work, I just end up with a repair that isn’t cost-effective. The cynic in me wonders if that’s intentional at that price point?

        I’ll think through it. The education discount is less than the refurbished discount, but I would get a new computer with the former.

        1. Mela*

          It is definitely intentional! If you add up what you spend on PC laptops and repairs, it’s basically the same as a Macbook. My Air is going on 5 years old and works just fine. You definitely pay more, but the quality is there. If you have decent credit, I’m pretty sure you can get a 0% interest Apple credit card and pay it off over a year. (Not sure about 0% interest, I heard about it from a co-worker 11 years ago).

          It has been properly dropped several times by my husband (grr) at airport security, and only has a couple of dings in the aluminum to show for it. One drop resulted in the fan being off-kilter and that repair was ~$100 I think. It’s been dropped from my bed hundreds of times, fallen of the couch dozens more. I used the battery aggressively and it’s now down to a couple of hours/charge. I’m not going to upgrade it anymore because I need more storage so I’m just going to get a new one at some point in a year or two.

          One complaint I have is that the chargers crap out very quickly if you’re rough with them. My husband has had macs for 10+ years and has never had an issue with a charger. I fall asleep with the computer, the cord gets tangled etc. and it frays. Electrical tape stretches it out, but generally I plan on a new charger every 9 months or so. The off-brand ones on Amazon won’t last as long, but are almost as good.

      2. Observer*

        I haven’t found that to be the case. It’s true that you do have to spend more to get decent quality. But, so far I’ve found that more often than not the quality I want in a PC is a bit less expensive than a Mac.

        If you are starting from scratch – no software to carry over, etc. then it’s close enough that I wouldn’t be scared off by the cost differential in many cases. But if you have lots of software that is on one platform or the other, that can make a huge difference.

        1. Honeybee*

          Yeah, I was going to say the same thing. I’ve had PCs that have lasted almost as long as Macs or longer. And like I said, the Mac price point is so much higher than the PC that sometimes even if the PC lasts less time it’s still more economical to buy the PC, especially if you can get a comparable PC for 50% or less of the price of a Mac (which is pretty easy to do! I bought my HP Spectre for $800 and my husband’s Toshiba Satellite for around $600).

    8. Maria*

      In my experience, you pay for a Mac upfront. You pay for a PC in time and aggravation as stupid crap goes wrong with it over and over again. If you can manage the extra money, that’s how I’d prefer to go.

    9. Anxa*

      So in 2008 I had a small windfall and bought a Macbook. It’s pretty much still running fine, only it’s outlasted itself. I can’t update past Snow Leopard, which limits how much I can update other software.

      Maybe now that they have the App Store this won’t be as serious of a problem, but do keep in mind that even if your computer lasts 10 years or so, it won’t really be current after a while.

      I’m pretty broke and have a really low income, so I feel crazy for considering buying another in a few years, but I spend hours of my life every week on my laptop. I feel like if you have the means, it’s best to invest your money where you invest your time. I don’t always stick to that philosophy (I pay a premium on more reliable cars despite a small commute), but it usually works out pretty well. Too bad electronics can be such a crap-shoot.

      Oh! My macbook is having an issue lately, though, which I think may be the result of another issue. So, the Mac chargers are so expensive, and mine burned out a while ago. A family member purchased an off brand charger; I couldn’t really turn it down or ask for a name-brand one. It now has some battery issues. I’m not sure if that’s coincidence or not.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        At this point, I don’t think any manufacturer (Dell, Sony, HP, Apple, Acer, etc.) is claiming a laptop will or should last ten years or so.

        1. Anxa*

          But it’s an important consideration if you are comparing pricing. I am confident that my MacBook will become obsolete due to choices about support long before the computer stops working or needs repair.

          Also I bought mine over 8 years ago and while I wasn’t even xpecting it to last ten years ( I was used to the pc life expectancy at the time), I definitely would never have considered replacing it within five years. I would not buy a computer now that I’d be expected to replace within five years.

          But some people view electronics differently, even upgrading their phones every year.

          1. Observer*

            So far, for about a dozen years or so, on the desktop, I’ve been replacing computers due to obsoleteness, rather than breakdowns. In fact I have a computer sitting behind me that I hate to throw out, because it works, but no one wants to touch it. Also, I don’t think it will work well with a current version of widows, but I don’t want a connected computer with XP on it.

            Laptops not quite the same, but my husband is the primary laptop user, and he’s hard on them, although he’s improving. But, I’m still mostly replacing computers because of either abuse or because the software just wants more speed.

            And, I’m only running PCs.

      2. Tau*

        This is the reason I will never buy a Mac, sorry guys. I was lent one for my PhD from the university, and since I didn’t want to pay actual money to upgrade the OS of a PC that wasn’t mine and the IT department didn’t seem to have any budgeted, I was running an outdated OS (I think it may have been Leopard, not even Snow Leopard) for years and was tearing my hair out over the fact that I couldn’t install or upgrade useful software.

        I like to keep my laptops running as long as I can – I don’t think I’ve ever had to replace a laptop before 5 years or so, my last Dell was actually still running very well 6.5 years in when I got a new laptop as a graduation present from my parents – so with Macs, I don’t feel like I’d get much from durability, and I look at what a hassle the upgrade issue was + paying $$$ to be able to fix the latest security loopholes and shudder. Say what you will about Windows, you can’t say that upgrading to Windows 10, for free, wasn’t easy. (Not upgrading to Windows 10, on the other hand… ;)) And Ubuntu, which I used for ages, is 100% free.

          1. Tau*

            Huh! Things I Did Not Know. I’ll have to keep that in mind – I still don’t think I’ll be buying Macs again, but I may have to stop recommending against them quite so strenuously.

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              Yes, Mavericks (10.9) was the first free upgrade (back in 2013). Yosemite (10.10) was free after that. El Capitan (10.11) was free after that. And Sierra (10.12) will be free this year.

        1. Anxa*

          I should clarify: there are free updates available, but my physical model is not supported for any more updates

    10. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      Macs last a long time. My first died after 4 years of HARD abuse. I was brutal to it since I was in college. The second made it 5 years with a battery replacement and one dead pixel; sold it on Craigslist for $250. The aluminum case really does help them last longer.

      I’m a PC user now but I built my own desktop. I have a super-cheap Acer laptop as a backup/traveling situation. So far the Acer is a year old and I’m impressed with the way it’s held up. Battery life is comparable to a Macbook. Definitely not my daily driver though, since it’s really built for long battery life and maybe checking email/web browsing. My average-type desktop runs circles around it.

      Truthfully I’d do the Mac if you can swing it. I don’t think you’ll regret it. Anyone who says Macs are for idiots has not delved into that OS. There’s a lot of nice things you can do I still miss after switching to PC three years ago.

    11. Audiophile*

      I’ve looked into Macs over the years. They just weren’t in my budget, but then again, I don’t think I really looked into student discounts.

      I’ve had a bunch of crappy laptops (Dell and HP to name a few). About 5 years ago, I bought a Lenovo Ideapad and it’s still running strong and still loads pretty quickly. I’ve taken relatively good care of it.
      But at 15.6 and over 4lbs, it’s too heavy to lug around. I just bought a Lenovo 100s for work conferences and seminars.

      Sometimes there’s just a bad batch. I will say, that when I had Dell and HP, they were always breaking down.

      Not sure what I’ll do when the original Ideapad bites the dust, because they don’t make anything close to this model currently.

      I have thought about getting a Macbook Air, since they’re more affordable. All of my friends who’ve had Macs, say that for the most part, they don’t have too many issues.

    12. esra (also a Canadian)*

      Here’s my thing: I’m a graphic designer and need a relatively powerful machine. I can get a rock solid (heart touching) ASUS for under $800. It will last me about 3~ years. A Macbook Air, with nowhere near as much storage and equivalent specs, will cost me $1500. It also has a much smaller screen. So for me to switch to the Mac, I’d honestly have to get like, seven years of use out of the thing, and I just don’t see that happening.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Agreeing with esra. I have a MacBook Pro which is ~7 years old (I’m actually not sure how old it is). I bought it specifically to do Keynote work and then… people stopped asking me if I do Keynote. It cost a small fortune and I barely used it for the first 5 years I owned it. I was lucky in the sense that they had just switched over to the Intel processors when I bought, otherwise it would be a doorstop right now.

        I work on a Dell Precision, which is a lot of computer. However, in dollar amount, it was the same price as the MacBook and I have way, way, way more bang for my buck. It will probably be OK for another year (it’s 3 now) and maybe two if I’m careful/push it — all of these things have built-in obsolescence and that’s just a fact of life.

        But here’s the thing: I need what I have for the work that I do.

        If you, Stephanie, are just going to use a computer for writing papers, internet (research and personal surfing) then you don’t need a monster machine. While there seems to be this whole “people with Macs are more creative” thing going on which I completely do not agree with, they do have a certain cachet. I’ll say that they are easier to buy than PCs because there are fewer options to compare. Get the most RAM and hard drive space you can afford. I think that, on the whole, a Mac might serve you better than a PC while you’re in school just because they are less susceptible to viruses and other forms of system bloat. There’s an anti-theft thing you can activate, too. Go to an Apple store and play around on one, see if you like it. If you don’t need to buy right now, then you have time to decide.

        1. TL -*

          Yup! I have a Mac desktop (and oh did that pricetag hurt) for photo processing and storage. I bought it because a) I needed a decently powerful machine and the Mac options were much simpler but equally excellent for the purpose and b) I wanted as worry free/maintenance free an experience as possible because when things happen to my photos, I get very sad. (This was actually more about apple’s customer service then anything else.)
          But my laptop, which is for surfing the web, watching videos, and word processing and which I’m quite happy to spend time troubleshooting on if needed? PC, all the way. It’s cheaper, they usually last me 4-6 years, and I’ve never spent more than $40 total in repairs on one machine. Also, Apple repair are really expensive, whereas a lot of the PC stuff you can do yourself.

    13. Jessi*

      I recommend! I made the switch this year after being a windows baby. My Mac’s battery life is brilliant, it carries around in my handbag and it has yet to crash. there is no way I could go back now

    14. Trillian*

      Mac User at home since 1984. Windows at work since 2001. I’ve had 3 major repairs to 9 Macs over those years: 2 motherboards and an internal power supply. They are expensive when done out of warranty, but not frequent, and I only bought AppleCare for one machine whose hard drive was getting increasingly noisy and then never used it. Hard drive is still rattling along 10 years later. My oldest running Mac laptop dates from 1995. Both the main and clock batteries are kaput so I have to run it plugged in, but it runs. Though by now I can hardly remember how to drive System 7.6. I bought a MacBook Air refurbished from Apple in 2010 (Apple’s refurbishments seem to be a well kept secret. See the footer of the Apple Store page), and it’s still trucking, and running OS 10.11. I can still get most of a day’s use out of it on battery if I stay off WiFi and keep the screen turned down. It commutes with me at least twice a week, by feet, bus and on bike. It has been dropped in my bag more than once, including when I fell running for a bus, and set down with a clunk in numerous occasions.

      Apple makes some strange choices in its endless quest for thin and light, so pay attention to peripheral needs. The drive to make the computer more like the iPhone is aggravating to those of us out of the early years, but given access to the command line and an Internet tribe of experts similarly opinionated, I can customize. The automation and scripting capabilities are delightful to someone who hates filing, and don’t seem to have Windows equivalents for ease of use — I’ve been trying to translate workflows from home to work. My important software generally is cross platform compatible, but in 20 years of going back forth using Microsoft office, ample time for convergence of the two, it has never ceased to be a PITA. I was driven to learn LaTeX so I never had to deal with broken formatting in PowerPoint slides again, that’s how much of a PITA it was. Open source has been a salvation.

      You can run Windows software on a Mac. Depending on the software’s requirements, you may need to run it in Bootcamp or emulation mode, which requires a Windows license, but other things can be run in lighter weight, but fiddly solutions like Darwine, which don’t.

      Favourite Mac is still the 12″ G4. Nice aspect ratio for a writer, lovely keyboard. I finally figured out how to get Leopard to install on it (it’s in the border of supported, speed wise and the installer was disdainful) the week the Dropbox team announced it would be discontinuing support pre Snow Leopard.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, Trillian brings up and important point – Mac and Windows versions of software often do NOT play nice with each other, so if you do anything complicated (beyond just writing papers, web surfing, etc) that you’d need to take back and forth between your work and laptop, or grad school and laptop, think about what versions you would be using. In my case, it was Excel and Word, not Powerpoint, but I had so much gobble-de-gooked formating it made me a crazy person, and has also made me seriously consider learning LaTeX. My boss and I had to go back to making edits on paper because if one of us opened the other’s files it would make a bunch of tiny little changes that totally screwed up all the formatting.

        Are you still in grad school? Is there any specific software you are going to need for future classes that runs better (or only) on Macs or PCs?

        I personally can’t make the switch to a Mac, because I use tons of obscure shortcut keys and/or right click menus, and it drives me insane every time one doesn’t work. I’m sure it would be the same way if I was all Mac for decades and then someone made me switch to a PC – I just don’t wan to deal with the learning curve.

    15. LizB*

      I was raised on Macs, so I’m biased, but I love my MacBook pro. It’s in its fourth year and going strong, and the minor issues I’ve had with it were easily resolved at the Apple Store. If you’re going to get one, I’d recommend a few things:
      – Spring for the AppleCare protection plan, even if you don’t think you’re going to be super hard on the laptop — it lasts three years and means that pretty much any service is free.
      – Add it to your homeowner/renter’s insurance in case of theft or other catastrophes.
      – My favorite back-up service is called CrashPlan; really frequent backups to the cloud, extremely reasonable prices, easy to access your stuff if anything happens. You can also get the Time Capsule storage device if you’d prefer a physical backup, since that will automatically do wireless backups after you set up the built-in software. (I think; it’s been a while since I used one.)

    16. Windchime*

      I have a Macbook Pro that I bought three years ago and it’s still going strong. I bought it when I was headed out for a cross-country work trip. It’s very light and I’m so happy I spent the money on it. It was a lot more money than a comparable Windows machine, and it has been zero trouble. It’s probably more machine than I need; I mostly use it for surfing and dialing into my company’s VPN. But I love the way it looks and feels and it’s practically indestructible. It has a solid state drive so there is no noisy fan. I love it.

    17. Observer*

      If you are talking laptops, and this is a primary machine for you, then you can justify the cost of a GOOD laptop, Mac or PC.

      I barely use a laptop, but my husband’s primary machine is a laptop. I’ve told him that if he wants to buy the cheap bargains, he’s welcome to do so if he’s comfortable replacing the thing every year. If he wants the thing to last, he needs to get (and pay) for a decent machine.

      Laptops still are more expensive than desktops for the same functionality, if you want something that lasts. You don’t needs to pay a HUGE premium, but you simply can’t expect a sub $500 to have good performance and decent durability.

      Personally, I’ve had good experience with HP – but again, NOT their lowest end or “home” units.

    18. Stephanie*

      Hi everyone! Thanks for the comments.

      So here’s my situation: I’ll be an engineering grad student starting in like a month (eep, btw). I will probably need to do some programming in C/C++ or MATLAB, but I don’t really anticipate needing to do anything more extensive than that. Everything else will be pretty much Office- or internet-based. I have some photos on my machine, but don’t do any heavy editing. I don’t really watch movies/Netflix on my machine.

      PCs have pretty much suited my needs, but like I mentioned the reliability’s been frustrating to say the least.

      This would be my primary machine. I should be able to get my Lenovo replaced and sent back to me before I start classes, but I do worry about other issues down the line when I *really* need the computer.

      That being said, my main hesitation right now with the Mac is money. I looked at my university’s website and the education discount means a MacBook Air would be anywhere from $875 to $1149, depending on how big of a screen I want and how much storage space I want. MacBook Pro and MacBook cost a bit more. I wasn’t making a lot at my current jobs, so realistically this would be paid for with student loans, which makes me queasy. Now I was able to receive tuition remission through my program, so I just have to cover living expenses. I’m planning to live pretty frugally (taking public transit/biking, I have a roommate, etc) and loan wise, I’m well under what I expect to make at my first job post-school. So $1000 on a new computer I don’t think will break the bank. But…still a bit hesitant.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        So you already have a Lenovo that’s working? Or some other Windows laptop? Or you’re having problems with it? Are there hardware issues or software issues? If it’s mainly software / operating system issues, I’d consider keeping your old laptop and installing Linux on it. Ordinarily I wouldn’t recommend Linux to random strangers on the Internet, but if you’re programming already, it shouldn’t be too daunting for you.

        1. Stephanie*

          Battery is what’s acting up. Keyboard driver as well, but that should be just reinstalling it. There’s also a crack in the housing.

      2. TL -*

        Honestly, if you’re going to be in a lab, I would wait to buy a new laptop until you see if your lab will provide one for you (they should but not all labs do. It’s worth asking once you’re established in the lab.) And I would definitely wait until you see what kind of computing power and programs you’ll need before buying anything – that is, wait until you’re at school and doing the work.
        If your lab or program will provide one, you can probably buy a much better one for work and get away with a super cheap one for surfing the web at home if you’d like.

      3. Honeybee*

        I agree with TL’s advice to wait until you start. You might find that everyone in your lab uses one or the other, or that your advisor recommends a specific one or even buys you one. (My graduate lab did not but most people’s labs did.)

        Note that while you’ll probably want MATLAB on your own computer just in case you have an urge to do work at 2 am, your university’s computers will most likely have MATLAB on all of them. And most modern computers can handle MATLAB easy (they recommend 2 GB of RAM; I haven’t seen even any budget computers come with less than 4 GB of RAM and most of the mid-priced and up types have 8 GB).

        1. Stephanie*

          Yeah, good point. Looks like I can get a license for MATLAB through my university.

    19. Honeybee*

      I started out PC, switched to a Mac during the latter half of graduate school and switched back to a Windows PC when I started my current job (we use Windows at work). And my conclusion is – it doesn’t really matter.

      Most people who say that Macs last longer than PCs, IME, are comparing less expensive/more cheaply made PCs to Macs, which are premium machines. If you spend close to or the same amount on a PC as you do on a Mac, you can get the same build quality and a machine that will last just as long. My work Lenovo is a tank; I have an HP that’s almost a year old and looks and works like it’s brand new; and my husband had a Toshiba that ran for 5 years before needing to be replaced.

      Honestly, I considered replacing my 4-year-old Mac laptop with another Mac. But when I looked at the prices, I couldn’t justify spending $400-700 more on a computer for basically nothing. Even in graduate school most of what I did on my laptop was either websurfing or Microsoft Office; I used statistical software but even most entry-level computers could handle medium-sized data sets in R or Stata or something. I ended up buying an HP Spectre x360 (13″ screen, 256 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM, Core i5 processor) for around $800. A comparable MacBook Pro would’ve cost me $1500 (the MacBook or MacBook air would’ve been closer to $1200, but with less processing power). My computer also rotates around 360 degrees and has a touch screen, both features I have found useful. And I found that I really like Windows 10.

      Seriously, as long as it lasts more than 50% of the time a Mac would, it’s worth it. I would only get a Mac if you prefer their OS and/or need tools and apps that are only available for Mac

      (Also, side note, I wouldn’t say that Mac is more user-friendly than Windows, especially Windows 10. I’d heard that a lot but when I used a Mac, honestly it felt pretty similar to using Windows except everything looked different and was in different places. And with Windows 10 – pinning apps to the task bar, the Windows Store, searching things with Cortana – really they’re more similar than ever.)

  16. bassclefchick*

    Those who work in healthcare or any job where you’re on your feet all day – what shoes do you recommend? One of the physical therapists LOVES Dansko, but I tried them on and really didn’t like how they felt. Though I love my Toms and can wear them at this job, they suck for being at a more active job.

    What brands do you suggest for good support that aren’t too pricey? And sorry I missed the work open thread yesterday, but the new job is crazy right now. But first week went well!

    1. Dangitmegan*

      Fitflop brand. They are the only type shoes I can wear with my healing plantar fascia tear. Very supportive and they come in some really cute styles.

      1. Dangitmegan*

        Oh…and they are kind of pricey, but if you buy on sale or on Amazon they aren’t bad at all!

    2. Blue_eyes*

      Try crocs! A lot of doctors and nurses wear them and they make ones now that look more like real shoes than the original rubber clog style.

      1. Library Director*

        This. My husband wore them in the OR and liked them. I just bought a couple of pairs that look like shoes and are very comfy for standing and walking for hours. My personal go to brand is Clarks. They last and last. You may want to look at http://www.footsmart.com.

        1. Sami*

          Seconding Clarks and Footsmart! A good place to get Clarks is QVC – you can buy them on Easy Pay.

    3. AliceBD*

      Not actually on my feet every day, but Alegria! My local store has them with Danskos and they cater to the same audiences. But I love them way more than I love Danskos, and they fit differently. I’ve basically stopped wearing Danskos and wear my Alegrias instead.

      Pro tip: They have two types of insoles. The ones that they seem to come with in the store don’t fit my feet, but the employees switch them to the other insole and then they’re great.

      Price-wise they’re the same as Danskos in my experience.

      1. bassclefchick*

        I was at a scrub supply store today and I tried on the Alegrias. I liked those. Thanks for the suggestion!

        1. Blue Birds Fly*

          Allegria shoes are so much lighter than Danskos brands; the Danskos brand I wore made my legs ache by the end of the day. I can wear Allegria all day, even with long, narrow, pigeon-toed, and flat feet. I didn’t know about the other insole, but the normal insole is substantial and works great for me. I don’t work in healthcare, and have also found that Ariat cowboy boots are comfortable all day.

      2. Meg Murry*

        If the Dankos were close but not quite right, you could also try Sanita – they were the manufacturer for Dansko sold in the US until 2008.

        Also, it may just be because I have weird pudgy feet, but every single style of Dansko and Sanita I tried on felt different, and I needed a different size in – some felt too tight in the regular but too loose or too long in the wide, etc. Some of the leather styles were more soft while others more stiff, and I know that made a difference too. I pretty much ordered and returned every single clog either brand made in black from Zappos until I settled on a pair of Sanitas that fit well – and it took a while for me to get used to them.

        For other brands that haven’t been mentioned – Aragon is a dressier shoe made by New Balance

    4. Stitch*

      Different shoes work for different feet. I’ve tried shoes my coworkers swear by, but my feet are sore in an hour. My suggestion is to go to a local scrub supply store and try on the shoes they have there to figure out what you need for support. I jokingly asked the sales guy for “standing shoes” and he showed me several types to choose from.

    5. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I’m a teacher and often buy various styles of Clarks. I find them to stay comfortable pretty much all day. I’ve often bought them on sale or at the outlet mall. I wish there were work shoes that felt like my running shoes, though…

      1. bassclefchick*

        I do have a couple of pairs of Clarks and I love them! However, they are a bit more business formal. Will have to keep looking.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve got a pair of Clark’s mules I got at a discount store. I LOVE them. I wish I could afford some of their other shoes, but DAMN.

        It really is worth it to buy good shoes, though.

    6. Stephanie*

      If you want to add insoles to your shoes, I really like the Superfeet brand. I’ve worn Doc Martens at work, but I’m aware that might not be appropriate for a lot of jobs. :)

    7. Oh Fed*

      I wear danskos as does my son – we’re both on our feet 12-14hrs in a healthcare setting. My husband works on his feet on a cement floor and has been having foot and some knee pain. Our local running store gave him some recs and sold him a very supportive shoe by Brooks that resolved the problem. It’s a basic style that could definitely be worn by someone in healthcare.

    8. AnotherLibrarian*

      SAS. They’re the only brand I buy for work. And you can finally buy them online!

    9. OES*

      I’m a teacher and I tried many of the brands people are recommending, but they didn’t work for me. I have plantar fasciitis, and I’ve found that not only do I need arch support, but I need to make sure my heel doesn’t slip around (so Dansko and Crocs don’t work). Brooks Addiction Walkers are tremendous – they not only have a good footbed, but they’re extremely supportive around the ankles. They’re a little heavy and stiff, so you have to get used to them, but my goodness, they’re a life changer!

    10. Alston*

      Reef shoes! I bought a pair on a whim and am so glad. I am supposed to wear orthotics for flat feet, but the insoles in these are better than any I’ve ever had. I am on my feet all da uh during school and walk about 7 miles a day.

    11. mander*

      I buy insoles and put them in my regular shoes. Even my super flat work boots are fine with a pair of super feet insoles!

  17. Myrin*

    I’ve started using a new laptop three days ago and can’t see the blue bars at the side of new comments anymore. I’ve got everything set up the same way it was with my old computer but nothing makes them appear again. The only thing that’s different – as far as I can tell – is that the new laptop runs Window 10, but could that have any bearing on this issue?

    1. Mimmy*

      Probably because it hasn’t established a cache yet, so your browser doesn’t “remember” you.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      Have you looked at your cookie settings? Are you accepting them from this site?

    3. Cruciatus*

      Can you play with changing the brightness of the screen? I had issues a while back and that fixed it for me.

    4. Myrin*

      Yeah okay, after three days of nothing, as soon as I posted this comment, obviously the blue bars started to show up just fine. I’m going to show myself out now…

  18. Rory Gilmore's Book*

    I recently adopted a rescue dog. Ive had her for about a week. She is super sweet, housebroken and an absolute joy to be around…..when Im home. When im not, she is having really bad separation anxiety. I hate to crate her but its the only thing that has really worked – if she is not in the crate, she tears up the door of the room I put her.

    She pants, whines, cries and gets herself into such a frenzy im worried she is going to give herself a heart ache. I work from home so im home a lot of the time but i do have to leave home for an hour or so each day. Im planning asking the vet about it in a couple of weeks during our visit.

    For background, she is a three year old Pug mix. She is the only pet in our home. Her previous foster home had a total of five dogs in it.

    1. Red*

      How does she do in the crate? Having a small closed space that’s defined as hers is actually very reassuring for most dogs. Covering it may help. Leaving a tv or radio on may help. Putting a blanket or tshirt you’ve slept with in the crate with her may help.

      What motivates her – treats, toys? Could maybe have a special treat or toy that’s just for crate time. My beastie loves when I put a scoop of small-pieces kibble into her Kong, then smear it with peanut butter. She’ll work on it for a good long while to make sure she has all the peanut butter out and all the meat cereal, especially if you put some of the PB inside the Kong as well. (Make sure you’re not using a low fat or diet PB, the additive xylitol is super bad for dogs.) You could also make up a batch of frozen chicken broth cubes with treats or kibble in them, and give your pup a couple of those in a bowl – though that’s less useful if your pup will chow through ice cubes in ten seconds flat.

    2. OhBehave*

      Our rescue did the exact same thing! She was 1.5 years old and is a German Shepherd mix at 45 lbs. You’ve only had her a week so she’s still in the fight or flight mode. She wants to get out and save herself! We went through several large metal crates. She just tore through them. If we left her in a closed room, she would destroy the door in her panic to get out. She jumped our 6ft fence a few times. Our vet told us that this is such common behavior with rescues.
      Once we decided to leave her out with the run of the house, I started leaving her just for 5 minutes. Locking the door, etc. saying that I will be back. Come back in as if nothing happened and love on her. After some time of doing this and leaving her for longer periods, she learned that we WOULD come back and that this was her home. She also LOVES to look out the windows. We have an old house, so the windows are quite low. She sits on one of the upstairs steps and looks out the window every weekday at 2:30 waiting for the kids to come home from school. Same things if the front door is open.
      She is the chilliest pup now. She’s now 11 and has never hardly barked. If there’s a knock at the door a muffled woof is all we hear! Some guard dog!
      What I always kept in mind was that no one knew what had happened to her previous to being rescued. How long had she run wild, what her owners had done to her, etc. She grooms herself like a cat so we think she started her life with them. Starting with a puppy, you have control (somewhat) of what she learns and how. A rescue is somewhat like fostering a child, though much simpler, you meet them where they are and lavish them with love and expectations.

      1. Rory Gilmore's Book*

        Mine cleans herself like a cat too! So weird.

        Im glad that to hear that your pup has adjusted nicely! That is very encouraging.

        1. Honeybee*

          As a side note – dogs also clean themselves with their tongues, just like cats do. They also lick themselves when they’re bored.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Indeed they do. My dog can’t be bothered to walk out of his (open) crate in the morning and wake me up, oh no. I wake up to, “Slurp, slurp, slurp” instead. I love my buddy.

    3. anon again*

      Red has some good ideas for helping to make the crate a pleasant experience. Keep in mind that crating for an hour or two (provided the crate is the right size for the dog) is better for the dog than leaving her loose and having her get into something that’s dangerous for her while you’re out.

      Do you know if she was ever crated previously? It might just be a new experience for her. You could try having her spend short amounts of time in the crate when you are home so she can get used to it.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You could try a soft radio with some soothing music.
      I would be tempted to try feeding her turkey, to try to get a downer in her to help her calm.

      Think she might work with a Thundershirt?

      I had one dog that was a mess if I left him shut in one room. I let him go loose in the house all day just to try it, and lo and behold, he did not touch ONE thing. He was as good as gold. My counter-intuitive dog.

    5. BRR*

      Crate here. Get her used to it but feeding her in it with the door open and start with short periods of time when she can see you.

    6. Lady Kelvin*

      Our dog as separation anxiety issues to. Here is what our trainer recommended (and it’s helping!). First, make her crate a place she likes to be and feels safe. Start by asking her to go in (we say go to bed, but pick what works for you) and give her a treat. Do this a few times. then Close the door and lock it and give her more treats, let her back out (don’t treat on the way out, just the way in). Slowly add increments of time where you put her in her crate, give her a treat, then walk out of the room for a few minutes. She’ll whine, but once she stops whining, let her out again. Wash, rinse, repeat with longer and longer times. Since you can’t stay home until she’s fully happy and ok with being in her crate while you are gone, whenever you leave her, give her treats for going into the cage, but don’t make a big deal out of coming home. When you get home let her out of her crate and basically ignore her. You don’t want coming out of the crate to be an exciting time, because then she will anxiously await your return because coming home is fun! And have patience. Kelvin is finally allowed out of her crate at night, and she’s finally starting to calm down a bit when we leave during the day. It also helps to have a pattern. I go to the gym every day at the same time, and so when she sees me getting ready to go at that time, she’s already in her crate waiting because she knows I’m leaving and for how long I’ll be gone. Routines are great for dogs when you are just starting out with them.

      1. Rory Gilmore's Book*

        All of this is so good to know! Thanks everyone. I’m feeling like a bad dog mom right now and it is good to hear that others have dealt with it too.

        1. Pineapple Incident*

          This happens to a lot of people with new rescues! My mom adopted a very sweet bichon frise 3 years ago who at the time was blind in one eye. When she first came home, she’d flinch if she couldn’t see the direction someone’s hand came from if they patted her head. She also adored my mom immediately but freaked when she left the house. This dog has come miles and miles from being the scared pup that she was at first. Treats going into the crate, and doggie anxiety aids (ask your vet maybe?) have helped. She still gets anxious in there and barks, and eventually calms down.

    7. NM Anon*

      I had a rescue pit-mix who did this, she was about 5-6 months, except keeping her crated didn’t work either. She ate the plastic crate and broke the welds on the metal wire crate and got out and proceeded to eat the house, including the linoleum floor and part of a couch. She ate so many weird things, I’m surprised she’s alive. I tried leaving her outside, with shelter & clean water, and came home one day to a swollen pup, who apparently had an allergic reaction to something that bit her. I ended up taking her with me everywhere because she literally couldn’t be left at home (she even had another dog to keep her company). Eventually, I figured out if she had a window to look out, she wouldn’t year things up nearly as bad and eventually she stopped all together. I guess she realized that we will always come back and she’s not got to worry about a place to be safe or food. It took over a year before she could be left home with our other dog (she still can’t be left by herself, even 5 years later).

    8. Cass*

      My rescue pup has bad separation anxiety too. Unfortunately, it’s best for him to be in his crate when we aren’t around.

  19. Trill*

    I got to pet and feed a baby rhino today!!!

    The zoo near me has a “zookeeper for a day” program where you get to shadow a zookeeper for a day and help with feeding, cleaning, etc. We worked with a few other animals as well: babirusa, clouded leopards, tahr. But I love rhinos and to get to help care from them was incredible. They have a baby (he’ll be 5 months tomorrow) and in addition to feeding him some fruits and vegetables, I helped weigh him. He hadn’t been weighed since he outgrew his scale at 400 lbs. but they had just borrowed a scale from the tigers, and we were able to entice him to stand on it with a trail of bananas and weighed him at 728 lbs.!

    And to get to learn more about rhino behaviour, rhino conservation and anti-poaching efforts was really great too. To think of how endangered the various rhino species are, and how soon they could be extinct if current poaching levels continue is absolutely horrible. And the fact that they’re killing these amazing animals just for their horn, which is just keratin, the same thing that makes up your hair and fingernails, it’s just awful. But the keeper I worked with and her colleagues put a lot of effort into educating the public about rhino conservation, as well as fundraising to benefit organizations that protect the rhinos in the wild, so hopefully someday soon the poaching trends will turn around and these guys will revive their populations.

    So I guess this is a bit of a Save the Rhinos post. Anyone else love rhinos? Or have another favourite animal that is endangered?

    1. fposte*

      That is truly amazing. I just looked and this seems like something a lot of zoos do, and yet I’ve never heard of it. How wonderful!

      No particular animals, but I’ll put in a plug for a series of books for young readers called “Scientists in the Field.” Each tracks research of a particular scientist or project, and many of them are dealing with animals, some endangered. The photographs are usually stunning–the author and photographer generally travel to the spot and spend time with the researchers (Sy Montgomery has done a bunch of them). There’s often focus on the importance of the relationship with the local people for any conservation effort, too. The scientists are a diverse lot who came to their careers in different ways, and it makes that path legible for young readers as well as detailing what some of that day to day work means, whether you’re hunting for spiders on the forest floor or dealing with test tubes in a lab.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Seconding Scientists in the Field notably for the interesting topics but also for the excellent literary writing. I may have read them all but my go-to read aloud is Tarantula Scientist.

    2. Emily*

      Wow, that sounds like such a neat program! I wish that my local zoo would let me shadow the zookeepers.

    3. Nicole*

      I love all animals so a close-up encounter like that sounds awesome! One of my favorite animals is the Amur Tiger which is endangered.

    4. bassclefchick*

      Lucky! That sounds like so much fun! When we were on our honeymoon, my husband and I did the penguin encounter at Shedd Aquarium. It was really cool. Not many people get to say they’ve touched a rhino or a penguin! I agree that the zookeeper for the day programs are great. Not just because we get to interact with the animals, but because of the conservation and education aspects.

      Glad you got to see the baby up close!

    5. Buggy Crispino*

      I follow a couple of the Rhino Rescue groups on Twitter, but my favorite is @reecetherhino. There’s just something about an account by a zookeeper pretending to be a baby rhino that makes me smile with every tweet.

    6. JJtheDoc*

      I got to pet a rhino once, at the San Diego zoo. Their skin is so warm! DH said I grinned like a 3-year old…love love love the rhinos!

    7. Al Lo*

      I love my zoo. We have annual passes, and go almost weekly during the summer — it’s a great way to get outside, get some exercise, and have a “free” activity if cash is tight (free once the membership has been purchased). I think that pretty much all modern, reputable zoos are doing great work in conservation and research, and I put them in a completely different category to some of the atrocities toward animals in captivity that I see on Facebook and so on. I’m happy for my membership fee to go toward that kind of investment in the planet’s animal population.

      Our zoo is pretty transparent about things like, “We’re moving this animal to a different city so that it can participate in a breeding program” or “We work with local people in the country this animal is from to help them co-exist with it” or “Our zoo wasn’t the best place for these animals, so they’ve moved elsewhere” — our zoo actually moved its elephants about 2 years ago, because the habitat just couldn’t be the proper size.

    8. stevenz*

      That’s a nice experience. I once had the privilege of petting an adult rhino and, man, what block of iron that was. They are seriously solid animals, kind of like knocking on the sidewalk. Wouldn’t want one of them bearing down on me at a run.

  20. fposte*

    Vague Twitter question:

    On his very adorable Twitter feed, Lin-Manuel Miranda posts very lovely encouragements–not boilerplate, but not specific to anybody. (Think more creative versions of “Go get ’em.”) They’re really cheering to read, and not just (I don’t think) because he’s so delightful generally.

    Are there other Twitter feeds that are cheering and motivating and maybe funny without being Chicken Soup for Tweety Bird’s Soul?

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      I adore his twitter because for some people those encouragements would sound pandering or disingenuous but he’s such a ray of sunshine that they come off as genuinely well meant.

      Also, I admire his decision to block the people who tweet him things like “follow/reply to me” or who call him their son or dad (and really, that latter trend creeps me out so much so I don’t blame him).

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I think it might be hard to find somebody else like that, but I’ll look at all suggestions.

        Josh Malina is waspishly funny on his Twitter–he will terminate with extreme prejudice–and he’ll follow people if they donate to his chosen charity. I wouldn’t find him a ray of sunshine but maybe a tangy tart lemonade :-).

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          Oh, yes, I love Josh Malina.

          And I just remembered who I was going to suggest before I got derailed writing about my love for LMM. The Rock’s twitter and instagram posts always make me smile. He seems like such a sweetheart.

  21. Anonymous Educator*

    Has anyone had a vet do in-home check-ups on their pets before? It seems like a huge luxury, and I’m sure it’s expensive, but we just took our cats to the vet this morning, and they were a bit traumatized (they always are) by being packed up into cat carriers. The vet they don’t actually mind—just being packed up unceremoniously. Considering it for the future. Is that just a ridiculous markup? Has anyone ever done it?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This might not be helpful.
      I ask a veterinary chiropractor to come to the house. It’s $20 bucks more on the bill for her to come here.

      I tried driving my old dog to the chiro’s office (different chiro) and it did not go well after a bit. I think the ride jostled the dog around too much and un-did the work the chiro did. So this guy has the chiro come here. (The first time she came was almost two years ago, he hurt himself and could barely stand up/navigate. She fixed most of his problem inside of an hour. Yes, worth it.)

      I know that some vets will give a discount if they are coming to your neighborhood for more than one household. Something to keep in the back of your mind as you go along. Our community will have some one come to do horse care- hooves. If enough people sign up they get a break in pricing.

    2. Not Karen*

      Yes, I’ve used a vet that does home service a few times. They charge a $35 travel fee on top of whatever else you’re doing. The cats and I really appreciated being able to relax in our home without the stress of the vet’s office. The vet herself was more gentle and compassionate than other vets, too. I also appreciated that while she was working with one cat, the other one was allowed to go about his business. Normally when I bring home one cat from the vet, the other one becomes antagonistic towards it for a while. When the mobile vet leaves, the cats act like nothing out of the ordinary has happened. If you can afford it, I definitely recommend.

    3. Temperance*

      I’ve thought about this as well, because one of my ferrets is terrified of her vet. (In all fairness, the vet gives her shots and she already hates everyone who doesn’t already live here.)

      If your cats are okay with the actual vet but not so much with the travel, I think it’s worth the expense. I would hate my girl to get upset at home and scared like she does of the vet.

    4. Tennessee*

      We have used a mobile vet for years, ever since we had 2 huge dogs that barely fit into the car. (small car…every time the dogs moved across the seat the car would swerve) She charges only a little more than the regular vet as she doesn’t have the overhead of a regular clinic. Of course, she works with other vets in clinics for cases where the animal needs more than a mobile vet can do, like xrays or surgery. I highly recommend going this route, even if the cost is a bit more. It’s a lot less stressful on the animal and on us. Some clinics have a mobile vet as well.

    5. Sutemi*

      We have used a mobile vet. Much less traumatizing for the cats in our household, and if you have multiples checked out at the same time the markup per cat isn’t a lot.
      Our older cat, one that HATED the carrier, had cancer and was able to be euthanized at home. I would have paid twice as much to make that happen.

    6. LCL*

      Never used in home vet for regular care. Years ago I used one for a euthanasia service. I don’t remember the exact dollar amount, just that the fee included a service charge that I thought was reasonable.

      1. (Not an IRS) Auditor*

        Me as well, for our dog. By the end she would start shaking when we turned onto the road for the vet. I just couldn’t have that be the way she left the world. The vet we got was mostly a farm (large animal) vet. She was wonderful, reassuringly matter of fact, and incredibly compassionate.

    7. stevenz*

      I would like to find one for my cat, so for me it would be well worth it. She gets extremely traumatized about getting in the carrier (and the whole experience traumatizes me too). It doesn’t help that she has never liked being handled, and she is so much on the alert from any slight change in my behaviour that she can anticipate when I am getting ready to pick her up. She doesn’t like the car trip or the vet any better, and doing this over and over really ruins her life. Her behaviour changes for weeks at a time afterwards.

      I talked to my vet last time about house calls and she said it works OK for check ups but not more delicate things like drawing blood samples. So it has its limits. Another problem is that my cat may make herself scarce as soon as the vet walks in the door, so good-bye $35. Good luck with your kitties. Give them a break.

    8. Agile Phalanges*

      Late to the game but just wanted to give a suggestion in addition or instead of the mobile vet (which is an awesome idea, and my vet came to my house for euthanasia, but I don’t think she does that for normal check-ups). If it’s just the carrier that stresses your cat out, try getting her used to the carrier in low-stress situations, instead of only bringing it out for car rides that usually, or even always, end at the vet. Find a good, quiet, spot for the carrier, and put it there. Just leave it for a day or two. Put treats in it one day. Put catnip in it another day. Put her favorite blanket there and have it be a nice sleep spot. Then, once she’s used to the carrier itself, take her for a tiny car ride, around the block or something, then back home safe and sound. Take her on a brief errand on a day that it’s safe to leave her in the car, that sort of thing. Then when the day comes that it’s time to go to the vet, it should be easy to encourage (or lure) her into the carrier, and the car ride won’t be stressful, either.

      Alternatively, especially with older, more sedentary cats, consider taking the car ride itself without the carrier, and use either the carrier or a harness and leash for safety between the car and exam room. My elderly cat who had the at-home euthanasia a few months ago totally didn’t mind car rides, and went with me on some long-ish road trips without issue, so I usually didn’t bother with the carrier for the car ride itself. I use a cat-only clinic, so on her last clinic visit just a few days before the euthanasia, I actually didn’t bother at all. There weren’t other clients currently in the waiting room, and I knew she wouldn’t make a dash for it outdoors, so I just carried her wrapped in a blanket, then took her back to the car before settling up the bill.

  22. Anonymous Educator*

    Any iPhone-to-Android switchers? My spouse is switching over, and we’re pretty confident on most of the migration pieces (email, music, etc.). The only thing that’s a bit uncertain is the gaming piece. She games a lot, and I know there’s a gaming center that iOS uses. Is there a way to get that data out of there? Candy Crush syncs with Facebook. Does Pokémon Go data go over automatically, since you can sign in with your Google account?

    1. Sophie*

      Gaming center data doesn’t transfer, but I wasn’t particularly gutted about that – it’s still saved when you go back to iOS, so if you go iPhone or iPad in the future, it’ll still be saved to your apple ID – plus most of the popular games sync with Facebook – I found I didn’t really miss anything in particular really. Pokemon Go does definitely sync, as I had to recently reset a phone and had to re-install and all my progress was saved.

    2. Anonyby*

      I have Pokemon Go loaded both on my iPhone and my Galaxy Tab, and I switch between them when playing without any problems! :)

      I have no idea about any other games, though… Pokemon Go is the only game I have loaded on both. The rest are either on one device or the other.

  23. Anonymous out West*

    I am struggling to come up with neutral stock responses to have on hand for people who make incredibly rude remarks about the fact that I don’t have children (my favorite so far was, “We have been praying for a baby for you because we think it would be the best thing.”). I don’t want to start an argument, or show how very angry this makes me, I just want them to leave me alone. Ideas welcome!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I wish there was a magic bullet for this. All I can do is commiserate. Spouse and I have gotten the full gamut:
      “Oh, but you’d be such wonderful parents!”
      “You’ll change your mind. You’ll see.”
      “How can you be so selfish?”
      “You don’t really know what it means to love someone until you’ve had a child.”

      Barf.

      1. Guava*

        Thankfully no one has said anything to spouse and I…however I’m going to a 2 year olds party in a few weeks, so we’ll see what comments we get.

        I’ve read it but I still don’t believe people actually say that! Especially the “selfish” part. Wow.

        My favorite is when my old HS BFF (with three, 3 and under) tells me about the screaming, crying, pooping, lack of child care, lack of sleep, illness, and [insert all the not “fun” stuff that comes with parenting], and then gets mad at me for not wanting to procreate this minute. Worst sales pitch ever.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Yes, unfortunately, I and my spouse have both gotten the “selfish” bit. It’s absolutely horrible that people would think that let alone say it aloud.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I like a chilly “what an odd thing to say” or (depending on circumstances) “what an insensitive thing to say” followed by a pointed subject change.

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        Complete with polite, but confused face with raised eyebrows. I love your phrasing for this awkward stuff.

    3. Short and Stout*

      I’m so sorry. As a single person, I really had no idea that people would ever think to say such hurtful and weird things. Ugh.

    4. fposte*

      Do you want them to understand your rationale, or do you just want to stop that line of conversation? I think the first is hard to resist but tiring and usually fruitless, so I’d focus on redirecting, and how you do it will depend on whether you’re trying to avoid hurting their feelings. “I really don’t talk about such personal things publicly” can be said cheerfully or freezingly; it can be repeated until the questioner wishes they hadn’t asked or can be the last thing said before you ask them about their hydrangeas or grandchildren or whatever.

      I personally think the response to the prayer thing is a guffaw and “Okay…”

    5. Dan*

      I’m 36 and childless, and expect to be that for the foreseeable future, if not forever. Can I suggest something? You say that those remarks make you very angry. While the people asking are certainly insensitive, if not rude, I’m a little worried that you are getting “very angry” over those questions. It will be a lot easier for you emotionally if you can develop a less stressful reaction to those kinds of things.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        If the OP is a woman, I totally understand why she’s angry. A lot of people treat women’s bodies and their decision to procreate as a public issue, so she has every right to get upset and angry when people are criticizing her personal decision, especially if people are rude or constantly making these remarks. It’s tiring and upsetting to consistently have people tell you to do behave in a way that’s opposite of who you are.

        1. Anonymous out West*

          Yes. Thank you. “We think it would be the best thing” when it is NOT their decision or business. That makes me angry. There are many other examples that I will not cite for reasons of anonymity. Unfortunately these are not people I can just not have contact with.

          1. AnotherTeacher*

            The comment (“praying…best thing”) seems very specific and personal, like something only someone close to you would say (or maybe someone super pushy at your church). I assume you’ve stated your opinion/reasons before, and the person/people won’t let it go. That stinks. Some people can’t see past their own worldview, and you’re unlikely to change their mind. So, this probably won’t help, but…

            When asked, “Do you have children?,” I’ve found that replying, “No,” very neutrally or even with a positive tone cuts down on any further questions about kids. This actually just happened at a party. As the person asked, I viewed it as her way of establishing common ground (like “How do you know the host?”) I said, “No,” in a straightforward manner and we went on to other topics.

            Like others here, I think truly rude remarks must be ignored or called out on their rudeness. I wish I had the chutzpah for the cheekier responses, though :)

      2. Tomato Frog*

        I’ve gotten comments like this before, and I know it’s well meant but it’s tremendously condescending. Nobody is thinking “anger is healthy and good for me” and that’s not what her post is about. If you can offer specific advice from a place of sympathy — like “When I’m in situations like this, I remind myself [blah blah blah] and it helps me feel better” — that’s potentially helpful, but a general “Why don’t you learn to not be bothered so much?” is not constructive and makes people feel like their concerns are being belittled.

        Aaaaand… that’s the story of why I am now super careful not to use the words “angry” or “resentful” on Ask a Manager open threads.

      3. nep*

        *ducks*
        +1

        I wouldn’t agree with this phrasing ‘I’m a little worried that…’ — but in my view there is an important point in what Dan says. I made a comment along these lines a while back and it seemed to piss some people off. But there is something to the point about not getting into a ‘very angry’ state over people’s asinine remarks. And I don’t think this dismisses OP’s concerns; it’s simply bringing another perspective.

        (I really like ‘What an odd thing to say’.)

        1. Tomato Frog*

          Just because something is a helpful thing to do doesn’t mean it’s a helpful thing to tell people to do. See, for example, “calm down.”

          1. nep*

            I’d be the last person to tell someone ‘do this’ or ‘do that’…’calm down’, or what have you.
            Bottom line is I think it’s a healthy exercise to examine why we allow ourselves to be heavily affected by asinine remarks which don’t merit our precious and finite energy. (I’m certainly not immune to that phenomenon.) I happen to think it’s good to examine such things from that perspective.

            1. Amanda*

              My bottom line is that I find it appallingly condescending to refer to this as something that people “allow” to happen to them. I happen to find that rude, dismissive and unkind.

            2. Honeybee*

              It’s because we’re social creatures and the way other people behave around us affects our emotions. I don’t think that really requires any examination – even when people say things that we know are stupid, silly, or don’t make a huge difference in our lives, we get upset because they indicate feeligns about us that are angering.

              And there’s nothing wrong or unhealthy about that. There’s nothing unhealthy about anger, either, or about the OP feeling anger in response to these comments (in fact, there’s research showing that holding in anger over long periods of time is harmful). The issue at hand is how the OP can respond in a way that shuts down conversation.

            3. all aboard the anon train*

              Being angry about someone saying something offensive to you is healthy. The people who tell someone to calm down are dismissing that person’s emotions and that in itself is wrong.

              Society has a long history of telling certain types of people to “calm down” when they become angry about asinine remarks people should know better than to make. You (general you) don’t get to approve what remarks merit my energy and emotions.

            4. Ultraviolet*

              It’s hard to disagree with the idea that people should stop worrying about things that don’t merit worrying about. But the OP has clearly decided that this issue does warrant some of their time and energy, and that they actually have strong feelings about it. When someone introduces a topic they feel strongly about, it’s kind of rude to say “I think it’s best not to care about unimportant stuff like this.” Try that response on some other posts and see what happens! :)

              Also, I think when someone is bothered by a hurtful comment like this, it’s unlikely to be the case that they are considering that comment in a vacuum. Almost everyone has an automatic negative response to being disrespected, but if it seems like a particular incident is isolated and not likely to cause further problems, it’s relatively easy to let it go. If it’s related to an underlying problem that keeps coming up, then assessing its impact and addressing it somehow might be more important. I think this idea was pretty central to the previous discussion you alluded to. And it’s a big reason that it comes across as arrogant and dismissive for someone who doesn’t know much about OP to imply that OP is wrong to give these comments any attention.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      The rhino post above gave me a moment of inspiration.

      “And I am praying for some baby rhinos for you, because NO ONE should go through life without experiencing a baby rhino. You don’t know what love is until you love a rhino.”

      We were childless by choice. I later found out that it would be difficult for me to carry to term anyway, but that was secondary really. Remarks like these here would have caused me to rethink the relationship. Most people were thinking people and said nothing. I had a few folks that had to open their yaps. The first time they got a free pass, because I know I say thoughtless things,too. The second time, I pointed out, “You have said this before and you need to stop talking about it.” I just lowered the boom. I am a fan of matching or coming in a level just a tiny bit below the words coming at me. If someone can make such a personal comment, then you are free to tell them they should not be making those types of comments to people, it’s considered rude.

      1. fposte*

        Now I’m going to hang around places in hope somebody wishes children on me so I can wish them a baby rhino. That is epic.

      2. Jean*

        >You have said this before and you need to stop talking about it.”
        My parenting-decision ship sailed long ago(we have one child) but it’s always useful to polish one’s arsenal of Tactful Shutter-Uppers:
        “This subject is not open for discussion.”
        “Thank you for your concern, but that’s not going to happen.”
        “Thank you for your concern.” Follow up with immediate change of subject.
        It’s amazing what we humans feel entitled to know about each other. Thank you for this brief refresher course in verbal self-protection.

    7. Lady Kelvin*

      “Oh thanks for the prayers! But they really aren’t necessary, we’re putting our faith in birth control.”

      We get these too, and I understand how angry they can make you. So if you can get away with it, give a snarky “I don’t see how anything coming out my vagina is your business.” But in reality we can’t say things like that to people, so a Bless your heart and walk away might be the only reasonable response…

      In a lighter note, I went away for work for a week and my husband mentioned to a colleague that he was going home early becuase he was playing single dad to our dog this week and didn’t want to leave her for too long. The colleague started asking about whether we put in her day care, etc, and he answered no, we just crate her for the day, she’s ok home alone. Then the colleague asked how old is she, and Kelvin is 1 year, and the poor guy was getting more and more concerned that we left Kelvin alone for 7-8 hours in a cage alone. Then the colleague asks, “wait, is this your daughter or your dog?” Haha he thought we left a one year old child in a cage all day while we were at work.

      1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

        I love how long it took him to figure out who you were talking to. In fairness, I’ve always joked that dogs are basically kids except you can legally crate them. But in the first year with our kiddo I was shocked at how true it was – almost every statement I made about our JuggerBaby could have been about the dog. Except *he* would never be so uncouth as to lick my shoes or bite me. Honestly I’ve now been bitten by my child more times than by all my dogs combined in 20 years and I once had a chihuahua whose nails I had to trim unaided. Kids!

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          My husband and I have been trying to decide whether to get a dog, and it really is a lot like deciding whether to take responsibility for a toddler for the next fifteen years. His parents have a breeding pair of shiba inus, and they might offer us one for free when we go visit in a couple of weeks. Decisions, decisions!

          1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

            Though I’m still brushing his teeth and wiping his bum on occasion, if you’re lucky, your dog will only be toddler-stage for a few years! Otherwise I often catch myself musing that Seamus is a much better adult human than JuggerBaby is right now: he’s mellow, polite, obeys commands readily, uses his common sense when leaving the room is a good idea, respects my personal space and neeeeever bites me. I vote for dogs almost every time :)

            Shibas are wonderful though I have been cautioned by some owners that they seem to be very one-person or one-family dogs so they are absolutely not social when out walking on the street. We always cross to the other side so the poor owners don’t have an irate Shiba on their hands as they would if we got too close. Not sure if that’s a very strong breed trait but it’d be good to know from his parents if that’s been their experience.

          2. Chris A*

            When I was 28, I thought very seriously about having a child on my own. I’d had some unfulfilling relationships and also thought that even if I waited until I was married there could still be a chance that I would end up as a single mom. I finally decided to get a dog instead, figuring it would be less of a commitment. Well, my sweet little Binky dog lived to be 19! I still think I made the right decision. Am the happy aunt of 4 young women in their 20s, and about to become a great-aunt early next year…

    8. Not Karen*

      How widely inappropriate. If you’re childless by choice, I might respond to the prayer one with something like, “It’s a good thing God knows I don’t actually want children.”

    9. all aboard the anon train*

      Honestly, if someone is being rude and offensive, I’ll be rude right back. If it’s a question, I’ll just respond along the lines of, “That’s quite a personal/rude/invasive thing to ask. Why do you want to know?” or “That’s none of your business.”

      1. Grumpy*

        I read this line on a finance blog and love it “Having an overweight, boorish spouse and badly behaved kids is not everyone’s idea of happiness.”

    10. Anxa*

      So I usually do try to start a bit of an argument or just snapback at these sorts of comments if they are coming from people I don’t care much about, because I get a pretty visceral reaction to the implied preciousness of children and I moved to an area that’s very Family Friendly! not too long ago.

      I had a very similar comment on the praying for children thing (I’m unmarried, wasn’t even 30 yet, and poor….so I was also not expecting something like this). I’m also an atheist. I was pretty irritated and responded that I didn’t know why they’d be so cruel as to pray for something like that.

      I wish I had been more mature about it and told them that I was plenty capable of handling my own prayers on something so personal (they didn’t know I was an atheist and I try to keep it a secret IRL in case it gets around to people I work with).

    11. MayravB*

      That’s so rude! People are really unbelievable. If you’re looking for something polite–maybe too polite–what about, (with a gracious-but-condescending smile) “Partner and I are happy with our family as it is. Tell me, what are you up to this summer?”

      Having been given a lot of unsolicited advice, I find that the stock answer + commanding a subject change works to make me feel like I’ve stood up for myself and am in charge of the conversation, and then I can get my rage under control while they natter on about whatever. Then I can give a, “Sounds like fun! Well, I’m going to get more of that bean dip,” and get the heck away.

      1. Jean*

        >…stock answer + commanding a subject change works to make me feel like I’ve stood up for myself and am in charge of the conversation, and then I can get my rage under control…
        You’ve said exactly what I was trying to say, except for the part about wanting to “get my rage under control” is only because it feels bad to _me_ when I rage. I don’t care about the ill effects it has on the recipient, especially when he/she has just asked me a wildly intrusive question, but it’s no fun to go around the rest of the day in a state of self-reproach and/or emotional hangover!

    12. First Initial dot Last Name*

      I like Alison’s suggestion, “What an odd thing to say.” because, really. In my own experience, I have always known that I would never have children, no way no how, I’d be a terrible parent, period end of story, and to seal the deal I had a tubal when I was 25; I have never regretted that decision.

      I have said things like, “I’m not qualified to adopt” and “I’m not interested in being a single parent” or “Are you going to raise them?” I’m also a sarcastic smart ass with zero effs to give people butting into my reproductive choices.

      You can just say, “I’m (we’re) really not ready.” and leave it at that, you may never be ready so the statement is not false; or, “Thank you, it would be an absolute miracle…” because, it would have to be immaculate conception. The praying types will think you’re on their team and leave it at that.

      1. Honeybee*

        “Are you going to raise/pay for them” is my go-to stock response when people try to convince my husband and I have to have children (hurry, before it’s too late!)

        1. C Average*

          Haha . . . you could set up a Kickstarter and tell your well-meaning friends that you’ll only consider having children when you hit your fundraising goal and are therefore financially ready to be parents. If people are so keen for you to have children, let ’em put their money where their mouths are.

    13. Cam*

      “My sex life isn’t open for discussion” and then when they try to say they weren’t talking about that, you respond with “you do know where babies come from, right?” But only if you’re comfortable being snarky to the rude person.

      1. Jean*

        Ah yes. Memories of wanting to reply with “what positions do you recommend for conception?!” when people responded to the news that “we’re getting married!” with blunt questions about whether we planned to have children. My particular religion/ethnicity is very pro-procreation, but still! Folks, these matters are private.

        1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

          That’s actually a great short response: These matters are private. If they try and delve deeper, just keep repeating as needed: That’s a private matter, I consider that private, you are seriously invading my privacy.

    14. Jessica (tc)*

      I’m a non-parent by choice, so I understand. I usually try to make a fairly humorous response that’s kind of thrown out there off-handedly, but I get snarkier if they push it. I’m very open about being a non-parent by choice, so a lot of people in my life (friends, family, work, etc.) who have known me a long time don’t say anything anymore. I actually had my parents primed and prepped by the time I was in high school due to my childhood outspokenness against having children, so when I announced it formally before I got married, they just shrugged and said, “Yeah, we knew that.” ;)

      Just a few samples of things I’ve said in the past:

      Must-Procreate Person: What will you do when you meet the right man?
      Me: The right man will not want children. Why would I want to be with someone who would try to force me to do something I absolutely am against doing?

      MPP: I’m praying for you to have children!
      Me: That’s kind of funny, because I’m praying that I don’t have children. In fact, I’ve known since I was 7 that I didn’t want children, so I’m pretty sure God’s on my side and they aren’t in His plan for me. (Of course, this only works if you’re a Christian as well, which I am. But it’s fun to see some Christians get all confused by a Christian woman who firmly does not want children, especially when I declare that I certainly AM following God’s will for my life.)

      MPP: Oh, you’d be such a great mom!
      Me: Thanks! I think so, too, but I guess that’s an experiment we don’t have to worry about trying to see if I fail our expectations.

      MPP: You’ll change your mind!
      Me: I’ve known since I was 7 and haven’t changed my mind yet. After 10/15/+ years of knowing for sure, it’s not going to happen.

      MPP: You can’t know love until you’ve held your own child in your arms!
      Me: That doesn’t make sense. I’ve loved family and friends my entire life, so much that I’d throw them away from the front of a bus even if it meant I’d get hit. I thought that meant I knew what unconditional love was, but I must have been incorrect. My poor husband will be upset by this news.

      MPP: People who don’t have children are just selfish!
      Me: I don’t see how that logically applies to any human without children, so can you explain that thought process to me? (This one can backfire as they try to find reasons it’s selfish, but it usually peters out because they can’t really define why it’s selfish.)

      MPP: Your turn! (usually after a baby shower for someone else)
      Me: I’m glad you told me to watch out for that, because I assumed the round-robin was going to skip me again.

      1. Jean*

        >My poor husband will be upset by this news.
        Genius! Also your technique of forcing the questioner to take his/her drivel seriously (e.g. responding with logic) until it becomes clear, even to the questioner, that the underlying assumption is completely insubstantial.

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          Thanks! I try to bring logic into these emotion-laden conversations more, because that’s what makes sense to me and people usually stammer out answers that make no sense. If the flippant response or the snarky response doesn’t knock it off, most of the time the logical one will. (It probably doesn’t change their mind, sadly, but it does show them that the assumption doesn’t make sense when followed through.)

          The first time I had the “you don’t know love” thing directed at me, I was flabbergasted and immensely angry about it. Because I had such an intensely emotional response to it, I took time to examine the feelings beneath the surface to figure out exactly what my thoughts were on the matter. Most people have had others in their lives, adults and children–some of whom aren’t even technical family members, for whom they’d take a bullet without even thinking about it. I can’t imagine telling you that you haven’t felt love so deep for another person (that isn’t your child) that pain in that other person causes you pain as well or that you’d take their pain on yourself to spare them.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This remark, “you don’t know about love” is the one remark that gets me. While I agree with posters who suggest trying to emotionally detach from the comments, I can see where certain comments might feel more like bullets.

            Since I think in pictures most of the time, words come hard, especially when a response is needed quickly to an emotionally charged comment. This one was a bullet wound for me and I did not have a short answer.

            I find the remark to be very judgmental. It definitely gives the speaker an air of superiority.
            I also find the remark ironic. TRUE, PURE love does not degrade other people for making different choices than one’s own choices. Love sees that everyone is a fellow human being first and foremost. I would argue that the speaker needs to learn all the different aspects of love first before making such statements.

            And the remark hits personally in that it seems to insinuate that I am not a loving person or at least adequately so to the speaker’s standards. At this point I am starting to step back from the relationship because it seems that the speaker really does not have much more than a shallow understanding of who I am and what I have done so far in my life. How can you hang out with someone for years and be able to say this to their face? I dunno.

            Last. I get discouraged. Will this person teach their children to only love the people who make the same choices as the children make? Then I think to myself this is way too much thinking and I need to take a step back from this person. I need to let them find their own way.

    15. C Average*

      I laugh lightly and say, “Oh, that would be a medical miracle! And not the good kind.” I enjoy witnessing their moment of puzzlement and understanding, and then we move on to other topics.

      (I got my tubes tied the minute I could find a doctor willing to do it. My sister was born when I was seven and I half raised her and, while we’re very close now, I did not enjoy baby care one bit and decided on the spot that I was never, ever having kids. I have two stepkids whom I sometimes enjoy, but who sometimes drive me crazy. I’m happy to mull over the pros and cons of parenthood with anyone inclined for such conversation, so my response isn’t designed to shut down conversation. It’s just designed to firmly establish that I’m not having kids, nope, nuh-uh, never.)

      1. C Average*

        And can I also add that the “what if you change your mind?” argument seems really weird to me? It could go the other way, too. I’ve known some parents who, after a few drinks, will admit that they’re not sure they should’ve had children. And these are good parents! But they miss their old lives, or they don’t like what parenthood has done to their relationship, or they’ve divorced their former spouse but now they’re bound to him or her for life because they have children together. It’s MUCH better, if you’re on the fence, to not have kids and feel a little wistful about it than to have them and wish you hadn’t.

        1. Stephanie*

          That argument also strikes me as weird because you can always adopt or foster. But the implication with the “But what if you change your mind?” crowd is that everyone wants to raise a biloogical child from infancy.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          Yeah, in secret, I’ve had a few close friends to me disclose (with their kids not in the room) that they regret having kids. It’s always said in hushed tones like “Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love [name of child or children], but if [name of spouse] and I could do it again, we wouldn’t.”

          1. Grumpy*

            Same experience here. And many, many husbands have told me they deeply regret marrying and having kids and they’re leaving when the kids are grown and gone.
            Personal observation: without exception, I’ve found that anyone (male or female) who tells a single woman that she must find someone and settle down and have a family is IME unhappy (usually near breaking up) in their own life.
            Truly happy folks don’t seems to aggressively recruit people into family life.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              That was our joke about people with kids. My husband and I used to say, “Yeah they want us to have kids because misery loves company.” We only said it about people who judged us for not having kids.

              1. Anonymous Educator*

                That’s the thing, though—the people who’ve admitted to me in private that they regret having kids aren’t the judge-y ones, and I really admire them for admitting it (even in private), because it goes so far against the strong cultural narrative of “kids are the most fulfilling thing ever!!!!!!!!”

        3. Jessica (tc)*

          I think it’s the taboo of saying that you regret having children. I myself have never said this back to anyone, but I have known others who do say it to parents who say hurtful things about choosing to be a non-parent: “What if you regret having your children?” To be honest, though, some people do regret having children a little or a lot, and some just opt out even if they keep the children (neglect, etc.)

          It’s a taboo similar to that one woman who wrote an article a few years ago (I wish I could remember where I saw that…) about how she loved her husband more than her children and how she valued and fostered that relationship more, and people jumped on her for not putting her children above everything else in the world.

          1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

            People are absurd about that. And highly judgy when they don’t have a leg to stand on.

            As you might recall, I once shared that my first favorite human is PiC. And until JuggerBaby becomes an adult and I know what ze is made of, temperament and personality wise, ze has to wait zir turn to see if ze gets to share that top spot. Because duh, while I love and adore zir, there is still a lot of humaning left for zir to do. Meanwhile there’s this guy I married, who I knew before marrying was a truly decent guy, and has since earned the mantle of Best Guy even with any quirks that might annoy me. You better believe he’s my first favorite and I’m going to value this existing relationship above all.

            1. Jessica (tc)*

              I recall that, and I was pleasantly surprised when you mentioned that. I love the point you make about your child still “becoming,” because that is a very valid thing to note. My husband and I aren’t static people, of course, but we are always checking in with each other to hopefully grow and change in ways that don’t become sharp, pointy edges to the other person (if that makes sense). We challenge each other in many ways, but that makes it even better!

              RE: your point below about rather having a dog? I laughed when I read that, because my go-to was always “I don’t even want a dog, because they are Children Lite!” I’m completely a cat person, because the maintenance and care for a dog is closer to childcare to me. ;)

              1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

                Yes, exactly, unless it was your arrangement to just marry your spouse for breeding purposes, your relationship deserves nurturing because we aren’t just cast full grown and stay the same forever. You want to make sure you grow together as you change, at least in complementary ways.

                Re dogs = children: LOL that’s very true! Honestly it might be why childcare didn’t seem as onerous. Cats are awesome but we have allergies in our household so alas, I cannot have them. I just pet every one I can find. Plus most cats won’t let me warm my toes on their belly so for that I gotta have a dog ;)

                1. Jessica (tc)*

                  Strangely, I have a bad dog allergy, so it’s probably good that I don’t want to care for one. (I do love them, though, but they cause pretty severe hives that are rather unpleasant. They can be pretty hard to resist when they are other people’s adorable, well-behaved pups!)

                  My husband is my toe-warmer, so I’m okay with that. My cat is afraid of feet (we got her as a senior cat from a shelter, so I’m not sure what’s going on with that), so I’m pretty sure she’d react very poorly to any attempt to put my toes near her. My previous cat, however, loved lying on my legs and feet! She was a sweetheart and always seemed to know when I was cold.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Taboo: Interesting. I thought so, too. My mother regretted having me and told me so regularly. As I went through adulthood with no obvious signs of having kids, more and more adults started telling me that they regretted having children. I would estimate that 75% of the adults I have spoken with for extended conversations have expressed regret.
            Apparently, it’s an open secret?????

            In an odd twist it does not make me feel smug about my life choices. It makes me grieve for their children who on some level KNOW the parents feel they goofed. I guess my message is to parents who feel they made a mistake is “your kids know you feel that way even if you do not tell them.”

            Your post here makes me wonder if parents tell childless people one thing and tell other parents a different thing. Peer pressure can cause mixed messages.

            1. Jessica (tc)*

              I think they do tell other parents different things. People who’ve told me that they regret having children (particularly mothers) often tell me that they knew I wouldn’t judge them for it, because I don’t have children. I’m sure they’re not spilling these things to other parents, because no one is “supposed” to feel that way (women especially, I think, get the brunt of that “love your children above everything else”), and I’d guess there is outward judgment from other parents even if they’ve themselves felt the same way before.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          I have found the “what if you change your mind?” argument kind of stupid. Part of being an adult is making decisions and accepting the long term consequences of those decisions. In this case I would want to say, “If I change my mind that will have NO impact on you and your life. So my guess is your life will go on as usual.”

    16. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

      Ugh, sorry you’re getting this. It seems unescapable some days.

      “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”
      Lifted from an old country song. Though I’ve been practicing “we don’t talk about that” for other intrusive questions and it seems to make the rude one a variety of levels of uncomfortable. It might be the delivery.

      Caveat: we do have a kid now but during my period where I wasn’t anywhere near ready to have kids I got rather comfortable not being polite to people inserting their rude questions and opinions about my procreation and had a few in rotation, delivery with or without humor depending on how rude they’d gotten:
      I’d rather have a dog.
      Are you offering child support?
      Children are gross and way too much work (it turns out I wasn’t wrong even if my child IS a delightful puppy-cat).

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I’d rather have a dog. Children are gross and way too much work

        I find it incredibly bemusing – and more than a little ridiculous – that whenever I talk about getting a dog, I have people who tell me I shouldn’t get a dog because they’re so much work, time, money, and responsibility. But these same people would never say that about children and are usually the ones to ask me about when I’m having kids.

        1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

          That is so true! It makes absolutely no sense. Kids cost more in time, energy, worry, money, everything! And in the end, you may still end up with a kid who doesn’t love or respect you or you frankly don’t like very much even if you feel obligated to love them. At least with a dog they generally repay your love and care with some measure of love and devotion.

          I often assure child free friends that yes, the first year is precisely like having a new puppy / dog so feel free to make the comparison. I’m not in the least offended. Our amazing dog is way better at human things than a kid will be for some years. You wouldn’t catch him pulling 1/10 of the nonsense that JuggerBaby pulls.

    17. Trillian*

      Channel your inner 4-year-old and innocently ask ‘Why?’ in response to every question or assertion. Keep score as to how many whys are required before people surrender. Parents of 4 year olds may do best, but are probably least likely to ask.

    18. Lindsay J*

      I generally just kind of laugh it off:

      “Oh geeze, my dog is enough of a handful for me right now.” If it’s well meaning.

      Or:

      “I’ll get right on that. I assume you’ll be paying for all the medical care and baby expenses?” if it’s family pressuring me.

      For the I’m praying for a baby for you because we think it would be the best thing, I think I would go with the “What an odd thing to say,” because it really is.

      If someone is being outwardly hostile (which I would characterize the selfish comments, as well as the “you’re not really an adult” or “you don’t know how to love” thing as being) I might just go full bore with

      “You know, I’ve chosen to not have kids at this point in my life. But some of my very good friends desperately want a child and have not been able to have one, and I know they would be very hurt about being called ‘selfish’, and in general having or not having children is a really fraught thing for a lot of people, so you might want to be a little more considerate about your words.” (This last one won’t really achieve your goal of avoiding an argument I don’t think.)

  24. Fawnling*

    Any advice on how to handle a sudden breakup? I’ve been living with my boyfriend for almost 4 years – Wednesday night we had a disagreement that left us not speaking with each other the rest of the night and most of the next day (we’ve done this 3 times in 4 years and have always talked it out). Thursday night after work we sat down to talk about it and he broke up with me. He said he loved me but he’s not in love and doesn’t see a future. I immediatey left for my parent’s house and he left for his the next morning -1,000 miles away. He comes back Monday to put in his 2 weeks notice and pack his things. My heart feels empty and my body aches. I have no appetite and I’m crying myself to the point of exhaustion.

    My story isn’t unique, so does anyone have good advice for surviving the first days, weeks, and months after a breakup? He was everything to me and I can say that I built my life around him because I never thought there would be a day where he wouldn’t be there.

    1. Minta*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this right now. It sounds like it just plain hurts something horrible. Since it just happened, give yourself time. You’re going to cry. You’re going to feel like crap. You’re also going to come out of it and eventually feel better and adjust to the new scenario.

      Please be very, very gentle with yourself. Try not to resist the anguish you’re feeling. If you let the feelings come and feel them when they’re there, you’ll work through the natural process and come out the other side.

      Call on friends and/or family too. They can be helpful just by listening or lending a shoulder.

      1. Fawnling*

        Thank you also, Minta. That is wonderful advice. I’ve been allowing myself to sob when I feel it coming on, but it feels like this will never end.

        1. nep*

          It will, of course. But when the pain is this fresh and acute, it doesn’t help at all to hear that or try to grasp it. Time will do its thing, even when we don’t believe it’s possible.
          Agree with Minta’s good advice — allow yourself to grieve, and be good to yourself.
          Please keep us posted.

    2. Anxa*

      I can’t help, but I think it’s important to allow yourself to grieve pretty heavily about this. It seems like sometimes there’s a disproportionate gap in empathy awarded for break-ups and divorces. This is a pretty huge life change.

      1. ssssss*

        This may sound odd, but have you ever read the Dear Sugar column (or the compiled book of columns, “Tiny Beautiful Things”) written by Cheryl Strayed? I feel like there are some beautiful ones about loss/grief/pain that might bring you comfort. Big hugs!

        1. Lindsay J*

          I will second this recommendation. I love her columns/the book.

          (Though for the column “The Truth That Lives There” I prefer the column online to the book. They cut out one of the letters she was responding to and thus some of her answer, and I feel it loses something with the cuts.)

    3. Mando Diao*

      Just remember that this won’t kill you, even if you feel like your life is over. You’re not dead.

      Try to find comfort in little things without expecting them to make up for your loss. Enjoy sleeping in your own bed. Luxuriate in the convenience of making your own plans without checking on his schedule first. Eat the foods you love that he didn’t like. Reconnect with any friends you might have lost touch with.

      1. Jean*

        >Try to find comfort in little things without expecting them to make up for your loss.
        This is good advice for anyone living with serious heartache. Speaking as someone who is (different reason but same result: presence of ongoing, enormous grief.) Thank you.

    4. Mallows*

      First: I’m so sorry. My goodness, what a shock that must have been.
      At home: truly, all that worked to distract me from constant tears and fretting was binge watching something addictive. You’ll still cry and fret, but you are right that crying is exhausting and you just can’t do it nonstop. Eat something. I completely understand that you will be forcing yourself to do it, but do it anyway, even if it’s just nuts and cheese sticks. Sleep as best you can. You will feel less terrible with what sleep you can get, and with a bit of food, I swear.
      At work: if you are one of those who can escape into work, that’s awesome. I am not, and I have found the two articles below helpful on the practical side of things:

      http://www.rookiemag.com/2012/03/how-to-look-like-you-werent-just-crying-in-less-than-five-minutes/

      https://essilorusa.com/content/essilor-usa/en/newsroom/news/how_to_stop_crying.html

    5. Fawnling*

      Y’all are amazing. Thanks so much for reaching out with advice and comfort. It truly means a lot.

    6. Jessica (tc)*

      Really, truly give yourself time to grieve the loss of a very important relationship, no matter the reason that it leaves your life. I discovered that in several situations (people just grow apart, break-ups, actual death, etc.), and too often we forget that we are allowed to feel grief even if someone hasn’t died.

      There is now a dearth where before there was something; allow the hole to heal while you take care of yourself.

      I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with this.

      1. Library Director*

        Yes. Allow yourself to mourn. This is a death in your life. It is the death of a relationship and a vision for your life. You can heal but don’t beat yourself up or think it has to be on a timetable.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Bingo. In some ways, break ups are worse than actual deaths because the former SO is out there somewhere living life and having a life. And that is so hard to wrap the brain around.

          OP, you might want to pick up a book about grief and learn about the stages of grief. the stages can overlap, you can experience two stages at the same time and so on. The take away is to learn what is normal in the grieving process. We don’t get taught what normal grief looks like and generally we learn in the moment.

          Normal grief can have huge impact, it can cause us to age prematurely and it can cause actual health problems. I am not saying this to be scary but rather as a validation, “yeah, this is huge.”

          Get some fresh fruits and veggies in the house. It’s normal not to feel like eating but you might graze some. If you load up on fruits and veggies you will be slowly strengthening your mind and body. Also get some Smart Water or Voss water in the house, something with minerals in it. Grief pulls vitamins and minerals right out of the body, if you load up on good things you can help to slow down the impact grief can have on your body and mind.

          If you feel your brain getting fuzzy, you think you are forgetful (normal grief symptom) , do things to help yourself remember what you need to remember. Little things, like if you need to return a coworker’s book, put the book next to your work bag/purse so you remember to take it with you. When I lost my husband, I had a spare pair of keys set up and I got a clip for my main key ring. This way I could clip my main set of keys to something and not forget them. And I had plan B with a spare set of keys readily available. I don’t want to say how many times I had to use the spare set.

          Go slowly and carefully, go one inch at at time, you will get through this and it will change you. That is okay. It’s okay to change what you are doing or even some of the approaches you use. People come into our lives and they change our lives. The same is true when they exit. We change yet again. And that is okay.

        2. Lindsay J*

          “This is a death in your life. It is the death of a relationship and a vision for your life.”

          The vision for my life was the thing that I mourned the most when I left my ex, more than missing him for himself.

          All of a sudden I felt like I went from having things pretty settled – I had a fiance, a nice apartment, 2 dogs, 2 cats, we made okay money, had discussed having kids and how we wanted to build our house, etc – to having nothing at all.

          It felt like I was starting over from square one, basically, which turned out to be a great thing for me but was difficult to deal with at the time.

    7. YaH*

      One thing that helped me a lot is to write a list of every single thing you can think of that was annoying, irritating, infuriating, or even slightly ridiculous about the ex. EVERYTHING is fair game, from “makes fun of my hobbies” to “won’t eat anything with beans”. Anytime you think of something else to add, immediately write it down on the list. Read it frequently.

      When you’re ready, I really liked “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken” by Greg Behrendt.

    8. Sibley*

      Well, when that happened to me, I cut my hair (I prefer my hair short, but he liked long hair, and I was growing it out to see what would happen. It wasn’t pretty), and moved 2000 miles (I wasn’t happy on the west coast, and was from the midwest, so moved back). My friends and family were rather surprised about the move, but it was one of my slow-burning decisions that to others appeared to be spur of the moment. I do those sometimes, and people always seem to think I did it on a whim.

      Also, again this is me, but apparently if you dump me, you really burned that bridge. I don’t give second chances. I don’t care if you show up a week later and ask to try again. You had your chance, you blew it, now get out of my life.

      Short term: Cry all you want. Watch whatever movies, tv shows, etc you feel like. Be around friends, unless it it’s not helping, then don’t be around friends. I packed all my ex-BF’s stuff because I felt like it was helping. Do not have random sex with someone, you don’t want to regret it. If it helps, work extra hard at work or whatever, just don’t injure yourself with some overambitious project. This is your unhappy and unstable phase, you need to get through it and heal enough to be in a “meh” stage.

      Medium term: Distract yourself. Pretend to be happyish and stable, even if you’re not quite feeling it (if you’re not meh about the happy and stable, then don’t pretend, you need to progress to the meh stage before you can pretend.) Pretending will actually help you make it real (but only if you’re meh already! Otherwise you’re still doing initial healing.) Rebuild your life on YOUR terms. Do fun stuff on your own or with friends/family. Get back into your hobbies, get into a new hobby. Random sex with someone is acceptable if you’re sure you won’t regret it, just make sure you’re 100% protected.

      Long term: You’ll be ok. If you want, you’ll find someone else who will love you and will want to be with you. It’s ok to take your time before starting to date again. It’s ok if you’re sad once in a while, or if you sometimes miss him. You’ll know you’re at this stage when you’re not pretending to be happy and stable, you actually ARE.

      1. TL -*

        Or have random sex, if that is a thing you enjoy.
        Try to do things that you enjoy – mix them with taking time to feel the grief. You’ll probably do less than usual, but at least once or twice a week do something you know you enjoy – a bubble bath or a hike with friends or cooking your favorite meal. It doesn’t have to be big to put some amount of enjoyment in your life – it might be small at first but it’ll get larger as time goes on.

    9. StillHealing*

      Exercise is what helped me. I got outside and walked at least an hour a day when I found out my husband was cheating on me. It takes three to four months for the appetite to come back. I remember asking my doctors about it and that is what they told me – and that’s about how long it took.

      If it gets where you really need to eat and just can force yourself, watching movies like Julie and Julia can whet your appetite to eat. It also helps to go out with friends to dinner. I found my appetite was much better and I actually ate when I went out with friends for meals.

      I’m sorry you are dealing with this. People kept telling me it would get better but it never felt like it would, especially at the beginning. As others have written, be very gentle with yourself. Make yourself your priority. You’ve had a lot of energy going towards your significant other for four years now which is hard to stop. It may take some work but you’ll get through this.

      Purposefully schedule events in the future for you to do or attend. If you’re not up to it when the time comes, reschedule or postpone. Take your time – it don’t isolate.

      1. StillHealing*

        Oops just CAN’T force yourself to eat, not can. And and “it” shouldn’t be in that last sentence.

        It will get better. You’ll feel better and maybe even feel better than ever, after awhile.

  25. Mazzy*

    What are others’ opinions on the articles this week going around about teaching LGBT history as a subject (or a part of a subject) in grade schools?

    I’m pro-LGBT but the idea strikes me as odd. I thought the point of the LGBT movement was to put LGBT persons on equal footing with their heterosexual counterparts, not divide them into a separate category. I also think someone’s sexual orientation should be irrelevant in school classes, especially in earlier grades. I mean, what if I decide to wait to have “the talk” with my kids, because I want kids to be kids, now I have to do that earlier so that they can then understand the topic of sex so that they can then understand sexual orientation so they understand what is going on in school.

    I feel like it may make sense in a higher grade to point out the history of discrimination and living in the closet that has been a part of all societies (as far as I’m aware) but it is going away at least in certain parts of the world, but I think going through LGBT activists, etc. is a bit much. But then again, this is the type of thing people learn themselves just by living.

    Time in school is already short and I think schools need to be selective with what they add to the curriculum and how much time they want to devote to it. I also think that every successive generation is less and less homophobic, and also think that homophobes are going to be homophobes no matter what, so doubt that additional education will make any difference. I’m also wondering how LGBT history will intersect with the fact that the two major world religions have anti-LGBT stances, and being the world religions, there will be some overlap with student bodies.

    And no, this isn’t internet trolling or saying something inflammatory to get comments (I’m re-reading this and it looks like it could be one of those comments, but I mean this as a legitimate question). All of the discussions I’ve seen elsewhere didn’t actually discuss the issue. Anyone who didn’t want the material in schools was just called a homophobe, which is just name calling and not discussing the issue. I mean, I also think it would be helpful to teach kids the basics of car and house maintenance, but it doesn’t make me anti-car to decide that grade school isn’t the place for that instruction to take place.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      From what I read, some kids know their orientation/attractions at a very early age. It could be that sooner is better than later.

      To follow your car analogy, I was taught how to shoot drugs at age 5. A 4 year old told me. I remember thinking how dumb our parents were that they could not figure out we were talking about this stuff. I went on to live a drug-free life. The 4 year old has spent the last 40 years on the streets. My take away was NEVER, EVER underestimate what little kids are talking about and doing. Our parents were surprised, but I wasn’t.

      My friend was sexually molested at age 4 by a 12 year old. I could go on and on with examples of what very young children are experiencing and the adults (myself included, since I am now an adult) have NO idea.

      With almost tears in my eyes, I vote talk about everything they want to talk about while they are young.

      1. Tau*

        I can attest that I was having crushes on girls from age 8 or so onwards, and that part of me just *knew* after getting The Talk at age twelve that that was not how it was going to work for me. The fact that it took me until a relatively traumatising sexual encounter at eighteen to go “uh, I… don’t think I’m interested in sex…” and until my early twenties to realise that the attraction I HAD was oriented towards the same gender may have something to do with the fact that nobody ever, ever talked about this stuff to a younger me. No LGBT history, all our sex ed made the tacit assumption everyone was straight and I was left with this tacit assumption that LGBT people existed and that was totally fine but there was no way I or anyone I knew could possibly be one. As a result, the only model I had to explain myself was “I guess I’m just a really broken straight person and maybe if I try hard enough I will be less broken.” It was… not a good model. Please don’t leave your kids with this sort of model.

        When you’re thinking about what you want to discuss with your kids at what age, please, please keep in mind that you don’t know for certain that your kids are straight (or, for that matter, cis). This may not be a matter of teaching them tolerance and respect for others, this may be a matter of teaching them to understand themselves in a way that is so very important but that so many LGBT kids get deprived of and that cis+straight people get to take for granted.

      2. Treena*

        Thank you for sharing this. As a professional sex educator, this issue is something I am constantly having to deal with, and it’s really frustrating. I can’t imagine any other profession in which non-professionals think they’re qualified to decide how/what/when it is done. Just because you have sex, that doesn’t mean you’re qualified to decide how to teach sexuality education. Yes, talk to your kids–we want you to! But we also know what we’re doing, so no need to agonize over whether or not your children will be damaged.

        We have standardized curriculum that is age appropriate, but it changes based on the needs of that particular group. Working in an area with a high rate of IV drug use, our middle school HIV class covers what they should do if they find needles on the playground. Because that happens weekly in their community. If we hadn’t brought up that topic, an 10 year old wouldn’t have raised his hand to correct our instructions on washing needles. It may seem crazy to you that we instruct 5th graders how to wash needles, but the fact is that some of them do help their siblings and parents wash their needles. Some will grow up needing those instructions for themselves. And without those instructions, we would have missed an opportunity to report the issue to Children’s Services.

        We do what we do to protect children: from predators, media influencing their self-worth, their peers pressuring them into sex acts they’re not comfortable with. We’re not sex maniacs who want to destroy your children’s childhood. We want them to have a wholesome, safe, and happy childhood. Promise!

        LGBT specific: Kids are LGBT. Kids have LGBT parents and family members. Kids are now seeing LGBT characters in media. Kids see LGBT people in public. LGBT life is regular life. The same goes for history. LGBT history is just regular old history that’s excluded. Boosting that back up to the proper levels isn’t going to be a waste of time or ruin childhood. It may ruin some parents’ version of what childhood should look like, but the truth is that it’s going to save a whole bunch of other children’s childhood from being actively horrible.

      3. Pennalynn Lott*

        My anecdote about sex ed in grammar school (3rd grade, to be exact) is that on the day we were given The Talk, from a set of professional instructors (which included a movie), one girl’s parents refused to sign the permission slip so she waited in the library while the rest of us learned about sperm and eggs and menstruation. (We were segregated by gender; I have no idea what the boys learned). Anyway, fast-forward about 15 years and that one girl, the one whose parents were so terrified that their little baby would learn about S-E-X, was now a stripper in an “exotic dance” bar, and had slept with pretty much every “popular” guy who had rebuffed her in junior high and high school. She bragged about this to my older brother, right before performing fellatio on him in the back of his car in the bar’s parking lot.

        There was also the girl who was raped by a friend’s older brother (he was 13, she was 11) and because she had “developed early”, she not only had big boobs at that age but had started her period already. So she ended up pregnant from the rape and her parents sent her away to live with family members in another state until she could deliver the baby and give it up for adoption. [Nothing ever happened to the rapist, who went on to be a local high school football star.]

        For this and many other reasons, I’m a huge fan of giving kids lots of age-appropriate information about their bodies, the culture they live in, and how to deflect peer pressure — and to give that information early and often. It does no good to pretend it doesn’t exist.

        1. Aurion*

          My parents didn’t teach me about sex; I asked my mother about it once in my early twenties and she was like “…you learn about it in school.” Which, yes, we did–we learned about the mechanics of sex, but nothing about how to conduct a healthy relationship, peer pressure, or any of that. My parents subscribed to the “wait until marriage” and “focus on school, don’t date early” camps, so it either didn’t occur to them that we might not subscribe to the same, or they hoped we’ll just follow in their footsteps.

          In retrospect, it’s probably a good thing that they didn’t teach us that stuff. I eventually got the knowledge through (sometimes painful) live-learned experience, but truly my parents wouldn’t have been able to teach us some of the stuff I know now–not in the “stuff to do in the bedroom” way, but more like “what is LGBT+, gender roles in society, etc.” and other knowledge about the world. Turns out I disagree with them on several points in adulthood.

          I think my parents are good parents, and they were generally successful, but I do think the lack of relationship education–for lack of a better term–was one of their biggest failures. (I still don’t even know what the general term for “have sex” is in my native language. I know the clinical terms–i.e. the equivalent of “intercourse”–but I don’t even know how to translate “X and Y had sex” in the common vernacular. Even now, if it ever comes up, my parents either say “that thing” and “thing that happens between men and women”.)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I have been asked:
            “NSNR, you’re a married woman. How do I tell my friend not too get married because he’s too immature?”
            Annnnddd
            “How do you know when you are in love? I am not asking about sex. I already know that stuff. I am asking about love.”
            Then there’s:
            “How do I know if giving my child up for adoption is the right thing to do?”

            Ohhh, boy, oh, boy. There’s lots of people out there with big questions and no one to help them.

    2. Waterfall*

      I agree that LGBT history discussions should be left to high school level.

      In lower grades, I think we need to have more discussions on stop bullying people that are different and who don’t fit religious/social/biological norms.

    3. Anonacademic*

      You seem to be conflating teaching LGBT history with including it in a sex Ed curriculum. Otherwise why would younger kids need to be sheltered from the topic? Kids can be taught about being “in love” without knowing much about sex. I mean, if we teach them about events like the Trail of Tears in grade school how is the Stonewall riot any “worse” to learn about? It’s ignoring the history of minority groups that divides us, in my opinion. I am struggling to understand how you can be “pro lgbt” but think kids need to be sheltered from the existence of gay people in history…?

      1. Mazzy*

        I am still getting new comments on this so am still digesting, but I think I am still confusing sex education with LGBT education. I also don’t like how this sort of thing creates hierarchies of minorities. When I was a kid, it was Whites, Native Americans, and Blacks. I don’t think the plight of the modern yuppie gay equates with that of the 1920s Southern black. Sorry, two different ball parks. I think my second large concern is that I don’t want 21 century children to confuse what we term “first world problems” of gay populations with the very real life and danger problems of blacks decades ago.

        I hope children understand that they are different. Maybe I am biased because I live in an average area near a liberal city where being gay hasn’t been an issue for decades.

    4. BRR*

      The point is for equal rights but not to be thought of as heteronormative with a slight variation. It’s similar to suggesting we leave out slavety or skip over Japanese internment camps. And consideratiilns for the views of those who claim their religion opposes homosexuality is like saying we shouldn’t teach black history because the racists oppose it. Lastly for the kids there’s more than the sex part. There’s the emotional attraction part. “Some women love women like how mommy loves daddy and while it’s different there’s nothing wrong with it.”

    5. Stephanie*

      I think kids should learn it for sure. I think you can explain same-sex attraction without it going into specific ideas about biology or sex ed topics. While kids may not have the full vocabulary to explain something, I think they get more than adults give them credit for.

      I don’t have an education background, but I imagine there’s a way to explain LGBT rights movement in a younger kid friendly way.

      1. Friday Brain All Week Long*

        It was actually rather easy for me – I told my 4yr that some kids have a mommy and a daddy, some have two mommies who love each other, some have two daddies who love each other, some have a loving mommy or daddy raising them without a partner, some are raised by loving grandparents, etc. etc. She got it in an instant, and awesomely enough, she calls the LGBT rainbow flag the “Wedding Flag” because I told her that it used to be that people of the same gender in love couldn’t get married like I could to her dad and that only recently changed, and it’s a wonderful change.

        One of her best friends at school is being raised by her grandma and two of her cousins are being raised by my single SIL so all I was doing was validating that all loving parent/guardian situations are correct, and telling her about more possibilities.

    6. Megs*

      Just to address your point about “the talk,” I’m pretty sure that kids understand the concept of romantic relationships well before understanding the concept of sex. I mean, did you need to have “the talk” with them to explain why you and daddy share a bedroom, or why Grandma and Grandpa hold hands sometimes, and so on?

      As for the integration part, maybe part of the point is that the topics typically taught in schools are incredibly, incredibly inaccurate when it comes to addressing anything that doesn’t have to do with white dudes. So maybe instead of pretending LGBT people/women/people of color don’t exist and crediting their accomplishments to others, we should update our curriculum to teach even the youngest of kids that you don’t have to look like George Washington to do great things.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right, that’s what I’m wondering. Do people who oppose this also think that we should wait until high school to teach kids about the concept of heterosexual marriage?

        1. Temperance*

          Here’s my .02 as an ex-evangelical: that’s exactly what some of these people want. It’s the same way that some people don’t want children to know that you, physically, can have a baby without being married, or that you can cohabitate without being married.

          My parents are still evangelicals, and my mother flipped her lid when my sister was letting her kid look at photos of her friends on Facebook and one of our friend CJ kissing his husband at their wedding popped up. My 3-year-old niece knows that sometimes boys date or marry boys and that is FINE.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Tangentially, the nuns told us a woman who did not want to be raped would not get raped.
            Get professionals, trained on the subject, to teach the subject. Random people who know nothing about the topic can create so many misconceptions and so many problems.

    7. Lady Kelvin*

      Yeah, I think you are confusing teaching kids about gay sex with teaching kids that there are same sex couples, and they couldn’t marry, and fought for their right to marry, etc without ever talking about sex. Most kids will already know same sex couples so they aren’t really teaching anything about the fact that they are gay, just how they have been discriminated against and what they have done to fight that discrimination (and that famous people have been gay and persecuted but they did cool things). Mentioning that Alan Turing had boyfriends is no different than teaching kids that presidents have wives.

      1. BRR*

        Yeah LGBT education isn’t sex ed (although there should be some inclusion in a sex ed program).

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, if kids are “mature” enough to watch Cinderella and Prince Charming waltz, they should be able to handle that some princesses would prefer Princess Charming. You don’t need to go into the nuts and bolts of it with a five-year-old, just like you don’t give them How Babies Are Made the first time they see a movie that has any kind of romantic plot.

        1. fposte*

          Linda de Haan’s lovely picture book King and King is perfect for that without being preachy, too. (Though the sequel is meh.)

    8. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I thought the point of the LGBT movement was to put LGBT persons on equal footing with their heterosexual counterparts, not divide them into a separate category.

      Yes, and the point of the civil rights movement was to fight against racial inequality. But we know that because it gets taught. By this same logic, we shouldn’t teach about Martin Luther King Jr either. Also, “equal footing” is not the same thing as “pretend like they are all the same group and not acknowledge differences.”

      One of the big things in the LGBT rights movement is visibility. One of the 100% best things for LGBT youth is to know that there are other people like them. In a heteronormative world, that’s priceless. We don’t do that by sweeping LGBT issues and history under the rug.

      I also think someone’s sexual orientation should be irrelevant in school classes, especially in earlier grades. I mean, what if I decide to wait to have “the talk” with my kids, because I want kids to be kids, now I have to do that earlier so that they can then understand the topic of sex so that they can then understand sexual orientation so they understand what is going on in school.

      Do you have to give your kids the straight sex-ed talk so they understand Cinderella and Prince Charming? No. They don’t need to know the mechanics of sex to understand a basic G-rated romantic story. The same is true if you sub in Princess Charming. They can wear frilly dresses and dance at the ball and this is not going to scar your children or make them start asking what tribadism is. Raising the issue like that falls into a really common anti-LGBT rhetorical bit of hate where anything relating to a same-sex couple is considered automatically sexually explicit, even if it’s as simple as two men holding hands.

      I also think that every successive generation is less and less homophobic, and also think that homophobes are going to be homophobes no matter what, so doubt that additional education will make any difference.

      Every successive generation is less and less homophobic because visibility is growing and they are being introduced to the idea that this is normal and ok. Progress doesn’t happen on its own. People have to fight for it. And homophobes are not gonna be homophobes no matter what — again, visibility is a really powerful weapon to change minds. Visibility happens when we are known and people talk about us. It doesn’t happen when “some girls like other girls and some boys like other boys” is considered an R-rated topic of conversation not to be shown to your children.

      Basically, long story short, homophobia flourishes when people can assume that it means THOSE PEOPLE OVER THERE WHO ARE A FACELESS MASS OF WEIRDO SEXUALITY and not “Bob, down the street, who has a kickass car and a really nice boyfriend.” Visibility is our tool to show that we are human beings, not this scary mass of sinners that people can gang up on.

      1. Amtelope*

        This is all well said, but I wanted to highlight this for the OP:

        Raising the issue like that falls into a really common anti-LGBT rhetorical bit of hate where anything relating to a same-sex couple is considered automatically sexually explicit, even if it’s as simple as two men holding hands.

        OP, saying “What if I want to wait to tell my kids about sex, I can’t talk to them about LGBT people without having the sex talk” tends to be a big marker of … maybe not homophobia, but certainly discomfort with LGBT people. I think it is great that you’re pro-LGBT, but if you want to be a helpful ally on LGBT issues, this is not a great argument to make. It might be worth thinking about where you’re getting this argument and whether it really makes sense when you think about the kids you know and the LGBT people who are (or might be) in their lives.

      2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        All of that.

        >>>Visibility happens when we are known and people talk about us.
        Very young children are encountering LGBT issues all the time. Two moms, or two dads, might show up at the bus stop in kindergarten. Kids are curious and will ask about it. You may have to explain to your young child, why calling something or something “gay” as a slur is not acceptable, even if their school mates are using it. Having grade school education that frames the civil rights issues and the basic human respect issues is not a sex ed issue.

        And Disney always creeped my mother out. It is totally weird how unmarked it is that in this culture we routinely take five year old girls to romantic movies, including ones where the love interest is a Beast, and then get all freaked out about sex education.

    9. Temperance*

      I really disagree with your premise here. I see this very differently; LGBT folks should be on equal footing with cisgender people and straight people, and they are not. The same way that women are not on equal footing with men, and POC are not on equal footing with white folks.

      Teaching LGBT history shows the importance and normality of LGBT culture and people. When I was in 10th grade, I had a wonderful history teacher who made it a point to let us know that he was teaching us Women’s History for an entire unit, because most history books didn’t include the women’s rights movement, but it was an important part of our history as a country. I’ll never forget how that made me feel, knowing that an authority figure also thought this was bullshit.

    10. Kate*

      Some great points above. LGBT history happened, and is happening now, whether it’s talked about of not. Teaching an accurate version of history, including “these groups of people were oppressed, discriminated against, etc. These are the issues they faced. This is what they accomplished in overcoming these issues. These problems still exist today, etc” is necessary. Even if you don’t believe that it’s ok to be LGBT due to religion or whatever other reason, these things did happen/are happening. They are a part of history. History deserves to be taught, even if it will make some people uncomfortable.
      I think some people are confusing “teaching an accurate version of history” with “supporting or furthering a cause.” Even if you don’t agree that, for instance, same sex marriage should be legal, the fact is it is. And that is a huge victory for the LGBT community (and arguably everyone else too). And kids should be taught about how that change was achieved (among other things- I know that is only a small part of LGBT history).
      I’m not saying this as eloquently as I would like, but hopefully you get your point.

    11. Anonymous Educator*

      I thought the point of the LGBT movement was to put LGBT persons on equal footing with their heterosexual counterparts, not divide them into a separate category

      If you break a bone in your right arm and go to the ER for surgery, how would you like them to just pretend both arms were whole, and you didn’t need anything fixed? Or to operate on your left arm, because you shouldn’t separate arms by category?

      Equal footing doesn’t mean pretending something doesn’t exist, which is what usually happens with regard to LGBT history in schools.

    12. Amtelope*

      You really don’t have to explain sex for kids to understand sexual orientation. “Some women love men, like Mommy loves Daddy, and some women love other women, like [insert same-sex couple, if you know one, or characters from an age appropriate book]. Some kids have a mommy and a daddy, and some kids have two mommies or two daddies.” Very small kids can understand that much (and tend to think it is, at most, mildly interesting, not upsetting unless their parents freak out on the subject).

      And as for discrimination — pretending it doesn’t exist won’t make it go away, any more than pretending racism doesn’t exist will make it go away. As schools talk about diversity and prejudice, which they tend to do in elementary school because it’s hard to explain US history without talking about diversity and prejudice, this is one of the things it makes sense to talk about. It’s very much a relevant topic to kids who have LGBT parents or older siblings, or who may be LGBT themselves (the upper end of elementary school is definitely old enough for kids to have crushes, and for some kids to know that they’re trangender.) And it’s part of history. We shouldn’t leave it out as if it were something shameful and impossible for kids to understand.

    13. Future EdTech*

      Being a LGBT and knew it since I was in pre-school, I say it should be taught. But, it needs to be framed in an appropriate manner. Especially if you’re doing units on civil rights! You’re not teaching sex education, you’re teaching history of marginalized population.

      I mean, I was taught about Martin Luther King Jr in first grade, and then the Trail of Tears and Japanese Internment Camps in 4th grade. I think a lot of people tend to see discrimination as something race related so talking about Stonewall Riots will expand that discrimination and civil rights isn’t limited to race.

      Plus, your students may be LGBT, or have friends or family who are LGBT.

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        I’m old. They weren’t teaching about the Trail of Tears in public schools when I came up. The dispossession (and of course much worse) of the native peoples was a pretty key part of the history of this country, but it wasn’t taught. And you know what? I had a lot of classmates who thought it was okay to bully people who had the temerity to look different from them, let alone dress or act different.

        I say shine a light on it, and let our children see racism, sexism, classism, and all such “othering” beliefs/behaviors for what they really are. It’s ugly, it’s upsetting, but it’s who we were. Show them the truth. As humans, this is our history. This happened. This is what we learned, and this is what we did about it. This is how we, as humans, grew.

    14. Willow*

      I think it might help to reframe the question as “should we deliberately erase lgbt people from the history we teach children?” I learned about slavery snd the civil rights movement and the suffragettes and the Holocaust in grade school. Why should the struggle for lgbt rights be any different? You can’t teach kids to accept lgbt kids if they don’t know lgbt people exist. And teaching about lgbt people in history doesn’t require a special lesson; we can just awknowledge that many of the historical figures we already teach kids about were lgbt. Many lgbt kids feel isolated, and seeing people like them represented in history is incredibly meaningful.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        In high school, I had a teacher with a number tattooed on his arm. We watched a few Holocaust movies even though it had nothing to do with his subject he was supposed to be teaching us.
        If I could go back to that time in my life, I would ask him what camp he was in and what it was like to be there. I’d want to hear how he finally got to the States. Back in those days, I felt our life experiences were too dramatically different and I would have been rude to ask.

        1. Mazzy*

          I’m happy I got so many good comments to my question. Thank you all! I was having trouble coming up with the pros and cons on this one because all of the conversations elsewhere were either it must be taught or your a homophobe, which doesn’t really explain the why or even the what. Thank!

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            If it helps at all, consider that the core of the argument on the anti-LGBT side really boils down to “I don’t want my kids to know that queer people exist.” Which, yes, is homophobic.

    15. stevenz*

      I think it’s ridiculous and nothing but a fad. And where does it end? The contributions of left-handed people? Bald people? Lactose-intolerant people?

      I find the recent elevation of LGBT people to some kind of exulted status, like they’re some form of advanced species, to be a very strange preoccupation of the left. And I’m a card carrying member of the left and always have been.

      Fragmentation of identity is, to my mind, the antithesis of liberalism.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Wait, really? This is a group of people who have been systematically discriminated against, abused, even arrested and killed simply for being gay. Celebrating progress in moving them closer to equality (and safety) isn’t a fad, and it’s not exalting them.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        What “left” do you belong to that expects society to render down to a Borg-like mass of completely indistinguishable & undifferentiated people?

    16. SlowGoings*

      My only thought on this is the time element. I would love to teach all the important stuff in history in schools but the reality is there is not that time. As an example my fairly liberal schools never got past the civil war until high school due to time in the school year and it only got any further then because they did an american history 1 sophomore year and an american history 2 junior year. Even then we didn’t even get up to world war 2 despite including things like the women’s rights movement at the turn of last century.

      So yeah would love to cover history involving LGBT rights in schools but don’t think it will just because american’s are not in school all year round and the need to repeat the same history in multiple grades due to teacher issues and student retention issues.

      1. Mazzy*

        Ah, this is another issue. I know what you mean about the war, and then there are issues of changing teachers every year and not knowing what the previous one covered, and a whole bunch of issues that exacerpate this

  26. Finance/Investment Book*

    Hi,

    I am looking for books to increase my knowledge about money, finance, and investments. I am planning to have knowledge on the following topics:

    -What money “really” is and how it works in this modern world now?

    -How does money circle around a state’s economy?

    -What happens to your money when you put them in a checking, savings, mutual fund, IRA, 401K, stock portfolio, etc.

    -How does the stock market work?

    -What are the different kinds of financial instruments out there and how do you know which one to invest in?

    -What is the use of the different financial instruments out there (they keep getting more and more diverse)?

    So far I am thinking of “Naked Money” by Charles Wheelan. But I would love to hear more suggestions.

    Thanks

    1. Stephanie*

      Check out stuff by Helaine Olen. She writes for Slate and I like her financial advice. Both of her books, the Index Card and Pound Foolish are great.

    2. fposte*

      Jane Bryant Quinn is another good writer. You might also be interested in Jason Zweig’s Your Money and Your Brain.

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      This one is geared more towards kids but “What Happened to Penny Candy?” gives really good info on those topics.

    4. Ellie H.*

      I know you asked for books, and I’m an insatiable reader and a huge books about economics, but I also have to recommend the podcast Planet Money which covers a lot of the big-picture questions about what money actually is, how it works, what are different models for different economic practices, all that jazz. It’s not financial advice but history, facts, interesting examples from economic history, all that. Here are some of my favorite “big picture” episodes: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/423/the-invention-of-money – This is actually a This American Life episode made up of 3 Planet Money stories (Planet Money came out of TAL originally) but covers some of that!

    5. Sibley*

      Some sources I’ve found helpful in no particular order.

      http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/
      http://jlcollinsnh.com/stock-series/
      https://www.bogleheads.org/
      Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation – by Edward Chancellor
      A Random Walk Down Wall Street – by Burton Malkiel
      Peter L. Bernstein Classics Boxed Set : Capital Ideas, Against the Gods, The Power of Gold
      The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas Stanley

    6. SophieChotek*

      More historical, but James Grant wrote an interesting book (quite a while ago) about a history of lending in America called _Money of the Mind_ that might be of interest

  27. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Survived week 1 newjob but had anxiety-fuelled meltdown in front of boyfriend who hugged/comforted me. I don’t know if I have the skills to do newjob, and everyone seems so smart. My worry is they’ll assume I can do something when I have no clue. But anyways…

    Met with friend/her husband this weekend with my bf for brunch. A mutual friend got engaged late last year and said her wedding was this year/March. That has been postponed due to the couple being in school, but even mutual friends fiance’s friends are asking if all’s well between the two. Also for planning purposes, none of us have much leave so we need advance notice of ceremonies **right now** plus my family wants to travel so I need a heads-up. Then couple finished school.

    Tl;dr: engaged friend postponed wedding for school, finished school, wavers on March then Oct date, need answers, what do we all do? (From me, other mutual friends/friends of the couple). Oy vey.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It will all work out, it will be okay.

      My older friend “went” to her son’s wedding in the Philippines. She Skyped in. Her family set up her computer for her and she got to see the wedding and all the people. There is always a way to make people feel included.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There is nothing for you to do here. When they’re ready to set a date, they’ll tell you and you can deal with it then. But this is not for your group of friends to do anything about.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      It’s an invitation, not a warrant to appear. If your friends pick a date that you cannot attend, you politely decline with regrets. If your friends pick a destination that you cannot afford to go to, you politely decline with regrets. Attend the bridal shower/other parties as you can, give the gifts you can afford or are motivated to and that’s it. If they never get married, or change their date 5 times or break up tomorrow, it has nothing to do with you, so don’t go looking to borrow trouble — you’ve got enough of your own!

    4. Mando Diao*

      Is it really that hard to get one day off from work six months from now? Worst case scenario, call in sick or roll into the reception after work.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        I think it might be ok for me, but not for a lot of other mutual friends who are in teapot nursing/physician similar positions that only give 10 days of leave a year, with only 5 max use allowable in 5 months due to high-necessity of presence.

        Also, she asked for all our addresses last year for save the dates, but didn’t send anything out, so all our contact info is somewhere…..its been almost a year, no save the dates. Ah well. Time to distract myself with something so I don’t fixate on this.

        1. Mary*

          Gently, I’d focus on your friends happiness. Maybe they are finding marriage isn’t right for them right now, or maybe it won’t be right for them at all. Especially if your friends have family who might be sharing thier opinions and feelings about the changes and being inconvenienced it might be nice to focus on just being supportive. You can support them even if you can’t come to the wedding, the wedding is only one day out of a lifetime.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Yes, distract yourself. Try not to manage other people’s relationships with each other. It’s an easy pit to fall into but it is also a bottomless pit. Better off not to go there.

        3. TL -*

          Well, if your friends really can’t get the date off without 6 months’ or wherever notice, than all they – and only they – can do is to gently make sure that the affianced couple knows that. And I do mean gently; they don’t need to ask for a timeline or put any pressure. At most, they can ask once if they should save a few PTO days for the wedding this year.

          But honestly, it’s not really their business unless the bride specifically asks what dates are good for them.

        4. Observer*

          So what? As Dynamic Beige says, it’s an invitation not a summons. If it works out it works out. If she gets hissy about the people for whom it doesn’t work out, then she’s not a terribly good friend.

          I really don’t see why you are borrowing trouble here.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I think Carmen has people around her that make everything in to ten times the issue it actually is. Reneging on a wedding could mean decades of penance and apologies from Carmen. If this is the case, Carmen, get new peeps. There are people out there who understand friendship is a gift not a command performance.

    5. Amtelope*

      They get to set a date whenever they want (and wait as long as they want, or not get married at all, or get married next week without telling anyone). If you can attend and want to once you hear the date, do. If you can’t get off work, send them a nice present and your best wishes. But there’s nothing you need to do about this. They’ll invite you when they’re actually planning a wedding; don’t postpone other travel plans or ask off work for a vague “we might get married in October, I don’t know.”

    6. stevenz*

      I’ve been in the work world for almost 40 years and still feel like a fraud. Don’t worry. Just do the work you are given, give it your best shot, and you’ll be fine. And, no, they aren’t all so smart. Some are, some aren’t, and some are good at acting like they are.

  28. Mephyle*

    Friends of AAM, I invite you to check out this book: The Room: A Novel by Jonas Karlsson. I don’t know if it’s good or not (the reviews seem to be mixed) but when I looked “inside” at the free preview, it was uncanny how it much it seemed like a description of a workplace that someone might write to AAM about! Or is it just that these are the commonalities of all workplaces?

  29. Maxwell Edison*

    Is anyone going to San Diego Comic-Con this coming week? I’ll be there with bells on (also cosplaying Mr. B Natural from the MST3K short) and one of my books will be on sale at an exhibitor booth!

      1. Maxwell Edison*

        William Wu Books, booth 5627. It’s called A Nerd Girl’s Guide to Cinema (it’s a review collection, focusing on cult movies, horror, sci-fi, and movies off the beaten path). William Wu Books is one of my favorite vendors at the con, with lots of movie-related stuff, vintage pulp/sci-fi/horror, signed first editions, and more.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t, but I was playing on my friend’s phone at a meetup this evening and caught two pokemon–Pidgey and Tauros. Yay! And also won a bookmark when we were playing Pictionary. ;)

      I think I would probably like to play it if my city were more walkable. Here you have to drive all over the place and I don’t want to do that for a game.

    2. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      Team Instinct. I’m pretty lame though… barely level 9 at this point and I started playing as soon as it came out. Unfortunately I’m in a small town and the only high-density place with Pokestops and Gyms is the college, on the other side of town. So at home I’m running out of pokeballs and walking to the graveyard to get more (nearest Pokestop) but there’s no Pokemon there so no point in hanging out. I’ve found good hunting just walking around my apartment complex, but then I run out of pokeballs fast and then I’m back to the graveyard.

      I am lord of the pigeons though: got Pidgeot today.

    3. periwinkle*

      Team Mystic! I haven’t done a huge amount with the game but have done enough to almost hit level 6. Attending a baseball game Friday night really helped – I caught a bunch of Pokemon there including a Psyduck by the coffee stand and a Squirtle hanging out by a bullpen.

      Freakin’ Zubat, go away…

    4. Sorgatani*

      Just hit level 15 today.
      As a coda to my post last week, it does not seem as if Pokemon Go uses a lot of mobile data, it is just a battery eater. I invested in a Power Pod, which helps a lot.
      I chose Team Instinct.
      My sister picked Mystic because Articuno is her favorite G1 legendary. Unsure what her level is. My neighbours picked Valor, and they’re both level 20+ because they’ve been hanging out at the local lake where 3 pokestops and a gym converge after sunset just about every day, putting up lures and hanging out with other players. I’ve hung out there a few nights, but a few nights worth of late nights in cold air, even rugged up, and I start getting sick.
      It took some time for me to realize that I could throw away extra potions/revives to make space in my Bag – I was so frustrated because I had over 100 of each, and less than 20 pokeballs. It’s a much more manageable amount now, but it never feels like enough.
      Strongest so far is a CP 847 Pinsir, that showed up in my bedroom while I was releasing rattata for candy.

    5. SL #2*

      Team Mystic! I also run my city’s Pokemon Go subreddit; learning CSS has been… interesting for me. The amount of Googling I do…

    6. Tau*

      I was going to, but it turns out you need Android 4.4+ to run it and my phone can’t be upgraded past Android 4.2.2. :(

      This is… rather sad, considering that I was looking forward to trying to get out and about more and can tell I’m going to be left out of a lot of conversations around the workplace from now on. I’m thinking of trying geocaching as a similar RL-exploration thing.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        My boyfriend decided to upgrade his phone so he can play Pokemon Go. He got a refurbished phone that will arrive in the mail tomorrow. He feels your pain.

        But please don’t worry too much about being left out of conversations. There will be several others who aren’t playing, and besides, I can’t imagine this will be the only thing people talk about after another week or so. And you can still participate, asking people questions about how they’re doing and what they’ve captured or however it works.

        Or you can come sit by me, because it’s not something I’m into.

      2. Yay*

        Try Ingress. It was made by the creators of Pokemon Go and uses the same locations. Ingress users are the reason the poke stops and gyms are there.

    7. Claire (Scotland)*

      I just started playing last night, and haven’t yet made it to level five so I’m not officially on a team yet. But I’ll be Team Mystic as soon as I get there later today!

    8. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Team Mystic! Working on a university campus is great for pokemon Go; there are Pokestops and gyms everywhere. I can access one Pokestop from my desk (there is a placard outside the building about the first variable-rate something or other) and another if I go to the bathroom at the far end of the hall. Last week, I set a lure on the nearest Pokestop and sat at my desk catching Pokemon for half an hour.

    9. Elkay*

      I’ve played but I don’t understand it. I’m not sure whether or not I should evolve Pokemon if I’ve already caught an evolved form (Pidgey > Pidgeotto) but the evolved form is a lower CP.

      I don’t like the fact you have to have data on for it as I’m on pay as you go so I don’t use data. It was quite funny sitting in the pub today which is a Pokestop and watching everyone stop outside to check in. So the plus side is I just have to wander to the end of the road to find a Pokestop.

    10. The Cosmic Avenger*

      My daughter and I started this week, so of course she’s already Team Mystic and I’ve…caught the first one and that’s it. I plan on walking around our neighborhood with her today. She’s lucky in that her camp has a Pokestop right there and is good for catching, apparently. (She has time before and after camp to play, not during.) Lucky for me I have her to tutor me. :D

    11. LawCat*

      Team Instinct! My spouse, stepson, and I are playing all on separate teams. I thought this meant we could compete against each other, but apparently not (??) I haven’t been to the pokemon gym yet, but I’m a high enough level to do so. I’m generally just puzzled what to do with the pokemons.

    12. LizB*

      Team Mystic! I was out and about playing all day yesterday, but I still haven’t really done much with gyms… I stopped to train at a gym controlled by my team, but couldn’t really figure out what to do. I’ll get around to googling it sometime today.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I don’t understand the gyms or evolving the Pokemon, either, but my kids do. I’ve let them do those parts so far, and I just hit Pokestops and catch Pokemon.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Oh, and we have 5k and a 10k eggs incubating, and I make sure the app is on when walking around campus for work so that my steps contribute toward hatching the eggs. I left my phone at home one day last week so my son could Pokehunt with his friends; his Samsung III Mini isn’t compatible with the app.

    13. Anonyby*

      Team Mystic! Though I downloaded it last Saturday night, and then Sunday my knee started acting up so I haven’t been able to play much. I’m only lvl 8.

      However, there’s two parks near my house. The small one has one gym and three stops, but the big park… 4 gyms and over 20 stops. Yesterday I stopped by after a family function and hit a few of the stops, and sat between two of them and just let them reset while I waited… Almost every time I check my phone from when I get up to when I go to sleep at night, there’s activity going on at the park (lures, battles at the two gyms I can see on the map from my house.

    14. Lindsay J*

      Team Instinct! I had a gym for like 3 minutes earlier today before someone kicked me out of it.

    1. Anxa*

      I was very briefly!

      I’ve switched to another system; a 3-column daily planner made in Word. The only issue I have now to deal with is that I printed a batch front to back with a daily planner on one side and a routines checklist on the other (to help me get to bad, get out of the house, and a to do list for coming home). I failed to think that one out, because I like to have my daily planner sheet packed in work bag ahead of time.

      The back to school sales are coming up and it will probably be so cheap to get a graph paper journal pretty soon.

    2. Lillian McGee*

      I’ve been doing it on and off for years but I had no idea it was called bullet journaling! I just write down a few lines per day–observations or amusing non-sequiturs. For me it’s not meant to be useful, it’s just a way to look back and see where my mind was at on any given day.

    3. LawCat*

      Yes, but I didn’t like having to carry it around so I adapted to a digital version using plain text files.

    4. Saro*

      My cousin just got me interested in it yesterday! Do you use it? I like the Passion planner for the overall idea but the bullet journal seems more my speed. I’m now trying to think how I can merge the two. Do you use it? Any tips for a beginner?

      1. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

        I do. I would say don’t get overwhelmed with all the cool stuff you can do with it and don’t worry about being perfect. You can search Instagram and Pinterest for #BuJo if you want some ideas.

    5. Lindsay J*

      I’ve been doing it. I’m not all fancy and Pintrest-y with it, though.

      It’s mostly just a running “to do” list and schedule, and I’ve recently added listing something I’m grateful for and something I’m proud of each day in it, and 3 goals for my next day.

      I was using a moleskin-type journal, but just got a Piccadilly brand hardback notebook that I like better – it’s bigger and has a lot more pages.

    1. Claire (Scotland)*

      Nothing good!

      May worries me on a lot of issues but not much more than Cameron did, except for her stance on LGTB matters. Her speech the other day was better than I’d hoped for, but we’ll see if it was genuine as policy develops.

      Johnson as foreign secretary is terrifying. I do not understand that appointment one bit.

    2. Brexanon*

      TM: Cautiously optimistic after the last few unsettled weeks. I by no means agree with all her positions, but she’s formed a solid and stable government that looks capable of getting us through the next few years and getting a Brexit deal that benefits both us and the EU. (The only cabinet appointee I’d quibble is Hunt, but hopefully he’ll be on his way out in the next couple of years.)

      BoJo: …This could actually work? I was a Brexiteer DESPITE him, not because of him, and while I don’t think he’s anywhere near as stupid as he pretends he has had a very big mouth and has had to do very little to back that up. He’s now in a position where he has to entirely rein in the buffoon thing and act like a grownup, while being surrounded by experienced FCO handlers who will make that happen. International trade and Brexit have been sliced off and given to other people, so he is less able to do any catastrophic damage, but he is now responsible for taking everything he wrote in his newspaper column about an ‘internationalist Brexit’ and making that happen. (“Oh, had you been planning to sit this out, while sniping from the sidelines about everything you’d have done differently and how any problems are the government’s fault? WRONG. You will be, errr, ‘rewarded’ with a prestigious and important cabinet post. Get on with it!”)

      Saying that though, he ISN’T stupid- he speaks quite a few languages, he did similar work for London as mayor, and he has the PR thing down to a fine art. He might make a go of it- And if it doesn’t work, he’s finished his career forever. And at least he’s not Chancellor!

      1. JaneB*

        So so so depressed. Cannot believe what recent past is being ignored – lying is FINE, highly intelligent people (no doubt Boris is that but intelligent is not the same as fit to govern!) can say hugely racist generalising things and still get a role like foreign secretary, corruption is fine (what Liam Fox did was corrupt). Yes, we have a government again, but it’s full of people who think they are right – I mean, David Davis minister for brexit either didn’t know how EU trade worked back in May (said would negotiate with each country separately which is totally not the point of the EEA) or was lying t make it sound more appealing to voters. How is it ok he’s now in charge????

      2. nep*

        ‘He’s now in a position where he has to entirely rein in the buffoon thing and act like a grownup’ — Sounds like what people will say if/when Trump wins.

        Thanks, all, for the the comments/insights. Interesting.

    3. Caledonia*

      I’m guessing the Johnson appointment is to hold him somewhat accountable for the mess he has made.

      I dislike May’s “snooper’s charter” and the majority of the new cabinet’s stance on LGBT.

      Most of all, I hate that there’s no GE anytime soon, because now we have a PM who nobody voted for in a party hardly anyone voted for…

      1. nep*

        Yes — why wasn’t there a general election? Is it that the ruling party just goes ahead and names a replacement for Cameron because he resigned during his term? (I’m not familiar with the rules there.) Was there an option to run a general election?

        1. Elkay*

          Because we don’t vote for the Prime Minister, we vote for MPs/their party and it’s up to the party who their leader is.

          1. nep*

            Oops — certainly I’ve understood that to be the case (that voters don’t elect the PM)…was not thinking straight when I wrote that earlier comment. Thanks.

        2. Marzipan*

          It’s a weird setup – when we vote in a General Election we’re technically voting only for our own MP (although in practice I think people are also – perhaps even primarily – conscious of who the leader of each party is, and have views on how good a Prime Minister they’d make). The government is then made up of all those MPs, and the Queen appoints as Prime Minister whoever is most likely to command a majority of MPs (in practice, this means the leader of the party with a majority, although it’s possible to end up in a scenario where no one party has a majority, at which point whoever can cobble together a coalition amounting to a majority will probably land the job. See David Cameron round 1).

          But, since we voted for MPs rather than a PM, the resignation of the PM doesn’t automatically trigger a General Election. The Queen will pretty much just go ahead and appoint the new leader of the majority party as PM, because strictly speaking nothing has changed. We just carry on with the same timetable, and have the next election whenever we were going to anyway. It’s possible for an election to be called sooner, but politically you’d probably only do that if you were reasonably confident you were going to win it. That said, people aren’t mad keen on ‘coronations’ of a new PM and would generally prefer not to be landed with someone they weren’t expecting. There was a certain amount of chatter when Gordon Brown succeeded Tony Blair, and Theresa May’s position is similarly awkward in that the Tory leadership contest fizzled after Leadsom melted under the teeniest bit of spotlight and pulled out – so not even the Conservative Party membership had the chance to vote for her.

        3. Brexanon*

          Also: Fixed term parliament act. A GE isn’t easy at this point, but we can all make our verdict in 2020.
          (Overall, I do prefer our system of voting for the MP/ Party and having the Party pick the PM/ leader of the opposition- honestly a bit baffled by the US system. Seems like they barely get settled before having to run a new campaign!)

          1. Merry and Bright*

            +100 With some of the MPs themselves calling for an early/immediate general election, I wonder if they are even aware how parliament works now (which is scary). I mean, they passed the Fixed-term Parliament Act!! The Government itself cannot call an election but the MPs can force one through a 2/3 vote or a vote of no confidence in the government so there is their answer. Sigh.

    4. Marzipan*

      There does seem to be an element of “you broke it, you Brexit” in play in some of her appointments. At this point, I don’t know what to make of her. She’s speechifying some things I broadly agree with, but which don’t particularly chime with her record;, meanwhile, “Brexit means Brexit” actually means precisely nothing. This week has been just as confusing as the ones that preceded it.

      I do think at this point we can lay claim to the title of ‘only country whose Foreign Secretary has written poetry about the president of Turkey engaging in sexual congress with a goat”, but I’m willing to stand corrected…

      1. fposte*

        I just read that! That’s hilarious. (Though I liked the fact more than the actual limerick.)

    5. Short and Stout*

      TM: better than any current alternative.

      Boris: Lol. David Cameron once sent him to Liverpool to apologise for terrible things he said about Liverpudlians and Hillsborough … Basically I’m waiting to see who he insults first with the greatest consequences! (Though this may have already happened given his racist comments about Obama not liking England due to his Kenyan heritage, yuck.)

    6. Mander*

      Well, she’s at least better than the alternatives were. But I do not trust her at all.

      As an immigrant I take an interest in what the Home Office does and I think that under her a lot of draconian and unfair policies were implemented. People straight out of high school were given a few weeks of training and then given the power to decide complex asylum cases where there was no right of appeal. The efficiency of simple things like passport applications went into the toilet. People were wrongly deported when they were legitimate overseas students. Stuff like that.

      A friend of mine knows her personally and says she isn’t really that bad. I’m holding my judgment for now.

      Boris, though — I can’t decide if it’s a brilliant move or a colossal mistake. He’s very smart but a totally snobbish jerk.

      1. JaneB*

        I hate what Teresa May has done at the home office, for example keeping students in the same ‘metric’ as immigration in general is just daft, and contrary to the national interests – surely we WANT smart people to come ehre for three or four years, spend their money, make our universities more international (excellent experience for our own students, who often don’t want to go overseas for undergraduate – language barriers etc. – but having international students in the classroom at least gives them greater exposure to diversity), and then go back to their own countries where they will hopefully be successful and have fond, positive memories and associations with Britain? A large number of politicians, especially in the developing world, are British educated for part of their studies, and that seems to me an excellent basis for good international relationships.

        I wonder if she’s a bit like Mrs Thatcher in one way (other than both hating unions) – my grandparents lived in MrsTs constituency, and said she was an excellent constituency MP, energetic and engaged with local issues, and her office staff in departments I understand were often very loyal (as are Teresa’s by all accounts) – her policy ideas (with which my family mostly disagreed, I should say, although Grandpa was definitelymore centrist/ small-c conservative than the rest of them) did not affect her ability to be a pragmatic and professional local MP but somehow the pragmatism got lost behind some kind of idealogical generalisation which made her act as if she had no subtlety, no understanding of the people behind the issues, as if she couldn’t scale up the balance between the two. I really really hope not…

  30. Anxa*

    I know I mentioned in the past few Open Threads having some issues with sitting still and focusing.

    Well, my doctors visit is right around the corner and my neuro symptoms have almost completely cleared. So I’m really optimistic about not having any long-term brain damage and that maybe I didn’t even have a TBI or anything. I hope to start working out soon (I’ve been too nervous to squat with a bar on my neck).

    I have started to work in warmer rooms at work. I find this helps me from clenching my muscles. It means I can’t be as effective during my active sessions because I’m giving up some tools, but I’m more productive during my down time.

    I also have resolved that if I ever turn my life around and can afford new furniture, I’m splurging on an ergonomic home office and a comfortable couch.

    Now that my mind is almost back to normal, I feel like I just need to overcome some of the extra procrastination that came with it. On the plus side, I had a few hours of clarity this week (my natural baseline before this accident was to be in a pretty constant state of brain fog with a few bouts of clarity here and there, but I hadn’t been getting any clear moments for over a month).

  31. C Average*

    Yesterday I made Nutella and hazelnut-stuffed challah. It is amazing. My family declared it the best thing I’ve ever created in the kitchen.

    1. Rahera*

      Sounds delightful :). I try not to keep Nutella in the house because I know I’ll be tempted to bake it in some bread :D, so I am living vicariously for a few seconds.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Sounds good! I just had Nutella on challah earlier today. Didn’t create it myself… just bought it, but still yummy!

      1. C Average*

        So, I’ve been using the same basic challah recipe for so long that I don’t remember where I got it! I will summarize it as best I can here. This recipe makes one loaf, and it takes about four hours to make, including rising time.

        Ingredients:

        1 c warm water
        2 1/4 t yeast
        1/4 c sugar
        1/2 T salt
        1 egg
        1/3 c canola oil
        3 1/2 – 4 c flour
        6 T Nutella
        1 c hazelnuts

        Measure the sugar and skim 1/2 T sugar from the measuring cup. Add the 1/2 T sugar to the warm water and the yeast; stir and allow to prime until foamy (about 10 minutes).

        Add remaining sugar and salt. Lightly beat the egg and set aside 1/2 of the egg for later. (You’ll need it to glaze the loaf.) Add the egg and the oil to the yeast mixture. Stir to combine.

        Add 2 c flour to the yeast mixture. Stir to combine. Add remaining sugar and knead until smooth. Place in an oiled bowl, turning the ball of dough to coat on all sides with oil. Cover and allow to rise until doubled (about 2 hours).

        Toast the hazelnuts lightly in a skillet over medium heat until they are just beginning to brown and smell delicious. Allow them to cool and then coarsely chop them.

        Beat down the dough and then toss and press it into a large rectangle. You’ll want it to be about 1/3″ thick, similar to the thickness of a hand-tossed pizza crust.

        Cut the rectangle into strips for the strands of the challah braid. I use a six-strand braid. There are several decent online tutorials for the six-strand braid. It takes some practice, but I think it’s the prettiest, and it’s easy once you’ve mastered it. There are many other variations you can use, though.

        Smear 1 T Nutella down the middle of each strand, leaving the edges bare. Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts over the Nutella. Pinch the long ends together to form a tube with the filling inside. Press the edges together.

        Braid the loaf as you normally would. Glaze the loaf with the 1/2 egg you set aside earlier.

        Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, letting the loaf rise for a second time as the oven preheats. (You can let it rise for up to 2 hours, but I prefer not to do a second rise with challah because it ruins the sharp definition of the strands. I find that the time it takes to preheat the oven–and ours is slow!–is about the right amount of time.)

        Bake for 25 minutes, and then leave the loaf in the oven to bake on residual heat for 20 more minutes.

        Allow to cool for as long as you can stand the temptation.

        If your windows are open while the bread makes, you may have to fend off the neighbors. :)

  32. Callietwo {not Calliope~ anymore}*

    Though I swear I checked to see if the nick “Calliope” was in use here and didn’t see it come up, I’ve now come up with posts from another using that nickname, so I’m switching.

    Apologies for any confusion I may have caused! I’ll be switching to my this new one – Callietwo.

  33. Pokebunny*

    Anyone ever suffer from wealth guilt? Especially if the wealth is “undeserved”, i.e it isn’t because you are a career superstar and make six figures a year. This has been on my mind so much lately and it’s getting very depressing.

    1. Mando Diao*

      I don’t have those feelings. I’m about to get a good payout from some legal stuff, and I have more coming my way when Gramps’ time comes. I’m not a “check your privilege” type when it comes to decent people who are just living their lives. I’m white, live in the US, and was raised in a non-religious way that didn’t force gendered expectations on me (I’m a woman), but my life hasn’t always been good and it’s almost never easy. I deserve the payout I’m getting. It got to court in the first place, and the law says I deserve this money. Other people don’t have this money, but they probably have relationships, lifelong friends, and ties to family. Due to the circumstances of my life, I’m not in touch with anyone I knew five years ago and I have almost no family. I’ll take the money and at least try to make my life comfortable. You don’t have to feel bad about being given something.

    2. anonymous for this*

      Yes. I married into the 2% after growing up lower middle class. It’s weird to not worry about money. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. I veer wildly between spending almost nothing because I’m living the way I used to when I was broke (ramen and PB&J, seeing how long I can stretch out one tank of gas, refusing to pay retail for anything ever), and spending too much (not outrageously too much, but too many lunches out and bookstore splurges and impulse purchases at my favorite vintage shops and staples from the fancy grocery store instead of Winco). We live pretty modestly compared to a lot of people, but it blows my mind that we paid cash for a new car, my stepkids will never have student loans, and if there’s something wrong with me I don’t have to think about whether or not I can go to the doctor.

      I’ve become a lot more liberal, particularly with regard to tax policy. My husband and I agree that we don’t pay enough. We have so much, and other people have so little. We give a decent amount to charities we believe in and we try to be generous to family and friends when the opportunity arises, but we’re both horrified that there are people in this country who work full-time, exist below the poverty line, and have a pretty fragmented safety net while we pay lower taxes than people of similar income do in other countries with a stronger commitment to income equality. “Socialist” is definitely not an insult in our house.

    3. Clever Name*

      Yeah. I mean I’m not “buy a yacht” wealthy and my husband and I have to work for a living, but I grew up basically in an upper class household. Both of my parents worked, but their mortgage paid to my dad’s parents. I grew up with a cleaning lady, swimming at a country club, went to cotillion, was a debutante, and my parents paid for my sister’s and my college educations. It was kind of weird because my mom tried to act like we weren’t really wealthy because our country club wasn’t the really fancy one (It wasn’t, but we weren’t swimming at the public pool either) or whatever. Her dad owned a factory, but she’d describe his job as more of a traveling salesman.

      I try to be very aware of my privilege, but it often makes me feel guilty and uncomfortable. for a long time, I avoided talking about my parents vacation house. I don’t talk about having cleaners. I drive an 11 year old Prius, so I feel like I’m “hiding” a little bit. I think it’s very hard not to feel bad about being given pretty much everything when others have little or nothing.

    4. Temperance*

      I’m not wealthy per se, and I grew up in a trailer. As an adult, I live in a fairly large house that we have been renovating, in an expensive, fancy suburb of Philadelphia, and have a law degree.

      I don’t feel guilty because I have earned everything I have through hard work. The only time I feel guilty is when I consider the fact that we’re DINKS and my husband makes more – I wish I earned closer to what he did. I also do feel guilty knowing that my sister and her family don’t have 1/10th as much as we do. I love my little niece so much and I want better for her.

      1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

        Perhaps you could set up a 529 savings account for her education? That’s one way you could make an enormous difference for her if your niece wanted more education and couldn’t afford it without serious student loans.

      2. Mary*

        I have similar feelings about my nieces and nephews and I’ve so far been focussing on experiences – local stuff like sports, arts, library, cultural events, parks, music concerts, and museums. I also give books, games, and art materials as gifts. My hope is that doing and seeing lots of things and meeting many different people will help create the confidence and ease moving between spaces that wealth also brings

        1. Temperance*

          Unfortunately, they live in Scranton, where those sorts of opportunities just don’t really exist. I do give her lots of educationalish gifts, though.

    5. Library Director*

      At times I feel awkward because I have more money than my family or friends. But not being a superstar doesn’t mean it’s not earned. I grew up very poor. Living in a condemned house and no electricity poor. I worked hard to get to the point where can have a horde of handbags. I make choices based on my background. I buy supplies from the beauty supply store and color my own hair.

      My husband didn’t have it quite so rough, but also made sacrifices and had to go against family expectations so he could go to college. His good paycheck had allowed me to take lesser paying jobs so I could help people. Our guiding principle is that we are blessed to be a blessing to others. We give time, talent, and treasure, but we’re not self flagellating hermits. We enjoy the life we’ve built.

    6. Tau*

      I had a lot of problems with this when I was younger, because my parents are in fact in the 1% (like… not never-work-again wealthy, but definitely rich). So when I was in high school I’d feel a lot of guilt over the fact that my family could afford more than my friend’s, or when I hit university that I was one of the few people in my flat without student loans. I didn’t always make the best decisions about that, for instance on year I definitely let myself get taken financial advantage of out of a sense of “but I have this money, and they don’t, and that’s not fair…”

      I’ve gotten better about treating it as “well, this is how it happens to be and there’s no blame/guilt attached to that for me” by, well… realising my own life isn’t perfect and I do have disadvantages that are tough to deal with, mainly around disability. So e.g. I am lucky because I come from a family such that my parents could financially support me once my PhD funding ran out and I still wasn’t done, but I am unlucky in that the reason I couldn’t finish my PhD in the allotted time is because I have a disability that did not mesh at all with the PhD and basically wreaked havoc on my ability to get anything done. I’m lucky in that I have a financial safety net many don’t, but then I’m unlucky in that my circumstances mean I need to rely on and use that safety net far more than many would. Not sure if that’s the best way to approach it, but it’s let me reach some equanimity (and also helps keep me from dissolving in self-pity when said disability acts up and I feel like I am useless at being a functioning human being.)

      It helps that I’m now financially independent with my current job, which isn’t super-high-paying by any means but enough for me to live on decently.

      Also, re: what Clever Name said about “hiding”, I live in a foreign country and that sort of helps in making my class background less… obvious? I don’t have a lot of the class markers people look for as they’re UK-specific, and they don’t recognise the Germany-specific ones I do have. The best example I can think of was when a coworker was joking about people who’d gone to private school, with the obvious thought that none of us could be among such an elite group. And, well… I didn’t go to private school, but that’s because private school doesn’t fulfill the same function in Germany. I’m pretty sure I would have gone to a private school if we’d lived in the UK; I know several people from what are pretty similar class backgrounds to mine and they all went to private school. That sort of thing gets obscured, so that people judge far more by my current situation and that’s absolutely not high-paying or upper-class anything. It’d probably be more uncomfortable for me if that weren’t the case.

    7. Cruciatus*

      As long as you didn’t get it from hurting anyone, I don’t think you should feel guilty! I just inherited a lot of money. But I’m acting like it doesn’t exist, but it’s really nice to know it’s there if I need it. My dad actually doesn’t want me to talk about it with anyone, though he did declare my mom was OK to talk to about it–hilarious! I do sometimes feel weird when student loans come up because I don’t have any since my parents could afford to pay for school (they aren’t rich, just savers and older than most parents of people my age). I’ve never had to struggle with money in any way which sounds nice BUT on the flip side, I’m now 35 and anxious about actually using the money I’ve saved (and now this inheritance) and I’ve only started having a credit line in the last 6 years (and it’s just a credit card–no car loans, not even cell phone payments). I’ve been putting off doing mortgage applications for a long while now. I have great credit, but not a lot of it and my actual salary is low and I’m worried about what will be offered to me by banks (though, if I used this inheritance, I could buy a few houses in the area within the price range I’m looking at!). But I don’t want to actually do that. Sigh. So while I don’t feel guilty really, I do feel weird about money and think it might have been good for me to struggle a little bit more than I have. My parents would have always been there if needed. But I guess this is what I’m looking to change now. But some of my friends will comment on not having 2 pennies to rub together at the end of the month and they have no real savings and I’m looking at ways to max out my employer 403b or Roth IRA or whatever (which I can currently do because I still live at home). While I can empathize with my friends and their money problems (which I would also have…if I didn’t have my parents), I don’t really relate to the struggle and actually feel like I don’t understand money well enough in an everyday sense. And now with this inheritance I have this huge net if something ever comes up. I can make some mistakes or have life events happen and be OK while my friends can’t. Hmm, maybe that is guilt after all? It’s nice to have this net, but I need to learn to stop being anxious about money and learn how to use my actual salary in an everyday kind of way. I hope this made sense!

      1. Pokebunny*

        I’m very similar to you! I never had credit because I never needed to borrow anything, and I just put down cash for everything. My family received a sizable inheritance and recently received a huge settlement for unlawful dismissal (19 years after the incident), my parents worked very hard all their lives and are good with money.

        None of it is me. I just tagged along their wealth, and they dote on me and my sibling. My sibling is more independent and financially stable. I’m still a little shaky, but my parents have said that whatever I need, I can just ask them until I am on my feet. I bought a cute little 12-year-old car and paid full cash. They encourage me to have corrective surgery done (half medically necessary, half cosmetic). They said I should get braces so I don’t have crooked teeth. They didn’t mind at all when I said I would like to live in a nice spacious rental alone, and not have to deal with roommates or crime-ridden neighborhoods.

        All luxuries. Now my employer is paying me full tuition to go to grad school, and is paying for my 2BR, where I live alone. I look at frugal people and young people saving up for their first cars, and I feel like a horrible human being.

        1. Elkay*

          You said in your first post it’s not because you’re a career superstar but you’re clearly of value to your employer to the point where they will pay for you to go to grad school and cover your rent, that’s earned.

        2. Cruciatus*

          Heh, I have the same financially stable sibling–a doctor. I’m an administrative assistant who doesn’t know what she wants to be. It’s OK that we’ve had our parents there to help us. I’ve tried to not squander it. So when I was in college I got good grades and wasn’t going all wild and crazy knowing it was on my parents’ dime. Same with being able to save money by living at home for now. I’m putting what I make into various accounts for retirement. I’m doing what I can now so if things slow down for me in the future, at least I’ll have started and have some money going.

          You’re not a horrible human being! So with your employer paying for school–that is amazing! As Elkay said, they obviously do find you deserving of this. So if it’s something you want and something that will help for the future–do it! You’re still responsible for your actions even though they are paying. Maybe there will be ways to pay it forward if you’re feeling off about it. You’re taking opportunity of something being offered to you. You didn’t harm anyone to get this. You’re not getting it at someone else’s expense. There will always be people who struggle more than you. There will always be people doing better than you. I don’t know if that actually helps to think about that but you can just take the opportunities that come your way and do the best you can with them. Maybe one day you’ll be in a position to offer opportunities to other people.

    8. Elkay*

      I have problems acknowledging that I can spend money. Growing up we had lived in a “nice” area (standard family home) but no spare cash and my parents worked two jobs/unpleasant jobs to keep the house. Now my other half and I live in a house we can afford (and over-pay the mortgage), we don’t have kids and don’t plan to, we put money in savings every month. However, in the past we’ve both been made redundant (at different times) which means I’m always worried and feel guilty about spending money on holidays, eating out, video games because I feel I should be saving constantly.

      There’s a small irony in the fact that my dad spent years drilling into my brother and I that you do not get overdrawn, you can’t afford it, you can’t buy it. Now he calls me tight for worrying about spending money. I wish my other half’s parents had drilled that same mentality in to them as I was seriously pissed off when they frittered away a decent chunk of money, then ran up credit card bills again.

      1. Elkay*

        That’s not really a helpful response to someone who’s already struggling with guilt about something.

          1. Observer*

            I’m sure you don’t. Which I do understand, coming from a background where money was tight. But, that’s not a good reason to blow people off. It’s true that in a way it’s a first world problem. But, it’s a real problem and it can really create issues for people.

          2. Pokebunny*

            An explanation I can come up with is if a good-looking, attractive person complains about being good looking. She feels “empty” because everything about her is her looks — she’s an object to be admired first, a person second. People judge her from her looks entirely and make up entire persona assumptions about her without ever talking to her. It is a problem to have your entire worth as a human being distilled to one part of you that isn’t even your “fault”.

            But, people who aren’t blessed with those good looks don’t understand why she’s upset about being attractive. “She gets an advantage in anything!” they say. “People want to be her friend!” they say. “People go out of their way to do nice things for her!” they say. But they don’t hear about the unwanted and sometimes threatening advances, the spiteful others who go out of their way to bring her down just because they feel good about “putting her in her place”, etc.

            So yeah, me complaining about wealth guilt, someone who has been poor would likely not understand. I didn’t write that in a “I’m complaining about too much salt in my food” way. I wrote that more like the attractive person is thinking about scarring herself just to make those problems go away.

            It may seem trivial to you, but it’s very real to me.

      2. Hot-n-tired*

        Or you could interpret it as “aw, don’t feel guilty since this is one of the few ‘problems’ people wish they had.” There is such a thing as too pretty, too famous, too rich…and it can cause people stress and anxiety, as seen above. That’s why there is a smiley tongue face at the end…it’s like an Internet arm squeeze of understanding.

        Jesus, this is one of the few sites where 99.8% of people talk civilly and openly and are always helpful. Why slap someone on the wrist?