weekend free-for-all – July 30-31, 2016

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

Book recommendation of the week: I’m a Stranger Here Myself, by Bill Bryson, the master of travel writing writing about coming home — what it’s like to return to America after 20 years away. You will repeatedly cackle.

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

{ 719 comments… read them below }

  1. LawCat*

    We have a ton of 4 oz little jars from our failed mustard making efforts. I doubt we’ll be doing that again and will just stick with our tried and true pickled green beans, which need larger jars. Any ideas on what to so with all these little jars? I’d like to do something decorative with them.

    1. A Non*

      They’re good for storing craft supplies, especially colorful beads or ribbon or thread. (Just please don’t make a light fixture out of them.)

    2. LawCat*

      One idea I had was to fill some with pebbles and put in a tiny air plant. (I have 18 jars to work with here though and definitely do not need 18 tiny air plants).

    3. Leatherwings*

      Maybe make some homemade lotion or lip glosses (depending on the size of the jar) and give them as gifts?

    4. Trixie*

      I love small jars with sand and tea light candles. Or make holiday gifts with cocoa mix.

    5. EmmaLou*

      Do you have a workbench/garage? They are kind of brilliant for storing nuts, bolts, screws, buttons. Nail the lid to the underside of a shelf and the just screw them in. Then you can see what’s in them and they are still out of the way.

      You can also use them for silly gifts. Glue a lid to the bottom of another jar. Fill jars with sprinkles, jimmies, etc. for a themed sugar cookie or ice cream topping gift. Or with candies for a sweet-tooth gift. Marshmallows, cinnamon sticks, chocolate jimmies for a hot chocolate theme. I’d probably not go more than four or five high. You’ll need a strong glue for sticking to glass like hot glue.

      1. Anna the Accounting Grad*

        Back when we lived in a three-storey Victorian house, my dad used old baby food jars to sort/store various nails and screws.

    6. GreenTeaPot*

      Make snow globes with kids. Great Christmas craft project! You can find how-to’s online.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I use small jars to store seeds, home grown herbs or herbs and spices that I buy in the bulk bins.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have seen a cake baked in a jar. Not the layers of ingredients to be poured out and mixed with egg/milk/other binding agents, but the cake ready to be eaten. Mind you, it can be fiddly to extract from the jar!

    8. Garland Not Andrews*

      At least in the northern hemisphere, it is the season of ripe fruit and berries. The 4 oz jars are perfect for jams, fruit butters, jellies. Good for gift giving size, or just easy to use up.

  2. Teacher Nerd*

    I heart Bill Bryson. My husband and I are considering going to Australia next year, and I read with interest _In a Sunburned Country_. I’ve read many of Bryson’s works, and they all make me giggle.

    1. Confused Publisher*

      I loved Notes from a Small Island and also gulped down Little Dribbling, which follows on from it after a couple of decades. I also found a way of working a reference to his book At Home in my PhD thesis because I loved it so much! :)
      I’m currently cackling my way through Mother Tongue.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I was delighted to find Little Dribbling while visiting the UK recently – I hadn’t realized he had a new book out. It made good train station reading.

        I find he’s a bit over enthusiastic with “no-where else” or “the only” type statements, which is sometimes jarring in Mother Tongue, but otherwise his stuff is well written, and mixes the factual and personal well.

    2. Marzipan*

      I remember reading ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ on a train, and laughing like a drain at regular intervals until the little old ladies sat opposite wanted to know why, so then I was reading bits of it out loud to them as well…

      1. A Non*

        I’m listening to that now! I especially enjoy the author’s focus on times when people have inappropriately gotten credit for scientific discoveries, up to and including Nobel prizes. It will make you a bit paranoid about the astonishingly diverse and sudden ways the world could end, though.

    3. Yetanotherjennifer*

      He writes a great turn of phrase. There is a passage in The Thunderbolt Kid that never fails to make me laugh. And A Short History About Nearly Everything is permanently on my night stand. I read non fiction at night and this book is geeky enough to hold my interest but general enough for light reading.

    4. periwinkle*

      I’ve enjoyed all of Bryson’s books but have a particular devotion to “At Home: A Short History of Private Life.” It’s amazing how well he’s able to dig up the dirt on minor historical figures (or how well he can find those who can do it).

      “Sunburned” was a lot of fun and kept me swinging wildly between “I must visit Australia’ and “oh hell no.”

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        I just bought At Home at a secondhand book store, I can’t wait to start it! *eyes the huge stack of books on my nightstand*

    5. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Yes, I love Bill Bryson! A Walk in the Woods is one of my very favorite books.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I am a fan of Bill Bryson too. His book on small town America (The Lost Continent?) was an interesting read since I only see these places in films and television, so I have no idea whether it’s accurate.

        2. Tau*

          The thing that bugged me about the Mother Tongue when I read it was that, well. It was entertainingly written, chock-full of interesting facts, and… flagrantly inaccurate.

          Like, I’m not a professional linguist, I’m a hobbyist with precisely one year’s worth of linguistics undergrad who is fluent in two languages and knows the absolute basics of a few more… and I’d be finding multiple blatant errors in a single paragraph. I think more of the things he said about German (my native language) weren’t true than were. (My favourite was when he explained that English was better for forming compound nouns than German, with the reasoning being that English could distinguish between “houseboat” and “boathouse” and German couldn’t. Uh… leaving aside the fact that the idea that English is better at compounding nouns than German should make anyone who knows both languages burst out laughing? Hausboot… Bootshaus. May have wanted to check a dictionary there, Bryson.)

          So although I can see why people like Mother Tongue, unless it’s been significantly rewritten since I read it I don’t think I can get behind recommending it to anyone.

          1. Ismis*

            Thanks for saying this! I really went off him after Mother Tongue. It was very frustrating because I had loved all his books beforehand, but I just couldn’t enjoy them anymore :(

  3. Oryx*

    Hello from the hospital! Some of you may remember I broke my fibula down by the ankle back in May. It’s been healing, very slowly, and I’ve been in the boot for the past two 1/2 weeks. I ended up with a blood clot this week in the leg, a really extensive one that probably was kicked in by the road trip I took last weekend. I’ve been here since Thursday, had a small non-invasive surgery that day and as of today there is just a small bit left they are letting thinners take care of via IV and I’ll hopefully switch to oral medication tomorrow. Gonna be here a few days blah but feeling much better!

    1. Caledonia*

      oh no! I hope you get released back into the wild soon and all the best for your recovery!

    2. StillHealing*

      Oryx, what were the symptoms? How did you know you had a blood clot?

      I’m so glad to hear they caught it and you are in recovery! Hope you feel well and heal well, soon!

      1. Oryx*

        It was very swollen, stiff and purple/bluish. I had a very extensive one. Discomfort started around 7:30 pm Wed I noticed swelling when I took the boot off at 10 pm. Apparently I have a high tolerance for pain cause it didn’t really hurt that much. I even went to work Thurs morn but left for urgent care half an hour later and they sent me to hospital.

    3. fposte*

      Yikes! That’s nothing anybody plans for. I’m glad it sounds like interventions were pretty low impact, aside from the hospitalization itself, and hope you’ll be home soon.

      You could do a parallel blog to Alison’s foot one called Oh, Lord, My Leg.

    4. Sydney*

      oh man! Hope you feel better soon. I’ve been there done that with the blood clots and it’s not fun. :(

  4. Stephanie*

    Good shoes with a low heel? I strained my Achilles. It’s getting better, but I find it’s tough to wear completely flat shoes. I find sneakers are pretty good, but I can’t wear sneakers with everything (or I’d rather not…). I liked the Cole Haan wedges I had at one point, so anything suggestions similar to that (or some good wedges) would be great!

    1. LawCat*

      I almost only wear flats or low heels and really like LifeStride shoes for low heels.

    2. AnotherAnon*

      Merrell Dassies are the most comfortable shoes I own (i.e. standing up for hours or walking 15,000+ steps in a day, and my feet aren’t hurting).

    3. AnotherAlison*

      You can also buy heel lifts/insoles for relieving Achilles tendonitis. I haven’t tried them, but I have battled this before. If you aren’t already doing PT, doing eccentric heel drops was the most helpful long-term. Kinesio taping also provided relief.

      1. fposte*

        Eccentric loading is the weirdest thing to me, but it’s been hugely helpful in several different tendon situations for me. (Including probable plantar fasciitis, so I’ve been doing the heel drops too.)

    4. Mcsquiggle mcmurty*

      Go to the barking dogs website. They review all kinds of (attractive) orthopedic shoes and you can search by ailment. Also the footsmart catalog website is good for inserts, socks, bands , and shoes too.

    5. louise*

      I love my hush puppies flats called burlesque. The heel is lifted slightly and they come in a variety of widths.

    6. Rebecca in Dallas*

      The Cole Haan Thalia wedge is my favorite shoe, I have it in a few colors. Look at Bandolino brand, too, I have a few pairs of shoes from them, no wedges that I can think of offhand but everything I’ve bought from that brand is very comfortable. DSW carries them.

    7. Feo Takahari*

      Shoe salesman here. The three brands we most frequently recommend for foot pain are Dansko (firmest), Softwalk (softest), and Klog (in the middle.) Vionic is also good for a variety of foot issues. (We recommend Hoka for people whose feet are really messed up, but that’s probably overkill in this case.)

    8. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      How dressy do you want them, and what’s the budget? There are some Paul Green Julia d’Orsay very low heel pumps in the Nordstrom anniversary sale, and I can attest that they are very, very comfortable at least when I tried them on. It’s not quite a kitten heel, it’s more stable. I have some higher PG heels and they are spectacularly comfortable. Expensive, but they are classic and wear exceedingly well.

    9. AdAgencyChick*

      They are a splurge, but I have a couple of pairs of LK Bennett shoes (one pair of flats, one kitten heel) and I loooooove them. They’re simple styles but with beautiful materials, and so well made that I’m sure they will last for years even though I put my shoes through a lot (NYC sidewalks, and I just wore the flats to a wedding that required a lot of walking on gravelly paths and they held up beautifully!).

      I also really like my Sofft slides. I will wear them until they fall off my feet. So comfortable and yet stylish.

    10. zora.dee*

      I like booties with a bit of a heel, but I feel like they are more sturdy to walk on than regular high heels. I have borns and Clarks that I like and are really comfortable.

  5. Aurora Leigh*

    Mom issues!

    First off, I believe my mom is a fundmentally good person and I do love her and I know that so many people have much more difficult parents to deal with.

    But . . .

    She has control issues. I have managed to make a fairly independent life for myself over the past year or so, and while she doesn’t like it, she’s been fairly respectful. For the past 6 months or so I have been discussing having preteen sibling come spend the weekend with me (3 hour drive). With summer break winding down, I’ve been trying to get that weekend nailed down. She’s put me off and put me off only to say “I don’t think it’s a good idea” and refusing to discuss it farther.

    After almost a week of silence in her part (unusual for my mom) she’s now ready to pretend it never happened.

    I’m not. On the one hand, I could just go along with it and make her happy and ensure I retain the relationship. But on the other, I’m hurt and angry and would appreciate at least a discussion of why sibling is not allowed to stay with me for a weekend.

    I guess this is mostly a vent, but any thoughts appreciated.

    1. Temperance*

      Oooh I can relate to this. I’m proud of you for separating from her, to start. That’s really hard to do.

      Your mother is using silence as a punishment, when, honestly … I bet it felt great to have a break from her. What I would do is ask her, specifically, why she is not allowing this, and why she didn’t talk to you for that week.

      Is your dad still in the picture? Can he intervene?

    2. neverjaunty*

      Is that something you can say to your mom? “If you’re not comfortable with Sibling coming to stay with me, or if there’s some reason it would have been a problem to make it happen, I respect that. But it’s important to me that we talk about that, so I can understand and appreciate your reasons. When you won’t talk to me about it and then avoid me, I feel it creates distance between us.” Then listen. Maybe it’s that there’s some reason mom doesn’t want to admit (like the drive being difficult or scary for her)? Maybe Sibling didn’t want to go because she’d rather have spent the entire weekend watching videos and Mom doesn’t want to tell you that? Maybe Mom’s just pissed off because it was your idea?

      But if you signal that you’re not questioning her decision, just trying to understand it, and giving her space to talk, maybe she will. If she doesn’t, that will at least be useful information for you going forward.

    3. Mando Diao*

      She isn’t controlling you in this instance. This is about controlling your sibling, who is a minor and is still legally under the care and control of your mother. Your mom doesn’t have to let her child stay with anyone over a weekend. If you approach your mom, don’t make it about you. Can you talk to your sib about it?

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      Eh, I would drop it if I were you. My mom is similar. I’ve been on my own for a year and she doesn’t approve of some of the choices I’ve made, but that is HER problem. You might want to start distancing yourself from her, though keep in touch with your sibling of course.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        This is the route I ended up taking, just letting it go for now, but putting in the back of my mind as a strike one kind of thing.

    5. Observer*

      This is not about you, but about your sibling. Your mother doesn’t owe you any explanations about the decisions she makes about them. If you could approach the discussion with that understanding, it might work out. But, otherwise, you really risk doing a lot of damage to the relationship over an issue that is not really yours to push.

      Think about it – it’s easy to read it as “You’re not entitled to input or discussion of my decisions, but I am entitled to input and discussions of your decisions.” I realize that that’s not what it’s about for you. That’s still the reality.

    6. Raine*

      My mother does this — pretends a major issue or disagreement is resolved whatever way she wants it and then just never happened and isn’t up for discussion forever after. It’s so extreme it goes to knowing, for example, that I spent years of my life working in the feminist movement but she’ll go on a partisan rant (she’s Tea Party) and act as though of course everyone she is speaking to agrees with her, right? (I’ve actually said, “It’s almost like you don’t remember I devoted years of my life to feminist activism” — to which she replied with silence.)

      My only advice is, I didn’t address this years ago when I first became independent, I don’t know if it would have made a difference. She’s beyond controlling — I went into the hospital several years ago and when she came up to visit took the opportunity to throw out literally everything of mine that made me me (my artwork, my writing, my choices in decor even, she turned my apartment into a Pier 1 Imports staged studio). A lot of people think that was nice of her; I’ve still not recovered fully. In many ways I wish I had excised her from my life altogether.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Wait, she THREW OUT ALL YOUR STUFF AND REDECORATED YOUR HOME???
        Holy Hanukah balls! For me, that would be an instant amputation.

        I get that “Oh but she’s trying to be nice” thing. Sometimes I get presents that were obviously not chosen with me in mind, and people are all, “Oh but she got you a present!” Or offers that clearly have strings attached. No, it’s not nice if you didn’t ask for it, can’t use it, and especially if someone GOT RID OF ALL YOUR STUFF and violated your personal space.

        Holy wow.

        1. Artemesia*

          This is monstrous. I can’t believe anyone would think it ‘nice’. Buying you ugly decor is ‘nice’ maybe; rearranging your home is not nice. And throwing out anything that belongs to you is monstrous. Grounds for immediate permanent cut off. This is someone who does not have your best interests at heart. No one could possibly think this is ‘nice’.

      2. EmmaLou*

        Did she try to pass it off as one of those “Surprise! We’ve made over your home!” shows?! I

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Done here.
        This is so far over the line, and such a violation, I can’t even find words.

        I am sorry this happened to you.

  6. Vancouver Reader*

    To whoever suggested Not Always Right, I’m not sure whether to thank you or curse you. I’ve been binge reading it for the last week as it totally appeals to my goldfish like attention span.

    1. Lissa*

      I love/hate that site. The stories are so good, but my brain always kicks into overdrive analysing which are probably true, and I mean, really, on a public submissions site like that there’s no way to verify, but for some reason I just can’t. let. it. go….But do I keep reading it? I sure do!

      1. Bruce H.*

        The ones that describe people being held prisoner in a chamber below the floor drain in a fast food restaurant kitchen are probably not true.

        1. SophieChotek*

          Wow…haven’t read that one yet.
          Some of them do seem fake…
          But I’ve worked in retail long enough to know some of the ones where one wonders if people can be that rude or clueless…yeah….they can be!

          1. Three Thousand*

            I’m obsessed with figuring out which ones are fake. I’m suspicious of anything where someone gives a long, articulate speech during a conflict or when bystanders burst into spontaneous applause. Sometimes when another customer or a manager heroically intervenes and puts the bad customer perfectly in their place.

    2. Fafaflunkie*

      I concur. I can spend many hours on that site (and even worse now they’ve added a comment section for each post.)

      I guess I shouldn’t talk about the TalesFrom subreddits… If your really want to see a few minutes become a few hours, then go there.

  7. blackcat*

    Advice wanted: I am just not that excited about the woman one of my good friends is marrying, but I want to be supportive/be there to celebrate… without really dealing with her or her friends. Is there any way to do that? I think not, and that I have to learn to deal with her to see my friend regularly.

    Background: there’s nothing the matter with her–she’s just VERY different from me. Super girly, super high needs, super short attention span. Before my friend and her started dating, my husband and I would frequently have him over for board games/general mellow hanging out. There is no mellow hanging out with her involved. She’s perfectly nice… just extremely intense. And when my husband and I hang out with the two of them, she defaults to trying to get me involved in a separate conversation while my husband and my friend talk. When I suggested just a me and him lunch to catch up (he and I are older/closer friends than him and my husband, and I figured my husband and I together can’t invite *just him* without being super rude), my friend told me that he and his now fiancee have decided not to do one on one get togethers with friends of the opposite sex anymore. That weirds me out, and it makes me sad to feel like I’m being axed as a close friend because of my gender.

    So, advice on dealing with this? Do I basically have to accept losing what had been a good, close friendship? We’re not like old-besties, but we’ve got 6 years of pretty close friendship. I’m 100% not going to tell him that I can’t stand his soon t0 be wife, but I’d like to stay his friend somehow…

    1. the gold digger*

      not to do one on one get togethers with friends of the opposite sex

      Well that’s — strict. And untrusting. And – just weird to me. But then, my husband goes out to bars without me and I don’t care because 1. I hate bars and 2. I hate crowds and 3. I hate to stay up late. If someone is going to cheat, he’s going to cheat. Regardless. You trust or you do not trust.

      1. esra (also a Canadian)*

        Yea, that part is real weird. Hopefully that settles down over time. In the meanwhile, there isn’t really much an outsider can do about.

      2. Blue Anne*

        Yes, that would be a huge, disturbing problem to me. If one of my friends said that to me, I would probably be having a “If you’re being controlled or hurt, you know you can come to me, right” conversation with him.

        But I’m poly. So I know my standards are different. Still, I mean… that doesn’t seem healthy for a monogamous relationship either.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Really? I’m genuinely surprised you would immediately jump to control issues here. A couple has to do what works for them. Blackcat doesn’t necessarily know what’s going on behind the scenes. He might have had an inappropriate emotional relationship with another female friend, and a line was drawn.

          1. Blue Anne*

            I would. Absolutely. But, as I said, I’m poly – I’m aware that my standards of “controlling” are different.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              You know, I’ve never thought of it that way before, but I can see your point and I have to say that I agree. I am not a poly person but recently I have been doing some thinking on what constitutes consent and I can see how in the world at large, we don’t have those conversations in real ways, that a lot is just assumed.

              We’ve all had someone in our lives who married or lived with someone who we just felt “wrong” about. How to reconcile the fact that our friend or loved one is an adult and makes their own choices but you still want to be supportive of them? How many people find themselves in a bad relationship with no idea (or ability) how to get themselves out of it? If isolation is one of the tactics that abusers use, and people are often unwilling to admit they have made a mistake, I think that wording is a great way of saying “I’m not going to say ‘I told you so’ or make you feel bad for your choices, I just want you to be safe and you can be safe here.”

                1. neverjaunty*

                  She’s not ‘a bit weird’; she’s just a different person than the OC and they have personalities that don’t mesh. We don’t know that he loses anything, either; perhaps he’s much happier with his new wife than with his old friend.

      3. Kate*

        I actually don’t think that rule is crazy, IF both parties are truly comfortable with it. It’s not a rule that we have in our relationship, although we actually don’t hang out 1 on 1 with members of the opposite sex except in rare occasions because neither of us have super close friends of the opposite sex. I’ve heard of this rule though, and the reasoning behind it was to protect your relationship and not put yourself in a situation that could threaten your relationship. The think was that even if you never intend to cheat, if you start regularly spending 1 on 1 time with a member of the opposite sex, particularly one you find attractive, it’s possible for feelings to develop. And that, in and of itself, puts your fidelity and relationship at risk. I actually don’t think that line of reasoning is crazy, and I think that many people that think they would never cheat might cheat in the “right” circumstances.
        Anyway, that doesn’t help you much. I think you have to make an effort to find some common ground with his future wife if you want to retain the friendship.

        1. TL -*

          I disagree. People can be friends without sexual or romantic tension and as someone with a lot of friends of the opposite sex, I would really love it if people stopped with the assumption that you’re only friends with someone of the opposite sex because there’s “something there.” It doesn’t create opportunity anyways – if someone finds themselves attracted to someone they shouldn’t be, most adults have experience removing themselves from those situations.

        2. Willow*

          There’s also a problematic assumption that a relationship could only develop with someone of the opposite sex. I’m bisexual; if I followed this logic I couldn’t have any friends at all.

          1. Lissa*

            I don’t think it’s necessarily a controlling or terrible thing if both people are truly on board with it, but it would be really odd in my social circle which is largely LGBT, because then there’d be a lot of “well, ok so is it that you can’t hang out with anyone you could be attracted to, or who could be attracted to you?” rules lawyering and confusion, like is it OK for a straight guy to hang out with a lesbian couple, etc. What if one is bi? What happens if one of your friends transitions gender? Would you suddenly not be allowed to hang out with them anymore? But, *in my experience*, I have only seen this rule come up with more traditional couples who tend to already sort of have “guys hang out with guys, girls with girls” social circles where the assumption is everybody is straight.

          2. neverjaunty*

            It’s also extremely awkward when you’re the new person joining the group. “Oh, it’s OK for me to hang out with you because you’re a woman” – uh, is this the point at which I’m supposed to announce my sexual orientation so you can drop your latte and flee?

            And if the argument is “yes, but I’m straight and therefore would never cheat with a woman”, then… what you’re really saying is, yes, you MIGHT cheat with a man.

        3. matcha123*

          I don’t think you can stop feelings for another person from developing. If the married person decides to cheat, that’s something the married person will have to deal with.
          What if “the right circumstances” are standing in line at the grocery store? And it just happens that two strangers decide to do something before heading home?
          You never know.

          I kind of don’t like feeling like I’m some kind of delicious cupcake that’s following a dieter around..popping out at them begging them to eat me…

    2. alex*

      Obviously it’s between them, but this– “he and his now fiancee have decided not to do one on one get togethers with friends of the opposite sex anymore”– is completely bizarre to me. What kind of healthy partnership is this rule setting up?!

      I think, if I were you, I’d honestly prepare myself to mourn the friendship. It seems that he’s entering into an arrangement that won’t accommodate you. OR there’s something he’s not telling you (possibilities abound).

      So, I’ve got nothing but empathetic internet support to offer. Sorry you’re going through this.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        I think, if I were you, I’d honestly prepare myself to mourn the friendship. It seems that he’s entering into an arrangement that won’t accommodate you.

        This. He’s made his choice and you have to accept it even if you think it’s absurd.

    3. LawCat*

      Does he still want to be close friends? Because it doesn’t sound like it. I’d just let the friendship fade naturally. Okay to feel sad, but also okay to work on other relationships with friends that will keep you included in conversations and not refuse to hang out with you because of your gender. (That’s just really bizarre and upsetting. That’s no way for a close friend to behave.)

      1. JaneB*

        My very best friend from college quit our friendship because he and his wife to be agreed no friends if the opposite sex – & I never even met his fiancée because I lived in another city when they met. I was just told that it wasn’t ok to meet up for lunch when I was next in his city, then he ignored my calls and a Christmas and birthday card, then moved & didn’t send me his new address or phone number (this is 15 years ago, tech changes). I hear from mutual friends that he’s thriving, but hes never speak Jen to me since and I still incredibly hurt about it all.

        And concerned that his wife thought me a threat – he was my FRIEND, and I’m a blue stocking awkward nerd with serious weight issues and no meaningful relationship history, hardly a femme fatale or any kind of threat. But I guess I thought more of our friendship than he ever did, stupid me.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Misjudging a friend 15 years ago doesn’t make you stupid. It means that 15 years ago, you didn’t have enough information to know that he was actually kind of a jerk. You never even met his fiancee; awfully convenient, isn’t it, that he put it all on her when you had no way of ever finding out how she really felt?

    4. Temperance*

      How long has he been with this woman for?

      FWIW, we have a fairly similar rule in my relationship, too, with some limited exceptions. It’s because of a snake that was formerly in my friend group who tried to isolate men with partners by going out for drinks/lunch/etc. one-on-one, and then trying to start affairs. (Seriously. She apparently got off on destroying relationships and “besting” other women. She’s a slimeball. ) It works for us, but we also a.) don’t broadcast this and b.) talk it out.

      1. esra (also a Canadian)*

        I’m genuinely curious: This seems so restrictive to me. If I stopped hanging out with guy friends, I would instantly lose half my social circle. I feel like no matter how hard someone is throwing themselves at you, if you’re committed, you’re committed. It won’t matter. So why ban friendships?

        1. Temperance*

          It’s more geared towards “new” friendships than existing ones. It’s not as restrictive as you think? It’s not limiting existing friendships, but preventing inappropriate ones from forming. My husband has a few close female friends, and even sometimes goes out with my friends without me.

          I actually believe that infidelity is largely about opportunity, not so much commitment. After watching my former friend in action, I was impressed by how cunning she was. She somehow convinced all the men in our friend group that she was an innocent nerd who didn’t “realize” that she was being hit on/interfering in relationships, up to the point where she took off all her clothes and jumped in someone’s bed. (Seriously.) The women in my group saw through the act, FWIW, and how she’d only hang out when men were around.

            1. Temperance*

              Oh, I don’t disagree, but even the ones who she was not actively pursuing bought into the act. It was ridiculous.

              1. TL -*

                But it still wasn’t her who caused the problem. It was the men’s reaction. I’ve been around people who behave inappropriately and it’s amazing how much trouble they don’t cause when you choose not to be around them.

                1. Temperance*

                  I think both were problematic, honestly. Like, she shouldn’t have acted that way, and her behavior was a problem, as was the reaction of my male friends. That’s why we’re so conservative about this particular issue.

                2. TL -*

                  Her behavior is only a problem if other people choose to be around her. The men could have easily chosen not to.

                3. neverjaunty*

                  Of course her behavior was inappropriate, but it wouldn’t have been a problem except for the dudes enjoying it and gaslighting the other women about how they “didn’t realize” what she was doing.

                4. Apollo Warbucks*

                  Her behaviour is a problem regardless of any response to it, she is deliberately trying to interfere with other people’s relationships that’s really crappy.

                  The guys involved should shut it down and if they go along with it then that’s there fault but if she was a decent human being she wouldnt be playing silly games the whole thing would be a non issue.

                  Also Temperance was pretty clear that both sides were part of the problem so I’m surprised that people are so quick put the blame on the guys.

                5. neverjaunty*

                  @Apollo Warbucks: Expecting the guys to be responsible for their own behavior is “putting blame” on them? How so?

                  It really is possible to both criticize the woman who was trying to break up relationships, and to side-eye the guys in those relationships who made out like they had no! idea! pinkie-swear! what she was doing or that the other women’s views of her had any validity.

                6. Apollo Warbucks*

                  Temperance said “I think both were problematic, honestly. Like, she shouldn’t have acted that way, and her behavior was a problem, as was the reaction of my male friends.”

                  Comments like:

                  “But it still wasn’t her who caused the problem. It was the men’s reaction.”

                  “Her behavior is only a problem if other people choose to be around her.”

                  “Of course her behavior was inappropriate, but it wouldn’t have been a problem except for the dudes enjoying”

                  Put more focus on the guys reaction, and seem to ignore the really bad behaviour of the woman who is obviously acting with malicious intent.
                  I’m sure some of the guys could handle the situation better but it seems to me she’s a bigger part of the problem.

            2. bluesboy*

              Not necessarily. Sometimes it can be hard for us to work out who’s trying it on and who isn’t. How many women do you see writing into this or similar sites saying “I was just trying to be friendly and now he thinks I want a relationship – what do I do?” The man thought there was interest and got it wrong, but that can happen the other way too.

              A lot of men are absolutely useless at working out if women are interested in us or not! And I include myself in that. I’m not saying you’re wrong in this case – you may well be right! Just never underestimate a man’s ability to completely misread a situation!

              1. neverjaunty*

                Please. People – both men and women – can misread situations. But we’re not talking about an individual guy missing clues. We’re talking about a large group of people where someone was blatantly engaging in bad behavior.

          1. esra (also a Canadian)*

            Huh. For me personally, that just feels kind of lonely? I mean, an inappropriate relationship is inappropriate whether it’s with someone new or someone you’ve known for ten years. If infidelity is just opportunity in your eyes, where does trust come into it?

            I guess what I’m getting at is if you are worried your partner will cheat given the opportunity, and that opportunity is something as little as having coffee with a member of the opposite sex, isn’t the real issue the huge lack of trust?

            1. Temperance*

              How is it lonely? I’m genuinely asking, because we don’t see it that way.

              I don’t think it’s a “huge lack of trust”, and, to be clear, this is *not* me being some kind of jealous woman, which is what I think you might be insinuating? It’s more that we can’t see any reason to go out and have coffee with a member of the opposite sex that we’ve just met, in an effort to get to know that person better, one-on-one. I don’t see that as crazy, distrustful, or super weird?

              1. esra (also a Canadian)*

                There’s a lot to unpack here, so I’ll try to break it down:

                1. Your friend circle.
                Are you really only friends with straight women? Do you have existing/old friends of the opposite sex you can hang out with? Personally, I have friends of both genders, gay, bi, straight, asexual. It means I know a lot of people with different viewpoints, and am continually exposed to different perspectives and ideas about the world. I love this! It means I’m always learning and I think it’s healthier if people aren’t too insulated. Are you really happy never making a new friend? This is where I think it gets lonely.

                2. Totally not insinuating you are a jealous woman.
                With what you’re saying here, neither of you are able to make new friends of the opposite sex. I mean, according to what you’ve said, either of you would cheat given the opportunity, so you need to eliminate those opportunies?

                2a. How can you really ever eliminate opportunities to cheat?
                Like, really.

                3.Huge lack of trust.
                I’ve never had an issue with partners meeting up with friends or making new friends, because if I didn’t trust them enough to do that, then my lack of trust is the issue, not them making new friends.

                1. Temperance*

                  1. I only have a handful of friends who are straight women or straight men who aren’t really mutual friends, or whose spouses/partners we don’t know. We’ve been together 10+ years at this point, since college, and we relocated to this area together a few years ago.

                  It’s not about not making new friends or meeting new people, although honestly, we just don’t have a ton of *time* for that with our jobs and trying to work on our house etc.

                  2. I’m not sure that you understand where we’re coming from with this one. No, we are not inclined to cheat on each other. It has not happened yet, and we both cut people who acted inappropriately out of our lives. We’ve just seen too many people develop inappropriate friendships that become something more, or those who neglect a relationship to build a friendship.

                  3. See above. We’re committed to making this work, and we don’t see it the same way you do.

                2. esra (also a Canadian)*

                  Well, different strokes. It works for you, so it works for you. What I’m getting at is if you aren’t inclined to cheat, then a coffee is not going to make you cheat. Nothing will make you cheat.

                  In the case of op here, I think it’s a situation out of her control and whether or not you agree with the no opposite sex friends thing, it doesn’t matter.

          2. Christopher Tracy*

            I actually believe that infidelity is largely about opportunity, not so much commitment.

            It’s about both. I will never believe that someone in a monogamous relationship will just drop trou and screw someone else just because they’re there if they have a partner they’re fully committed to. I’ve known many cheaters, and every last one of them who did it did it because they just weren’t that into the woman they were with anymore.

            1. Myrin*

              This. I’m also quite astounded by some people’s insinuation that cheating is something that “can just happen”. Because no, it isn’t. When a partner cheats, it’s because they made a decision to cheat, not because there were magical conversations of seduction that left them utterly helpless or something.

        2. Teacher*

          For my husband and I, it’s not about banning friendships. We are both free to be friends with whoever we want to be friends with, however, we do not do one on ones with the opposite sex. Group hangouts are fine, obviously. We find it just unnecessary for one on ones and it opens the door for inappropriate relationships to begin. It only takes a few small conversations to form a bond that shouldn’t be there. Also, you never know what’s going on in their relationship. It’s quite likely that one or the other needs those boundaries to keep them as a couple healthy!

          1. Temperance*

            This is actually how we handle things, too (although we have some one-on-ones with old friends). That’s exactly how we see things.

      2. Mando Diao*

        I see where you’re coming from here and I don’t disagree with you. When married people continue to socialize as they always have, somehow the woman always ends up home with the kids while the man retains his freedom to go to the local bar with his old group of friends. I would eventually grow incredibly resentful of my husband if I stayed home with a newborn so he could grab a drink with Jane, and probably/possibly pay for hers. No other woman gets to enjoy my partner in anything approaching date-mode when I’m at home doing his laundry.

        The reality is that real-life instances of infidelity do not line up with our rosy-eyed ideals about how people of different genders ~should interact with each other. If a woman in your social circle was acting in a way that made you not trust single women in your friend group, it’s gauche of anyone to try to overpower your lived experience with theoretical gender ideology.

        1. TL -*

          But single women can’t make men cheat. Cheating cannot happen without the consent of a person in a relationship.
          I just don’t think that a third party can shoulder the blame for anything that happens in a relationship they’re not in. It is a bad thing to sleep with a person who is supposed to be monogamous with someone else – but you are still not to blame for their cheating. They are.

          1. Mando Diao*

            Are you serious? Someone who knowingly pursues a relationship with a married person – who is married to someone who is also in your friend group – is a lousy, terrible person. There is enough blame to go around. I’m not interested in making excuses for people who set out to do something like that.

            1. TL -*

              I’m not saying they’re a good person. But only one person can actually cheat. And only one person can make the decision to cheat.
              If someone in your friend group is making you uncomfortable with their attentions, you stop hanging out with them. Most everyone I know has dealt successfully with having an unwanted crush or being on the receiving end of one way before they get married. Why would marriage change that?

        2. neverjaunty*

          I’m gobsmacked at the idea that it’s A-OK for the husband to stick his wife with the childcare so he can go play Unfettered Single Dude with his buddies at the bar, but introduce Jane into the mix and suddenly he’s behaving terribly.

          But I guess that goes along with the ‘lived experience’ that men can’t possibly be aware of when they’re being hit on, the women in the group need to guard against wandering Jezebels, and queer women don’t exist.

          1. Temperance*

            I’ve seen it happen over and over where dudes go out, leaving their wives at home, and then meet ~interesting single women who aren’t all like, boring and naggy. And then start affairs. Not every dude does this, but enough that I can spot it a mile away.

            I don’t think anyone thinks that it’s okay for men to go out and have fun while their wives are stuck home … just that it happens in relationships that are more traditional. I don’t have kids, and when I go out for HH at my local bar, it’s maybe 3 women and 20 men, regularly. Because the dudes leave their wives at home to make dinner / tend to kids / whatever.

            I don’t think men are stupid, but so many are easily flattered and selfish.

            1. TL -*

              But the problem isn’t the interesting single women, meeting the interesting single women, or having interesting friends of any gender. The problem is the men are choosing to disengage from their home lives and do so in part by cheating.
              And the “so many men are selfish and easily flattered” is bull. Women are also selfish and easily flattered. If that’s your problem with your spouse, the problem is still your spouse’s behavior and choices and not who they have as friends.

            2. neverjaunty*

              It’s not about men being “easily flattered”. It’s just about being selfish. You’re describing men who stick their wives with an unfair share of family responsibility, then turn around and complain that they’re not as fun and exciting as they were…. uh, before they married some glass bowl who stuck them with being at home handling all the boring, naggy things.

              You know who’s “easily flattered”? Those interesting single women who don’t know better than to run from the dude who says ‘oh, my wife is so boring and naggy and unfair to me, unlike you’.

              1. Christopher Tracy*

                The funny thing is, I keep seeing a lot of single women fear in this thread, when most of the guys I know who cheat cheat with other married women – typically women they met at work.

            3. Mando Diao*

              I’m always surprised that people can have huge, long 1000+ comment threads about the notions of the patriarchy and emotional labor, but when someone lives in a way that reflects a real-life effort to manage those issues when they pop up in the real world, those people are criticized for not approaching life as if everyone is already on equal footing. Which one is it??? Is the patriarchy a thing? Are women pressured to stay home and manage the details of life while men are given social permission to go out and act single? If you admit that this is the way of the world we live in, we can’t turn around and call you untrusting. (These paradoxical discussions also often read like a ways for women to intellectualize their desire to criticize other women. You are not a bad feminist for analyzing your experiences and deciding you’re going to eliminate your chances of having more experiences like that in the future.) I’m with you here 100%. I’d love to see the best in all people, but I’m not insane and I don’t expect different results from doing the same thing over and over, so I no longer feign naivete at the concept of calling bad people out for pulling shady bullsh!t.

    5. this is a name*

      The bit about not having one on one friendships with the opposite sex is weird and a bit archaic imo, but it’s not unusual.

      The one thing I got from this was that maybe she felt really excluded. If you’re giving off vibes that you really don’t like her…well, those vibes are easy to pick up on even for someone with a short attention span. And the bit about trying to get you to talk during a dinner? Could it be because she feels left out if it’s the three of you talking and maybe wanted to get to know you? Some people aren’t great at group conversations. And if your friend is saying that he doesn’t want those one on ones, could it be because he can tell you really don’t like his soon to be wife and is using gender as an excuse?

      1. blackcat*

        They’ve been together about a year and are planning a December wedding.

        You know, the left out thing may have something to do with it–friend, husband and I are all scientist-types in closely related fields. She’s not, so it could be that conversation tends to veer to the technical and she’s looking for an out. But it seriously bothers me when women are all like “oh, let the men talk science and let’s talk about flowers” to me, and I’ve developed a LONG running habit of very quietly pushing back on that. I bet I do it without even thinking of it by now.

        But I think she does like me. My friend says she likes me. And soon-to-be-wife and I have a mutual friend who has mentioned off-hand that soon-t0-be-wife likes me more than most of my friends’ friends. I am super good at being pleasant with people I don’t really like/mesh well with. I think it’s a teacher skill.

        Friend and soon-to-be wife do keep inviting my husband and I over, so I don’t think it’s that he’s intentionally letting the friendship die. It’s just like we MUST socialize as two couples, rather than individual friends now.

        And the not hanging out with friends of the opposite sex thing does seem so odd to me. I have close male friends who I see one-on-one, without my husband. He has close female friends he sees one-on-one without me.

        This is all very odd and sad to me…

        1. this is a name*

          But it seriously bothers me when women are all like “oh, let the men talk science and let’s talk about flowers” to me, and I’ve developed a LONG running habit of very quietly pushing back on that.

          I don’t think people always do this intentionally or for a gendered reason, though. If I’m in a group and three people are talking about football, I’m going to be bored out of my mind and I don’t think it’s fair to get upset if I want to talk about something I’m interested in, even if it is more feminine in nature. Judging a woman for wanting to talk about something stereotypically feminine is just as bad as assuming women don’t want to talk about something stereotypically masculine.

          1. TL -*

            Yeah but the assumption that the science woman would rather talk about flowers with another woman than talk about science with the men is a common thing and it’s not fun. Why doesn’t fiance try to pull other man aside and talk? Or better yet, as her boyfriend to work at keeping the conversation from getting too technical when she’s there?

            1. this is a name*

              I don’t think we can say who was assuming anything in the conversation since we weren’t there. I took the use of flowers as an example since the original post just says the fiancee tries to start other conversations, not that they’re necessarily about something feminine.

              I was just responding to blackcat’s comment and pointing out that it’s not okay to judge a woman who wants to talk about girly things just as it’s not okay to judge a woman who wants to talk about science.

              1. blackcat*

                Right, I certainly don’t judge people on this! People have different interests!

                I used to end up in social situations with colleagues where spouses are invited and somehow my husband ended up with my (male) colleagues, and I ended up with “the wives.” I realized that this was bad news professionally, and made a concerted effort to see those cues and avoid them. So I might be falling into the same patterns in situations where it doesn’t matter.

                I more meant to point out where I’m coming from–she’s doing things that annoy me and *she has no idea* that these things would annoy me. And now I’m thinking about that, so I appreciate this is a name’s original comment as encouraging me to think of what I might be doing to make the social situation more difficult.

                1. this is a name*

                  Sorry, I didn’t mean to insinuate you were judging people on that! I’ve just seen so many women who do judge other women for liking feminine things (and honestly, who cares if they like feminine things or don’t – it doesn’t make anyone less or more of a woman to want to talk about flowers/fashion or sports/science, you know?)

                  But I do totally get the separation of men and women in group conversations. I think that sort of things just happens without people thinking twice about it in social situations. If I’m by myself in a social situation, I’m way more comfortable seeking out other women I don’t know well over men I don’t know well. It’s not necessarily to talk about a certain topic, but just that…I don’t know, female solidarity type of thing? I have friends of both genders, but I’ll always seek out other women first because it’s usually a smoother and easier way into a situation where I’m feeling isolated or ignored. Maybe that’s where she’s coming from, especially if she’s someone who has a lot of female friends and few or no male friends.

                  As for doing things that annoy you, she may have an idea. People have little ticks, whether it’s body language or tone that sometimes they don’t realize they’re doing to show annoyance. Even if she might not have picked up on it, your friend may have. Could that be a possibility? After all, he knows you better, so might he be able to tell if you’re annoyed?

                2. blackcat*

                  Ah, I think you are on to something! Yes, I hear she has no male friends. And you’re right that I see her in situations where she’s the outsider (either as two couples or as larger gatherings where most of the people there are my friends’ friends, not her friends) and women are in the minority. And *of course* she’d glom on to another woman in that situation. That definitely makes sense. Particularly because in the bigger friend group, the only other woman is super hard to get to know (she’s super introverted).

                3. Lily Evans*

                  It also sounds like they might hang out with you guys more than other people in her fiance’s friend group, so maybe that’s part of it too? In a large group of unfamiliar people, she might just be trying to stick with you if you’re more familiar to her. Plus, meeting your SO’s friends and trying to fit in with them is super intimidating! Some of her behavior could just be stemming from nerves.

          2. kt*

            But IIII don’t want to talk about the stereotypically feminine thing! Why do I have to do it? Why can’t my brother? He’s got a great eye for style. Why can’t my male friend who is an architect? Why do I have to!

        2. ThatGirl*

          Can I suggest you try to get to know her better, one on one? I think she feels left out and wants to be better friends with you. Maybe if she felt more included and knew you better, she’d feel less weird about you and her husband to be hanging out.

          1. Mcsquiggle mcmurty*

            What does your friend do for fun with his soon to be wife? Look for the venn diagram. There has to be some sort of common ground. And since you & your husband are laid back, it might be easier for you to let future wife choose the event, board game, restaurant, movie, etc. spend a night learning about her favored activities, so that she is on familiar ground and you two are the explorers. And encouraged your husband to engage her directly-it could be that you are used to acting as a unit in a group setting, but girlfriend is operating as a single entity and sees everyone else as single entity as well. So direct communication with her may be needed.

            1. blackcat*

              This has actually been something we tried! They watch a lot of movies together… which is not something I’m into, but I’ve tired and I just can’t do artsy movies. Just not my jam. And they do crafts. They make some cool stuff. That’s been my go-to conversation topic with her, but I get lost in the specifics (I cannot keep types of paint straight. This inability seems to confuse her). Also, she is SO INTENSE about these things! Which, you know, is fine. My brother is the same way, but I also don’t get along super well with him.

              My friend and I play games, try different foods/restaurants (she’s gluten free & doesn’t like cooking/teaching other people to cook GF, making that harder), and hike/kayak/do outdoorsy things (she doesn’t like being outdoors).

              So the Venn diagram is almost completely empty. :/

              1. Lily Evans*

                Could you try to find something that’s out of both of your wheelhouses, but still sounds like it might be fun? Any one off classes or cool events that sound interesting but is more of a level playing field since neither of you know much about it? Maybe it will be terrible, or maybe you’ll find something you both really like, but either way it’ll be a bonding experience! Sometimes, the things that are horrible in the moment make the best stories to tell later, so there’s not much to lose.

              2. Ultraviolet*

                Do you ever bring up the craft hobby or movies when it’s all four of you talking together, before the breaking up into gendered pairs takes hold? Or does it mostly come up when it’s just you and she talking? If it’s the latter, I wonder whether she’s gotten into a routine where she puts up with the science/grad school talk for awhile to be polite and then pulls you aside to talk about other things just because that appears to be working for everyone.

                It sucks that the Venn diagram is empty. If you don’t have shared interests, it seems like the next best thing is to spend significant amounts of time on the stuff she enjoys and also on the stuff everyone else enjoys. Is that happening?

        3. Mando Diao*

          I feel I need to be a little blunt here: I’m smart. I went to college. Grad school even! I’m excelling in my field and am considered very good at what I do. I can’t stand it when other women assume I’m stupid because STEM is not my field of expertise (I’m expert at other things that they happen to never want to talk about) or because I like to talk about lipstick. I’m not gonna sit around and let other people take up my social time with conversation about their jobs or their own particular hobbies when they have shown disdain for mine, as well as rejected me when I tried to open up a conversation about one of my interests. You’re turning up your nose at this perfectly decent woman (who has made friendly overtures toward you!) and now you’re wondering why she and her fiance (who she probably told about this) are shutting you out. You were short with her and are now trying to have dinner alone with her husband. None of this is a good look, and you might need to let this friendship go. In the future, try to be more open toward women who you view as backward-looking stereotypes of archaic femininity. Doesn’t matter what any of us thinks about feminism. You’ve just lost a friend over this.

          1. blackcat*

            Woah, it’s not that I view her as lesser, and I don’t think I was ever short–I just said I’d rather stay put with the guys than move into a different room a couple of times (though I do help her clean up). My BFF is a super girly, model-pretty stay at home wife. But our personalities mesh.* If I follow this woman into another room, I will feel like I need to operate at 90mph all the time to keep up with her, and that’s just exhausting to me. Like, I could talk to her about flowers and model painting if she would just slow the hell down and not get all frustrated when I can’t keep up.

            I think part of the problem is that it’s a 3 vs 1 situation with regard to interests, which is hard for her. Really, now that I’m thinking about it, I blame my friend a fair bit. He should be making an effort to follow her cues to switch the conversation topic if she’s feeling left out–he knows her better and should be more attuned to it. He also knows us ALL best and should be able to find common ground.

            *And, I actually can’t stand my BFFs husband–and he can’t stand me. But we both love her, so we get along, and we’ve always been supportive of her maintaining separate relationships with both of us. It’s suboptimal that we don’t have fun as a group, but it’s fine. And has been fine for 15 years. This is another empty-overlap Venn diagram, that’s been ok.

            1. Mando Diao*

              You are refusing to budge on absolutely anything when it comes to her – you find her exhausting even though you haven’t tried to match her speed, while judging her for not slowing down to match you. You want to talk about what you want to talk about. So does she. Somehow you’re still viewing her as fussy for it (when she doesn’t view you that way) despite what you claim. You have rejected her attempts to engage in one-on-one conversation. I promise: she knows you don’t like her. Trying to play it off as a neutral “but we just have different interests!” thing doesn’t work, as seen by how many people here aren’t buying it. I’ve been the girlfriend in this situation. It sucked, and I definitely did ask my partner not to hang out with a woman who so adamantly hated me and who wasn’t interested in letting my partner grow. You want him to be the person he’s always known, who talks about science and work. You’re also talking a good feminist talk in the service of justifying why you don’t like another woman.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Do you think she is nervous around you? That might account for the high speed conversations.

            3. neverjaunty*

              She’s not inside your head. You, personally, may be 100% confident that you don’t view her as lesser or think that her more ‘girly’ stuff is boring and inferior to your cool science stuff with the guys – but she doesn’t know that. All she can go on is how she sees you act and talk.

              Right now, the information she has is: You guys talk about things that exclude her from the conversation, you aren’t comfortable around her, and even though your husband is also kind of his friend, you’re making efforts to hang out with him one on one.

              If you were in her shoes, what do you think it would look like?

          2. Tiffany In Houston*

            I totally agree with Mando. And the truth of it is, it’s their relationship, it’s their rules and you don’t really have to like their decision making process but you do have to abide by it or you won’t have a friendship with this man.

          3. JenM*

            I think you might be projecting a little here. I didn’t get that from Blackcat’s comment at all.

        4. mander*

          I can see that as feeling excluding for her. I’ve had a few roughly similar situations where I’m hanging out with a bunch of people and there is a general conversation about something geeky, which I was participating in, but then another woman present said something like “so, ladies, what about this season’s fashion?”. It was partly tongue-in-cheek but I really didn’t like the assumption that I was only interested in traditional “girl” topics. But on the other hand I’ve been with groups talking shop and it is really boring if you don’t know much about the subject. Maybe she is trying to find something that she can talk about too and is just being a bit awkward in going for the “girl talk” angle. Maybe there is another topic that is more interesting to both of you that you could try?

          But I find the rule about no friends with the opposite gender really strange. I can respect that other people feel differently but I would think my husband was out of his mind if he suggested such a thing. He has plenty of female friends and he sometimes goes out with them alone, particularly one who was his boss and is now a mentor. It would be super weird for me to insist that they no longer get together because often they talk about professional stuff. Likewise some of my oldest and closest friends are men, and we both would find it very strange to insist that I no longer get together with them when I happen to be in their town, especially since I occasionally travel to my home country without my husband.

          To me, the idea that you have to enforce gender separation in order to prevent possible cheating invokes a lot of assumptions including that the other people involved are heterosexual, that people can’t be trusted when it comes to sex and relationships, and that men in particular are always looking for an opportunity. I’m not saying that those of you who have this kind of rule in your relationship necessarily think these things overtly but I wouldn’t be comfortable with this kind of rule. If either I or my husband get to a point where we are thinking about a rule like this then we have much greater problems.

        5. Jennie*

          May I suggest that all three of you in the existing relationship focus right now on strengthening your relationship with the new member. Once that foundation is strong you have established a life-long way to keep your friend in your life in one capacity (a 4-way friendship that includes shared interests) then perhaps you can also naturally refocus on the science part of your shared relationship and your other pairings within the group. It sounds to me that she’s open to this, but perhaps lacks the skills or confidence to make it happen herself. I imagine it’s possible to connect with her because otherwise your friend did, so maybe time will heal this bump in the road.

    6. EmmaLou*

      Do pay attention to the fact that he said “they” have decided. He’s part of the decision. It could be just newer relationship and will change later. It could be a permanent change in direction. Try your hardest not to blame her. He’s an adult. He gets to choose even if we hate the decision. I am still blamed for my husband pulling away from his partying friends from high school. One actually played the “It’s me or her, man.” card. Bad play.

      1. EmmaLou*

        PS I know this isn’t a “Oh, well. Guess I’ll just see you around. Whew! that was easy,” for you thing. I do hope it relaxes and you can all be friends. Changing friendships can be very hard.

      2. blackcat*

        Oh, I definitely don’t blame her. She’s perfectly nice, just not for me. He’s an adult; she doesn’t seem controlling. I’m mostly just sad, and I miss my friend.

    7. neverjaunty*

      Um. The bit about ‘no opposite sex friends’ may be a white lie. I have seen this happen. It may be that your friend, and/or his wife, have picked up on the fact that you can’t stand her, and aren’t comfortable flat-out telling you that he’s putting some distance between you. In other words, it isn’t your gender – after all, your husband isn’t involved in this because he’s not the one pushing for ‘alone time’.

      (Of course, it may in fact be that she’s weirdly jealous or controlling. But it isn’t “my fiancee doesn’t want me around other women”, and you don’t seem to be mentioning any possessive/controlling vibes from seeing them together.)

      Also, is it really true that you have no way to socialize with her? Sure, she may be the worst choice for a quiet evening of Settlers of Catan, but what about outings to see a movie, or try out a new tapas place, or at a group party where you don’t have to spend a lot of one on one time with her?

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        There probably is a board game she can play — Monopoly, Scrabble, etc. Or a card game. Euchre is a great card game for 4 people.

        I can see how she must feel like an outsider as she is the only one who cannot keep up with the science talk. I would be annoyed too if I was having a conversation I was into, but my friend’s wife/GF turned to me and said “let’s talk about $StereotypicalFeminineThing!” because uh… why? We tend to try and start conversations with topics we know best or are most interested in.

        But, IMO, you three are being rude by talking about things that she cannot participate in. I have a group of friends who have known each other forever. It’s the kind of thing that I have never really experienced and had no idea actually happened until I saw it for myself. They will finish each other’s stories. They will stop mid-sentence and call across the room “Daphne! When we went to that concert, who was it that dropped his drink on you?” in order to finish the story. I mean, it is not something I can participate in, so I just watch it swirl. I don’t see them all that often, so it’s OK. If I saw them all the time and it was like that, I would get bored. One of them married a girl who was from outside the group (many of them were high school sweethearts) and she just never tried to fit in at all. She would pick up a magazine and start to read and they were just astonished at how rude and standoffish she was. But they couldn’t see how their closeness could also be its own form of isolating.

        1. Mando Diao*

          You gotta stop approaching it as if she “can’t keep up with the science talk.” She doesn’t have to like science to have value as a human being. It’s entirely possible that your friend loves her in part because she has other hobbies and interests.

        2. auntie_cipation*

          You know, you just hit upon something I think is key. Sometimes friends bond over shared interests — but other times the basis of the friendship is more about shared *experiences*. So while this relationship is new, most of the conversations are going to be about shared interests and that’s going to be a challenge for her to not be left out. But as time passes, she will have been around for more and more of the shared experiences, and hopefully that will put things on a more balanced and even keel.

          I don’t think anyone should be forced to engage in conversations about things that don’t interest them, at least not more than occasionally. So maybe some outreach is needed to find new topics that she and OP share, and also that all four of the members of the two couples share.

          And if OP doesn’t want to miss out on the science talk happening between the men, maybe she can be sure *her* husband knows of her desire to participate in those conversations, and maybe *he* can actively look for new/alternate topics for when it’s just the two men, times when she is talking with the new-wife, and make an effort to include her in the science conversations when they do happen.

          I also think that if new-wife is the only one in some configurations of the social circle who isn’t into talking about science (or any particular topic), frankly, she might have to develop an interest in it. If her new hubby and his friends have a wide range of interests then she can pick and choose which ones interest her — but if they are pretty solidly focused on just a few topics then she will have a hard time if she doesn’t become at least moderately fluent in whatever they’re talking about. IMHO.

    8. Eriqua*

      I think the one suggestion I can offer is to try talking to him and being as honest as you were here (minus the disliking his fiance part). You could tell him you feel like you are drifting apart and would like to fix it.

      Perhaps it would also help to talk to your husband and ask for his help in breaking the default dynamic whereby he+ friend and you+ fiance break off into separate conversations. He could try engaging her in conversation sometimes to give you more of a chance to talk to your friend.

      I agree that the rule about not hanging out one on one with people of the opposite sex is bizarre and probably unhealthy. I also agree there’s not much you can do about it, unfortunately. I hope everything works out.

    9. Mando Diao*

      She tried to bond with you in a way she was able to, and you weren’t interested because it was nick funding for you to have a different kind of conversation. You say that she’s different from you and fussy. She might think you’re trying to be a “cool girl” and to be honest, a request to socialize with her husband alone is a red flag from a woman who openly doesn’t like her. She might be a bad fit for him, but you didn’t make much of an effort to befriend someone when it was a touch inconvenient.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Nick funding… it’s like something you’d see on Kickstarter.

          I desperately need a new and completely unique nick for posting online! Click here to donate a cool nick that you have thought up but aren’t going to use. Thousands of people resort to using their pet’s name and the year of their birth or something else that’s not cool. You could help them with your imagination!

          1. So Very Anonymous*

            I was thinking, funding to bring back the really old-school Nick at Nite. Click here to bring back The Patty Duke Show!

    10. Maria*

      Unpopular viewpoint: your friend can tell you don’t like fiance, doesn’t want to deal with it, and is allowing these barriers in the hopes that you will fade out of his life and he won’t have to face the problem directly.

      1. blackcat*

        But then why keep on inviting me & my husband over? It’s just that he won’t socialize with me *alone* anymore.

        I seriously don’t think either my friend or his soon-to-be-wife has any idea how much I don’t like her. She and I have a mutual friend (who was previously unconnected to my friend. It’s a small world!), and Mutual Friend has mentioned how much soon-to-be-wife likes me. But Mutual friend has implied that soon-to-be-wife has NO male friends (neither does Mutual Friend. It’s like their social circle is 100% female), so maybe that’s where the weirdness is coming from?

        1. AcademiaNut*

          The way I see the situation –

          You’re good friends with your male friend. You share a lot of interests and mutual activities, you mesh well socially, you enjoy each other’s company. His fiance is someone you wouldn’t be friends with independently – she’s a nice woman, but you have no interests in common, and your socialization styles are totally different. You find one-on-one time with her exhausting and somewhat frustrating.

          You’re willing to be friendly with her in the context of couples socialization. However, she seems to regard the situation as one where you and she will be a primary friendship, and her fiance and your husband are another primary friendship, and the two BFF get together as couples. You and your male friend are, in her view, not a primary friendship, because men and women don’t do that.

          And it’s having a strong effect on your friendship with your male friend. In couples situations, she wants you two to be off by yourself, but you don’t really enjoy that. You can’t get together with your friend by yourselves, because they don’t think male-female relationships are appropriate for partnered people. You’ve tried making independent friends with her, but you honestly don’t enjoy the experience. And there’s the added issue that you, your husband and your male friend share similar interests, and she’s the odd one out.

          Honestly, I think you’re going to have to accept that you’ve lost the former friendship. He’s chosen a relationship that makes it impossible to maintain your old closeness, and you will only socialize as couples or in female-female/male-male, guaranteed cheat-free combinations. He wants to be with his wife more than he wants a one-on-one friendship with you.

          For the couples thing, I’d suggest talking to your husband and male friend, and say that you’ve noticed that his fiance seems to feel left out when you get technical, and that you three should pay attention to that, and shift the conversation back to something more neutral. It means that you won’t get to geek out and talk tech when you socialize with them, but I think that’s probably the best you can do.

          Oh, and FWIW, I’m also female and in a strongly male dominated field, and I definitely know what you mean about the wives vs scientists splits in social settings. With people my age, it’s less of an issue (more women, less strict gender divide on interests), but for the older generation it’s something I learned to push back on in social situations. Plus the “no kitchen work without Y chromosomes present” rule – having dangly bits doesn’t excuse you from helping to clean up.

          1. misspiggy*

            That is a beautiful synthesis. I admire your skill! And yes, I (female) have lost or had to reconfigure several male friendships in this situation. I’m sad, but look at it as the pre-existing friend’s decision rather than blaming the wife.

            My husband has done it to old female friends, although that hasn’t stopped him making new female friends independently. And some single male friends have more or less dropped me since I got married. Maybe my husband was getting a form of intimacy from old female friends that he now gets from me? Maybe my male friends no longer see me as able to offer what they got from me? Bit sad what it says about any of us, but there it is.

            1. blackcat*

              +1 to the beautiful synthesis! Now that I have academianut’s explanation… everything makes so much sense.

              This sounds actually pretty common–that male friends distance themselves from female friends when they get married. Despite the fact that most of my female close friends are married, this friend is my first straight male close friend to get married (I’m 30ish, and only have like 3 close male friends, so it’s not that surprising). And it just never occurred to me that it would be all that different from my other friends getting married/long term partnered. The default gender divide isn’t something I’ve experienced all that much. A large number of my friends are queer and even semi-traditional gender views just aren’t that common in my social circle.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I would agree that she has not seen many males and females be friends and that is part of why she has this stance. She probably also feels like the odd person out because you guys all do similar work. PLUS, you have a history that predates her.

          You can ask your friend if this is what he actually wants. If he says yes, then you’re probably not going to gain any ground by pushing the issue. About the best you can say is “I will miss our science discussions, but I wish you the best.” Put it down in a peaceful place so that in the future, you can reconnect if they change their minds.

          Try, try to remember that if you ask him to chose between you and his wife-to-be he will probably pick her. And in a marriage you are supposed to consider your spouse first and others second.

          I have seen many couples go through this. Some times it’s one spouse just disliking a particular friend. So the other spouse gives up the friendship. Marriages can cause relationships to end some times and some times new ones start, too. Major life changes, in general, seem to cause realignments in external relationships. Look at couples who have a new baby. Ask a widow or widower what happens to friendships when the spouse dies. You will see more of the same shifting around. There’s lot of reasons for that.

          If you do actually lose your friend grieve that. It is sad. I have found the saying about friends for a reason, a season or a life time to be very helpful in these settings. I have used it as a tool to get a big picture focus and to try to see the flows of life. Sometimes the way we show our love for our friends/family is by letting them go when they need to go. Sad stuff.

          1. Tomato Frog*

            Sometimes people know, sometimes people don’t. I’ve known plenty of people who had no idea when they were disliked, or were completely blindsided to find it out later.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Absolutely. But the OP has been asking the old friend out for one-on-one hangouts and then Old Friend comes back with ‘sorry, we aren’t doing that’. That really does not suggest someone clueless about whether they’re disliked.

              1. Tomato Frog*

                I don’t see that it follows at all, considering that he’s still willing to hang out as a couple in their company. It could be related, but there’s no reason it needs to be.

          2. TL -*

            To be honest, it sounds like the OP doesn’t like her but also doesn’t dislike her. So she may very well not pick up on the more neutral feelings.

    11. Tomato Frog*

      This is a sucky situation, and I’m so sorry. For me, a friendship where I can’t be one-on-one is no friendship at all, and I would count it as a loss. Anyway, being in proximity to someone you used to be close to, but who drew away from you, can be pretty heartbreaking; it’s not a feeling I would seek out.

    12. Aurora Leigh*

      Can you still see your friend in group settings? Like have a regular board game night or something where you invite friend plus other people? Make a regular sort of occurrence so new wife can either come to participate in the activity or plan another activity of her own for that evening?

    13. Sophia in the DMV*

      Don’t know if you’ll read this but I was in a similar situation and ended up losing one of my best friends. I did not like his wife (thought she was narcassistic) and apparently she was jealous of me (I’ve been with my college sweetheart for over a decade – me, him and my friend met all met in college). I never told him that I hated her, and was always nice and supportive but she apparently didn’t want us to be close. I get it, wife vs friend, but it still makes me sad

  8. Aurora Leigh*

    Anyone on here have a pet hedgehog? I’ve recently become obsessed with them and am trying to convince my cat we should add one to our family. :)

    Tips, pros/cons, things you wish you knew? Links to adorable photos to feed my obsession?

    1. Temperance*

      So I do not have a pet hedgehog, but I babysat one for a few days. Honestly, while they are very cute, I would STRONGLY advise against one as a pet.

      1.) They are extremely fragile. With a cat, this could be a bad combo.
      2.) They smell terrible – like a diaper left in the sun. (I say this as a person who owns, and loves, multiple ferrets).
      3.) They don’t do a whole lot.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      My daughter has an African pygmy hedgehog. They need a pretty narrow temperature range, around 70-80F. Too low or high a temp can be fatal, so you may need to buy a space heater and/or a PET warming blanket. They make them for reptiles, I think, but they are a good way to let the hedgie decide whether it wants the warmth of the blanket or the unheated side of its cage.

      They run A LOT. Many miles, all at night because they’re nocturnal. They need a wheel, and not a small rodent wheel. They also poop A LOT. While running. And then they keep running. All night.

      Luckily, there are plenty of places that make wheels just for hedgehogs. Ours is made out of a plastic cake pan, with a skateboard wheel for the pivot point. It glides silently.

      My daughter did all the research herself when she was 10-11, so just do a lot of reading first and I’m sure you’ll be fine.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          Aww she is adorable! That’s really interesting about the heating blanket. I’ve seen setups online with a heating lamp and a thermostat so I was thinking something like that would be needed.

          Does she use bedding or the fleece liners? I really like the idea of just washing liners versus the possible mess of loose bedding.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            We just use loose paper-based bedding, but you could probably use a liner instead. And we got a space heater because my daughter keeps her door closed. We were worried about the cats, but apparently it’s true that since hedgehogs are insectivores, they don’t smell like prey to most animals. One cat completely ignores her, the other is scared of her! And one is a really good mouser.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      I knew someone who had a hedgehog. I found this out because one day she said that she had to go home and bathe her hedgehog. Uh… what? Turns out that hedgehogs have very special care requirements. She had to bathe him once a week (perhaps to avoid the diaper-left-in-the-sun smell someone else mentioned, I never saw him so I can’t say what he smelled like) and after the bath, use some kind of oil on him. There was also some bit about how she wanted to get him neutered because it would extend his life but it cost more than she could afford. He was not a very affectionate animal, he was OK with her but would bite other people. She has not replaced him with another one.

      As TCA says, do your research carefully. See if there’s someone who would let you hedgehog sit while they go away for a vacation.

    4. Red*

      Mine was awful. Always cranky, deliberately stabbed everyone with her forehead quills, screamed her silly head off. Didn’t want any interaction with people, just made a ruckus and smelled awful all the time.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Ah, that’s the other thing. They are normally wild, so they need to be socialized early and often. We found a breeder that handled all the babies she bred daily, and then even as adults you can’t go a week or two without handling them or they get a LOT more cranky. The vet said that ours was the first one he’d seen that had let him check her teeth without any kind of protest, but also that most of his other clients had bought theirs on Craigslist and didn’t know what they were getting.

        Also, we’ve found that if you clean the wheel every 2-3 days, and change the bedding regularly, they smell about as much as rodents do when they’re well kept. And I think ours gets a bath every few months, not weekly. Definitely less than once a month. Although bathing helps cut their toenails, as it softens them and makes them less likely to split.

    5. TheSoundkeeper*

      IMO, getting a hedgie would be unfair to both the cat (who is likely to get poked) and the hedgehog (who is likely to be stressed). The positives: Hedgehogs are adorable, are good pets for people who are allergic to dogs/cats and who are out of the house all day, and you will find active online communities of hedgehog lovers who hold regular shows and sporting competitions. The negatives: their ratio of lifespan to vet bills is not great, it can be tough to find a vet who can treat them, they tend to get cancer or a nasty neurological disease, there is a lot of cleaning of poopy wheels involved, and you won’t necessarily get a hedgehog that is particularly friendly and interactive. (We had one that we got as a baby who was a great snuggler but it took a lot of time to socialize him; our other two were rescues and one was friendly and the other wasn’t)

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I wanted a hedgehog a while ago. From the little reading I did, it seemed to me that they do not do well with other animals in the house. They get stressed and stress can be a killer.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        That is my biggest concern. I’ve seen things online that day it would be fine and other places not. I could shut him in a room by himself, but that would restrict the cat’s space while I’m at work, and I’d much rather keep him in the main living area of my apartment.

  9. Temperance*

    Can anyone recommend a good website for batch cooking/freezer cooking? I tried a while ago, and failed miserably. (I used foil pans and heavy-duty plastic wrap for the freezer, which … stuck together and then everything got exposed.)

    I keep seeing those plastic containers for meal prep. Is it worth it? My commute has gotten out of control, so anything to save time would be awesome.

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      I actually don’t have any website recommendations, but here’s what I’ve found useful. I only use plastic freezer bags and a lot of tin foil.

      1. If you’re using plastic bags, place them on a cookie sheet and don’t stack them when you put them into the freezer. After they’re frozen, you can rearrange the bags and stack them without worrying about them sticking together. If I make dumplings, pierogi, cookie dough, gnocchi or anything else that needs to stay in one shape, I freeze them on a cookie sheet before placing them in a bag. Freezing the individual pieces helps them not stick together.

      2. If you have things like breads, muffins, burritos, or baked goods, I wrap them in plastic wrap and then in tinfoil. If I wrap muffins, etc. separately, I’ll put them all in a big freezer bag. I find putting tinfoil over the plastic wrap helps keep them from getting freezer burn.

      3. I use smaller tupperware for individual or multiple portions because sometimes I just want to thaw two servings instead of a week’s worth. In my experience, tupperware or plastic container works best for things like soups, pasta dishes, rice dishes, and other grain based dishes. You need to eat these sooner than anything in plastic wrap/tinfoil or bags because they tend to get freezer burn more quickly. Sandwich sized plastic baggies work, too, but you have to make sure they’re sealed.

      4. I like plastic bags because you can write directions and dates on the front of them. This is especially great for crockpot meals. I usually write the date I put it in the freezer, the temp and time to cook it, and if I need to add anything (vegetables, etc.) before cooking.

      5. For thawing, I suggest taking it out the night before for something small (like one serving, one burrito, or a sandwich sized bag of meat for sandwiches or salads) and leaving it in the fridge overnight. It’s usually thawed by that morning or by the time I get home the next day for dinner. For a full freezer bag, I usually give it 48 hours to thaw in the fridge.

      6. The Kitchn has a good do not freeze list here: http://www.thekitchn.com/freezer-friendly-the-do-not-freeze-list-167949

    2. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Check the archives of moneysavingmom dot com. She shares lots of other blogger’s posts and I recall seeing posts for freezer cooking.

    3. esra (also a Canadian)*

      Were they still warm at all when you put them in the freezer? That may have been part of the problem. I use aluminum mini-casseroles, the ones that come with lids like for take out containers. Things I’ve had success with that only require assembly and not pre-baking:

      Jumbo pasta shells + ricotta/meat filling + sauce
      Lasagne
      Shepherd’s pie
      Homemade mac’n’cheese
      Tuna noodle casserole

      Others that you do have to bake, but freeze well if you let them cool: pulled pork, pot pies, stew.

      1. Temperance*

        Hmmm that could be part of the issue. Thank you for the tips! I love seeing that there are more options out there.

    4. Girasol*

      Don’t know a site but I freeze soups, stews, spaghetti sauce, roast chicken and beef with gravy, vegetables, bread, cookie dough ready to bake, and such. Anything that needs to be ladled in goes into square plastic freezer boxes (like tupperware but less expensive) from the grocery. If you write on the tops with a whiteboard marker you can wash the label off when you reuse them. Mine have been reused over and over for years. For homemade bread or big pads of baked macaroni and cheese I use ziploc freezer bags (which can be washed and reused though I don’t bother unless they’re pretty clean). Raw cookie blobs or blanched chopped veggies from the garden go on a cookie sheet, freeze overnight, and then go into ziploc freezer bags so they stay rather separate and pourable. But you don’t get the freezer burn problems if you use zip bags clearly marked “freezer.”

    5. periwinkle*

      To add to Girasol’s comment… I make large batches of basics like tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, marsala sauce, and various stews. First I’ll freeze them in two-person portions using the disposable plastic containers (Ziploc medium squares are my preference). Once the contents are frozen solid, I’ll pop them out and vacuum seal them using my handy dandy FoodSaver. This saves space and does a much better job protecting against freezer burn than freezer bags. The only reason I don’t do this with whole casseroles is that our freezer is tiny.

      Don’t vacuum seal anything squishable until it’s frozen solid or, well, it’s not a pretty sight. That poor loaf of garlic bread, sigh.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      I second the plastic containers for saucy/stew like stuff, and ziplocks for the rest (buy freezer bags, not sandwich bags – they’re sturdier and seal better with a double seal). Milk bags (if you’re Canadian) also work quite well as a more environmentally friendly option, if sealed thoroughly at the top – my parents used those when I was a kid. You can use big bags as containers for multiple smaller foil or saran wrapped items, to keep them well sealed.

      When freezing roast meats, I find it works well to cool the meat, slice it, and then drizzle a bit of gravy or stock between the layers when you freeze. Then, when you reheat, it will come out nice and moist. And freezing things like dumplings on cookie sheets before pouring into the bags, and cooling everything thoroughly before going into the freezer is essential.

      Things I’ve found work well – soups and stew-like things (including curries and pasta sauces), roast meats, beans and rice dishes. I don’t generally freeze plain vegetables (it’s easier to buy them frozen, and then microwave them and add seasonings). Dairy based dishes tend not to freeze well (cream sauces, cheesy dishes (although lasagna works well), and potatoes tend to go mushy.

      For speed cooking, I’ll typically freeze things like curries, stews and pasta sauces, and will prep salad ingredients on the weekend (wash lettuce, have a container with peeled carrots, washed celery/cucumber/pepper/radish etc). Then when I get home, I can put pasta or rice on to cook, heat the stew (which has been thawing in the fridge), quickly assemble a salad while those are heating, and maybe microwave some frozen vegetables and seasonings. By the time the pasta is boiled (or rice cooked) everything else is good to go.

    7. E, F and G*

      https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-big-cook-have-fun/9780973961409-item.html?ikwid=freezer+meals&ikwsec=Books&ikwidx=32

      This is the book that got me started on the idea of batch cooking a few years ago. Everything was made by parents with kids and has been family tested so it is field tested. They use freezer bags and portioning it out.

      I am a lazy cook by nature though so mileage varies drastically. I have a habit of buying chicken breasts when they are on sale and cooking them without even a drop of spice and freeze them after cooling down in plastic wrap. On a normal morning I toss that into a rubermaid container like this: https://goo.gl/HssVo5
      and half a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. And then I decide if I am happy with plain chicken, hot sauce, or some other topping.

      This is the website I used for mastering frozen rice (frozen rice is an amazing treat.) I have had mixed results with freezing the rest of the recipes on the website.
      http://justbento.com/handbook/bento-basics/how-freezing-preportioned-rice

      Baked goods are a treat. I have a tupperware container with slices of banana bread wrapped in wax paper, samples from different batches of cookies, some purchased cinnamon buns wrapped up and ready to be microwaved and other small goodies. All of which has the added benefit of seeming well prepared if guests drop by.

      And with batch prep other people probably have better results but I can’t get past how much space it takes in the fridge. The best I have managed is to semi-consistently have lettuce prepared for the week and a plastic container full of prepared vegetables.

      Also, if you are cooking in advance, it can be possible to do special things when you do have time. You can slow cook a cheap shoulder of pork into a fantastic batch of pulled pork and freeze it in portion sizes. Stew can freeze well. Turkey and turkey soup is fantastic on a colder day you weren’t expecting. Just be warned that if you take transit the weight of the containers may start to matter more. If you are driving for two hours one way, a heavy duty thermos can work as well as anything else.

  10. Thelazyb*

    Tldr: my parents are trying to insist on booking and paying for somewhere for me, DH and kids to stay when we visit (the stay is agreed, there isn’t room in their house this time). Am I being unreasonable to insist on booking and paying ourselves?

    Background: we are going to a family celebration in a couple of months and although we would usually stay with family we can’t this time. My mum has booked somewhere for us (cancellation policy free so we’re not tied to it). My parents always insist on paying for stuff like this but I’m in my 40s, I’ve been married for nearly 15 years and we have children. I said I’d like to book and pay for somewhere ourselves (and deliberately haven’t given precise dates) but she said she knows we’re busy and not exactly rich and she wants to help. All true i know but we can actually afford it and I am ready to be an adult and pay. I don’t think they entirely see me as an actual adult yet.

    Am I being unreasonable? I don’t think so but would like a reality check. I don’t to hurt her but I want to draw a line.

    1. Anon for this*

      If the place they chose doesn’t meet the needs of you and your spouse and kids, why don’t you cancel and rebook elsewhere. You can tell your mum gently, making it clear that it’s not about her but about X need of your family.
      I think it’s thoughtful of you to want to assert yourself without hurting your mum. That sounds to me like it’s basically a good relationship. Perhaps your mum is generous just because she’s able to be, and it gives her pleasure to see you & your family.

      One other thought: You could make a donation in their honor to a cause they support.

      1. Thelazyb*

        The place looks fine (and actually we might stay there sometimes when we visit for various reasons). I may keep the booking but do some jiggery pokery to pay them back (… when my sister paid for a load of stuff when I visited and wouldn’t let me pay I left some money in her spare room and told her it was there).

        She is trying to be helpful, I know this, but she’s got enough on her plate and doesn’t need to do that for us and much as I love my family when they don’t let me pay it feels infantilising.

        I may rehearse the conversation beforehand :-/ thank you Anon For This. And I’ll keep the donation suggestion up my sleeve next time.

        1. zora.dee*

          if it’s a hotel you probably don’t have to pay them back. most hotels don’t charge until you check out and even if they have a card on file, you can tell them when checking in or checking out to use your credit card instead.

          I also think your mom might just be trying to be nice and you could try gently explaining what you said here ‘I’m an adult now and I feel better if we pay for our hotel. and I’d rather you keep the money in your retirement fund because I love you’

    2. Colette*

      If you accept, are there strings attached? I.e. Will you have to do what they want to do. Or will it be brought up for years on end as an example of how you’re not a grownup?

      I don’t see accepting a gift as not being a grownup, if it’s truly meant as a nice gesture. But if you just don’t want to accept, it’s fine to say no.

      If there are strings attached, you’ll probably have to deal with guilt whether you accept or not, but it’s still better to say no.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Can’t you just tell her that? “Mom, I understand that you’re better off financially and I really appreciate this. But it’s important to me, and to feel like an adult, that I pay my own way here.”

    4. BRR*

      I might just go with who can afford it. Maybe you can compromise and split it? Or do what you did with your sister and just give her money (or a gift card to a restaurant she likes).

    5. Caledonia*

      I think it’s quite a nice gesture but if it makes you feel uncomfortable then say so. Or keep the booking and pay for a meal as a nice gesture back?

    6. Em Too*

      You’re not unreasonable… but I’d be tempted to let this one go. FWIW the tone is coming through to me as ‘here is a gift’ (and maybe ‘sorry we can’t fit you in – we booked a place instead’) rather than ‘of course I’ll sort this out for you’ and personally I’d wait for a more clearcut example to dig my heels in at.

      Can you instead outmanoeuvre them another time – book a fancy meal or a day out and make sure you pay, in advance if necessary?

      Disclosure: I’m 40s with kids, my parents do this, I think it’s partly that they have disposable income and would rather buy me stuff now than leave it to me in 30 years’ time, and not only that they’ll never see me as quite grown up.

    7. Dynamic Beige*

      Is your mother or father the type of person who would hold this over your head/constantly rub it in or otherwise make you regret that you accepted this? If not, then there’s no harm in accepting it. This isn’t about trying to make you feel bad, they’re trying to do something nice for you.

      Your insecurity over your own financial situation may be making you feel ashamed about this, and that’s perfectly understandable. No one likes to be broke or broke-ish. Or, if you have siblings and they are better off financially, they may resent your parents doing things like this for you and you’ve picked up on that. Your reaction about it says more about who you are as a person and what your values are. It’s not like you’re expecting or demanding this, you are torn between gratitude and feeling immature about it, which is way better than if you were upset that they hadn’t booked you into the Ritz.

      You can make it up to your parents in other ways. Be extra helpful at the event (is it at their home)? Bring a dish, bring some games for people to play. Next time they come for a visit, if you don’t have a guest room, book their hotel for them.

      In a weird way, I envy you. I simply cannot imagine either of my parents offering me something like that, putting my (and my family’s) comfort over their own desires — because I would bet that if they could, they would rather have you stay with them in order to spend more time with you. Not that either of my parents are alive any more to test that theory. But then again, I would plead poverty in order to not go because taking their money would come with all kinds of strings.

      1. TheLazyB*

        Aww. Thank you. That perspective helps a lot. I got a bit defensive at first but then I understood what you were saying. I especially like booking their hotel for them next time (we don’t have a spare room any more).

        You’re right actually – part of it is actually that my parents do totally put my comfort before theirs. I wish they wouldn’t. I wish they would look after themselves more. Or would at least accept letting people treat them sometimes :-/

        1. Selery Omatojuice*

          Ha! “I wish they… Would at least accept letting people treat them sometimes.” Sounds like you learned that behavior from them – because you don’t want accept their paying for your hotel. When someone gives you a true gift, say thank you. To argue over it is just you questioning their judgement, and declaring their intent to be flawed.

          1. Thelazyb*

            But they treat me all the time. I usually accept it. There’s just no balance. But yeah, point accepted :)

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          As someone who is kinda broke all the time… I would feel really weird about someone paying for my hotel room, even if that someone was my parent — I do understand what you’re saying, I’m an adult, I’ve been paying my own way for a long time now. Having someone else pay for things for me just doesn’t sit well, even if it’s something small like a drink at a bar.

          When your parents get older, they will not be able to look after themselves as well as they can now. My neighbours are going through this right now. They are both in their 80’s and their health problems mean they can’t be alone any more. The husband was taking care of the wife as well as he could with help from their daughters but then he broke his hip, now there is constantly someone with them, there has to be. I’m not saying that when your parents’ time comes you should quit your job and take care of them, but they will need you. So keep that in mind, that eventually the tables will be turned and you will be more of the carer than the cared for. Also, this is a good lesson to remember going forward with your own children not to mention something you can demonstrate to them now, about how to accept a gift gracefully and give back in return. That’s why I say if it makes your parents happy to do this for you and there won’t be any crazy-making strings dangling off of it, just let them. You’ll have something to bring up when they complain that you bought their groceries (or whatever) when they are unable to get them themselves ;)

      2. NacSacJack*

        If the above is not true, let your parents be parents. Your parents are more advanced in their lifes, careers, etc than you are and their bills are lower (cheaper house = lower mortgage, used cars, etc), so let them pay.

    8. TheLazyB*

      It’s a genuine offer without Strings, but with strings. I don’t think she’s even aware that she still treats me like a kid. She does things like ‘oh I got your grandma X for her birthday from you and your siblings, just in case she mentions it’. She stage manages everything. I love her dearly and I know she means well but it’s time for us to reset.

      I’ve had good natured arguments with my dad about this; he thinks it’s utterly bizarre that I want to pay but we race to the counter to be able to pay. My dad’s more willing to accept it when I win :)

      I’ll have a think about all those options…. Might do TakeoutForAll or go halvers with siblings on a meal for everyone. thanks all for the input.

    9. Jennie*

      For what it’s worth my folks like to do this too – it’s just one of the ways I “let” them “love” me – they said they will have money left over when they die and they’d rather spend it on us now and watch us enjoy it because it gives them joy. As long as there is enough to go around (ie they can still travel etc) I’ve been trying to reframe it as a way to share joy

      1. Thelazyb*

        I wish they’d spend all their money on themselves now! They’ve earned it. (My parents, I can’t speak for yours :) )

        1. Jennie*

          Ha! Mine too actually :) but I’m trying to figure out ways to treat them now that they are retired – I’m thinking things like finding a travel agent and offering them a trip as a gift for a specific milestone (first year of retirement! Or 45 years of marriage) so that they never see the cost and they have a “reason” to accept. Also, maybe just more special deliveries – flowers, or food baskets from thier favourite bakery when I know they’ve had a long week or could just use a surprise. Or having the kids “gift” something like a day at the museum and a special lunch at a restaurant for them to do together

    10. NiceOrc*

      My mum and dad are the same – they like to treat us but never accept repayment. We would prefer it if they spent their money on themselves! So we get sneaky – drop in a voucher and tell them it’s about to expire or I don’t like the shop, and can they use it? Or quietly pay the whole bill at the end of a meal out (saying I’m just going to the loo). I don’t advise sneaking money back into her wallet though – mum thought the extra cash meant she had forgotten to pay a bill and got very stressed trying to work out which one! So that was a fail…

    11. Master Bean Counter*

      If the hotel room will do, take it. Then buy them a really nice dinner or pay for a room when they visit you. You’ll never win this argument. I do my Mom’s taxes and I know how much money they have, that they won’t spend on them selves. I showed her my latest offer letter after she dared to say I couldn’t afford something. She still tries to pay for stuff, but she has gotten more gracious about accepting nice gifts.
      I’ve come to believe that this is the eternal argument. when the kids came down for a visit last year, they tried to pay for stuff. How dare they? ;) They could use that money for their kids college funds…ect…

  11. Accidental Analyst*

    Plumbing question: how long should it take for the water to stop running when you’ve turned off the water to the apartment? It’s 5am and I’m trying to be mindful of the neighbours so I don’t want to keep the taps running if it will take ages.

    I’m trying to track down the source of a leak. It could be the pipes in our section of the wall. Or it could be that the leak is in a section of a unit on a higher level and it’s just hitting something at our level (drip sound and water seepage on the wall).

      1. Accidental Analyst*

        I’ve had the tap on for a few minutes at a time, flushed the toilet etc. The water is still running and the pressure doesn’t seem to have changed.

        As far as I’m aware I’ve turned off the correct pipes – they’re numbered and in the order of the apartments. The cold water tap has been turned clockwise all the way (so it’s in a differentiate position to the other units) but is still running. The hot water is off (won’t turn back on).

        Im going to have to call a plumber – waiting for the hour to get a bit more reasonable as its Sunday.

        1. Mirve*

          We have a small vacation place and it takes 10-15 minutes to drain with all taps and shower full on. That is just the cold, we do not drain the hit.

        2. Colette*

          It’ll depend on how much pipe you have that’s past the shut off. It sounds like the shut off may be a ways from your apartment? If so, that’ll increase the time. Do you have all the taps on?

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      Honestly, it depends on the setup. I have a well, with a pump and everything so if I turn the water off before the pressure tank, there is more water to drain out than if I turn it off after the pressure tank. Drain the water, drain the pressure. Eventually, it’s going to stop because it won’t flow without being pushed.

      A toilet should be flushed twice in order to drain it, unless you have one of those tankless ones. The first flush pulls the water from the reserve, if there isn’t any water pressure, it shouldn’t fill up after the second flush. Opening a faucet, it should shortly have nothing but air. If you have turned off the cold water, the cold water faucet should stop running really fast. If it doesn’t, there must be a secondary supply. Same thing with the hot. I can turn off my hot water by closing the valve above the tank, less than 30s of water is in there.

      If you can, I would suggest turning off all the water before you leave for work and then opening the taps until there’s nothing coming out. When you get home, it might be easier to figure out if there’s a leak because if there’s somewhere that’s still wet on the floor, walls or ceiling, that shouldn’t be happening if you’ve turned off the water to your unit. FWIW, some people I knew had the ceiling over their bathtub collapse due to a leak from the upstairs apartment. Fortunately, no one was taking a shower at the time. It’s amazing how much damage one little drip of water can do over a period of time.

    2. Accidental Analyst*

      Got the plumber out. Hot water is sorted (there’s a thing I had to pull out and hold before turning the lever). And the leak has been found and fixed – leak from the upstairs washing machine tap. Got it early so no real damage

  12. straordinaria*

    Life choices question! (This is probably the worst of my Type A side coming out, but oh well.) I was reading the Anne-Marie Slaughter article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” and one of the things that jumped out at me was this quote: “The most important career decision you’re going to make is whether or not you have a life partner and who that partner is.” I’m 24, been single for years, move city/country frequently, about to graduate a masters degree and want to prioritise my career above children etc… sometimes it feels like I’m going to die alone with my cats (and let’s face it, would that really be a bad thing?) I know 24 is a baby in the grand scheme of things, but it sometimes feels like everyone meets their partner in school and all my friends are coupled up and signing mortgages apart from me!

    For those of you with (or wanting to have) ~high-flying careers~ who are in a long term relationship, where did you meet your partner? What did you look for? Any advice? (Please don’t say OkCupid, I’m losing the will to live.)

    1. Jubilance*

      When I was 24, I had the same fears as you. My friends were all beginning to get married and have babies, and I was just out of grad school and starting my career. I was deathly worried that I’d end up an old maid. I spent a few years fretting about it, and making some bad relationship choices, and then finally some good advice sunk into my head. So I’m going to give it to you – you aren’t dead, you’re just single. Get out and enjoy your life! Do all the things that you want to do, whether that’s travel or buy a house or just sit on the couch in your underwear all weekend.

      I met my husband the week before my 31st birthday. Turns out, we went to different colleges about 5 miles from each other in the same city, we have mutual friends, and yet we didn’t meet back when we were 22, which turned out to be a great thing. The 31 year old versions of ourselves were much more ready for a serious relationship when we finally did me. I definitely knew myself better at 31 and what I wanted, and I was a much better partner for him. Once we got together, we were engaged in 8 months, and married 10 months after that. I just turned 34 and I’m expecting my first baby, it feels like everything has just fallen into place exactly how it was supposed to.

      Oh and while online dating is great, be open to meeting guys everywhere. Remember, a man isn’t going to show up on your doorstep unless you wanna marry the UPS man, so you have to get out and do things! Join a club, volunteer, attend festivals, etc. Just be open and the Universe will bring you the right guy at the right time :-)

    2. Lily Evans*

      No advice, just commiseration. I’m also 24 and it seems like I just woke up one day and suddenly everyone I went to school is married, engaged, or in a serious relationship. And I’m just sitting here like wh-how? I legitimately have no idea how to meet people now that I’m not in school, and I also worry that I’ll die and my cat will eat my face (thanks, crime shows!)

      1. Bibliovore*

        probably no help but…
        I was 25 working in a bookstore. I didn’t date. I was set up a few times by my mother. These were miserable. I quote her, “you never will meet anyone sitting at home reading” I met a publisher’s representative who was selling our buyer. I asked him out. (never asked anyone out before) We got married 2 years later.

        1. Lily Evans*

          Good for you! I’m trying to force myself to leave the house more. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic at heart and I realized awhile ago that you can’t exactly have a meet-cute if you never go anywhere!

      2. Lindsay J*

        A lot of those people who are in long term relationships, engagements, and even marriages at 24 won’t be with the same person when they’re 34. Some will. But out of my friends around my age (I’m 30), I know of 3 broken engagements, a divorce, and lots of relationships where they were long-term/living together at around 24/25 that have ended. I know of 2 marriages that are successful so far. I think there’s just so much change and upheaval in your lives when your in your early 20s – you change personally and might find you’re no longer compatible, you graduate college and move to different places, one person gets into grad school on the other side of the country, one gets a great job offer in a big city, you move home to take care of elderly relatives, etc.

        As far as meeting people – I met my current boyfriend online. My one friend met her husband at work. One of my other friends married her friend from preschool when they reunited on Faceebook years later. And my other friend married my best friend’s younger brother once she realized that he was really a great guy and not just our friend’s dorky younger brother. I hear meetup.com and Reddit meetups, etc are good for meeting people.

        1. Lily Evans*

          I never want to be the Debbie Downer, but I do always wonder how long any of these marriages will last. I mean, I already know a few people who have been married and divorced and one of them is about to get married again.

          1. zora.dee*

            yeah I don’t mean this as a downer, reveling in other people’s pain thing, but two of the couples I was really jealous of when we were 27/28, (got married, had adorable babies, I really liked both sides of the couple) have just announced they are getting divorced 10 years later. And I met an amazing person at 37 and we are starting a great relationship now.

            I think the real point of this is that everyone gets different things at different times. just because someone met their partner sooner than you did doesn’t mean they are now going to have perfect days for ever, AND it doesn’t mean that you are not going to have amazing things happen in your life that make you happy. I haven’t been good at taking this advice myself ;-/ but try to focus on the things that you love and make you happy now, not worry about what other people have.

        2. Lissa*

          Aww, the friend who ended up marrying her friend’s younger brother! That story is adorable.

    3. Sandy*

      I’m about ten years into a “high-flying career” and seven years into marriage.

      We met at a random evening event that a colleague of mine had a spare ticket to and I didn’t have anything better to do that night!

      I would completely agree with Slaughter’s statement, and while I can’t tell you what to look for now, I can provide some of the “guideposts” that have been helpful for us:

      -he has a solid career of his own, and is an expert in his own field. The key is that his field doesn’t come with the “high-flying” hours, business trips, etc. It means he has interesting things to talk about at the interminable work events I have to attend, and yet he can still pick up our daughter for a sick day without worrying that it will set him back.

      -he is comfortable (or at least mostly comfortable) with being the lower-wage earner and (probably more importantly) the one less likely to get the attention and/or recognition. *I find the latter one a much tougher issue for myself and most of my female colleagues than salary.

      -there is something in it for him. The obligations that come with a “high-flying” career are endless, and they are generally even worse for the spouse at home (think business trips: you can ease the pain of those a bit with nice hotels or business lounges or airline upgrades, but what does your spouse at home with a sick kid, busted plumbing, and work responsibilities of his own get?) For my husband, it’s the travel opportunities. For others, it’s the opportunity to hobnob or the freedom to rely on someone else’s salary to write a book, peruse a creative career, or something else.

      -his support network is on the same page as him. You can have all of the above, but if the peanut gallery is going on about what a wuss he is, how come SHE gets to be away all the time??, etc. every time a work obligation comes up, it won’t last long. Just as women climbing the ladder need role models, men who are taking a lateral step away from the ladder need them too.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I would echo Sandy’s entire comment. My career is not exactly high flying (just demanding — engineering project manager), but my husband does play the “supporting” role in our household. He is self-employed in the trades. There aren’t many women in my job, but of the few who are, one has a spouse in a similar job to hers (met at work), one’s is a teacher, another’s is a stay at home dad, and one’s is a security guard. It seems to work well to have at least one partner who isn’t working more than 40 hrs a week and working at home at night, if you plan on having kids.

        I’ve been married for 18+ years, and met my husband when I was 17, so no advice for meeting someone. But, the one piece of advice for making it work is to make sure that the spouse is independent, but also make sure you carve out time for each other. I went through a mess at work recently and got to where I was working all the time, ignoring his calls, and just not putting effort into the relationship. Surprise! That doesn’t work. Even after 20 years together, he still needs some signal that he is important to me.

        As a side note, my husband has a lot of expensive, time-consuming hobbies, and he got to go out on his own (ie earn no income while he built up his clientele) so that’s kind of the WIIFH part of our arrangement. At this point in his own career, he’s doing fairly well, too, but we definitely get to have and do a lot more than men who do what he does with wives who aren’t career-oriented.

    4. Mando Diao*

      You don’t have to settle for the same life as partnered people but minus the partner. There are a lot of things single people can do that partnered people can’t. Do those things.

    5. Lemon Zinger*

      I’m 23. My boyfriend and I met at work. (I no longer work there) We live together and plan on marrying in the next couple of years. We’re both very committed to our careers, but I think it’s easier for us to be that way because we do NOT want children. We discussed our plans for the future very early in our relationship, so we knew right away that it made sense to be together.

      At this stage in your life, get to know a lot of people, but be up-front about what you want in life. No sense chasing anybody who isn’t on board with your plans.

    6. Jen*

      I met my partner in college, though we didn’t date until after (re-met through mutual college friends after graduation).

      We had very similar education backgrounds and future goals (grad school, professional careers SF ), and while not as similar backgrounds/upbringings, very compatible outlooks on money/finance/education etc.

    7. Sutemi*

      I met my spouse in college so cannot help you with the meeting, but I can tell you what I looked for. At times his career took first place, but over the years my career has taken first place more often than his. We don’t have kids, which can make things simpler.
      * Primarily raised by an strong, independent single mother. He is emotionally close to his mother and respects his mother. This was weird to me at first because I was never close to my parents and we have a strained relationship.
      * Respects women in general, has close platonic relationships with women friends.
      * Has a career but it doesn’t define him. Has multiple interests outside work. Appreciates having a flexible schedule in his own life.
      *Before he met me, he took care of his own stuff. Before we moved in together, his place was neatish and clean, he was adulting fine on his own, he cooked adequately and paid bills on time etc.
      * We were able to rely on my income for a while so he could try his own non-career business. It didn’t work out, but we are both glad he had the chance to try.
      *Respects people working all sorts of jobs, from waiters and janitors to scientists to lawyers. Doesn’t define others by their job.

      1. Overeducated*

        A lot of these are important markers to me of a man who can handle an equal relationship: respects women and has women friends, not 100% defined by career, appreciates honest work, and can take care of his place. I would add doesn’t keep score financially to your list, because it’s hard to balance careers over time if everything has to be 100% equal at every given time.

    8. MommaCat*

      I technically met my now-husband when I was 23, but started working with him when I was 24. Got married at 27. Expecting our 2nd child at 30. The other posters’ advice is great, just wanted to add to the chorus of “it’s not too late!”

    9. Not So NewReader*

      She did a follow up interview in 2015. In the interview, she has changed her view point to we have a societal problem, not just a women’s problem. And things will come to a head when so many people need time to take care of their sick and dying parents as baby boomers start to die off.

      I agree we have a huge problem in this country where work is more important than family or personal time. I was forced to chose between my dying father and a job. This is not a problem unique to women, even though I was told “my wife at home takes care of all that”. It’s a problem for men also as men want to be active participants in their family life.

      She does not address the “marry well” comment. But I think the statement shows shallow thinking at best. I have said for a long time, when you invite another life into your life you have to make concessions. If you buy a houseplant you must water it. So you come home from your 17 hour day absolutely exhausted, and there is your plant, wilted. You drag your achy body over to the sink and get it some water because if you want the plant to stay in your life, you have to water it. Life is a long series of trade offs. Our spouses lift us up and give us wings and they also hold us back. Maybe I end up buying a house sooner because of spouse but I give up seeing my niece grow up because my house and spouse are half way across the country from my niece.

      I was married for over a couple decades and I have been on my own for a while now. There are clear advantages and disadvantages to both settings. Which ever way we decide to live our lives, we also have to decide to MAKE the BEST of that decision.

      Sometimes life just does not have a spouse/child/house in the cards for us or not in the cards right away. This is harder because it was not our decision, it was just our circumstance. I did not chose to be widowed at 45. However, I still have the option of deciding to make the best of my current circumstance. And, oh, there are days where that is tough-tough. Like today I was fighting with the 8 bizillion wires on the stereo system. I did not have a good attitude about that. And then there are days when I am on top of it and I do make the best of things. But everyone else is doing the same also. We can’t help the hand we are dealt but we can work to control how we react to it.

      My best advice: Life each moment to the fullest. Don’t let opportunities slide by you because you are “having a bad day” or “you don’t feel like X today”. Do your best with everything you attempt. If you fail, I dunno, to change the muffler on your car correctly, you can still know that you gave it your best shot. If you need to compare yourself to someone, then only compare yourself today to the person you were yesterday. Don’t compare yourself to your friends with their marriages/house/kids. Remember if we were talking about your friends’ chemo/house fire/divorce (heaven forbid) the whole comparison thing would never come up. We never compare ourselves to friends who are not doing well. So why just selectively compare the good stuff? Stick to comparing you yesterday to you today.
      Last. Don’t center your life around any one thing. A career is not the sum total of life. A marriage is not the sum total of life. A child is not the sum total of life. Life is many, many things combined together in one big pot.

      1. Jean*

        Life is a long series of trade offs. ….
        Sometimes life just does not have a spouse/child/house in the cards for us or not in the cards right away. This is harder because it was not our decision, it was just our circumstance. ….
        We can’t help the hand we are dealt but we can work to control how we react to it.
        My best advice: Life each moment to the fullest. Do your best with everything you attempt. ….
        Last. Don’t center your life around any one thing. A career is not the sum total of life. A marriage is not the sum total of life. A child is not the sum total of life. Life is many, many things combined together in one big pot.

        Total wisdom. Standing ovation. Thank you!

      2. Lily Evans*

        I love this entire comment, especially the last paragraph. It’s so easy to forget the bigger picture, but that really puts things back into perspective. Thank you for sharing!

    10. Mreasy*

      High-flying career here. Entertainment exec, 36, met my now-husband at a former job nearly 4 years ago. He’s 41. I had dated a lot, including 2 cohabiting LTRs, when we got together, but truly believed I would be single forever.

      Please do not worry about this! I know, you can’t not worry, but – you’ll find the person you need and want at the right time. It will work! Meanwhile keep your cats happy so they get super old and see you through dating woes & breakups for at least the next decade!

    11. Blueismyfavorite*

      Don’t prioritize your career above children if you ever plan to have children. You won’t be able to have children forever so if children are something you want you have to plan your life with the goal of having them or at 43 you’re going to realize that your window is rapidly shutting because 90 % of your eggs are gone. And once you have them they have to come before your career to a certain degree or you’re not being a good parent. Women have to think about these things in a way that men don’t but very few women are willing to verbalize it.

    12. Mike C.*

      I actually met my wife on OkCupid, but that was nearly ten years ago.

      Look, being in your 20s generally sucks. I didn’t have a real job until my late 20s and I found that the majority of those who got married early are now divorced with children. Stuff just takes time and remember that you’re likely hearing only the very best from others, especially on Facebook. That’s going to skew things a great deal.

    13. Allison Mary*

      I met my current partner in the BDSM community in the city where we live. I was 24 when I first met him, but we didn’t start dating for real until about a year later. So we started dating when I was 25, and that was over four years ago. I had graduated, but didn’t have any sort of a “real” job at the time. During the time we were together, I got a job which inspired me to go back to school for an accounting program, and I’ve just finished that program this year. I start my first full time job in public accounting this fall. He’s been working as a full time engineer since we started dating. Neither of us are interested in having kids – in fact, he got a vasectomy a little over a year ago. So it’s probably just going to be the two of us (and maybe someday, other poly partners), which will probably make the demanding careers a little less complicated.

  13. Confused Publisher*

    This community has been so wonderful to me when I finally became a more active contributor that I’m hoping you’ll be able to bring your collective wisdom to help me work through this situation I’ve got.

    My grandmother died suddenly last week. She, and my parents, who are all the family-of-origin I have, all live(d) in my home country which is at the other end of the world from where I now live. My in-laws (and I have a lot of them because I married into a loud, large family) are down the road from us. And even though they believe neither in privacy nor boundaries, not one of them got in touch with me even once to offer any kind of condolences, let alone attempted to reach out to my parents.

    Am I wrong to be upset and resentful? My husband is incredibly embarrassed by his family, especially his parents, who he had strong words with (without my knowledge) so that I received one grudging text from them the morning of the funeral (they’ve seen me since this happened)… And then silence. And this from people who’ve emotionally manipulated – actually, forced – us to visit people even my husband barely knows to offer condolences and congratulations in person because that’s the done thing? Shouldn’t this courtesy have gone both ways and extended to me too especially when the loss was such that it brought my tiny family to its knees?

    1. Miss Elaine E*

      First, my deepest condolences on the loss of your grandmother. May she rest in peace and her loved ones be comforted. Especially you, so far from your family at such a time.

      I’ve sort of been in the same situation and no, you are not wrong to be upset or resentful. I’m glad your husband had your back and approached them about it.

      I don’t have any advice to offer except to say that you can use this situation to not be cowed into continuing to visit those people you and your husband barely know. If asked, it’s perfectly legit to say, “Why? We don’t know them.”

      ((Hugs))

      1. Confused Publisher*

        Thank you for your kind words. I will definitely keep this advice in mind. The thought had crossed my mind, but I wondered if, in my grief, I was just being petty and thinking in tit-for-tat terms. To have someone else suggest this makes me think it might actually be an option.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Hell, I’d go one further and say that if these condolence calls require driving/overnight stays or some kind of financial contribution, I’d also add a “We’re trying to save up so we can visit my grandmother’s grave and pay my/our respects to her. I’m sure you understand. She was very important to me and I miss her terribly.” Milk it for all you can until you get to go back for a family visit.

          It may be passive aggressive so it’s up to you if you want to take a more “Why are you insisting that we go and pay our respects to someone we’ve never met and don’t know?” tack. Which should also be coming from your husband as this is his family. If it was your family who was making these unreasonable requests, it would be up to you to deal with them. It’s far too easy for families like this to blame the spouse/interloper, so don’t give them the opportunity. If your husband won’t stand up to them, that’s another issue entirely.

        2. Christopher Tracy*

          You’re not being petty – your in-laws were just extremely shitty. Good for your husband calling them to the carpet for it. And condolences for your loss.

    2. Colette*

      Of course it should go both ways, and of course they should have offered their sympathy. But I suspect this is related to the emotional manipulation. Are you and your husband working on setting and sticking to boundaries with them? This is a sign that they won’t put you first, so you need to be able to put yourself (& your husband) first.

      And I’m sorry for your loss.

      1. Confused Publisher*

        Thank you for reaching out.

        Yes, we’ve slowly been trying to create some boundaries, and it has gone pretty much as well as Captain Awkward says it will, at least initially, when talking about how to do so. Because of the tiny family I mentioned, I’m not used to adults shouting and screaming and crying if they don’t get their own way, which is my in-laws’ preferred communication style, and so it’s taken me a while to realise that it’s okay for the two of us not to cave in just because they’re louder than us.

        I just am still trying to figure out where to put all these big feelings caused by the grief of loss combined with these negative emotions, so thank you for reminding us to take care of ourselves.

    3. ThatGirl*

      You’re not wrong. When my grandparents died I got cards and calls from my inlaws.

      1. JaneB*

        Absolutely they should have!! This is awful and you have every right to be upset and hurt. Look after yourself… And many condolences and Internet sympathy…

      2. Rahera*

        I’m very sorry for your loss. It must be so hard to be so far away at this time, and you have my deepest sympathy.

        I’m glad your husband is supportive, and so sorry that your in-laws are so conspicuously absent. You’re well within your rights to feel hurt and angry and just plain bewildered by this, all the more so given that they expect you to actually go and visit and support people you barely know, when they don’t extend the same care to you. Such hypocrisy.

        I wish I had some helpful advice when really all I can do is empathise with your loss and hurt and say no, in my opinion nothing you have said is petty or unreasonable. Sadly they have given you some vital information about themselves, and I know it’s one of the hardest things to go on connecting with and communicating with people who have absented themselves when you needed them.

    4. Anon for this*

      I’m sorry for your loss, and sorry to write a novel in response to your question. I hope it’s helpful in some way. I hope you find long-term if not immediate relief.

      Your in-laws can’t acknowledge that you’ve lost one-quarter of your family-of-origin?! That’s huge. At least your husband understands. You are totally reasonable to feel upset and resentful towards the rest of his family. However, I encourage you to express yourself by implication rather than explicit anger. This isn’t meekness; it’s self-preservation. Why compound your distress by eliciting more in-law unpleasantness? Instead, spend your energy on self-care. Grief demands attention.

      To your in-laws, express your sadness without hostility or covert resentment. Show by action that your small family is as important to you as their large clan to them. Share what your grandmother taught you about relating kindly to others, or enduring sorrow, or cooking a particular dish for happy or sad occasions. Maybe bring a serving of the particular dish, or a copy of a favorite photograph, to the next in-law event. Keep it brief (because they won’t be receptive immediately) and repeat multiple times. Hopefully, eventually your in-laws will see you as Another Individual With Different But Equally Valid Experiences rather than as That Unusual In-Law Who Doesn’t Fit Our Otherwise Happy Family.

      It’s possible that your husband’s kin are cultural imperialists (e.g, manipulating you into making condolence or congratulations visits because they think “that’s the done thing”). But they may also just be totally clueless about how it feels to be the only relative thousands of miles from a smaller-but-equally-beloved family. My hunch is that most or all of your in-laws have always lived among a large crowd with similar or identical beliefs and behaviors. They have never had anything close to your experience. (Obviously your values overlap—the proof is your marriage!—but your in-laws may not yet understand this.)

      Yes, their insensitivity—unthinking or deliberate—is infuriating. But when people don’t understand that Other Ways of Life Are Also Okay, they can mistake even the mildest expression of a different outlook as a direct insult, and reply with great hostility. If you and your husband can express your anger elsewhere and also assert yourselves calmly but firmly with his family (e.g. simply say “I’m sorry, we can’t make it” when they next pressure you to visit a virtual stranger or “we can’t visit, but we’ll send a card”) you all might eventually have better boundaries and mutual understanding.

      Good luck. It isn’t easy; I hope that at least you get fewer ulcers this way.

    5. OhBehave*

      So sorry to hear about the loss of your grandmother. Hoping great memories will carry you during this time.

      You are not wrong. When my grandmother died I received cards and calls from my in-laws. When my dad passed several years ago, my MIL and SIL attended the funeral as well as sent cards. My other SIL wanted to come but HER MIL would not watch her kids!
      These people should have absolutely reached out to you. The least they could have done was to send a card. The fact that they did not almost adds to the pain. You said it when you indicated they don’t hesitate to emotionally manipulate you both. I’m curious to learn if you see this pattern in other aspects of your life or with your husband’s siblings. It sounds like they want to ‘save face’ when it’s someone they know who, regardless of the relationship you had with them. As if to say, “Look how well we raised our children.”.

      I am very impressed with your husband! How nice to know he’s got your back.

      Please try not to dwell too much on this slight. I know it’s difficult to understand the hurt. It’s a good starting point to begin distancing yourselves from them, if that’s something you want to do. Life is too short to have negative people vex you.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      No you are not wrong.
      Yes, this courtesy should have been given to you also.

      These people are not capable of giving you what you need. It’s really not unusual for inlaws to just abandon people who marry into the family. I wish I could say something comforting here, but yeah, this can be a harsh reality.

      A few things:
      First, my deepest condolences for your loss. Please let your family know a stranger online is praying for you and yours/wishing all warmth and comfort.

      Second. Please read up on grief and the grieving process. There’s lots of good books out there and no, they won’t make you feel worse. Read the inside flaps and pick one that resonates with you.

      Part of the grieving process can sometimes involve anger. In your case, you have some justified anger going on. However, be aware that anger by itself can block our ability to process our own grief. If you need to cry or take quiet time, then that is what you should do.

      Another helpful thing to know is that death (a life event) can pull people apart or it can bring them together. Your story here is a prime example of how a death can pull people apart. Their lack of compassion is jaw dropping, and definitely you should rethink how you guys are handling the relationship you have with them. But don’t get so wrapped up in that process that you forget to grieve. Remember the main point of your story is this is a big loss for you and yours. So deal with the loss first and foremost. Later, when things are calmer, then figure out how you will adjust what you are doing with the inlaws. I would not be surprised if you decide to move away. This is how big a loss is, it can change the course of our lives.

      Next. This one is a little tougher. There are people who DO care. Watch for them. They will reach out to you in soft/subtle ways, you might not even be sure what they want. Take a chance, and reach out for them too. See, I have learned that in times of loss the people that we THINK should help us, often times DON’T. And the people who don’t owe us a darn thing, are the people who try to do something for us. Let these people help you. Someone offers a dinner or a phone call, be receptive to that offer. Don’t let yourselves fall into isolation. Let them touch your life even if it’s only for a moment. We don’t get to pick who does what. And if we try to pick who should do what, we probably will end up disappointed. But there are people out there who do care.

      Healthy relationships have a give and a take; a back and a forth. Going forward, decide that you are going to watch for that more in your relationships with people. Dial it back if a person or group is doing more taking than they are giving. That is an uneven, perhaps unhealthy relationship. Sometimes when I make life decisions like this, it helps with anger also. Maybe you will find it helpful, too.

    7. Vancouver Reader*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s hard enough when your relatives pass away even when you know it’s going to happen (terminal illness) but I can’t imagine the pain of having someone close to you die suddenly.

      You are well within your rights to be upset with your in-laws, they are rude, inconsiderate jerks. Even though my sister doesn’t like my husband, she still sent a condolence card when his mom passed away, because that’s the sort of thing you do as an adult. I hope you can keep your distance from your in-laws as much as possible.

    8. Confused Publisher*

      I am absolutely overwhelmed by the support and advice you have all given me; it is far far more than I could have expected. I’m going to bookmark this thread so that I can refer to it often. Thank you all. Please know that I have read each of your comments and appreciate that you have taken the time to reach out to me, and my family.

      You are absolutely right Anon for this: my in-laws have always lived in the same place within a very homogeneous community, and also that they are also very keen on appearances, as you have pointed out OhBehave. Thank you for your non-confrontational advice on how to deal with this.

      Not So New Reader, thank you for bringing your trademark grace and wisdom to bear on this. You are absolutely right: unexpected people have reached out, I have reminded myself to let myself grieve, and when the immediate emotions are dealt with, we are likely to move away.

    9. SophieChotek*

      Just chiming in to also express my condolences — !

      And like others have written, far more eloquently than I,
      I don’t think you’re wrong at all to feel resentful or upset that your in-laws have not been supportive in this time. Even if they were not being manipulative to you and your husband (and kudos for him to standing up), times of loss seem like times when family (near or far) should reach out to express sympathy and grief and help out (if needed/if wanted/if possible.).

      I hope your husband and friends can give you the support you need at this time.

    10. blackcat*

      My MIL stayed with me & my husband 2 days after my grandfather died. The trip had already been planned.

      She once said, “I’m sorry for your loss,” and then proceeded to say that it’s just what happens to people in their 90s. Well, no shit, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t hurting!

      As someone who was grieving my closest grandparent, I was not exactly up for full-on hosting. I told my MIL as such, and mostly retreated to my bedroom when she was around except for meals.

      To my MIL, this was completely unacceptable. She said nothing at the time, but proceeded to *refuse to be in the same room as me* for 6 months, including when my husband and I visited, because I “hated” her. She told my FIL all sorts of lies about the visit–which my husband cleared up with his dad, but that didn’t really matter. When my husband talked to them, both MIL and FIL said being sad for more than a couple of days is “unreasonable” in response to the death of a grandparent. It was really and incredible shock to me–my family doesn’t pitch fits about anything, and we generally treat each other with compassion. We’re also champion conflict-avoiders, which has its downsides. But we’d never expect someone grieving to go into full-on host mode! And, in general, we’re super welcoming to in-laws. Hell, one of my cousin’s exes is 100% a member of my family–more so than the cousin himself (he is a shithead. She is lovely, as is their daughter. She was totally right to dump his ass).

      Before that, my MIL and I got along great. The experience taught me that I CANNOT ever trust her. She genuinely doesn’t care about my emotional well-being. It’s not something I wanted to believe about her, but it’s true. So my husband is now forbidden from telling either of his parents anything that’s going on in my life, and I always have an escape route when they come to visit. And MIL isn’t allowed to visit alone anymore.

      It hurts to not be treated with compassion by the people around you, but sometimes, that’s just the way of it. Parent-in-laws don’t always care about the children-in-laws feelings, even if they care about their child’s feelings (which doesn’t even seem to be the case for your spouse–I’m sorry for that). Some families treat in-laws like family, and some treat in-laws like interlopers. I come from a family of the former, but it sounds like both our in-laws do the latter. It’s a culture shock, and it’s totally reasonable for it to be painful. Going forward, my best advise is to just not expect them to care about you at all. Low expectations mean never being disappointed.

      1. Confused Publisher*

        I’m sorry your experience has been so painful, and in some ways, so close to mine. I haven’t had this kind of stuff said to me directly – I’m not sure how I would have responded in that case – but my husband has had to bat away similar comments on my behalf.
        I suppose the best we can do is focus on those who are there for us. And on self care.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        My heart is breaking for you here. I understand more than I want to say. One consolation I found was that the inlaws did not treat each other better than they treated me. And it took a long time for me to actually see that. I dunno if I wanted to believe someone else was getting a better deal or I wanted to believe in the mythical FAMILY or other things. It was probably a mixed bag of emotions and poorly thought out logic on my part. For most of us, it’s usually more than one thing that causes disappointments this huge. So it’s reasonable to assume that you have several things converging here.

        You can think about it long enough to ascertain that the signs have been in place all along. But try not to lose too much time analyzing, because your best response is to live your life well. Surround yourself with people who do “get it” and who are empathetic. You know, I learned this: If we spend all our time taking care of the UNgrateful people, we never get to meet the grateful people. The ungrateful people block us, chew up our time and burn up our energy—FAST!

        Another secret I learned, if you surround yourself with caring people, the heartless people sting you less. You might get upset from time to time but the heartless people are just a small section of your life, they are not the center of your life. You have peeps and activities that you look forward to, because you decided to surround yourself with caring people. This can make a huge difference in quality of life.

        Here’s a motivational tool I have worked with to some success. Maybe you’ll like it or maybe it does not apply. However. If we think about the way our elders were raised, we start to realize that they never learned the stuff we have instant access to. For example, learning about grief. Our elders sometimes just repeat what THEY were taught. This motivates me hugely, to be “the change”. I don’t want to see more people going through what our elders went through and to some degree they put me/us through. I want people to learn to talk to each other about hard topics and have MEANINGFUL conversations about difficult things. Life is too short and sometimes the BS is too deep. We have to cut to the chase and talk in meaningful ways with each other.

        Our grandparents and parents can tend to be our anchors in life. And when we lose an anchor, it is a major big deal. Going forward, it is wise to surround ourselves with people of all ages, especially older people whose opinions we respect. Although these older people are not our parents/grandparents they do give us some sense of having an anchor again, having a constant, someone who is safe to be with and is wise. And we take notes. Because we will get old and it will be our turn to do this for someone else.

        Your inlaws cannot be that rock/anchor you are looking for. That is a loss. But don’t stop there. Keep looking for your anchors/rocks and add them to your life. They turn up in the darnest places. I can tell you that. Take your husband’s hand as you search. He is with you because he intuitively knew there was something better than what he had, that is why he married you.

  14. Leatherwings*

    I’m traveling to Europe in a month, and it will be my first time out of the US or Canada (yay!). I’m worried about how to access money while I’m there – is a US credit card mostly ok + some euro on hand? I’ll be in touristy areas, but in small towns, not big cities.

    Also, I have terribly flat feet but don’t want to walk around like an American in tennis shoes all the time, but my feet start hurt badly if I’m not in supportive shoes. Any suggestions for cute but comfy shoes that can go with dresses?

    Anything you wish you knew about traveling to Europe before you went? I’m being vague about the destination country on purpose, but I’ll be staying in one country for the trip.

    1. Blue Anne*

      If your US credit card doesn’t have a chip, be prepared to explain to cashiers that you’ll need to swipe and sign. They’re find with it and can do it, but swipe cards are obsolete technology in most European countries and they probably haven’t had to do it very many times before. Let your credit card provider know that you will be travelling so that they don’t shut down your card thinking that someone in Europe has stolen your details. Also, if you have a debit card, you can probably take money out of ATMs in the local currency for about $5 charge.

      1. LadyKelvin*

        Eh, not so obsolete or unusual. I travel to Europe several times a year and never have trouble using card without a chip.

        My advice is to pick the card (VISA card are universally accepted everywhere, discover, AmEx not so much, I don’t know about MasterCard) that has the lowest foreign transaction rate and use that as much as possible. Carry 1-2 extra cards in case the one your using gets frozen, which is unlikely if you’ve placed a travel alert on your card. That’s easy to do from your account or by calling the credit card company. Bring a debit card and take out some cash (100 a week usually is enough for me) to have just in case. You are better off taking out a larger amount at once rather than small amounts often because you will pay less in fees. Some places don’t take credit cards (I took a cab to the airport once and only had 10 Euros on me, I was headed home, turns out my cab didn’t have a credit card reader and the airport i was leaving from didn’t have an ATM. Thankfully I paid a different cab with a card and the cab drivers worked it out between themselves.) Just make sure you keep your cash in several different places and don’t advertise that you have money. Also keep your extra credit cards somewhere other than in your wallet. That way if something should happen you have backup. Also, if it asks if you want to pay in Euros or USD, pay in Euros. The exchange rate from your bank will almost definitely be better than from the store/restaurant you are buying something. Make a copy of your passport. Give one to someone at home, keep a paper copy in you luggage separate from your real passport, and keep an electronic copy on your laptop/tablet/phone whatever you are taking with you.

        The first time I went to Europe I read all about what Europeans are like and what they do vs what the don’t do compared to Americans, and now that I’ve been there, it’s pretty much a bunch of BS. It is possible to stand out if you are loud, obnoxious, or rude, but for the most part I wear the same things there as I do at home and I blend in just fine.

        Oh, and for tipping: restaurants love Americans because we tip excessively compared to their standards. Unless your meal is >100 Euros, a Euro or 2 is plenty. Waitstaff get paid a living wage there so they don’t rely on tips.

        1. Blue Anne*

          I lived in the UK for the last 9 years and traveled to the continent a few times a year. No, you won’t have trouble paying with a swipe, but you will likely need to clarify that that’s what you’re doing pretty often.

          1. Cristina in England*

            Yes. I mean, unless you’re in super touristy places like the Louvre gift shop, an explanation is often needed, even as just a courtesy since the cashier will be getting mostly chip and PIN cards. Sometimes I get cashiers who don’t know whether or not the machine can handle swipe cards, and the machines pretty much always can it’s just that the person has never come across it before. One person even told me that they weren’t allowed to accept only a signature. If the OP is in small towns then they should be prepared to explain.

        2. Emily*

          The 1-2 extra credit cards is a really helpful tip. When I went to Europe with my parents, there was a time near the end of the trip when both of their cards were rejected (because the bank got worried about all of the European transactions, I guess) and I had to withdraw money for them. And this was after all of us had told our credit union where we would be going.

    2. Jubilance*

      I went to Italy back in April, and my credit cards worked fine. Just make sure you call and tell them that you’ll be out of the country so they don’t block the charges.

      My husband and I bit the bullet and just wore sneakers – we were walking at least 25K steps a day, and there was no way I was going to make it without comfy shoes. I worried about being a stupid American in sneakers but then I saw a ton of folks in them and I didn’t feel so bad. Better to be comfy than in pain and unable to do all the things you wanted to do!

      My suggestion is give yourself time in your schedule to find cool things to do, or just explore, and also to check out the non-touristy things to do. Also you may just need time to relax a bit.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I called the bank and they forgot to include the hold. I had a nasty surprise when I got to Spain. Luckily, a person in our group had a calling plan that included international calls, so I was able to call my bank and clear things up.

    3. Accidental Analyst*

      Do you have the PIN for your credit card? In Europe I think credit cards use the chip and PIN. If you don’t have a card like this, you may want to get a travel card that you can load currency on.

      This was just my experience, but make sure you have all of your essentials in your carry one. My sister and I didn’t and it took about 17 days for for Alitalia to get our bags to us (minus our sleeping bags and with straps cut on one). Turns out we enjoyed travelling light (the bags felt so heavy when we had to start carting them).

      I’d also suggest checking school holiday dates. It can make the difference between getting a long distance train ticket at the station vs having to book in advance.

      Some museums and galleries are free once a month – see if it coincides with your trip. If there’s a couple you want to see, first go to the one you really want to see. A friend and I let ourselves be talked into going to the Lourve. It was interesting but we wished we had more time at musee d’orsay.

      Build in some days where you’re not doing much. These help to recharge your energy, get on top of laundry etc.

        1. Jules the First*

          But you will need it if your credit card has a chip (and some people’s do!!)

          Also, if you are going to southern or eastern Europe, you’ll want to make sure your pins are four digits (as some of the older ATMs don’t take longer ones).

          1. LadyKelvin*

            No really, all my cards have chips now, and you don’t need a pin for any of them. You need a pin for your debit card to get cash out of an ATM but not for your credit cards to pay.

            1. Jules the First*

              Yeah, I hear you – my Canadian one has a chip but doesn’t need a pin in north america. However, it DOES need the pin in Europe. YMMV, but it’s something that’s worth checking with your bank or card issuer before you set off!

        2. Cristina in England*

          I think this varies by bank. I have a US one with a chip but no PIN, you just stick it in the machine and still sign it (so what’s the point? I don’t know). But if Jules the First has a pin, then I guess it’s YMMV.

    4. Red*

      Capital One doesn’t charge international fees on either their credit or banking products. When I spent six weeks in Western Europe (nine different countries), I put my travel cash in a Capital One bank account and had no trouble accessing it from any ATMs I came across, nor any issues using my CapOne Visa anywhere. Other banks may have similar policies, but that’s where my experience was. :)

        1. Red*

          Another thing I struggled with– don’t forget about coins! In the US it’s really easy to dump the change in the bottom of your bag and forget about it, but with euros if you do that you end up with like 30 euro at the bottom of your bag, not only weighing you down but also “oh crap now I have to spend this between here and the airport, or else figure out how to convert it somewhere.”

        2. Red*

          Put copies of your itinerary and passport in Dropbox as well as leaving them with a trusted stateside contact, and take along an extra set of passport photos with you if you can. I’m told that in a worst case scenario, having access to both a passport copy and a set of photos can massively reduce complications of replacing a passport at an embassy overseas. (And of course know where the nearest embassy to where you’re going to be staying is too.)

        3. MK2000*

          I just got back from Czech Republic, Germany, and Belgium. I found a fair number of places (or at least far more than in the US) to be cash-only, so for me it was better just to get cash out (and my Bank of America ATM card worked fine). For example, none of the U-bahn fare cards machines in Berlin recognize an international Visa (even my no-fee Capital One card, booooo) so it wasn’t worth it.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            I had that experience when I was in Germany (Berlin) about a decade ago, it was pretty much cash based, no one took credit cards. Unfortunately during the time I was there, my bank was hacked, so my ATM card didn’t work anywhere, they had shut the whole system down. I eventually had to take the hit and get a visa cash advance because I had no other option, I had not bought traveller’s cheques ahead of time, thinking I could just use my credit card. Doh.

            One thing I would suggest is to keep a 20 euro note (or 50) somewhere hidden in your pocket/sock/Tilley hat. Because if the worst does happen and you find yourself stuck in a place that doesn’t take credit cards, the ATM doesn’t work and/or your pocket has been picked, having some cash on hand (or stuck in your bra/neck safe) would make it easier to get back to your hotel, or get a cab to a police station. I’m not saying it’s *going* to happen but if it does, it’s not like you can call your best friend to come and pick you up. I’ve gotten in the habit of splitting my cash when I travel so that I can’t lose the whole thing. I’ve heard far too many stories of “I fell asleep on the train and when I woke up, we were stopped. I looked out the window and saw the guy who had been sitting across from me walking away with my backpack.”

        4. it happens*

          Use your Capital One debit card when you buy transit tickets at machines (train stations, airport transfers, etc.) because it will work like a chip + PIN credit card. (No worry about chip + PIN at stores and restaurants, just vending machines.) Cap One also has a very good exchange rate.
          Also – on shoes – Merrell has a lot of good-looking sandals – I alternated between a Merrell sandal and wedge with 25k steps a day for three weeks, no worries.
          Have a great trip

    5. Cristina in England*

      For shoes check out Barking Dog Shoes blog. There are reviews for various special foot needs. I personally like Dansko sandals, I didn’t even need to break them in. I know you’ll be walking a lot anyway but do give yourself a break and use public transit. For me, it has made the difference between utter exhaustion and a very pleasant but tiring trip. You can almost certainly download various transit maps to your phone.

      I know you are being intentionally vague about the country, but you won’t be able to get as good advice that way… Maybe post next week under an anonymous name asking for advice about travelling to Country X? ;-) It happens often enough here that you probably won’t be found out! :-)

    6. UK-based*

      Going to assume you’re not visiting the UK from the € mention (although I did once encounter a tourist in my UK city who hadn’t yet worked out that we didn’t use the euro and didn’t believe me when I told her, so you never know!) I work in tourism and have lived in Italy, France and Germany, so hopefully I can help a bit.

      Money:
      1) Amex isn’t universally accepted because of processing fees, major credit cards are normally fine but check if you’re somewhere like a restaurant before you order; not all places take them. Sign your card or write SEE ID on the back (and have it on you!) – a surprising amount of people don’t, but we’re trained to always verify, which I’ve been told people are lazy about in the US.
      2) Speak to your bank before you go, and try find out if there’s an emergency number to call if your card is blocked or stolen! (Also, look up phone charges and make sure your data is off so you don’t accidentally run up an extortionate bill.)
      3) If you’re going anywhere near Paris, take twice as much money as you need. (Trust me. I’ve run out before.)
      4) Try get rid of 50€ denominations ASAP. I used to get paid in 50s, and then be apprehensive about spending them every time. Customer service is less of a big deal, and I’ve had cashiers roll their eyes or tut when I’ve paid in larger denominations or not had the correct change, even in supermarkets. Even 20s can be an issue in some shops. Cashiers will love you if you give them the exact change.

      Shoes – what’s your definition of tennis shoes? Converse are popular throughout Europe, so if it’s something like that, I wouldn’t stress too much. (Although break them in before you go! I spent most of my time in Budapest hobbling around in my new Converses, the only pair I had with me.) I can’t recommend Nike Air Max enough for walking miles and miles, I’m living in them at the moment. Or Doc Martens, if you’re a Doc wearer; I spent five months walking through Paris in them. (Again, make sure they’re broken in well in advance!)

      Honestly though, I think Americans over-stress about “looking like an American” abroad. Having worked in tourism for 6 years, I can work out roughly which country people are from before they even speak: every country has their own fashion ‘tells.’ You look like an American anyway, people aren’t judging your outfit (or if they are, they’re probably French and you’ll never win!), and many Europeans also look a mess, in the nicest way possible. Spend time planning your outfits if fashion is an interest, otherwise just wear the style you normally would and enjoy your holiday!

      1. Random Citizen*

        What kind of fashion tells? I’ve always thought it was so interesting the way different areas of even my state dress subtly different (my suburban area, the main metropolis, more rural areas). I’d love to hear more!

          1. Cruciatus*

            Which is interesting because when I was in Germany, all the Europeans were wearing North Face! My host mother once told me you “just look American.” She didn’t (or couldn’t) elaborate but I sort of wish I knew. I’m not as thin as many Europeans, true. But I’m German/Polish from not too long ago! But the minute I’d go to an Imbiss–without even saying anything–the person behind the counter would ask “What would you like?” Dammit! I was always thrilled while walking around Munich when someone would ask me, in German, for the time! Yes!

            And apparently Europeans don’t feel the heat/humidity like my family and friends in the States. I would be hot in a short sleeved shirt and shorts and I’d so see many people in jeans and jackets, cool as cucumbers. Maybe this is why I looked American all over the place?

            1. Random Citizen*

              Hair maybe? Don’t know if that’s a cultural thing, and feels like there’s so much diversity here, too. For women, I’ve heard layering is a big thing (can’t remember if that was here or there though).

            2. OES*

              Well, Europeans don’t typically wear shorts except on the beach or for athletic activities (barring massive heat waves that is) – shorts are kids’ clothing in Europe, and they criticize Americans for that a lot. Shoes are tricky, but really, you should just go for the athletic shoes: Europe has lots of cobbled streets & sidewalks, and they’re really deadly on the feet.

              It can be tricky not to have a chip card, depending on where you go: in the Netherlands & Germany it can be a problem not to have one, while I haven’t run into a problem in France & Italy. I wouldn’t take my bank card, however – too big a risk (the major crime you need to worry about in Europe is pickpocketing & it is EVERYWHERE). What I do is “prepay” my credit card (Capital One) the day I leave the States & then take money out on it from an ATM as soon as I land. That way, I don’t have to pay interest on “borrowed” money from my credit card.

              Be prepared to exhaust yourself walking and eating and drinking!

              1. Myrin*

                Huh? I’m German and shorts absolutely aren’t something only for the beach or athletic activities – everyone wears them all through the summer here. I’ve never even heard of this perception before, it’s really not true (at least not in Germany, other European countries might be different).

                1. OES*

                  I do travel most in Italy & France, but I have a German friend who mentioned this to me. Maybe it’s generational?

                2. Elkay*

                  Not in the UK either, the last two offices I’ve worked in there’s more men’s legs on show in the summer than women’s!

                3. Myrin*

                  @OES, that is really extremely weird. Maaaaaybe it holds true to some extent for people who are my grandparents’ age – in their mid-eighties; I do think that it was a lot more uncommon for adults to wear shorts when they were young (I’m talking about the 1950s here), but even they wear shorts now that they’re old. But for everyone else, your friend is an absolute outlier here, it’s really absolutely normal for everyone and anyone to wear shorts (and, as my sister just remarked, what else would we wear in the summer?), so, Americans who come here, please don’t feel like this is something you will be judged on – I have literally never heard of shorts being a thing Americans are criticised for before, fear not!

                4. Cristina in England*

                  I have heard the shorts thing, told to me by a French woman and then semi-confirmed when I moved here. I don’t see a lot of women wearing shorts here, only men (many women where I live wear skirts/dresses at or above the knee when it is hot). I mean I do see women in shorts sometimes but it isn’t the majority by any means.

                5. Elkay*

                  Having just read Cristina’s comment I realised I’d automatically assumed we were talking about men wearing shorts because I think in the UK it is more common for men to wear shorts than women.

                6. Myrin*

                  @Elkay, it is more common to see men wear shorts than women here, too, but only because women also wear dresses or skirts which most men don’t. But it’s not weird or unusual for women to wear shorts in any way, they just have more variety.

                7. Cristina in England*

                  Yep, I am going to double-down on what I said and say that it’s uncommon for women to wear shorts here. I see lots of those genie pants that are in right now, leggings, jeggings, dresses, and skirts, but not shorts (on adult women). Pretty different from New England (where I grew up) where khaki shorts / jean shorts were almost a default choice.

            3. AdAgencyChick*

              I feel like I could have worn exactly what Angela Merkel was wearing on any given day and I still would have gotten English due to my hapa-haole face. I speak pretty good German. My super-Teutonic-looking husband, on the other hand, basically knows how to say “danke” and “Gesundheit” and nothing else, and he was addressed in German wherever we went, even after I explained to people in German that I was the only one of us who spoke German.

        1. Anon for this*

          I thought it was jeans and sneakers, or ugly-but-comfortable shoes on a woman instead of comfy-but-still-somehow-stylish shoes? Also, some Americans can be very direct, or informal, or loud in comparison to folks from other cultures. There’s the old joke that if people don’t speak English we Americans just shout louder. (Hangs head in patriotic shame.)

          1. Selery Omatojuice*

            Loudness. I was with 3 other Americans, and everywhere we went I was asked if I was Canadian. I was just quieter.

        2. Harriet*

          As someone who has worked in several tourist hotspots and can also generally identify nationality at a glance, it’s not something I can put my finger on, but more a combination of subtle style choices and grooming. Aside from the ‘stereotypical’ American, in all-out athletic gear, Americans to me often look very healthy and very groomed – but then Italians also look healthy and groomed, but in a totally different way. I can’t really identify particular tells, and I suspect body language comes into it a lot too.

          Both converse and adidas – Stan smiths and superstars – are VERY popular, especially amongst the younger set – across a lot of Europe now though, if that is an option for you.

          1. Jules the First*

            It’s that Italians look healthy and groomed and faintly (unintentionally) superior, while Americans look healthy and groomed and friendly. I think it’s less to do with what you’re wearing and more to do with body language.

          2. Cristina in England*

            My husband can do this, it is so fascinating to me. He has said that Americans look robust and healthy. If I could just tame my flyaways maybe more people would spot me as American even though I’ve given up on jeans, sneakers, and shorts.

            1. Cristina in England*

              This makes no sense, sorry. I meant that since Americans supposedly look healthy and groomed and friendly, then if I just tamed my flyaways I would at last meet the “groomed” part. I look disheveled most of the time, alas.

    7. First Initial dot Last Name*

      I’m on my feet all the time, I broke one of my feet twice in one summer about 10 years ago, and the other foot last summer, the bridges of my feet are very high, one arch is high (but not the other), my feet suck. I have a couple of go-to comfort shoes that are totally worth the money.

      (a) FitFlop, plain or bedazzled sandals, shoes, boots, sneakers and flats I have had seven pairs and will have many many more. These were the first shoes I found after I broke my foot that did not cause me pain, previously I could be on my feet for about an hour and I was done for the day. You can find them at The Rack or Ross for discounted prices, once you find your size you can find sales online. The ballet flats and loafers are very versatile shoes IMO. FitFlops are so awesome it’s like I hadn’t injured my foot at all.

      TBH I was very worried that I wouldn’t find another shoe I’d be able to wear, and I have been concerned that my other footwear needs wouldn’t be met with just the FitFlop line, I’ve been wanting to get back into hiking and going on very long walks so I started researching other shoes and found great reviews for… .

      (b) Chacos, the webbed styles are a little too casual for my taste, however they also have leather sandals (I’m wearing the Sofia’s with a dress right now), they have a lower arch than the webbed outdoor versions, very comfortable, they’re the only shoe I’ve worn since April, I love them. If you want to try them on you may find them at REI that I am aware of, again, once you find your size you can find discounts online.

    8. March*

      I spent almost a month in Europe last May, so I should be able to help!

      Pretty much everywhere we went took credit card – if it’s something like Mastercard, then I never had a problem. I called in advance of the trip and told them I would be out of Canada, and they apparently didn’t even need me to do that anymore? Feels kinda insecure, but it is what it is. There was also a number of ATMs that took my Canadian debit card. For example, I brought GBP and Euros with me, but took out Swiss Francs when we crossed into Switzerland, and did the same for Koruna in the Czech Republic. I found Switzerland and Czech Republic would often still take Euros, too, though it depended on where we went. For almost a month in Europe, I took… I think it was about €700?

      Shoes: I don’t have very flat feet, but they are a touch flat, and I bought a pair of Asics sneakers. I broke them in before I left, and they were great. The first day or two I wasn’t quite used to all the walking and almost developed a blister, so I brought moleskin and kept that on my toe until the pain was gone. No trouble after that. Unfortunately the only time I wore dresses was to dressy things that necessitated pretty shoes with minimal walking, so I can’t help beyond that D:

      Oh! One useful thing to know about Europe is that touristy areas can be full of pickpockets and thieves, and there’s a number of scams they try to pull. Keep your cards (including your credit card!) in an RFID-protecting sleeve or case. My uncle had his in his wallet, in his jeans pocket, and a little kid “bumped” into him and got the card information with a scanner. Only found out a few weeks later when he got a call from his bank. Anti-theft bags can be really handy. I had one, and though there was only once that I had problems (thieves running through our group and trying to grab bags as they went), it was comforting to know that slashing my bag, or the strap, or opening my purse was a lot harder.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Anti-theft bags are nice, but make sure if you use a regular bag that it closes ALL the way at the top. Like, zips up and there is no way anyone can stick their hand inside either from the end or the top. I went purse shopping before traveling and it was crazy how many purses just have a snap in the center or don’t close at all!

        1. March*

          Oh man, yes. I remember seeing some of the bags other people on my tour had and I still have no idea how they didn’t get stuff stolen. One little snap on their purse?! I was way happier with the anti-slash bag and strap and the little clip to put on the closed bag zipper.

          But yeah, since a lot of good anti-theft bags can be pricey, you can do without if you think about it when you pick a bag!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I see people at the grocery who leave their purses sitting in the cart in the little-kid seat. Their backs are to the purse and the top is WIDE OPEN. If I wanted to, I could hook their wallets right out of there and they would never notice!

        2. Jessica*

          Even better — make sure there’s a two-step process to get to your valuables. I put a safety pin or small carabiner through a zipper pull and clip it to the strap of a purse or to another zipper pull. Or keep a wallet within a zippered pocket inside a zippered backpack/purse. Most pickpockets can undo a zipper or open a clasp quickly, but won’t have time to get through the second layer of defense and will move to an easier target. I’ve had a camera stolen from the outside pocket of my coat (unprotected by zippers/buttons…stupid of me) but never had anything taken from a purse or backpack after many travels in both Europe and Latin America.

        3. AdAgencyChick*

          Ayup. Living in NYC has taught me to shop for a fully zip-top bag, or one that has a large flap that folds over, even when I’m not traveling. I’ve had to reject so many adorable bags because they don’t do that!

      2. SaraV*

        I JUST texted my dad about RFID protectors for his and my mom’s cards since they leave for Europe soon.

        Thanks so much for the info!

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I recently went on a cruise and many of the passengers were (North) American. It is true that you can often tell an American from a European from what they are wearing, not necessarily in terms of clothing brands but the types of clothing and accessories. For example, I rarely see a european in a touristy location with a rucksack or a moneybelt/bumbag. (Nb. I realise this is a very general observation!)

          Chip and pin credit/debit cards are pretty much the norm in Europe. Contactless payment is also becoming popular as well. Cash machines sometimes go up to EUR 100 and 200 notes, but it is extremely uncommon to use these to pay. I have only seen then being used in Germany where larger denomination notes are often used in lieu of credit cards. (Such as the woman in front of me in a supermarket once who used some vouchers to pay for her groceries and then gave a EUR 100 note to cover the remaining 5 euros!)

      3. SophieChotek*

        I’ve travelled some (for vacation) to Europe (both alone and with friends), but it’s been a 3 years since my last trip to Europe, and two Asia (twice) in the last two years.

        +1 to March about RFID protecting sleeve or case. (And if you really want to go cheap, some studies claim that putting duct tape/duct tape covered tin-foil– inside your wallet/around your credit card works just as well as expensive RFID cases. Guess you can read up and see what you believe.) TravelOn and PacSafe both make travel bags with supposedly blade-resistant handles, little clasps on the zippers to tie them shut, etc. Some people like to have that small bag that fits right inside your bra–it’s about the size of a credit card–you could fold some bills in it, put 1 credit card. (It’s way smaller than some of those bigger bags around your neck that you can fit you passport, it’s super small and lightweight; I’ve only had 1 airport security detect it, otherwise, the cash in it flies under the radar at security too.)

        I found my credit card and debit cards worked fine, but except for large payments at established places, I tended to use cash. (My credit card companies do still want me to tell them when I leave the country; so I guess I would play it safe.)

        Some countries I think you are “supposed” to register (online?) with the U.S. embassy or consulate when you go there, but I honestly have never done that in my life. But I’ve read if there was ever a state of emergency, etc. it’s better to be registered.

        Like others said, I leave a copy of my itinery, passport, hotel numbers, credit card numbers, health informationwith a trusted family member/friend (my parents) just in case something would happen to me.

        I think I got a small amount of Euros at the bank (in U.S.) just in case I would have trouble with my debit card/credit card when I first got there, but never did. (I usually save my euros, etc, and don’t exchange them again, because I always think I’ll go back.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I got pounds from the bank before I went to UK in 2014, but I didn’t bother when I went back the following spring. I just hit up the cashpoint and I was good. When you get them at the bank, they’re more expensive.

          My card was not a chip card, so I got funny looks at the till, but when they swiped, it worked just fine. Now I have a chip card so I’m good. Hahah someone asked me why America was behind on this–I said, “I don’t know–but it’s annoying!”

          And we’re still behind. Many of the shops I go to STILL don’t have the chip reader installed or working–including the Aldi near me, which is a German company and should totally have it already!

        2. E, F and G*

          I got this travelon bag http://goo.gl/lxIVQn when I found it on sale over a year ago now.

          I can’t tell you how well it works to block RFID or knives but the bag has kept it’s shape very well and any wear and tear on the liner is still barely visible (and that is with having tossed it in the washing machine a couple of times as well.) And the clasps are well made and there is an extra zippered pocket inside the main compartment for extra security.

    9. Nanani*

      I can only say regarding the money thing:
      Don’t bring traveller’s cheques.
      Do get some Euros out beforehand, and not from the airport (they overcharge) in case you need cash right away, such as in a taxi to your hotel or to grab food on your way there.
      After that cards should be fine, though depending on where you are you might find cash is expected more often or that some establishments only take cash. There is still a lot of variety.

    10. Lindsay J*

      No advice on credit cards since I don’t carry them, but I was fine with a debit card with a Visa logo on it. I used my card to pay at kiosks and stuff, and got cash out of the ATM just fine. I used cash a lot more than I did in the states – it seems like here everywhere takes credit card now, but a lot of the smaller shops and food stands I went t there were cash only.

      For shoes I wore canvas crocks. They really are comfortable. However, if you’re comfortable in tennis shoes then don’t worry about it. I think if were to walk around in gym shorts and a t-shirt or an American Football or hockey jersey you might stick out, but otherwise I didn’t really notice a difference between what people in Germany were wearing and what people at home would wear.

      The one thing I wish I knew was that the restrooms in the bigger train stations cost like a euro to use (and some of the small stations didn’t have a restroom at all). I was out of cash at the end of my trip and didn’t want to take out more cash from the ATM just to spend 1 euro for the bathroom, but there was no free option. I’m assuming because it seems like the train stations are a gathering place for the local homeless people and they want to prevent them from using the restrooms?

      Also YMMV depending on where you’re coming from, but I was amazed at how prevalent and efficient public transportation actually was. The high speed trains between cities were really cool, but I just thought it was nice that I could take a bus and it would drop me off relatively close to my destination rather than miles away. This might not be as much as a shock if you’re coming from a city with good public transportation rather than the suburbs and a big sprawling city with crappy public transport like I am.

    11. Special Snowflake*

      I have foot issues leftover from falling down an escalator and the surgeries that followed and I alternated crocs and black sneakers when I was in Europe.
      Crocs sells black ballet flats in the same material as the regular shoes but they’re a normal shape and it’s hard to tell. (Or at least the friend I was visiting wanted to buy them and asked the brand- she was shocked)
      As for sneakers- try on a few pairs of the more fashiony lines (puma etc) you can get them in solid black so they may blend a bit better
      If you aren’t on a shoe budget my friend adores Tieks and swore by them studying abroad in edinborough.
      Have fun!

    12. Library Director*

      Sorry for the late reply. We travel to Europe frequently and never get Euros ahead of time. We just get money from the ATM at the airport.

      As for shoes, during my trip in May I wore a pair of dress Skechers almost every day. They are similar to these: https://www.skechers.com/en-us/style/49212/relaxed-fit-career-puzzling/blk

      I have an anti-theft handbag that I like. I could carry a bottle of water and umbrella. https://www.amazon.com/Travelon-42242-Anti-Theft-Messenger-Bag/dp/B002EQ9NEM

      Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. You’ll think you’re drinking enough water. You’re not. Take lots of pictures. Give yourself time to just enjoy being there.

  15. Amber Rose*

    We are spring cleaning today (yes, I know it’s summer) and I’m ashamed of how dirty our house is.

    Part of our problem is sheer clutter. We have so much stuff between us and so little storage, so there ends up being just piles everywhere and then we can’t vacuum or dust because piles of stuff. There’s gotta be better solutions for organizing our multitudes of collectibles, games, DVDs, books, papers, crafts and knick knacks.

    Another part of the problem is that cat hair has choked and killed like, 6 vacuums. He sheds SO MUCH. I brushed him for half an hour, pulled off enough hair he looks visibly smaller, and he’s still shedding like mad.

    Friggin cat. I love him so much. He’s a pain in the ass.

    1. Mando Diao*

      What condition is the stuff in? It’s hard to get people to pay for stuff from a pet home (which is fair) but you could give some of it away via craigslist.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I can’t. Most of the big, boxed stuff is husband’s and he refuses to get rid of it. The things I have are rare/expensive and I’m not willing to get rid of that either.

        We could cut down a bit on books probably but that wouldn’t open up much space really.

    2. nep*

      I was saying that very thing to a friend a couple hours ago — ‘I’m spring cleaning…I know it’s not spring but that’s what I’m about this weekend.’
      It is a great feeling to clear out the clutter.

    3. Trixie*

      Same here. I am purging/collecting for good will, taking breaks to dust, sweep, and wipe down cobwebs. I was so energized to take small hall to nearby Goodwill drop site, and it was closed. Understandable in this heat. May feel crazy to clean/purge now but with this heat I finally turn on a/c and it’s perfect time to tackle these projects.

      1. JaneB*

        I’ve taken a week off to “Spring” clean after being really depressed and anxious, and having a very busy run at work – I’m naturally messy but it’s totally out of control! And o have a bad back so can’t do a
        Major blitz, it has to be slow & steady. Actually quite excited to start de cat hair ing my stuff! Hints, tips?

        1. Amber Rose*

          Start with a garbage bag and remove any and all garbage. Then sort stuff into groups of things that need to be put away, things that need to be washed, and things you might want to donate or otherwise get rid of.

          Once all the stuff is gone, vacuuming and dusting is straightforward and easy.

    4. Temperance*

      I have an old house with almost no storage – our “closets” are like 6 inches deep and have 2 hooks in each, so they’re essentially unusable.

      I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” a few weeks ago, and, while I really don’t entirely agree with her philosophy on things, including treating objects like living beings, it’s helping me to get rid of things and refocus on how I deal with things. For instance, I love books, but I’m going to cut down until I can fit everything I really want into one bookshelf. An admittedly large one, but still. I’m not following her theory on doing each type of object at once.

      I also bought a Roomba recently, and that’s been weirdly motivating to keep the floor clean so it can work.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        I also found that book to be helpful! I just stick to the more practical ideas, and I got rid of everything that made me feel “eh,” especially books that, if I was being honest with myself, I would never actually read. It was great to do a thorough sort through my stuff before I moved!

    5. OhBehave*

      Our pup is the same way! I end up with another dog after brushing her for 30 minutes. Not much to do about this and we love her too!

      Here is how I approached games/puzzles in our house.
      Grab some large zip top bags and put the game pieces, directions and a cut out of the game cover.
      Purchase a shoe storage piece that hangs on the door. I store these baggies in the pockets. Less clutter and it’s out of the way. I’ve done this for years and now that the kids have grown, I use it to store scarves, gloves, etc.

      Would hubby be willing to part with anything if it will serve someone else? Games/puzzles to a retirement home or school. Ditto with anything else that could have a life and be used elsewhere.

      If your husband is not willing to let go of anything, then you may be stuck with it all. Can you approach it by category, DVD’s, papers, etc.?

      Can you store collectibles and change them out every month or so? Otherwise you will need to line your walls with shelves to show everything.

      If these are expensive/rare items, you should have records of them such as pictures for insurance purposes should anything happen.

      I am an organized being, so I physically twitch when I encounter clutter. I often offer to help friends sort and cull their stuff when they complain about their messes :)

      1. Amber Rose*

        It’s not so much board games as video games. There’s a full 6 foot bookcase full of them. Plus a couple racks. The stuff husband won’t get rid of is mostly childhood toys and books and stuff. Boxes and boxes of them. He says it’ll save us money when we have kids to keep it.

        We need shelves but don’t have many places to put them. Or like. The skill to put them up. The curtains we hung are mostly up with duct tape, for example. We’re working on that but money is tight.

        1. NaoNao*

          One way to talk to people about “someday” items is to point out that storing and caring for those items is costing you money (in the form of effort and time) NOW. Also, by the time you have kids, toy “trends” will have changed a lot, and there is no guarantee that your child will be a reader, will like to play with husband’s toys, etc.
          From my experience, treasured childhood toys from Generation “A” (the husband) will not be appreciated or played with in the way he wants them to be. Labels or boxes will be destroyed, and the value of collectibles will be nil. Books will be ripped or dropped in the tub. Figurines or dolls will be torn limb from limb. Have him watch Toy Story, the scene where the toys get put in the toddler room in the day care–it’s eye opening!
          Is there a child in your life (such as a nephew or niece or cousin) who can play with and enjoy these toys now? Is there someone who can give maybe half or a third of those toys and books some love? Or a local charity?
          Another thing you could point out is that when one has a child, many relatives, coworkers and friends almost come out of the woodwork with gifts and hand me downs. How much money were you planning on spending on toys?
          If these items have “inherent” value as collector’s items, they should not be in the “hand me down toys” pile. If they are not inherently valuable, they can be cheaply (garage sale, thrift store, craigslist, church sales) replaced. Maybe take that tack in your next discussion.
          Other solutions:
          Get those stick-on hooks (called “Command” in the US) and use your vertical space! Wall space is the least-used resource in most houses.
          If you live in an apartment complex, there should be no shame in your curb shopping game! Today, and this weekend (and every end/beginning of the month) people are moving and they are dumping perfectly good furniture/storage solutions. You can get shelving, tables, chairs, bookcases, you name it! Get to know the drop off points and get comfortable with curb shopping!
          For curtains, get tension rods–they are very, very easy to use. Measure your window frame and write that down, hit up Target and get one tension rod in the correct size for each curtain/window. Tension rods usually come in ranges, so let’s say your window frame is 26″, you get a rod that’s 22″ to 40″, and adjust to 26″. If you’re using commerical curtains, there should be a wide hem/slot at the top where you can slide the tension rod in, then pop the tension rod into the window sill at the top. Boom done!
          You may want to invest in grooming for your cat, where they clip the coat almost all the way down every few months. The cat will look a little “naked” but it will save you on time/effort of vacuuming.
          One of my friends has a little…hard to describe, it’s like a shack/shed that was built in her yard, just four simple walls and a roof, could you do anything like that–perhaps barter or trade for a builder or work with Home Depot to have it delivered and put up?
          The biggest thing about clutter is that everything needs a dedicated home–and the home for the boxed toys may be a friendly relative’s garage or a storage unit, unless you’re currently expecting a baby or fostering a child! :)

          One other possibility or advice is to make it positive: go on Apartment Therapy.com or other inspirational sites and encourage your husband to imagine a clean, easy-use, happy space where you can entertain friends, and enjoy each others’ company. Not to sound sexist, because there’s women like this too I’m sure (hi, my sister!) but it seems like a lot of men kind of…get into this “nest” like state with all their fave possessions grouped around them like a dragon’s treasure hoard and they feel comfortable like that, despite it being so aesthetically unpleasant for his fellow peoples. Perhaps seeing images of grown-up, airy comfortable spaces with dedicated areas for collections (ie, the hoard) will inspire him to dig out of the nest a bit.
          Good luck!!

    6. periwinkle*

      Take a tip from museums like the Smithsonian. The amount of stuff in their collection is beyond vast but they only have a very limited amount of display space. Curate your collection of collectibles and knick knacks – display some, store the rest out of sight, and rotate the display periodically.

      Anything you use regularly needs a readily accessible home – you know that an item belongs in a certain drawer/cabinet/pegboard/shelf/box. Anything you use periodically but not regularly goes into less-accessible storage (top shelf of a closet or cabinet, underbed storage, that sort of thing). If you don’t use it but refuse to part with it, it goes in dead storage – attic, basement, deepest lurking corners of the apartment, self-storage facility. You can still get to it but it’s not taking up your very limited space. Keep an inventory list so you know what’s in deep or dead storage. If your husband’s stuff is already in big boxes, great, that saves a step before taking it to the storage facility.

      Signed, a reformed (well, mostly) clutter-keeper

    7. Luv the pets*

      We are finally in a position where we can (usually) easily afford to pay our own way. Over the years we’ve been easing into independence by paying for our own meals, paying for everyone’s meals, and taking turns doing so. Now when we travel together they still occasionally like to treat. They know we are adults. Not long ago, my mom’s beloved pet died. I handled the arrangements and paid the final vet bill so she would not have to be faced with that pain. When we have giving parents or families, sometimes we can find other ways to give back.

    8. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      Have you tried a Bissell vacuum? They disassemble very easily in my experience and I’ve never had a clog I couldn’t get out with one. I’ve had fluffy dogs and fluffy chinchillas and fluffy cats kill many a vacuum of another brand. The pet-hair model is my current one and it pulls a cat a week out of my carpet. It’s perma-dusty inside from the volcanic ash my late chinchilla bathed in, but even the thickest fur in the world couldn’t stop that vacuum for long.

    9. AnotherTeacher*

      Do you have a canister vacuum? We switched to one – nothing fancy, a Kenmore – and it is so much better for all of the cat hair, litter dust, etc. that accumulates in our house.

    10. Elsajeni*

      For DVDs and video games, do you or your husband feel strongly about keeping the original cases? I have a friend who’s a big DVD collector and he recently bought a bunch of cases that hold 4 or 6 discs in the same amount of space as one normal case — that might help with storage space, and if you organize them by series or genre and label the cases, it shouldn’t make it any harder to find what you want to watch/play.

      1. Lindsay J*

        My boyfriend has a couple big binders that hold like 2 dvds to a page (so visible when opened). They take up almost no room while if they were in their original cases they would need a shelf or two of their own.

    11. brightstar*

      The cat hair you’ll just have to deal with, though if you can manage to brush him regularly that will help.

      I’ve lived in places with little storage and am a big believer in those Rubbermaid tubs. My current place has a fair amount of storage, but when my boyfriend moved in, it wasn’t quite enough. We have containers to store his collection of video games that slide under the bed, and other containers to stack in the ONE closet. The kitchen cabinets have enough space above them to provide a place to put big items we don’t use often, and my cd collection that is now in a box. I have baskets to place other items in that also serve as decoration as well as decorative boxes for storage.

    12. Garland Not Andrews*

      I have a ton of craft stuff and the solution I found was plastic snap together (no tools or skills required) from Home Depot or Lowes or some such. They come in a variety of sizes and are not too expensive. I got ones that would fit the banker boxes I could get.

      They could be put behind the sofa or other furniture, especially if you are not in the boxes very often. At least things are neat and contained.

      I use a long handled duster (think bottle brush on steroids) to keep the hair and cobwebs down. As the shelves sit directly on the floor I don’t vacuum under them unless I have to move them, but keeping the dust/hair off helps.

  16. Did I get this wiring correct?*

    I have internet plus from Comcast, and I’m about to get my first smart/digital TV. My current TV is a behemoth that was pretty much the last TV built before flat screens and high-def. So, I am currently using a digital converter. I think the below wiring situation is correct, but am I missing something? Coaxial cable comes from wall to a splitter. From splitter, one coaxial goes to TV and the other goes to the modem. An ethernet cable goes from modem to TV. And, of course, everything is plugged in. Anything else?

    1. Tennessee*

      (response from my SO, who works in TV)

      Two comments I’d make:

      First, the ethernet cable from the modem to the TV is good. That’s how the “smart-TV” apps on the TV will get their feeds. Not all work that way, for instance our Roku box and smart TV both pull over our in-home wifi. But the ethernet should work.

      Second, on the TV front:

      Like most cable distributors these days, Comcast encrypts their cable TV signal, so you cannot simply connect their coaxial feed directly to the TV as you could have done pre-encryption; you still need their box. So the coax would go from the splitter to their box, then from the box to your TV. It’s possible that down the road some TV manufacturers may incorporate provider-specific decryption into their sets (I’ve not shopped for a set in some years, so it’s possible they’re already doing so). If that were the case, you could indeed get rid of the box. But based on my experience getting a third-party DVR to work with Comcast in my workplace, it’ll be easier just to go with their box.

      How old is your box? If it dates back several years, it may not be able to decode HD signals, which you likely want. You may have to swap the box with Comcast for an HD box. If you do, you’ll want to connect an HDMI cable from the box to the TV to get HD feeds. If you’re satisfied with standard-definition feeds, you can just go with a short coax cable from the box to the TV. Check with Comcast and find out if a box that will provide HD feeds will cost more.

      1. Did I get this wiring correct?*

        There is no box. Internet plus does not come with a box. I have never had a box. Currently, the coaxial goes to the digital converter, which then connects to the TV. I thought that by getting an HDTV, I would no longer need the digital converter. Is that correct?

        1. Tennessee*

          (SO here)

          I may have misunderstood your original post. Are you contemplating watching cable TV from the Comcast feed? Comcast’s web site specifies that Internet Plus requires subscription to their basic cable package, so it will be there regardless. In our area, even the basic cable service requires a Comcast box for reception due to their encryption. In your area this may be different. I’d suggest you do as you originally posted, connect a coax from the splitter to the TV and see if the set picks up the channel feed from the Comcast cable. If so, great. If not, you’ll likely need a box from them if you’re interested in watching TV from their feed. Alternatively, you can always keep using an over-the-air antenna to watch the local stations. With the antenna, you won’t need the digital converter box anymore, as the new TV will have that circuitry built in.

          Whether you want to watch TV through Comcast or with the antenna, be sure to do a channel scan once you connect up everything and turn on the TV (which most new digital TVs will do by default the first time they’re powered up). One important thing to take note of, the channel layouts are different over-the-air and on cable, so the TV may ask you which one you’re connected to, so it’ll know what frequencies to scan.

          (My misunderstaning may come from my own experience here at home with Comcast. We at one point had Internet service with them but no TV service, which cost us around $40/month. They changed their policy and told us we’d have to sign up for TV service in order to continue to receive Internet service, which would have doubled the bill. I pulled the plug and told them “no thanks”.)

          Hope this helps.

          1. Did I get this wiring correct?*

            Yes, it does help and yes, I intend to watch from the Comcast feed. Internet plus is internet plus a very small number of channels. So small, you don’t need a big box; I’ve just used the digital converter. It’s cheaper than naked internet, at least for now. Doing more research, it looks like I will need to continue to use the digital converter or I can see what channels I can pick up with an HDTV antenna.

  17. Sandy*

    I am n the midst of an international move, and I have just HAD IT.

    It’s not the big stuff that’s bugging me, it’s all the little annoying things that you can’t/shouldn’t get rid of, but pile up and get REALLY annoying to move, like diplomas, marriage certificate, immunization records, photo albums, OTC meds (no one takes half-full bottles, throwing them out seems like I’ll be creating the gazillion-eyed fish from the Simpsons, and that’s how I wind up carrying piles and piles of utter crap from home to home to home.

    1. Eriqua*

      Fwiw I think some chemists/pharmacists are able to accept unused medication back and then they dispose of it properly. I know that then becomes one more thing you have to do but perhaps it could help reduce your clutter?

      1. Caledonia*

        Enriqua I was just coming to say this exact same thing as it’s something I learned this week (also prepping for a move).

      2. SophieChotek*

        Also coming to say the same thing. My local sheriff office has a drop box you can throw them in also. When we move my Grandma into long-term car, I was taking bags of expired medication she had stashed all over the house.

    2. Blue Anne*

      I have a huge, huge amount of sympathy, having done this a couple months ago. I’m still not fully recovered.

    3. Jules the First*

      I scanned all those annoying records, saved the resulting PDFs in an encrypted file in my dropbox, then packed all the records in a fire-resistant case and chucked them in a box. That way, the next time you move, they’re all in one place, but you have digital copies you can refer to if you ever need the info.

    4. Garland Not Andrews*

      In my area, pharmacies will not take back meds. But they suggest dumping them into a plastic milk jug type container, sealing it up and disposing with the trash. Sealing it into a plastic container helps keep it out of the water, etc.

  18. Cristina in England*

    I am a bit obsessed with renovation at the moment. Background: we bought a house that hasn’t been renovated since 1965 (apart from central heating), and it needed total doing-up. We have upgraded the electrics, walls and the floors (I know, it is backwards to do floors first but it was bare concrete). We moved from a 650sq ft rental to 1150sq ft, which by British standards is quite spacious! I side-eye hard when my American family complains about not having enough space (layout is usually the real problem anyway).

    We seem to have worked out how to improve the kitchen layout (three of four corners have doors). We are going to block up the back door and turn the kitchen window into a door. This will gain us one corner.

    In the bathroom, we are rotating the bath 90 degrees from lengthways in front of the door to completely across the short wall, American-style (enclosed on three sides instead of just two as is typical here). The house currently has a WC with just a toilet in it (not even a sink) next door to the bathroom which has a sink and bath but no toilet. We are adding a sink to the WC and a toilet to the bathroom to have one and a half baths.

    The garden/backyard is a patio with a big expanse of dirt, as the gardeners have removed everything but not put anything back in yet (scheduling was a bit tight). So since our neighbour is on holiday we fed their chickens and used their kiddie/paddling pool. Very fun and relaxing!

    1. BRR*

      I like how you brought up layout. Three years ago I moved to a smaller apartment but it had a much better layout. Everything fit no problem.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Thank you. Layout is so important! I was flabbergasted that my sister’s house, at twice the sq footage of mine, has one fewer bedroom because of a really inconvenient layout with the attic stairs.

    2. Caledonia*

      In Edinburgh (I’m looking at flats there) the whole shower room/bathroom + separate wc seems incredibly common…

      I’ve only ever had baths enclosed on 3 sides and they’ve all been smaller than standard to fit the space (my rental place last year had a standard bath. I hated it because I’m short!)

      1. Cristina in England*

        I always wanted to move to Edinburgh! This must be quite a tricky time to flat-hunt there with the festival on soon. Please keep us updated; I will keep my fingers crossed for you.

        Yes we have to get a smaller bath to fit the short wall, from 170cm to 150cm (from about 70 inches to 62). I am excited because I love an enclosed bath and haven’t had one in ages.

        I never liked L-shaped baths before but we are getting one of those so the showering area doesn’t feel so cramped. (L-shaped and P-shaped baths are tubs that are about 4-6 inches wider at one end, to give more showering room but also to save space along the length of it. From what I can tell American baths are generally shorter but wider than the standard 170x70cm British bath. I hope my chronic US-UK translation of units, etc isn’t too annoying, but L and P shaped baths don’t really exist in America).

        1. Caledonia*

          I’m only internet browsing atm, I cannot afford to move til my flat sale goes through in 27 days. Erk. L and P shaped baths!?? Is it a bath where the shower end is larger?

            1. Caledonia*

              @ cristina – oooh nice baths. I’ve never had one before but would def consider it!

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Ooh, those are nice!

              My auntie lives in a house (in greater London) that I think was built in the 1920s–it has a very deep, very narrow tub with high sides. My first night there, I ran some bathwater and climbed in and sat down, and I was so exhausted I actually felt as if I couldn’t get back out again. I remember thinking, I’m going to spend the rest of my holiday stuck in this tub!

              1. Cristina in England*

                Narrow tub with high sides… yep, sounds about right! :-) That’s just like the one we’re replacing.

          1. Harriet*

            Ooh, what areas are you looking at? This is a few years old now, but one thing I found about Edinburgh flats is that they went insanely quickly – I’d happily compile a shortlist, phone up to arrange viewings, and they had all been taken. Not that that’s the most helpful comment, sorry!

            1. Caledonia*

              For renting: anywhere that will take me/my cat.

              For buying: Dalry, Leith, off Easter Road, Abbeyhill, Newington, Gorgie…anywhere that has a bathroom or space for a bath and has a garden.

      2. Elkay*

        I’m jealous, I love Edinburgh, I would happily live there but job/house/family mean it’s not on the cards.

      3. Tau*

        Good luck! Having done the flat-hunting (if only for rent) thing numerous times in the last few years – my favourite was the time my lease ended a month before I submitted my PhD thesis – I hope everything works out and you end up with a lovely place. Also, I hope you enjoy Edinburgh! I lived there for four years and loved it.

        Although I never did manage to land a flat with a bathtub. Here’s hoping you have better luck.

  19. nep*

    ThredUp.
    How did I not know about this before?
    Well I’m really glad I learned about it on this site last weekend. Thanks, all.
    I love everything about it so far. (One choice item: $99.50 Michaels Kors slacks with tag still on for 20-some dollars.)

    1. Saro*

      You always have the best suggestions – I need new clothes but can’t bear going/or have the time to any store with my toddler. Thanks!

      1. nep*

        A couple of others on AAM recommended this site to someone last weekend and that’s how I learned of it.
        Speaking of toddlers — ThredUp also has children’s clothing.
        Many of the items I’ve seen on the site still have tags on, and the reductions are drastic.

  20. Ardina*

    I’m in the process of moving into my first flat and I’m sure there are things I should know/ think about/ buy before striking out into adult life. I’ll now be starting my first job in a month – I started paying rent today. I was lucky enough to be headhunted right after graduating – which is great! – but has meant a rapid change of plans from job-hunting at home in the isolated countryside for a while to relocating to the big city.

    Any tips for a first time tenant/ brand new grad on the living side of things? What household things might I have forgotten? What’s your favourite tip for adjusting to and decorating a new home? Or budgeting – this is my first time earning money and while I get far more than I’d expected in my newly minted position, I’m starting to realise how steep the cost of living is in this city.

    1. Caledonia*

      Take pictures of your flat prior to moving in. That way, if/when you move out and your landlord/agency/whoever says you broke this thing or that thing, you have evidence.
      Are you allowed to decorate? Some places have strict rules on what is and isn’t allowed e.g. blu tack on walls.

      1. Confused Publisher*

        I made spreadsheets to help me with budgets, and it’s a habit I’ve kept up even now. It also enabled me to squirrel away money for nice-to-haves and emergencies.

        Do you cook? I made friends with my slow cooker and pressure cooker, cooked massive batches of stews and casseroles, and froze them in individual portions. It saved me a lot of money in take-out!

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      I found it helpful to keep a spreadsheet of everything I needed to pay each month: rent, loans, utilities, internet, streaming services, gym memberships/anything that doesn’t change from month to month, etc. Keep that total amount in mind because this is money you should mentally subtract from your monthly pay since this will be about the same each month. Use the remaining balance to figure out how much you can spend on groceries, credit card payments (if you have them), and entertainment.

      Also, I found a great way to save was to have two bank accounts. One account is my main one where most of my paycheck goes and another is my savings account where a set amount is taken out of my paycheck each month and deposited into that account. It’s an out of sight, out of mind type of thing and it really helped me save a little.

      If you’re moving for the first time, expect to pay more than you expect on groceries and toiletries and other household things. It adds up for the first few months because you need to stock your fridge and cabinets with condiments, cleaning supplies, etc. They’re the things you don’t really think of, but definitely need. I moved from a rural area to a city and the cost of groceries was more expensive – it was maybe $2 for a loaf of bread in my hometown, but $4 for the same loaf of bread in the city. Same for cleaning supplies and toiletries. Get to know the stores around you and which ones have the best prices.

      As for decorating, make sure you know what your landlord allows and doesn’t allow. My first apartment didn’t let us put nails in the walls – and it would come out of the security deposit if you did. I used those sticky hanging strips, but they tore the paint off the wall.

    3. Temperance*

      My advice would be to wait to decorate until you’re in your home for at least a few weeks, because there are so many things that you don’t think you need but will, like cleaning products and random household items, like a mop/broom/toilet brush/etc.

      1. Professional Mover*

        Third!

        Also, I’ve always found it takes me 3 months before I really feel comfortable in a new home – both the aparment/house and neighborhood. So don’t worry it if takes a while for it to feel like home. I’ve lived in 6 different apartments in 5 different cities in 4 different states…it’s been 3 months pretty much every time! Knowing that the lost/frustrated/homesick part will get better if I give it time makes it not so bad when those feelings hit.

    4. Canadian Natasha*

      A few tips I would have appreciated when I first moved out:

      Re: cleaning- If you aren’t a fan of toxic chemicals, and don’t want to buy a whole lot of cleaning supplies, you can get away with a 50/50 vinegar-water solution for a lot of cleaning (mirrors & sinks, counters, any glass, just not wood products or natural stone). It will smell like fish and chips but the odour disperses quite quickly. If you’re concerned about the surface material you can make that a lower vinegar percentage and/or test it on an unobvious spot first. Vinegar/water/dish soap works for lino floors too but make sure to add the soap after running the water so it doesn’t get too bubbly. The best thing I’ve ever found for tub/shower scum is also dish soap. It’s also waaay cheaper than the huge variety of products the advertisers try to get you to buy for cleaning. And places like Walmart will sell a cheap bag of cut up material in the auto section that are meant for buffing your vehicle but work just fine for cleaning rags.

      Re: budgeting- if you happen to be starting out on a more restricted budget, I’d suggest you make sure to leave room for a weekly or monthly treat. I usually did this with my groceries (buy the essentials and get to buy one “extra” of my choice). It makes a big difference!

      Re: decorating- If you don’t want to invest in all sorts of expensive furniture first thing, you can check out Freecycle (Google them- they may have a branch in your city) which is an international series of community groups whose goal is keeping stuff out of the landfill. I’ve gotten a bicycle, an exercise bike, a mattress and boxspring, a bed frame, and also plants from Freecycle in the past. You may want to be careful, especially about furniture that could have bedbugs or the like, but there’s no price like free and you are helping the environment too!

      Bonus tip- At least here in Canada, buying a precooked chicken at the grocery store is cheaper than buying raw chicken (whole or parts) unless you have room in your freezer for a massive warehouse pack. It’s also a lot less work and you can cut up the extra cooked bits and freeze them for another meal.

    5. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      Things I forgot for my first place:

      1) Shower curtain and shower hooks. :(
      2) A VACUUM. ugh I went a month without one because I had no car–it was FOUL.

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        And I think someone had said in previous free-for-all re: your own place, a toilet plunger is one of those things you don’t want to ask a new neighbour to borrow.

    6. Jules the First*

      Hold off on buying stuff. Give yourself a couple of weeks to settle in and as you start to find youself missing things, make a list of the things you wanted but didn’t have. Then you can prioritise and buy the most important things first.

      Budgeting-wise, make sure you work out your after-tax take-home pay too – it can be quite a bit smaller than you’ve expected. If you’re starting work mid-month, you may also want to check with HR what their payroll cut off date is – nothing like expecting to get paid after your first two weeks on the job and then discovering that it takes two weeks to get put into the payroll system!

  21. Harriet*

    Harry Potter: anyone else excitedly waiting for the release of the play? I’m really impressed with how the story didn’t leak out during the previews, and now I’m waiting for midnight so I can get stuck in on my kindle!

    1. Confused Publisher*

      Me too, me too! My husband pre-ordered it for me as soon as that became an option here.

    2. Al Lo*

      Yes! I’m at a midnight release tonight at a big chain bookstore, and then tomorrow, a whole neighbourhood is turning into Diagon Alley, with different businesses taking on various Potter establishments. A local theatre company is hosting a public read-out-loud of Part 1 in the morning, so I’m super excited for that.

        1. Al Lo*

          I’m on my way there right now. Was definitely up super late last night reading it. If I hadn’t wanted to go see it before, I can definitely do that now!

    3. Liane*

      Alas, we can’t afford to buy it right now, but I have had it on reserve through the library since they listed it.

  22. Random Citizen*

    Windows 10! I updated my laptop from Windows 7 last night (at the last possible minutes, of course) and… I can’t stand it. The interface is fine, some of the features are nice, but it seems so cluttered and I hate how small the icons on the taskbar are (I checked, and they’re set to normal size with no way to make them bigger).

    BUT it’s mostly the touchpad. I loved the way mine worked before – the way the pointer moved, how it scrolled, etc., and I haaaate how it moves on the new one. It just feels awkward and unnatural, and so difficult to navigate and click on things. I messed with a lot of the settings, but it’s overall just a very different feel than before – more like a typical laptop touchpad – and I can’t stand it. Honestly considering reverting to Windows 7 for that reason alone.

    Has anyone else upgraded? What did you think? Pros/Cons? Do you plan to keep it?

    1. nep*

      Thanks to Microsoft’s crappy and deceptive practices, my laptop installed Windows 10 automatically a couple months back, w/o my explicitly requesting it. I was pissed at that; just on principle I was going to revert.
      I thought Windows 10 would be radically different but it does not feel very different to me at all. Partly for that, and partly because an IT-expert friend said that for the long haul it probably is best just to stick with 10, I’ve kept it.

      1. Random Citizen*

        Yeah, interface is fine – not great, but fine, and I want to keep it, but the touchpad issues are annoying the living daylights out of my and I’m ready to pitch the whole thing out the nearest window. Thinking downgrading OSs would be a preferable alternative.

          1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

            After 30 days it wipes the backup of your old OS that it makes, if I recall correctly.

        1. Debbie Downer*

          I had to revert mine back to 8.1. I wanted to like 10 and I had heard wonderful things, but it just would not work with my laptop. I tried for weeks to find a solution for my touchpad driver issue, but in the end, nothing could stop the click lock and scrolling issues. Nothing makes a laptop less useable than having touchpad issues.

    2. Nicole*

      Oooo I hate when you upgrade and things don’t work as well as they once did. We upgraded to Windows 10 at work and I dislike it. I feel like you have to go through more steps to do things than before which makes no sense since it should be more user-friendly, not less. I also don’t like the tiles on the start menu. This isn’t a phone – it’s a computer! I couldn’t decide whether to upgrade from Windows 7 on my home computer but after using Windows 10 at work I decided I’m not doing it. They will continue to offer security updates through 2020 and by then I will probably need a new desktop that will come with Windows 10 pre-installed so I’ll deal with getting annoyed with it then.

      1. Random Citizen*

        The pre-login screen is driving me nuts, especially since I habitually lock my computer whenever I walk away from it (work + roommates habit) and it’s a pain to have to wait for an extra screen to load. Not even sure which button is supposed to move past the screen, but slamming my fist on the touchpad seems to be effective so far…

    3. Amber Rose*

      I have it on my desktop, and it’s OK. It beats the hell out of Windows 8, which I loathed, so maybe it’s just that 10 seems better by comparison.

      I still prefer 7 and if it were possible, all my machines would be running XP. I miss XP so much.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Not yet, though I put in a request for a new laptop at work–I’m due for an upgrade and Win 10 is now standard. Yay, I missed 8!

      I’m keeping my home laptop at Win 7 until it dies. No point in upgrading until that happens. It’s several years old and has already had a couple of hardware repairs, but I like it the way it is.

    5. Rubyrose*

      MS EDGE (the IE replacement) has problems. For some reason it decides to ignore my mouse when I am clicking on the back button. I end up having to close the tab totally.
      Also, I discovered my banking website does not recognize EDGE, so I have to be sure and use Chrome.

    6. Guava*

      I did it on the 28th, haha. I really don’t like it either. And my laptop isn’t touch screen so I don’t really benefit from its new features.

      And I hate Edge!!!

      Makes me want to save up for a MacBook again…(and I still have my old one from 2003! Works just fine.)

      1. Random Citizen*

        I’ve used Firefox for a while because I hated Internet Explorer, and will probably continue either way. A lot of the things that bug me are of the “Eh, I’ll get used to it variety,” but the touchpad issues are driving me bonkers. I’m leaving for vacation this week and likely leaving the laptop home (no internet, woohoo!), but I’ll probably revert once I get back if I hate it as much as I do now. I wanted a new laptop though, and now I’m second guessing because it would have to be Windows 10, and I really don’t want to shell out several hundred dollars for a machine I don’t love. Decisions, decisions!

    7. Myrin*

      I got a new laptop a couple of weeks ago with Window 10 pre-installed and I must admit I was surprised by how similar it is to Window 7, actually. I don’t know, my sister has Win 8 and I’ve found that that’s actually way more different compared to Win 7 than Win 10 is. I don’t know, maybe I have perception issues or maybe it was because I set up everything I could to be just like my old Win 7 laptop but it was really easy for me to get used to it. (I will forever love Win 7 more, though, especially because of the optics; I loved how everything seemed shiny and 3D-ish and like it’s something you can really touch, whereas Win 8 and 10 are just so flat and every button is just one colour and stuff.)

      I totally hate the touchpad as well but that’s actually an issue with the new laptop, not with Win 10 specifically; I’ve actually started to use a regular mouse because I just couldn’t deal with the stupid not touchpad not haven a scroll bar anymore and just not being responsive to my touches, but obviously if you’re still using the same computer, that’s not the problem you’re having.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I took advantage of the free upgrade and my major sticky point was no audio on the BBC radio Iplayer or Youtube. Happily, after a spot of googling, I have resolved the problem and will be spending the afternoon with the late, great Victoria Wood and Dinnerladies.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I never use the touchpad, so this probably won’t be an issue for me. I’m just going to make sure I get a machine with enough USB ports so I can have my wireless mouse.

    8. Alucius*

      For me the upgrade was basically fine. The thing I really don’t like is the new Mail app that replaced the Windows Live Mail suite. It looks like it was designed for a tablet/phone, with big “slots” for each individual email, so the upshot is that I have scroll down much more than I used to. Annoying, but not dealbreaking.

  23. Trixie*

    Pinterest users, have you noticed a massive increase in promotional pins? I thought i had the settings where I want them but maybe not. I just want to see see from those boards I’m actually following. And maybe “picked for you.” Frustrating enough I don’t check as often as I used to.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      YES. I use Pinterest as a recipe book– it’s so easy to search for things! But the promotional pins are getting really annoying. I don’t think you can get rid of them totally, which sucks.

    2. Cristina in England*

      Yes me too, I am glad I am not the only one! I do try to get rid of them individually when I spot one, but I am never sure if I should tick “I just don’t like ads” or “I have seen this before” or whatever other choices there are.

    3. SophieChotek*

      I know they rolled out the promotional pin and are pushing businesses, etc. to do that to increase their own business reach. Pinterest, like Facebook, I suppose needs to make revenue somewhere.

  24. embarrassed anon*

    I’m 30 and I’ve never dated anyone. I’ve had sex and gone on dates, but my longest relationship has been maybe two months. I feel like…people judge you for having no dating experience at 30 and while I don’t bring this up to anyone, I still feel weird about it.

    It’s mostly because dating bores me and while I enjoy sex, I don’t need it. I never had the opportunity to date in high school for various reasons and in college I was so focused on keeping my scholarship, getting good grades, and working that when I had free time I just wanted to spend it with my friends rather than put time into dating. After college I went from not being in a good place to not having any interest in dating to wanting to focus on my career.

    Now that I’ve started dipping my toes into the dating world again, I realize that I’m so far out of my depth. I can count the number of times I’ve had sex on one hand and those experiences have been pretty vanilla sex (no oral). I don’t know how to bring up my lack of experience (and I say this because I’ve heard enough people say things like you should know how to give oral or be good at sex by a certain age, or that there’s something wrong with women if they haven’t had a relationship by 30).

    And I just feel….awkward and embarrassed about the whole situation, even though I know I shouldn’t feel that way. I worry that because I started so late, I missed out on a lot and am going to have experiences I should have had as a teenager or twentysomething later than I should.

    1. Temperance*

      If you’re having casual sex, or casually dating, I don’t think you need to let partners know that you don’t have a ton of experience if you aren’t comfortable doing so.

      I honestly think that a lot of people make weird sex assumptions and judgments that are … weirdly out there. For instance, if you don’t know “how” to give oral, you can ask your partner what *they* prefer or how they would like you to get started. Same with sex. Honestly.

    2. nep*

      I can understand feeling apprehensive and having a sense you’ve ‘missed’ something.
      What comes to mind for me, though, is that sex isn’t something that should be ‘mechanical’ or contrived. It’s primal; from a certain point, one just goes with the flow. If you’re with someone who’s respectful and there is chemistry and desire there, no need to worry about what or how.
      If it’s the right person to share this experience with, the discovery, the exploration, the finding out what the other likes — that’s a big part of the pleasure, as far as I’m concerned.
      One more thought — there is such a vast range of things that turn people on. No two are alike in that, I imagine. So it’s not like you’ve got to fit some formula. If you have an experience with someone and it doesn’t quite go well, it will likely be that it wouldn’t have anyway, no matter your experience or lack thereof.
      My two cents…Thinking ‘aloud’.
      All the best.

    3. Amber Rose*

      So, as someone on the verge of 30, I was discussing with my best friend about all the things you’re apparently supposed to do in your 20’s, and how it feels like especially with women, we have a shelf life. Like vaginas have a use by date at age 30, and after that you might as well stick a 50% off sticker on your ass and give up.

      But my mother in law in her 50’s is having the time of her life on the dating scene, and my 60 year old father has so many girlfriends I don’t even bother to learn their names. Watching them I figure… There’s time. Experience or no experience, there’s always time.

      Unless you’re me. I dated exactly one person and married him. Barring his sudden death or a ridiculous change in my personality that would lead me to cheat, I’ll never be in the dating scene at all. That said, I still feel that pressure as someone who has been married 5 years and not got pregnant.

      1. this is a name*

        Oh no, sorry, I worded that wrong. I just put it there as a no, I haven’t done oral either, just vanilla penetrative sex.

    4. Myrin*

      I’m 25 and I’ve never had a relationship or sex (I’ve never even kissed anyone) and while I do feel somewhat weird or self-conscious about it from time to time, I figure that I can easily weed out potential future partners by how they react if I tell them about it (intertwined with the fact that I’m grey-asexual, which I plan to bring up early on should I ever get to the point of potentially dating someone) because ain’t nobody got time for judgmental twiddlebums.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Same! Although I don’t think I’m asexual, it’s just a matter of meeting the right person.

      2. Amadeo*

        I’m 35 and in the same boat. Not asexual or anything, just never met the right person. I have very little patience for a lot of things, so that doesn’t help. I’m pretty happy though, regardless of occasionally feeling a little bit judged by society at large. I wouldn’t mind a companion, but I don’t want kids of my own and I don’t feel the need to just recreationally date. So *shrug*.

    1. SL #2*

      Hahahaha there are several parents at my job who are greeting this news with the same amount of cheer you are.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      My friends’ kids in Indiana ALREADY STARTED THIS PAST WEEK. My mind boggles. I’ve lived in the Northeast my whole life, where I’ve only known it to start the last week in August or the first week of September.

  25. Vacation Ideas*

    I have four weeks off and no vacation ideas (work burnout).
    Can anyone help? River cruises are sold out. So are Europe tours.
    I don’t want to waste precious holiday time wandering a mall.
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Stephanie*

      I’d check out the national parks. Maybe you could do a tour? If you have a lot of time, I’d check out the more remote ones like Dry Tortugas or Big Bend.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Road trip? Just get in your car and drive wherever you feel like? No need for reservations.

    3. Random Citizen*

      Price range and location? Are you in the US or UK, wanting to stay close by, or wanting to travel far? One long trip, or multiple shorter jaunts?

      1. Random Citizen*

        In general, any long-distance friends or relatives you’d like to visit? If you’re in the US, any major tourist sites/national landmarks you’ve always wanted to see? I’m thinking Niagara Falls, Grand Canyon, Smithsonian – have you been to Colorado? The Rockies are gorgeous, and little ski towns in the mountains are great tourist attractions. If you’re into camping, KOAs can be a nice, inexpensive option over hotels, or rent an RV and drive somewhere cool! Washington state is gorgeous, especially on the coast, and the Arkansas Ozarks are quite lovely as well.

        If you enjoy shopping, maybe an exotic flea market within a few hours drive would be more your style. Northern areas – Maine coast, Duluth, MN – can be great to visit this time of year since further north + on the water = much cooler.

        And OMG, my favorite hobby – letterboxing! It’s a really cool international hobby where you get clues on line with directions in varyying degrees of specificity/code/clarity and go to places in the woods or shops in towns or tourist spots to find a “letterbox” with an (often custom, handcarved) rubber stamp connected to the clue or location. You can bring a notebook to collect the stamps in, and bring a stamp of your own to stamp in their logbook and write an alias, where you’re from, something about the weather, whatever you want!

        I have found some of the coolest little tucked away places this way – a hidden waterfall miles off the main highway on a dirt road, and then the opposite direction of tourist attraction, and then a quarter-mile walk in the woods; an old stock car and statue made with parts from the car back in the corner of a mountain biking park; a little museum in a small town where I had to go inside and tell the person behind the desk a code phrase to get an intricately carved wooden box from under the display case with a gorgeous hand-carved stamp tied to the code phrase.

        Link to follow.

    4. Sheep*

      What do you mean Europe tours are sold out? Like all of Europe is sold out? Given the size of Europe, and the bajillion countries in Europe, I highly doubt it! ;)

      What are you looking for from your vacation? Nature/city/etc?

    5. SophieChotek*

      Tours of Asia instead?
      Create your own itinery of Europe or US?
      Guess it really depends on money/finances?
      Road trip — maybe someplace you’ve wanted to see in [your country?]
      Do you have a “thing” you’re interested in — Civil War battlefields (East Coat Road Trip), or sports (Hall of Fame Museums), or things like that you could plan a road trip around?

  26. Cafe au Lait*

    My tooth hurts. I’ve been to the dentist and he wants to wait a week before scheduling a root canal.

    Oatmeal, eggs, pudding, and mashed potatoes have been my best friends. But I can’t survive on that for a week or more.

    Does anyone have delicious soft-food recipes they’d like to share? I am not a fan of one-pot rice recipes.

    1. nep*

      My sympathies. Tooth pain is awful.
      Do you like pureed chick peas or peas?
      On the sweeter side — Do you do smoothies at all? Or banana ‘ice cream’? Mango puree?

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Soups? Something with quinoa? Mac and cheese? Pasta that’s been slightly overcooked? That refuge of the sick… Jell-o?

      I am not a cook, so that’s what I’d look at. That and ice cream (provided the cold is something your tooth can handle). Ice cream makes me happy.

      You must be miserable with that. It’s not the same, but when I had braces, I couldn’t eat solid food for the first week I had them. I was miserable. I can’t believe your dentist won’t get you in sooner. If things get really bad, there are emergency dentists. You might want to do some research in your area to find one just in case. One person I know was in a situation where she needed dentistry badly but her dentist didn’t have an opening/wouldn’t fit her in, so she went to the emergency one. You gotta do what you gotta do.

    3. Random Citizen*

      Cheesy hashbrowns are the best if you can handle something a little chewier. Can you eat noodles? That opens up a lot of options – if you are okay cooking them a little longer so they’re softer, that might work even better. Then you could do noodles and gravy/noodles and spaghetti sauce with no meat, cold pasta tossed with olive oil and lemon.

      1. Random Citizen*

        Oops, just saw that Dynamic Beige already recommended overcooked pasta – adding sauces can help cancel out the over-soft factor if it’s not your favorite.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          No worries, great minds and all that ;)

          You can also get different kinds of pasta — quinoa, spinach, rice, egg. Vermicelli, elbow, bow tie, penne, alphabet.

          As nep said, hummus with the soft insides of bread (no crust). You might also look into protein powders — whey, for example — that you can put in a smoothie. Or one that you just have to add water or milk (soy milk, almond) to and mix. In a pinch, there’s always Ensure.

    4. Grumpy*

      Smoothies, maybe? Soup. Mango lassi from the local Indian place.
      Hope you feel better.

      1. Lily Evans*

        I think an Indian restaurant would be a great option for other things too. A lot of vegetarian curries have ingredients that are pretty soft.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      After I had dental surgery, my favorite thing was to make soup with chicken broth and V8, then drop in eggs to poach in the soup. It made the eggs super flavorful, and the V8 ensured I got my veggies. Another option is whisking the eggs and making basically various-flavored egg drop soups.

  27. NewInTown*

    Hi all! Long time listener, first time caller. My question is: has anyone here asked a friend to change a habit/behavior that you find annoying? How did it go when you did?

    Most likely overly detailed backstory, so feel free to skip if you just want to share your own experience: My best friend of 20 years is pretty conflict avoidant, to the point that she waits for guys to break up with her even when she’s done with that relationship. She’s pretty self aware about it though . She does do a lot of text dodging when she doesn’t want to deal with someone, and then will respond with “oh my phone was on silent, just saw this, thought I already responded etc.” She will often share this with me when she’s talking about other people. I do know that the wiggle room on responding is part of the perk of texting instead of calling. And honestly, I am a terrible texter. I don’t like dangling conversations so I tend to view the whole thing as more of leaving a note for someone that you know they’ll see eventually. I am either on my phone doing something right then, or it’s on the charger/in the other room. So this is not normally a problem.

    However, I have been running into a problem for the past 2 years where she will invite me to hang out (through text) and then not respond to anything after, like questions about time and location. Again, not a big deal, I understand people sometimes get busy or change their minds, and I know she in paticular likes to just dodge what could be an awkward conversation, so I will normally wait about half and hour and then assume she changed her mind. I always get an apology after, sometimes paired with a “I thought you were coming and then changed you mind/got busy when you didnt show” and sometimes with a “my phone was on silent” from her. We see each other ever other day anyway so a few missed connections are not a big deal. She knows that I totally get that things can change and I am fine with rescheduling when she is upfront about something coming up, be it different circumstances or that she is just feeling moody or cranky. I do the same thing occasionally and there’s no hard feelings on either side.
    So last night she was having some gentleman problems (lots of miscommunication and unclear feelings) and wanted to grab a beer after work. I said I’d love to! Then, she said “oh, would you mind if we pushed it back for a bit? He is going to come over for awhile and we are going talk.” I said “that is fine! Text me when you want me.” Then we texted back and forth for a few hours about different things. She was nervous, so I was making sure I was available while she waited. About 10pm I asked how her night was going and she said he still hadn’t shown, she had a headache and was just going to eat some pizza and fall asleep. I offered to swing by for the pizza portion, she said she wasn’t up for it, we chatted a bit more about nonsense. I assumed we were done for the night until she texted me to call her at 11:30 (she didn’t want to wake me up if I was asleep, I wasn’t.) He had apparently shown up soon after we stopped texting, invited her to a mutual friends house to hang out, they might stop by a bar near my house. She wanted to know if I was still available if they ended up going out so we could hang, I said yep, just let me know, I will be up for a bit. Then at 11:58 she texted me “want a beer?” I responded two minutes later with ” Yes, please” I waited 10 minutes, asked if we were meeting at the bar, waited 10 more minutes and sent a “feeling fickle tonight?”and then when I still didn’t hear back from her gave up around 1:30 and fell asleep. At 2am she texted “sorry, her phone was on silent, her guy had even asked her when I was showing up and she was a terrible friend.” I said I had given up at 130 when I didn’t hear from her, but I hope she had a good time. She said it was a weird night anyway so I didn’t miss much.

    I thought we were good, wasn’t on my phone for a few hours and came back to a bunch of funny pictures (not unusual) and then when I responded she texted back that she was assuming that I was super mad at her for last night. And look, I do wish she would have just texted me so I wasn’t waiting for so long, but I am also not mad. She has a lot going on right now and I want to give her all the slack I can.
    Unfortunately, I know a big part of her stress right now is that her guy friend and a few of our other friends are mad at her for not being available when they want to see her. The girlfriends think she spends to much time with the guy and the guy think she doesn’t make time for him. And I am just here in the middle seeing her way more than anyone else, so it’s kinda a weird dynamic.
    Should I say something to her? The change of plans don’t bother me, the excuse that she had her phone on silent is bit unnecessary and kinda insulting in this paticular case. If I were to take her at her word it implies to me that she forgot 2 minutes after she invited me that she had asked me to come out, then that she blew off her guy’s question (which she told me about herself!) and that she wasn’t even invested enough in me to check her phone. I don’t believe that is what happened, and I don’t think she realizes that the implication is worse then just saying that things changed and I didn’t text back. But I also dont want to add more stress to her whole situation, I really enjoy being the laid back friend. On the other hand, her other friends are upset with her for similar stuff, so maybe I am not doing her a favor by saying its fine. Which it acutally is, this is definitely not a deal breaker, I will just give up earlier next time if I don’t hear back. Opinions? Scripts? Thanks for reading, that was way longer then I intended.

    1. Random Citizen*

      Aw, I’m sorry. Friend troubles are hard. :( Could you tell her something like what you said in your last paragraph? Something like, “Hey, I know you thought I was upset about the other night, and it seriously doesn’t bother me that you changed plans – like, not at all – but I’d really rather you just said you changed your mind when we talked about it later if that’s what happened. I don’t want you to think you have to tiptoe around me with your phone being off or anything – I’m totally fine with you changing your mind.”

      1. NewInTown*

        I think I will try that! I know when I see her tomorrow night (we do Sunday evening Parks and Rec marathoning with laundry at her house cause my dryer is broken at the moment) she will apologize again in person, so that will be my chance. I don’t want to text her, tone is so hard. Ugh, texting in general. Thank you!

    2. Ice Bear*

      Hmmm… she doesn’t sound like a very good friend. She’s self-absorbed, and while I read your sequence of events I couldn’t help but feel like you’re not the laid back friend – you’re the doormat. Apologies if that’s harsh but it’s what came to mind especially because her other friends are upset with her for her inconsiderate behavior. You’re good enough when she isn’t busy with something else and she puts you on the backburner in case she needs you. It doesn’t sound to me like she considers your feelings or schedule at all. And then she turns it around and accuses you of being mad because she knows damn well you have every right to be, because you do! If she’s truly your best friend she should be treating you much better regardless of what is going on in her life because there will always be an excuse to treat you (and the rest of her friends) poorly. Honestly, I don’t mean to rip on your friend (or you) but I couldn’t see myself wanting to be friends with her. One-sided relationships are not fun, and based on what you wrote that’s what this sounds like to me.

      My brother pulls similar shit on me and if he wasn’t family we probably wouldn’t speak at all because his behavior is very dismissive and hurtful. He will text me and if I haven’t replied “fast enough” (think less than a couple of hours because I happen to be in the movies) he’ll text me again asking why I haven’t replied. Meanwhile he can literally ignore me for weeks and that’s ok because it’s only his timeline and expectations that matter. He’ll also call me and dominate the entire conversation but the second I start to get a word in edgewise he’s all “well I’m really busy so I have to go” like I’m bothering him. WTF? It’s selfish and unfair.

      I guess if I were you I’d just tell her that it’s not very kind to disappear like that and if she wants to hang out she needs to give you all the info up-front including a time/place to meet instead of stringing you along. And then when she doesn’t do that instead of you being at her beck and call you need to ghost on her so she understands what that feels like. It probably won’t change her behavior but guess what? Always being understanding and letting her walk all over you certainly isn’t going to change it either.

      But take my advice with a grain of salt; it sounds like she has more friends than I do and I’m not rude like she is, so obviously she’s doing something right. Or maybe I’m too old-fashioned and expect more from people.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I’m with the bear.

        I could understand her being in such a state she couldn’t do anything once, maybe a few times. But *all* the time? No. She likes having you around as a cheerleader and shoulder to cry on but she obviously doesn’t respect your time. When she knows that she’s blown it, there’s no genuine apology but an emotional manipulation “you must be mad at me” putting you on your back foot.

        You’re an adult and it’s your time, your decision who you will spend energy on but I would suggest that next time she calls all upset at a situation that’s of her own making that you put a time limit on it. If she suggests going for a drink, you suggest the bar and then you go. Bring a book. Call another friend. Or better yet, if she suggests a drink, tell her you have to work the next day, you’re tired, you’ve had a hard week, whatever and say you need to turn in. She’s an adult and she hasn’t quite figured out yet that there are consequences for her behaviour. If she’s going to repeatedly drop the ball on people she claims to care about, she shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t run at her beck and call. I mean seriously, if something happened to you and you needed her, would she be there? Somehow I doubt it. People like these are usually a one-way street with it all going in their direction.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Well, I’m with them, except…it’s OK to be the “doormat” if you know your friend is inconsiderate of other peoples’ time, and you can find a way to occupy yourself at home or at the bar while waiting to see if she is free instead of putting your life on hold for her. To me, that’s not being a doormat, that’s a choice. But I do agree that you shouldn’t put your life on hold, even a little, for this friend any more now that she’s shown that she doesn’t value your time at all.

        2. NewInTown*

          Thank you both for responding. I do appreciate you perspective on this. I don’t think I explained (or maybe over explained) this very well. I was trying to give a full account of last night in paticular, but by focusing on just the problem I’m having I think I may have given a rather skewed view of her.

          I do know what she did was rude, but to me it still falls under social white lie that I just thought was unnecessary. And the problem I do have is wth the (perceived lie) which she didn’t work very hard at. I didn’t mean to imply that this is happening frequently, but rereading it I can definitely see why you both thought that. It has been maybe 5 or six times in the last two years that something has similar has happened with plans, and we do see each other so frequently that it is not at all the normal. And our other friends are having quite of bit of dating drama (two sets of friends cross dating that ended badly, and one couple still together, which she is in) that complicates the whole thing. So she is sorta the kid caught in the middle of a bunch of divorced couples, which sucks for everyone. She has been mainly staying out of it as much as possible, which is why people are upset about her not being available. It’s hard when there is that many people involved that aren’t talking to each to make time for anyone. But the recent problems with others make me wonder if I should say “hey, not cool” because I am not angry at her and it’s always easier to hear constructive criticism when you’re not fighting with someone.

          She absolutely does drop everything for me, no questions asked. I didn’t mention it in the above comment because I didn’t think it was relevant, and I was trying to stay focused on whether to say something when your friend handles things in a way you find annoying. The last minute change of plans is really not a big deal for me, I set blocks of time aside for her and if we don’t hang out I use it to get some reading or relaxing in. I’m pretty introverted so am evening in is always nice.

          She is who I call if my car breaks down, or if I get locked out of my house, (we both have spare keys to each other’s homes) or when my family is drivkng me crazy and I judt to vent or laugh or anything really. When I was suffering from severe depression and anxiety I would go months without picking up the phone and she still called again every few weeks and leave me a voicemail saying she missed me and loved me. We would pick up again right where we left up when I did answer. I know if I had called her she would have picked up, I just didn’t want to make her feel like she needed to invite me if she didn’t want me right then, especially on top of the weird group dynamic happening right now.

          Sorry I am so long winded! Thank you so much, especially Ice Bear for sharing that about your brother. I’m sorry he does that to you. I love your name, btw. My nephew loves that show!

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            OK, I revise my opinion, the way you originally wrote it, it seemed like she was being a Drama Llama all the time. 6 times over 2 years is not so bad. I thought that this was a monthly or weekly thing!

            You know she is this way. Does she know that she is this way? Does she know that you know she is this way? Does she want to change it herself? Because if it makes her uncomfortable enough that she wants to change, then she is going to have to do some serious work around having uncomfortable conversations, such as being the one to break it off when she’s knows it’s not working. Part of that may just be immaturity or not wanting to be the “bad” guy that she will eventually get over.

            You say that it didn’t bother you, but it must have or you wouldn’t have asked a bunch of Random Internet People for their take on it. Personally, I find it bizarre that she invites you out for a drink, you say you will come and then she doesn’t call you or text you and say “where are you?” when you don’t show up? Especially knowing you have a history of depression, which can lead to isolation. Doesn’t even check her phone? I mean, I am literally the worst person when it comes to using a cellphone, mine is off most of the time. But even I know to check it when I’ve made plans with people and they are running late or I am so that I can send a message that I’m on my way. She’s being weirdly passive aggressive for some reason. Whether she’s afraid of your judgement or what, only she knows (or maybe doesn’t know).

            Like many women, maybe she has a problem with self-esteem and could really use some time reading Baggage Reclaim to learn to be more assertive. http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/

            Otherwise, unless you’re a licenced therapist (and even if you are, you can’t really treat your friends), I don’t really see what more you can do to help her, other than point out that you find her excuses weak/social white lies that don’t fool you and demand to know what is really going on. If she’s not willing to acknowledge she needs to change, then there’s nothing you can do but accept that this is the way she is and manage your life accordingly.

            1. NewInTown*

              I certainly cringed when I reread it! Thanks for understanding, and following up.
              She does seem aware that she has some maturing to do, she has been making a lot of comments along the lines of how bad a friend she is, how she’s a terrible person. She has always had some self esteem problems, very much a people pleaser with abandonment issues. I am no angel myself, by any meams. I tend to shut down when I get upset, which I am working on. We’ve had some pretty frank conversations in the past about both of our flaws. So I suprised by this relatively new (2 years out of 20) behavior.
              I am most definitely not a licenced therapist, and my general philosophy to let people be themselves, and if we’re not compatible, live and let live. I think life is complicated enough without trying to change someone else. But I am worried that maybe this is a time when I should be doing more than I normally would. I want to be there for her while she’s working through stuff, but I also don’t want to enabling her in some way either.
              And to further complicate matters I have been somewhat jealous of our more outgoing friends in the past, so I certainly don’t want me getting her to myself recently to be an underlying motive.
              I asked the AAM community for advice because I can’t ask the people I would normally go to. Whether or not I should bring this up or let this go is something I can’t ask my best friend for advice on, for obvious reasons. ;) and our friend group is not exactly unbiased here. Plus you guys give some excellent (and empathic) advice on about every topic under the sun!
              And your last paragraph is pretty much where I am right now, using the script that Random Citizen suggested.

              1. Red*

                “She does seem aware that she has some maturing to do, she has been making a lot of comments along the lines of how bad a friend she is, how she’s a terrible person.”

                Not a great sign :-P too often people do that because if they say it often enough, then everyone knows it, and when they behave poorly it’s not their fault because they’re just a bad friend, can’t help it, and you knew it so you have to be okay with whatever.

          2. Ice Bear*

            Thanks for coming back and clarifying. I’m glad she’s mostly a good friend to you. Even the 5-6 times thing would bother me but over the span of two years isn’t necessarily a deal breaker if she’s there when you really need her; although I agree with Dynamic Beige that she should be a little more aware of how her actions could affect someone with depression.

            Yea, We Bare Bears is a fun little show! :D

      2. Perse's Mom*

        “…it sounds like she has more friends than I do […], so obviously she’s doing something right.”

        Eh, some people have a knack for being manipulative. They will multiply or complicate or completely manufacture drama if that’s what it takes to keep their friends/family hanging on their words and deeds.

        I do agree with you that this friend sounds like the epitome of a fair-weather friend. It’s one thing to just… not want to be social for a night and play the ‘my phone died’ card (though honesty is obviously the better option – “not up for socializing tonight, will talk to you tomorrow buddy”), but some of what’s going on here is *clearly* bullshit.

        1. NewInTown*

          Thanks for responding, I expanded on things in response to Ice Bear. I hope it clears things up a bit, I have never written a comment on anything before and I think I was pretty clumsy in my approach!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds to me like you want this relationship to work out.

      “Look, Friend, when you say you are going to get back to me, you need to get back to me. You gave your word, so if you don’t get back to me that makes it look like your word is no good.
      And, you will find this is common in all friendships, people expect others to follow through on what they say. It’s a life-long habit that is important to develop and keep.
      Honestly, many of your problems stem from not responding to people. I think once you decide to respond on a regular basis, you quality of life will improve.
      For me, I need my rest. So when you say you will call me at x time, I will wait for your call. If I do not hear from you by that time, I MUST turn my phone off and get some sleep.”

      Honestly, I have had convos like this with several people in my life and they do whatever they wish. I have given up on the people who do not carry through on what they say. So I don’t have a lot of patience for your friend, that is my bias. Set boundaries, “If I do not hear from you by X time, then I will go do Y.” Then follow through.
      I understand you feel a debt to your friend, but there is more to friendship than being indebted to someone. I think some people try to make us feel indebted so they can drain us later.

      I had a family member who I talked with daily. It was two hours a day out of my life. At first I did not mind. But as the months went on, I could not spend that kind of time. I tried saying I needed shorter calls. What I heard next was, “I listened to all your stuff, so now you have to listen to mine.” Well she had been telling me the same stories over and over for 15 years. Yes, 15 years. (The calls got more frequent as the years went on.) I could repeat the stories verbatim. And she had no plan on easing her situation- no plan. I tried saying, “you are repeating yourself”. And I got an earful for that, too. Like you are saying here I would get calls, “Loved One has been in an accident, it’s terrible. It’s awful. I will call you back.” And I never got a call back on the accident! One day, I said I had to get out the door. Well that day the call was THREE hours. I never got out the door. That was THE straw that broke the camel’s back for me.

      Some people get too impressed with their own drama or too stuck in their own drama. I decided that in my case this person was abusive to me, in that she was just draining me. I had to stop. Set a time limit for your friend to quit ghosting you and if things have not improved, then reconsider what you want this friendship to look like.
      It wasn’t until I stepped back that I realized how much work my relationship with my person was. Healthy relationships are just not that hard.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      Best: Was courted by a SVP from another division at work. He’s friends with my current division’s SVP (they go back 22 years), and he said my current SVP had nothing but nice things to say about me and my work. I won’t be going to work for this other guy, but I hope my current SVP now recognizes my value if he didn’t truly get it before and rewards my loyalty come review time. (And a director from a third division recently asked me to post for a director-level position in his division, though I’m not remotely qualified for that job, so I’m feeling myself just a little bit these days career-wise.)

      Worst: None this week. Though one of my coworkers that I was supposed to be going to a training session with in September has left to go to law school, so now I have to try to find a ride to this training center (I don’t drive). That sucks since if I can’t find one, I won’t be able to go, and my SVP is the one who nominated for this pilot program.

    2. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Got some things done.

      WORST: Had a mammogram and my anxiety is eating me up about the results. It was a routine mammogram, but still…

    3. Perse's Mom*

      No Best this week.

      Worst: Pulled a muscle in my back last weekend, got sinus crap going on this week, and I’m pretty sure Perse’s renal disease is reaching end stage.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Oooh, I pulled a muscle in my back early this year, and it was awful. You have my sympathies.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Best: We’ve been on vacation all week! Had a marvelous time in Catalina, saw good friends in LA, and we’ve fallen in love with San Diego.

      Worst: Home tomorrow.

      Also worst: We were supposed to see a friend in Tijuana, but he flaked. AFTER we crossed the border. Then I got pulled over, so we turned around and got the hell out. I am pissed as hell at this”friend”‘

    5. Caledonia*

      BEST: my flat has officially ‘sold’ – exchange of contracts still on track to be the end of Aug. I had 2 interviews this last week and one coming up. I ate some lovely gelato.

      WORST: Travelling to aforementioned interviews :/ as I’m going for cheapest way possible, this results in looooong days. As in, have interview mid pm. Leave my flat before 10 am and get back after 7 pm.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Best: Went shopping yesterday and managed to buy the thing I had gone to look for and it was reduced in price. I also had a very good iced coffee. They vary in quality I find, but this one used proper bourbon vanilla icecream, actual whipped cream and a home made ice cream wafer biscuit stuck in the top.

        Worst: Work. It was one of those weeks when you think everything is under control and then something gets messed up.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: It was a little cooler, which was nice. Hot weather comes back this week, though–ergg. But there is a chance of storms later in the week, so yay.

      WORST: All those antibiotics had…..side effects. And just as I was getting on top of that, I caught a cold! I’ve spent the entire weekend so far sneezing, coughing, feeling like a limp rag, and only able to watch Netflix. My head hurt so much I couldn’t even read. My house is filthy and I doubt I’ll get it cleaned today, either.

      BEST AGAIN: I watched ALL of Stranger Things and I loved it!!!!!!!! So many ’80s flashbacks and references!

      1. Lily Evans*

        Stranger Things was so good! I stayed up way too late finishing it the other night, but I had to know what happened!

    7. Elkay*

      Best: tie between a fun night at a museum last night and lunch with a friend today.

      Worst: Uncertainty at work which could turn into a best in a few months but for now is not so good. Also, shitty “friends” and an unsympathetic conversation with my mother.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Sorry about the shitty friends and unsympathetic mom. Sometimes you just need people to be there for you and they’re not. HUGS.

    8. Jules the First*

      Best: I have been trying out a new pony over the last few weeks and while she’s wonderful we’ve been having some technical difficulties because I’m a one-handed rider (that is, I have two hands that look normal, but the left doesn’t have enough grip to usefully handle reins), and yesterday I snagged a slot with the new disability riding coach at my stables, who’s agreed to work with us on some more advanced coping techniques.

      Worst: three hours, eighteen shops, and I STILL haven’t found dining chairs I like. Why does everyone keep trying to sell me Eames knock-offs?

    9. Lindsay J*

      BEST: Went to a retro video game festival and to see GhostBusters yesterday. Both were a lot of fun.

      Also, I’ve really been enjoying playing Pokemon Go and it’s helped me be a lot more active than I have been being.

      WORST: I’ve fallen behind on cleaning the house. It’s not terrible, but I definitely need to wash the sheets, vacuum and mop, and put away laundry tonight and I’m not looking forward to it.

    10. Cristina in England*

      Best: great weekend enjoying some fab weather. We fed our neighbours’ chickens while they are away and today we went to a miniature railway. Super fun!

      Worst: My husband is working himself to the bone and the last time he was this overworked he has a significant health crisis. He just keeps taking on odd jobs and his main job is stressful as well but he has a lot of trouble saying no when a job comes up because he thinks more money is always better. He is only just now thinking that maybe that isn’t always true but in the meantime, he has accepted two more odd jobs. The fab weekend I describe above was just me and the kids because he worked all day both days.

    11. Al Lo*

      Best: We signed the lease on our new apartment and are moving over the next week or so! Officially get the place tomorrow, but it’ll take us a week to get in.

      Also best: Harry Potter! Book release in my city turned into a giant street festival! Public reading of part 1! Midnight release last night!

      Worst: Packing. I can’t wait to move, but I need a spell to do the work for me.

      Overall, though, it’s been a pretty great week.

  28. Anon today, daily reader*

    Has anyone been to the U.S. Virgin Islands? I’ll be going to St. Thomas in November and would love some tips on what to do. What are some of the must-sees and must-dos? Anything I should avoid? I love staying active on my vacation but don’t love water sports (I’m afraid of snorkeling and scuba diving) so I won’t be doing that.

    And of course, I’d love to get recommendations on best places to eat! #nomnom

    1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      I went once as a teenager and LOVED St. Thomas. I don’t remember much though, except driving to the other side of the island from where our cruise ship landed and relaxing on a perfect little cove.

    2. Lamington*

      st thomas is beautiful! make sure to visit trunk bay and do some beach wandering, cinnamon bay is also close by. if you get the chance take the ferry to st john and do shopping in charlotte amalie, also gorgeoud beached and i csn recommend glady’s. the restsurant buys fish on same day. enjoy! ps if you drink, cruzan rum is made in st croix also tortuga rum cakes are amazing!

  29. Not My Regular Name*

    I really need someone to talk to, so posting here will help immensely. I’ve posted before about wanting a divorce, but not being able to afford the spousal support here in PA, 40% of my income. My husband finally got a job and would have made more money than me. It lasted just a few days. He became sick, and I thought it was some sort of act, but he went to the doctor and they finally did chest Xrays. He has large shadows, like silver dollar size shadows, on his lungs. A blood test showed free floating cancer cells. His doctor is very concerned it is small cell lung cancer, and has referred him to an oncologist.

    He has had many medical issues in the past, like type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure (several times), and full leg length blood clots. He doesn’t take care of himself, is overweight, and while he doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t follow any dietary restrictions for his diabetes, counting on pills instead to take care of the problem. It’s not unusual for him to eat a half box of ice cream in one sitting, for instance. His doctor is concerned he may not survive a lung biopsy, let alone surgery.

    He hasn’t made an appointment with the oncologist, and says he doesn’t want to know what’s wrong, and if it is cancer, he’s repeatedly said he won’t accept treatment. He’s forbidden me to tell anyone anything. So now he sits and stares at the TV, goes fishing, and basically does nothing. He hasn’t tried to go back to work, or get another job, nothing. I work full time, and many times when I come home from work, he’s on the sofa, watching TV. Sometimes he may wash a few dishes during the day, or make some food, but that’s pretty seldom, so when I get home I have to make supper, clean up the dishes, I do all the laundry, you get the picture.

    I feel so guilty about how I feel, I mean, he knows I want to be divorced, but has repeatedly said he would never sign the papers or agree to it, but I planned to leave and force the issue, and never dreamed he could have a fatal disease. I just don’t want to be married to him any longer, I don’t want him to suffer and die.

    All I can hope for now is that he will make the appointment, find out what’s wrong one way or the other, and that somehow this will work out in some way.

    I feel like a terrible person. I just want to run away and not deal with any of this. I checked, and we don’t have EAP at work. I’m trying to decipher the mental health parts of my insurance plan to see if maybe I could make some appointments with someone to talk to, but it appears the copayments are pretty high. For now, I’m just trying to breathe and get through each day.

    Thanks for letting me talk about this here. You all are very supportive.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. Since you outlines some huge failings and no good points in your husband, I’ll point out that he can’t “forbid” you anything. You’re a grown-ass adult. And you don’t have to do any of those other things, like make food for him, or clean up after him, because he’s a grown-ass adult.

      The question is, which is worse, going along with his demands or not? And my next question is, how do you know the answer to the first question if you haven’t tried not just saying no once, but doing it long enough that he finally realizes that he can’t MAKE you help him, if he wants your help that badly he needs to make you WANT to help?

      The reason I’m giving you this advice is that if you stay with him, you don’t need to do it on his terms. If he’s making these huge decisions (or lack thereof) about his medical treatment without even remotely considering its impact on you, then his decision isn’t worthy of respect. This is not a carefully thought out decision to die with dignity and preserve quality of life over quantity. He’s sticking his head in the sand, and leaving you to deal with the fallout.

      And remember, you can’t help him if you let him run your physical and mental health into the ground. Caregivers (and that’s what he’s trying to force on you by default) have to safeguard their own health, or they’re of no use to anyone.

    2. Sibley*

      You’re not a terrible person. You’re stuck in a legal relationship with someone that you don’t want to be around anymore. Of course you want to run away! It means that you’re human and you’re not bonkers. Here’s what you need to do: take care of YOURSELF. You can’t control him. You can’t force him to go to the doctor’s, you can’t force him to take care of himself. But you can take care of yourself.

    3. Jean*

      Internet hugs, if you’re a hugging person (~~~~~). What a painful situation. I’m so sorry this is happening to you. Please don’t feel bad for having perfectly normal human emotions. It is absolutely overwhelming to both hold down a job and do almost everything required to maintain your household. You’re not a terrible person for not wanting to accept the responsibility, or wanting to leave your unhappy marriage, or feeling trapped by circumstances. Please take good care of yourself, including finding emotional and logistical support both online and in the physical world. I think you will survive this, but it will be easier with better health.

      Can you talk to a lawyer or your local government’s Department of Human Services, or Dept. of Aging, to sort out possibilities? Maybe your husband is eligible for Medicare or Social Security or some other government benefit. Maybe there are local services such Meals on Wheels or an aging-in-place village with volunteers?
      Others have posted here about options for low- or lower-cost mental health care. Maybe they will repost, or you can find their previous comments in the AAM archives. I think that past comments have mentioned public clinics, mental-health support groups such as NAMI, and crisis centers. Does a local counseling program offer affordable care from its students?

      If your husband’s medical care takes him to a hospital you can talk to the hospital social worker. If he is a veteran, there may be help from the VA. (Sorry if I’m incorrectly assuming you’re in the U.S.) Your area may have a local chapter of groups devoted to fighting, funding research on, and supporting patients and their families dealing with lung cancer (or cancer in general, or cardiac disease). There are also online communities for caregivers and for people living with cancer patients.

      More ideas: Can you could confide in your minister/rabbi/priest/imam–if you are connected to a congregation and comfortable with this idea? Can you quietly start your own bank accounts, so that even if you have to continue to live with this difficult person you have more control over how to stretch your limited finances? Can you reduce your kitchen labor by using cheap paper plates, or by cooking a batch of food for the week?

      Personal comment: You’re not alone. Your life may or may not exactly mirror the lives of others, but you’re not the only one struggling to cope with some combination of an ill spouse, an enormous workload, limited resources, and the desire to end your marriage. I wish you a way to stay healthy and sane while you and your husband seek acceptable (to both of you!) responses to your situation.

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      OK. I think I remember you. I cannot remember if you had a lawyer or not. Because here’s the thing: you need to consult someone about what your responsibility is for duty of care. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/boyfriend-of-woman-stuck-to-toilet-charged/

      I mean, your husband sounds deeply depressed and like he wants to die. However, since you know that he has health problems you need to find out what steps you have to take to protect yourself from charges. If you came home one day and just found him dead, never knowing about why he lost his job or about the doctor’s appointment, an autopsy would find that he had untreated cancer and had died of natural causes.

      Right-to-die is a hot button topic. Does your husband have the right under the law in your state to refuse treatment or only take palliative care? Or will this become a problem for you in the future when he dies, that you did not pursue care for him? If nothing else, you should talk to his doctor about the things he has said, explain the situation that you have been trying to file for divorce for a long time but have been unable due to financial issues and that you don’t know what to do. Maybe the state has to have your husband committed by law, based on what he has said. Maybe he must compelled to find out the extent of his cancer and that it has metastasized to a point where it’s untreatable. Maybe that’s a Medicare issue and they can assign a someone to deal with his treatment. Maybe you can get someone else from his family to take him on.

      I hate to say it, but the morbid side of me says that if he is terminal, that might be the cleanest way out for you. That is what happened to a neighbour of mine, she complained for a long time that she didn’t feel right and then one day she passed out. They took her to the hospital where it was found that she was just riddled with cancer, there was nothing to do but send her home to die. She was gone two months later. It could be something similar with your husband, it may already be too late or with his concomitant health issues, medical science simply could not help him without killing him.

      I’m sorry that you have to deal with this. It’s a horrible situation all around. It sounds terrible to say consult people so you can cover your ass, but you need to know legally where you stand in this mess. I hope there is a resolution for you soon, there’s been so much suffering all around.

      1. Jean*

        Thank you for discussing caretaker/spousal liability. I was dimly aware but had no idea how to express it. It really takes a village, even a virtual village.

      2. Observer*

        Please don’t have any conversations with the doctor till you talk to a lawyer about your responsibilities. Telling the doctor that you want your husband gone may not be the best idea.

        Of course, if you just stick to “My husband hasn’t been taking care of himself, doesn’t want to know what’s wrong and doesn’t listen to anything I say. What are my responsibilities?” That’s probably vanilla enough. But, honestly, you are probably best off not mentioning the rest of it.

        I also can’t believe that you have any legal responsibility to force your husband into care as long as he is competent. Where I can see an issue coming up is if / when he is clearly no longer able to make decisions for himself.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I also can’t believe that you have any legal responsibility to force your husband into care as long as he is competent.

          But there’s the rub. OP is not qualified to judge whether or not he is competent. Her husband demanding she not tell anyone he’s sick isn’t going to stand up in a court of law. Regardless of how she feels about him, if it comes out that she knew he had all these health problems and didn’t do *something* it doesn’t take too much of a stretch to make that leap of she wanted out/she couldn’t get out/he got cancer/she let him die. Or, financial problems were what was keeping her from leaving him, she didn’t want to be on the hook for the cost of all the medical care, so she let him die. Attempting to hide the fact that she wanted to file for divorce previously isn’t going to look good when that comes to light later. Talking to her lawyer (or a lawyer), bringing whatever documentation she has to meet with the medical professionals, I think that would help her show that she is not interested in being his carer now — what can you do to help me?

          While honestly in a weird way it’s kind of nice that he wants to spend his last days fishing and doing what he wants (who wouldn’t if they were terminal?), he really should be under medical supervision. If he’s allowed to refuse treatment, fine, medical professionals should hear that out of his own mouth. But he’s still going to need pain management and someone to physically tend to him when he is unable to do it for himself. OP shouldn’t be put in that position by default.

          And if he is just faking this as a way to keep her around, OP needs to know this ASAP.

        2. Temperance*

          The doctor actually can’t speak with her unless her husband grants permission in writing, due to HIPAA. She can’t really do anything here.

          This situation is pretty different from the toilet seat one, but, IMO, that was also an overreach.

          1. Observer*

            Actually, that’s not entirely true. The doctor can’t discuss her husband’s diagnosis with her absent his consent. But he CAN tell her what her obligations are given what SHE is telling him, and what he knows – especially that Husband has not permitted him to share information with him.

      3. mehowe*

        I am going through a divorce that is complicated for other reasons, so I can’t speak to the exact issues, but there are a few things I have learned.

        Your husband’s doctor is not able to discuss his condition with you unless your husband authorizes it, but you can get it on record that you are concerned and not intentionally neglectful.

        If he is as ill as you describe, he may be eligible for disability, which would likely lower the amount of spousal support you would owe, and would likely provide medical coverage if he loses coverage through you during a divorce.

        Consult a lawyer and a therapist. Not only will this help you in the obvious ways, but there will also be a record that you have been wanting a divorce for a while and are not just dumping him when he is sick.

        I am so very sorry that you feel you have to live this way. Nobody should.

        1. DoDah*

          I think not-my-regular-name mentioned they live in Pennsylvania. I’ve had several friends and family members go through cancer treatment there. It’s been my experience that they are almost always turned down for disability the first time they apply. My Father, Uncle and cousin all appealed and then were granted disability. It wasn’t an easy road. I wish you the best.

    5. HannahS*

      I’m so sorry! What a difficult situation. I don’t really have any concrete advice, just that I don’t think you need to feel bad about how you feel. Jerks get sick. People who do nothing to contribute to their homes get sick. People who intend to refuse divorce so that they can keep their unpaid, unappreciated caregiver get sick. You didn’t “give” him cancer by wanting a divorce. Having cancer doesn’t turn him into an idealized portrait of a victim. All of the reasons you wanted a divorce aren’t invalidated by the fact that he’s sick. I hope others can offer some concrete advice!

      1. M*

        As a longtime lurker, let me tell you that cancer sucks, especially when it’s your life partner (suspected cancer is the only thing worse, because then you have this feeling of panic, grief, and dread) and you deserve to have choices. I second the lawyer recommendation and even if you have to do skype counseling, having a professionally trained outlet will be very helpful as you untangle this issue.

        And if you’re in the US and your partner is eligible for VA healthcare, you may be eligible for free counseling either through a vet center or the local clinic.

    6. Oh Fed*

      NMRN: I am so sorry that you are going through such a difficult time. There is lots of good advice here.
      I am wondering if you went with him to the doctor when he was told about the shadows on the chest XR–or are you relying on his retelling of the appointment? You describe your husband as quite manipulative–exactly the type of person who would lie or exaggerate about cancer.

    7. MK2000*

      This sounds beyond challenging. I don’t have advice for your broader situation, only mini-advice about therapy: Look to see if there are any clinics in your area that take income-based sliding scale payments. I’m going to one where I’ll be treated by a postdoc who is still being supervised (which, actually, is great, because in a way two people are treating me :) ) and it’s much less expensive than what my costs would be otherwise.

      I’m really sorry to hear about your situation and am sending you good wishes.

      1. Red*

        Another option is to look into one of the online options, a la Talkspace. They’re licensed counsellors, you pay a monthly fee and have access to unlimited text/online chat. Obviously that won’t work for everyone, but it’s at least an option.

    8. Anon attorney*

      You’ve had good advice already but could I add that it might help to connect with support services for cancer patients and caregivers? You don’t have to commit to being in the role of caregiver but talking to someone who understands the complex feelings which arise when someone close to you is diagnosed may be helpful. I assume you are in the US, I’m not so I don’t know what resources there are locally but there must be a group or centre you can access, or there are online resources. Also, if your husband is diagnosed, professionals may assume you will be primary caregiver and it may be helpful to talk to someone separately about how to explain that you’re not going to take that role, and also cope with the guilt you may feel (I am a caregiver and guilt is our constant companion it seems). I wish you all the best and the strength to meet whatever happens.

    9. NicoleK*

      If it is cancer and advance, there is the option of hospice. He can get services and help in the home.
      Check in your community for crisis hotlines or free mental health services.
      I’m sorry you have to go through this. It can’t be easy.

    10. Dan*

      You aren’t a terrible person, and you aren’t obligated to remain married to him. My state doesn’t technically have “legal separation” as a marital status, but recognizes… Cohabitating vs moved out and separated.

      I was in a similar (but different) boat, and my state has spousal requirements only if we’re actually living together. I was obligated to provide shelter, food, and emergency medical treatment. So that’s what I did.

      My spouse wanted to ride the gravy train as long as she could. So, I made things a little less convenient. Credit cards? Cancelled. Car that I paid for? Stashed at a friend’s place. Life sucked a bit without money and a car to go hang out with her (boy) friends. She was more agreeable to signing papers when that meant she got the car back and up front cash.

      If you’re worried about treatment, at least in my state, he’s eligible to remain on your insurance until your divorce is final. Even if you agree to things, there is still a waiting period before you can file, and then there’s the normal bureaucratic process on top of that. So it can take a year or more.

      1. Ccccccc...*

        OP, I feel deeply for you, and like Dan and others, I want to suggest that you have options, more than you think. From your note, it seems that you feel like he has all the power – but in practice, when he’s (somewhat obnoxiously) relying on you to cook, clean, feed, care and pay for him, AND remain married to him – all on his terms – you’re the one with the bargaining position.

        I don’t mean to sound callous or glib. My mother has been wanting to get out of her marriage for decades, and now she cares for him pretty much full-time. She says she has no choice and feels obligated, but that sense of obligation is self-imposed. She can say no, she can draw boundaries, she can ask for what she needs in exchange.

        I hope you do those things for yourself here. There is no way your husband gets to expect you to fully do his bidding on his terms, and he holds none of the cards. You support him, so he doesn’t get to refuse treatment or divorce negotiations. Please do what you need to do for yourself!

        I hope you find a way. Please keep us updated!

    11. Belle diVedremo*

      To add to your list of questions for an attorney – would your husband be eligible for financial support from medicaid/social services of some kind if you two were divorced? And for you: what is it likely to cost to get him treatment and how does that compare to the cost of alimony?

      Hope you can find good support, and find your way through this in the best way.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Tell him that you cannot promise you will NOT be able to keep his medical issues a secret. In reality you do not know that you actually can make that promise. What will you tell the EMTs when he blacks out? Mention that to him, “If you are unconscious, I have to tell the EMTs what is going on.”

      Mention again about going back to the doctor. When he refuses, tell him you are calling the office right now to tell them he is refusing to make an appointment. You want that noted on his file. Make the phone call right in front of him.

      He probably equates divorce as being the same as illness/cancer. Why treat the cancer and live, when he’d have to get divorced if he lives? Ugh. Let him know that if he does not make choices about what he is going to do, other people will make the choices for him. Especially when it comes to medical care. So his options are chose the treatment he wants or the treatment will be chosen for him. Let him know that we are all responsible for our quality of life up to our dying day. He can’t get off the hook by sitting in a chair all day.

      If he has a number of family members maybe you can rally them to call him and nag/motivate/con/blackmail him into doing something.

      Really, your best bet is to NOT let him isolate you, which is what he is trying to do. Let him know that if he is just going to sit in a chair all day, that makes you responsible for everything. If you are going to be responsible for everything, then things must be made manageable for you. So the first rule is you will not be keeping secrets for him. You will come up with more rules as you go along.

      Remember you hold the purse strings, the health insurance policy and you do the physical labor here. Don’t let him buffalo you into believing you have no power or no say in this situation.

      (That secrets thing really irks me. I have seen it done and it’s nothing but a time bomb. So nip the whole process now by saying that is not doable, you will not be able to keep his health issue a secret.)

  30. InterviewFreeZone*

    I’m really confused about a relationship I have with a professional contact. In a previous role, this contact worked for one of my vendors. They’ve kept in touch since I’ve left – an email or so about once every 6-8 weeks. The emails are always pleasant…sometimes they’re the typical “how have you been”, or “thinking about you” or “miss you” other times they’re “saw this and thought it might make you laugh”, etc. Having had only one long-term role in my career, maybe I’m just not used how people keep in touch professionally, but I never know how to respond to these emails. I answer the questions but I never know how personal to get. I have interacted with this person socially a few times – we had dinner once last year. No matter what I say, the email chain stays really bland…it’s like small talk. And there’s usually a “can’t wait to see you soon” on the last email from this person, but no request to see me. And I feel like I initiated the last time I saw this person, so they could ask me!

    To make matters more awkward, following one such exchange several months ago, I realized I might be attracted to this person. Previously I had been in a long-term relationship so it never crossed my mind in prior years, but I’ve realized…it’s there. Right when I forget about one email exchange, a few weeks later…another one pops up. I don’t want to be unprofessional, but I feel like we’re stuck in a weird place. I don’t feel like we’re friends, but there’s also still no professional discussion really happening either. I also don’t know this person’s relationship status. I’ve heard rumors, but they’ve never shared this with me. I also don’t want to make a fool of myself in case five years from now I’d like to hire this person again.

    Any advice here?

    1. NicoleK*

      Some people aren’t good at extending invitations. I have a friend/former colleague whom I’ve know since 2011 and she’s only asked me to lunch twice in 5 years.

      As for your attraction to this person, what do you want to happen? Are you interested in a relationship with said person?

      1. InterviewFreeZone*

        I recently heard that they’re not really available (long distance relationship). I’m a little put off that this person has never told me. To be clear, this person knew about my relationship and would ask about and we would share info about our personal lives.

        When I realized I had feelings, I also realized that this person is pretty much everything I’ve been looking for, so in theory I would love for something to happen. Just not sure how to make a first step that’s not too far.

    2. Anon attorney*

      Emails saying that they are thinking of you and miss you don’t sound typically professional to me. I get the sense this person wants to be closer but is waiting for you to signal that you also want this. As the client representative, you are in the more powerful position here, especially if you have the power to hire them or direct your company’s business the way of their firm. If you do want to build a personal relationship then I think the onus is on you to extend an invitation. Then, when you meet, I’d be inclined to clear up the relationship status question first of all – then just see how it goes. Good luck!

      1. InterviewFreeZone*

        Anon attorney, I got the same feeling! I thought by responding and being warm, I was welcoming it appropriately and that they’d push for more if they wanted. I guess more of the onus was on me than I realized!

        I’m definitely going to try to clear up the relationship status thing – both that I’m single and try to prod them to tell me what’s going on with them!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I had a professional call the house here to check on me after a service.
      It was so weird to me.
      I blurted out, “do you call all your clients afterwards?”

      He said yes and explained his reason.

      Another professional will call me randomly, send Christmas cards and so on. But with him it was more clear to me that he was touching base to see if I could give him some more business.

      Just ask, “Bob, I noticed you contact me every 6-8 weeks. Are you networking or what’s up here?”

  31. Trixie*

    Has anyone used one of those interactive ATMs? With teller off-site? Fascinated with these.

      1. Trixie*

        Kind of hybrid between a teller line and ATM. In theory instead of going to a teller, you would go to ATM instead. Person would be onscreen o assist and answer questions, but that person may be also in the drive-up window or even off-site. So the personal contact is there but now more like Skype or FaceTime.

  32. Snow White*

    Is there a professional person who helps with budgeting and planning? Financial planners deal with long term planning right? We have retirement savings etc. but the day to day savings isn’t great. My husband just started working after being unemployed for a few months and we need to start saving again. Plus we want to plan so vacations.

    I should know this but I don’t know where to get help.

    1. LawCat*

      I suggest You Need a Budget (YNAB for short). It is a budgeting software with free classes on how to use it. It has some default categories that help guide you along. There is a very supportive facebook community called “YNAB (You Need a Budget) Fans!” where users help each other with the software and with budgeting in general. The best coaches have been other users! Especially when they share their victories!

    2. J*

      A little late to the game, but check local churches (usually larger ones) or non profits in your area that may have a financial outreach. Our church hosts Dave Ramsey and Compass Financial classes a couple times a year, but they also have volunteers who will meet 1:1 anytime to go over a budget or other financial issues, and they may be able to provide or recommend materials. You don’t have to be a member of the church to use this service.

      All the non-profits I’m aware of that offer budgeting help may be more restrictive (ie only serving lower-income families, or another limited population), but it doesn’t hurt to look around.

  33. Cherie*

    Any tips on how to get back on a health bandwagon?

    I’d actually been doing really well with keeping a healthy/active lifestyle and eating habits this year, then about a month ago I got sick, it was only for about a week but since then I haven’t been able to find the motivation to get back to the gym or plan my meals or whatever.

    Thing is I was feeling really good when I was hitting the gym regularly? And was actually really annoyed I couldn’t go when I was sick. But now for some weird psychological reason I just can’t bring myself to start again.

    Advice for getting over this mental hurdle?

    1. Jean*

      Can I piggy-back on your request? How do I stop stress-eating (aka redirect that nervous energy into doing something other than chomping on carbohydrates)? I don’t want the extra pounds or the strain on my health.
      It’s probably a matter of sheer willpower + changing my habits. Sigh.

      1. Panda Bandit*

        See if you can find the root of whatever is stressing you out, then deal with that root. Prevention is better than cure in this case.

        I used to stress-eat all the time. Then I went into therapy for anxiety, and now that many of my anxieties are gone, I don’t stress-eat anymore. I’m not trying to push you into therapy but just wanted to add my two cents.

      2. HannahS*

        Not that I’m so fantastic at it, but for me, something that helped was tracking my food on myfitnesspal and making a conscious choice to go do something else. Like, if I was gravitating towards the fridge, but was “out” of calories for the day, I would remind myself that I couldn’t eat more until tomorrow, but could knit/read a book/watch TV, etc.

      3. Tris Prior*

        The only thing that worked for me was: Don’t bring it in the house. Don’t buy it in the first place. If this means going to work with no cash and no credit cards (to keep you out of the vending machines/fast food restaurants/bakery), then do that. I realized that once it was in my possession, I would eat it all, immediately.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        Take a walk?
        That nervous energy has to be expended some how.
        It is important to build a plan for what to do with nervousness. Sometimes I use my nervous energy to build a plan to deal with the problem. I can exhaust myself by coming up with contingency plans for this or that or the next thing. Once I have run through every conceivable combination of outcomes, I can be pretty tired.
        Can you find something- hobby, whatever, to do with your hands so you hands are busy?

        I was so bad on the carbs that I had to stop buying them. I did eat watermelon, though. And that saved me.

        Stress is more apt to happen when we are low on vitamins and minerals. Just making sure you are eating more healthy everyday could help reduce your body’s call for carbs, because your body does not feel so stressed.

        I know a lot of people don’t like them, but I have also had luck with homeopathic remedies for stress also. YMMV.

    2. Temperance*

      Is it because it’s overwhelming to jump back in to all of your new habits at once? Why not make a low-key commitment to yourself, like going to the gym tomorrow, or planning some lunches/snacks?

    3. nep*

      Great that you want / plan to get back to your healthy habits.
      It can be overwhelming (almost paralyzing) to compare the period when you were going full throttle to your current status. Think baby steps. Even if you choose one day to get a walk in, another day to do 15 min at the gym — I really think that just giving yourself a taste of exercising again will create the desire and motivation to do more.
      All the best. Keep us posted.

    4. AnotherTeacher*

      Take it one day at a time. Focus on each step forward, no matter how small, instead of what you should/didn’t do. Maybe try something new? Like a new class at your gym or walking a different route – just something that moves the focus of the activity.

      Or, if you’re someone who needs to be held accountable to external forces, there are apps to track food/exercise. Some people I know find those very effective for themselves.

    5. mags*

      I am just going through the same thing. I went away for work for a bit and then injured my calf muscle. Even after I felt better it just seemed like heading to the gym was an enormous chore. I ended up buying myself some new workout wear which made me want to go to the gym. And I picked up a couple new cookbooks (Bowl + Oh She Glows)
      I’m still not back to my usual eating/working out habits but I’m blaming some of that on this ridiculous heat. It’s hard to stand in front of the stove or head on a run when it’s sweltering outside.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Exercise is not just a physical discipline. It is also a mental discipline. And this is a prime example why I say this. You can do the exercises. But getting your mind to just let you go do it is a whole “exercise” unto itself.

      Why not attach the mental discipline to the exercise. You are building your mind and your body. Tell yourself that part of the exercise is to have the mental discipline to keep doing it.

      On the other hand, don’t be rigid, give with one hand and take with the other. Have days where you do a shorter work out. Or have days where you get a treat for exercising. Mix it up.

      Personally, I get the biggest mental hurdles when I eat too many carbs. It slows down my thinking and it slows down my willingness to get right on stuff and do it. Maybe look at your carb intake?

  34. Gene*

    Today was a mixed bag, there was a birthday party for a friend; yay, birthday! But it was also a party before she goes to the hospital Monday for a new port, followed immediately by her first infusion on an ICE chemotherapy regemin. Two or three rounds of that (a four day series of infusions followed by three weeks off), then on to the big gun chemo.

    She turned 38 yesterday and has a two-year old. She’s showing a great attitude, at least on the outside. I’m massively pissed at the world.

  35. Rachael*

    Friends! I have two beloved cats who are driving me crazy. They keep meowing to wake me up in the morning to feed them, even though I’ve had them switched to an automatic feeder the last two weeks that feeds them at the same time every day (including before they actually start meowing at me to wake up). I also cannot keep them off the counter to save my life. Anyone have any friendly suggestions? I’m a fairly new cat owner so I’m open to trying anything!

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

      The only thing you can do is ignore them. Which is hard. But don’t meow back, don’t pet them, don’t get up, just don’t acknowledge them when they start meowing. Any kind of acknowledgement is going to reward the behavior and they will keep doing it. As for the counters. Ha. Good luck. Even if you get them to not be up on the counters when you’re around, they are likely going up there as soon as you leave.